Damion Green ran for Rainier City Council hoping to address the strain the 2,400-person town has felt from growth.
But when Election Day came around in November, he didn't vote. He didn't feel right about it, he said; it felt "like stacking a deck in your favor."
After weeks of waiting for Thurston County to tabulate the results, then a mandatory recount because the race was so close, the final vote count came in Friday. Green lost the election to opponent Ryan Roth by one vote: 246 to 247.
"The Lord didn't want me there, so I didn't get it," Green said. "I don't feel discouraged at all. We both have kids in the schools and are looking for the best thing for our community. We're different people wanting the same thing."
Roth said he almost didn't vote, but his wife urged him to. He mailed in his ballot with just a few days left.
"That was the one vote," he said. "We would've been tied. If we were tied, I would have called tails on the coin toss."
In 2015, a tied Thurston County primary election led to a coin toss to determine who would be listed first on the ballot in the general election. State law does not specify how local offices should determine a winner if an election is tied.
Both candidates ran because they wanted to preserve Rainier's small-town feel, they said. The town grew by 32% between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, and Green said the growth has led to infrastructure problems. He said he sees the effects in the schools his kids attend and the traffic congestion during rush hour.
"I decided I need to be part of the solution, not just complain about the problems," Green said. "A lot of people don't mind growth, as long as it's done responsibly."
This isn't Green's first time running; he ran in a previous council election as a write-in candidate. He said he'll likely run again in two years when more council seats are open, but in the meantime, he'll stay involved in the community through coaching his children's sports teams.
As a new council member, Roth said he wants to "be a voice of reason" and find a way to balance development and community.
"In order for our town to be successful, there has to be money in the town," he said. "How can we grow successfully without losing the small-town feel?"
Roth said he celebrated the final results by taking his family to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, then watching the Pac-12 championship game between Washington and Oregon.
"This was my first time running or being part of anything like this," Roth said. "For it to be such a close race, tied for a period of time, and then to win by one vote, was pretty insane."
"Your vote does count," Roth said. "It does matter."