With all votes counted from last month’s primary, two challengers finished ahead of incumbents in the Board of Supervisors balloting, according to Merced County election numbers that also showed an unusually high rate of turnout.
The Merced County Elections Office posted updated numbers on its website Friday that included all the mail-in and provisional ballots. The office plans to certify the tally from the June 7 primary on Wednesday, said Barbara Levey, Merced County registrar of voters.
“We’ve counted everything, and tomorrow we’ll post the certified results,” Levey said. “That means the numbers will be the same, we’ll just be certifying them.”
Overall county turnout was more than 41 percent, Levey said, higher than the last presidential-election year primary when it was about 25 percent.
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“We had been hearing going into it that turnout all over was up,” Levey said. “I think, certainly, a lot of it is the presidential race – with all … that went on with that. I’m sure the local races contributed to it, too.”
In the Board of Supervisors voting, the updated results show Livingston Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza beating incumbent District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo by more than 550 votes, making this Pedrozo’s third and final term as a supervisor.
Pedrozo did not respond to two phone messages left by the Sun-Star on Tuesday afternoon.
Espinoza said Pedrozo has not spoken to him, either. “He’s not approachable,” Espinoza said. “People are telling me he’s taking it pretty hard.”
The Livingston mayor said he believes residents in his city know him better than Pedrozo and like the work he’s done on the City Council. “I’m just trying to do what’s right for the county,” Espinoza said.
Turnout in District 1 was the lowest of the three supervisor races with 35.3 percent of registered voters casting ballots, but that number still was much higher than in 2012, when it was just about 20 percent, Levey said.
In the three-way race for District 2, challenger Lee Lor leads incumbent Hub Walsh by 310 votes, or 40.54 percent of the vote to Walsh’s 37.42 percent, meaning the two will head to a runoff in November. Casey Steed, a third District 2 candidate, finished with 21.98 percent of the votes.
Lor said Tuesday the results show that Merced, specifically District 2, is ready to move in a new direction. “I’m really excited,” she said.
Steed acknowleged the vote-count “shows people are tired of the status quo.”
“That’s evident by a challenger beating an incumbent,” he said.
District 2, which has the highest voting base of all three races with 24,131 registered voters, saw a 41.1 percent turnout. That compares to 34 percent turnout in 2012, Levey said.
In District 4, Lloyd Pareira and Rich Ford will head to a runoff for the seat being vacated by Deidre Kelsey’s retirement. The the two finished ahead of three other candidates. Pareira received 41.58 percent of the vote over Ford’s 22.59 percent. Fidel Cervantes, Jack Mobley and Ramon Prado received a total of 35.78 percent of the ballots.
Ford acknowledged the gap between him and Pareira and said he believes it’s because many residents didn’t have access to him as a candidate. “Sometimes the ordinary voters don’t get in touch directly with the candidate,” he said.
Ford hopes to reach out to vocal community organizations to gain support and said Mobley has endorsed him for the November runoff.
“We’re getting geared up,” Ford said.
Mobley said both Pareira and Ford are good candidates, but he favors Ford’s experience in government on the Gustine City Council and as Gustine mayor.
Voter turnout in District 4 was the highest, just above District 2 with 41.2 percent.
Levey said that when the results are certified on Wednesday more information about the election, such as precinct breakdowns, will be available.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477