Too Close to Call With thousands of ballots still uncounted, local candidates wait for their fates

Photo | Former Monterey Mayor Dan Albert Sr., picking up son’s signs the morning after


By Joe Livernois

With unknown thousands of votes left to count, Monterey County elections officials say they won’t have new results to report in local elections until Friday, leaving the outcome of a number of races in the lurch.

The Registrar of Voters office released a report at 11:54 p.m. Tuesday with 118,672 ballots counted. Of those, all but 2,527 were vote-by-mail ballots delivered to the elections office prior to Tuesday. Almost 207,000 voters were qualified to vote in Monterey County for the Nov. 3 election.

The delay means that dozens of candidates won’t know their fates until at least Friday  — and perhaps longer.

Those races include the 4th District Monterey County Supervisor’s contest, where Wendy Root Askew leads Salinas City Councilman Steve McShane by 1,836 votes. Thus far, 26,090 ballots have been counted from the district.

Root Askew said Wednesday morning that she is comfortable with the results so far, but added that more than 44,000 people were qualified to vote. She is not declaring victory, saying in an email she wants to “ensure that the voices of every one of the 44,588 voters in District 4 are heard.”

District 4 encompasses South Salinas, Marina and Seaside. The contest was the most hotly contested race in the region, and candidates raised nearly $1.5 million during the past two years. McShane outspent Root Askew by about a 2-to-1 margin.

Another race that has candidates on pins and needles is also out of Seaside, where three candidates are within 112 votes of one another for a second spot on the City Council. 

Incumbent David Pacheco easily won reelection to the Seaside council. But Alexis Garcia-Arrazola holds a 5-vote lead against Regina Mason, while Tinisha Dunn is only 107 votes behind Mason. 

“I’m faithful that we will come out victorious,” said Garcia-Arrazola.

It’s still possibly too early to call two Salinas City Council races. In the District 1 race, incumbent Scott Davis is clinging to a 131-vote lead over challenger Carla Viviana-Gonzalez, while Orlando Osornio holds a 270-vote lead over Albert Lomeli for the open seat in District 4.

Back on the Monterey Peninsula, incumbent Monterey Peninsula College Trustee Loren Steck holds a 64-point lead over Marlene Martin in a race in which more than 11,000 ballots have already been counted.

And in a Del Rey Oaks City Council race, Scott Donaldson and Gary Kreeger will have to wait until at least Friday to determine who wins. A single vote separates them. 

In Marina, Cristina Medina Dirksen is not declaring victory yet in her bid to unseat Councilwoman Gail Morton, who is trailing by 125 votes.

For a Chualar school board seat, Martha Gallegos has a 9-vote lead over Miriam Trujillo with an unknown number of votes still to be counted. 

Voices of Monterey Bay will present more election coverage and analysis when key Monterey County contests become clear.

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Joe Livernois

About Joe Livernois

Joe Livernois has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Monterey County for 35 years.

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