CHOWCHILLA — In California, statewide elections heavily favored Democrats, who now have a supermajority in both the Assembly and the Senate -- giving the party the ability to pass any legislation it wants without Republican support.
In the 5th Assembly District, which stretches from South Lake Tahoe to south of Mammoth Lakes and includes the city of Chowchilla, the contest was between two conservatives.
Frank Bigelow with 18,725 votes, or 64.5 percent, defeated Rico Oller, who pulled in 10,321 votes, or 35.5 percent.
Bigelow, a Madera County supervisor, received endorsements from several regional Republican legislators, including state Sens. Tom Berryhill and Anthony Cannella and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen.
The heavily Republican district includes nine counties, more than half of which are within a national forest or park. The area supported conservative candidates in the last presidential and gubernatorial contests. Two-thirds of the population is white.
The Merced College board of trustees, which has many duties, including approving all hiring and the fiscal budget, saw three elections.
Jean Upton won District 6, which represents Chowchilla, having received 1,406 votes, or 72.74 percent. Upton, a retired school teacher and farmer, bested the incumbent, Trustee Jinet Troost, for the spot.
The Chowchilla City Council will likely add two new faces and retain one sitting member. However, more than 500 provisional and absentee ballots are still being counted in the contest, which elects the top three vote-getters.
Incumbent Dennis Haworth, who led throughout election night, holds a sturdy lead with 1,219 votes, or 24.6 percent.
"Thank you to everyone who encouraged, supported and voted for me to continue serving on the Chowchilla City Council," he said. "Bested only by being a husband and father, being elected to serve my neighbors has been the greatest honor of my life."
However, as of Wednesday, three candidates, all within 10 percentage points of each other, were battling for the second and third places.
Richard Walker has so far received 982 votes, or 19.8 percent.
"I am looking forward to working with the leadership, city staff and community in Chowchilla," Walker said. "If the vote holds, I am confident that we can move forward and make the necessary changes during these difficult times."