- PHOTO BY HENRY BRUINGTON
- BALLOTS, BALLOTS EVERYWHERE: Despite low turnout—only 31.2 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, though that figure is expected to rise—officials in the SLO County Clerk-Recorder Office furiously counted ballots on June 3. Most races were fully reported by about 11 p.m. that night.
It’s over! Well, mostly over. Actually, for some candidates, it’s over. We’ll put it this way: The June 3 primary election is over, which means some candidates now have another five months of campaigning ahead of them, while others must anxiously await the final tally before officially declaring victory or defeat.
County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald told New Times that she expects the results to be finalized in about 2 1/2 weeks—once her office counts the remaining vote-by-mail ballots and provisional ballots, in addition to certifying the results.
“We have roughly 10,000 ballots left to be counted,” Rodewald said on June 4. “Our county-wide turnout is only 31.2 percent right now, but I expect that figure to go up.”
Rodewald said that the current election figures are unofficial, but added that the results in most races likely won’t be changed significantly by the remaining 20 percent of un-tabulated ballots.
In San Luis Obispo County’s District 4—which includes Arroyo Grande, Oceano, Nipomo, and rural areas along Highway 166—the two mainstream supervisorial candidates will move forward as the professed “outsider” candidate faded away.
The race for what many consider to be the “swing seat” on the SLO County Board of Supervisors has been both contentious and expensive, as candidates have sparred publicly and cumulatively raised more than $400,000 in campaign donations.
The race’s biggest fundraiser—agricultural businesswoman Lynn Compton—pulled in 46.4 percent of the vote. Incumbent Supervisor Caren Ray narrowly trailed Compton with 42.6 percent of the vote (only 384 votes behind). Real estate broker Mike Byrd, who ran as the “alternative” candidate, received a scant 10.8 percent and was eliminated from the race.
Since neither Compton nor Ray received 50 percent of the vote, the two will advance to a runoff in the general election in November.
In the hotly contested race for district attorney, Deputy District Attorney Dan Dow gained a significant enough majority to secure his seat. According to the unofficial results, Dow held about 57 percent of the vote compared to Assistant District Attorney Tim Covello’s 43 percent, with about 2 percent going to write-in candidates (local defense attorney Paul Phillips was the only qualified write-in).
Dow told New Times he was very pleased with the results and thanked his supporters in the campaign.
“I never would have done it without the support of so many great people in our community, and I’m very pleased and humbled by the results,” he said.
As his first order of business, Dow said he wants to reunite members of the office, who have become divided through a brutal campaign, and “rebuild our team.”
“I’m anxious to put the negative campaign behind us,” he said, adding that he received a voicemail from Covello congratulating Dow on the win and noting that he, too, was anxious to help with the transition to a new DA.
Voters re-elected incumbent county Supervisor Bruce Gibson to his third term to District 2, which includes a part of San Luis Obispo and the North Coast. Gibson secured a comfortable 66.78 percent of the vote. Challenger Muril Clift, a Cambria Community Services District director, received 32.9 percent.
In the primary for the 35th District of the California State Assembly, Republican incumbent Katcho Achadjian brought in 64.3 percent of the vote, with Democratic challenger and educator Heidi Harmon receiving 35.7 percent. The two will face off again in the November election. The district covers all of SLO and parts of Santa Barbara County, including Santa Maria and Lompoc.
Two candidates vying for the top post in the County Clerk-Recorder’s office will also go to a runoff in November. Tommy Gong, currently the assistant clerk-recorder, received 45.4 percent, and Amanda King, a deputy clerk-recorder, brought in 43.8 percent of the vote. A third contender, Ann Danko, was eliminated after receiving 10.6 percent of the vote. Both Gong and King were busy at work counting ballots on election night.
Just months after surviving a recall effort halfway into his first term, Morro Bay’s Jamie Irons secured another term as mayor of a city polarized by such issues as a new wastewater treatment plant and the firing of the city’s former attorney and city manager. Irons—who recieved about 57 percent of the vote as compared to 43 percent from opponent Carla Wixom—told supporters gathered at an election night party that he hopes the city can now realize its potential and move past the divisions between some residents.
“For me, I’m just grateful for all the support, and it motivates me to work harder,” Irons told New Times.
Newcomer Matt Makowetski easily gained the votes he needed to snag one of two available seats on the Morro Bay City Council. At the same party, Makowetski told the crowd, “We’re going to get rid of this BS and all this acrimonious stuff and we’re going to move this town ahead.”
Morro Bay’s remaining seat was still undecided as of press time, with John Headding barely missing the slim majority he would need to beat out current City Councilwoman Nancy Johnson. As of the latest count, Headding had 49.86 percent of the vote compared to Johnson’s 35.99 percent. When the final tally is certified, either candidate will need 50 percent plus one vote to win the seat outright, otherwise the race will continue to a runoff in November.