In a San Luis Obispo County primary election dominated by landslide victories for incumbents, the race for a critical swing vote on the county Board of Supervisors remained too close to call as of press time.
Both Lynn Compton and Jimmy Paulding left their respective election night parties in Nipomo on June 5 without news to celebrate or lament. The two candidates seeking a seat to represent South County and nudge a politically gridlocked five-member board to the right or left stood in a virtual tie all night long.
- Photo By Peter Johnson
- VIRTUAL TIE Fourth District SLO County Supervisor candidate Jimmy Paulding speaks to his supporters at an election night party in Nipomo. The race between Paulding and incumbent Supervisor Lynn Compton was too close to call on June 6.
According to the latest tallies available before New Times went to press, Compton, the conservative-leaning incumbent, held an 83-vote edge over Paulding, a 32-year-old liberal-leaning attorney, with late mail-in ballots still outstanding.
The vote split 6,092 for Compton and 6,009 for Paulding.
The race that raked in more than $500,000 in combined campaign donations and emerged as the battleground for the future direction of SLO County politics produced as much drama on election night as it did on the campaign trail. Compton jumped out to an early lead after the first round of mail-in results were published at 8:30 p.m. But by 11 p.m., Paulding had moved ahead by a razor-thin margin. The final election night count, published shortly after midnight, showed Compton in front.
At Paulding's election night party in a reception room in Trilogy—a Nipomo neighborhood that heavily supported Paulding—the mood was optimistic and jovial. A live band played while roughly 200 supporters and Paulding family members chatted and danced. Since more registered Republicans opted for mail-in voting than registered Democrats, Paulding was pleased to be behind by less than 100 votes after the first round of absentee ballots.
Though Paulding still trailed with all election day ballots counted, he said he believes between 2,000 and 4,000 absentee votes are still pending. County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong did not confirm that number to New Times on June 6, but he said he estimates about 20,000 ballots countywide still need to be counted.
"I'm still optimistic," Paulding told New Times on June 6. "That could easily swing it in my direction. I can only hope more of my supporters were procrastinators."
Compton did not return New Times phone calls for comment before press time. She held an election night party at her campaign headquarters on Tefft Street in Nipomo that had cleared out shortly after 10 p.m.
In SLO County's other supervisorial election, incumbent 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson appeared to cruise to victory for a fourth term as the North Coast supervisor. He avoided a run-off in the general election by taking 60 percent of the preliminary vote in a three-man race, defeating Morro Bay businessman Jeff Eckles and attorney Patrick Sparks, who took 34 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. As one of the board's two liberal-leaning supervisors, Gibson's win also cemented the significance of the 4th District race between Compton and Paulding.
"We did it!" Gibson wrote on his Facebook page on June 6*. "I appreciate my opponents, Eckles and Sparks, for running clean campaigns on the issues. I'm looking forward to serving the North Coast for another four years and excited about all the projects ahead!"
In another contentious county race, incumbent Assessor Tom Bordonaro likely fended off challenger David Boyer to win a fifth term—62 percent to 38 percent. Boyer and several members of the Assessor's Office staff had accused Bordonaro of chronic absences from work spanning several years, which Bordonaro partly denied and partly attributed to medical issues.
Tim Covello, a court commissioner, and Hernaldo Baltonado, an appointed judge, claimed the two open SLO County Superior Court judge seats by large margins, defeating defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu and Deputy District Attorney Andy Cadena, respectively, per election night counts. Δ
*Correction: This article has been edited to correct the date of Bruce Gibson's Facebook post.