It took just 16 votes to make Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Department Detective Mike Balch consider seeking election to the office of sheriff this year.
That's the number of votes, all write-in votes, counted for Balch on election night, August 6. His boss, Mark Howie, was the only declared candidate, and he drew 750. (Editor's note: In a tally updated August 8, Howie had 805 votes and Balch had 26.)
Still, state law provides that a write-in candidate receiving 1 percent of the primary election vote will have his or her name on the general election ballot. Balch's total was 2 percent, so he advanced.
Balch wasn't seeking the office, he said Tuesday.
"It truly surprised me when I was told," he said.
However, Balch said he had planned to run for the office next year. The current election is to fill the unexpired term of former Sheriff Jon Dearmore, who died last October; that term ends at the end of 2014.
"I took some time and talked to some people who I respect and who have been through this," he said. "I've decided to actively seek the office.
"I hadn't thought much about it this year. This year has been really hard with the passing of our son and Jon Dearmore.
"I had wanted to run next year. To me, this is the goal I've been looking at for my whole career. This (the vote) kind of gave me the extra push to seek election."
Balch is the senior officer in the sheriff's department, he has been in the department for 29 years. He previously served 2.5 years in the Forks Police Department as a dispatcher/jailer and reserve patrol officer.