With nearly 20 school board seats up across Merced County, only a handful of votes separated opponents in multiple races after results for all precincts were recorded late Tuesday night.
County Registrar of Voters Barbara Levey said Wednesday that thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots still need to be counted. Those votes could determine many of the school board races. It was unclear when all results would be known.
With six candidates vying for three seats, newcomer Carolyn Ridge received the most votes, while incumbents Felipe Espino and Fidel Cervantes appeared likely to hold onto their seats. Ramon Prado, however, trailed closely behind Cervantes.
Eight candidates sought four seats on the Dos Palos school board, including two sitting board members. Preliminary results showed Maria Lorenzetti Davis with a strong lead. The second and third vote-getters were in a tight battle and five other candidates trailed.
Preliminary results showed Kevin Cordeiro held a strong lead, with about 64 percent, over Michael Lawrence Mendonca for the Area 2 seat.
There were three hopefuls for two seats on the Hilmar governing board. Brent Chipponeri established a steady lead with 1,133 votes, while fewer than 20 votes separated Curtis Jorritsma and Liz Pierce Nunes.
Incumbent Anne Land held a steady lead over Isabel Garcia Todd for the Area 3 seat with 65 percent of the votes.
Joe Hoffar led Stanley Mollart with 54 percent of the votes for a short-term seat on the McSwain school board.
Three candidates vying for the Area 1 seat all received about 30 percent of the votes, with appointee Michael Crass emerging with a small lead over candidate Shane Smith. In Area 2, newcomer Miguel Lopez led incumbent Gene Stamm by fewer than 200 votes. In Area 4, Tom Parker received about 130 more votes than Emily Langdon.
Incumbent Gary Arzamendi and challenger Ernie Ochoa were in a close battle for the Area 2 seat, with Arzamendi holding a small lead. In a race among an incumbent and two challengers for Area 3, newcomer L. Carmen Ramirez was the top vote-getter with 46 percent.
Merced Union High
In Area 3, incumbent Phil Schiber led challenger Julio Valadez by 40 votes. In Area 4, John Medearis led Marjorie Webster by 25 votes.
Four candidates ran for three open seats on the Winton school board. Susan Ochoa was the top vote-getter with 622 votes. Bob Boesch received 504; Kelly Thomas received 385; and incumbent Jack Daniel received 357.