While thousands of ballots remained uncounted Wednesday, several of Merced County’s mayoral races appeared to become clearer.
Winning 42.4 percent of the votes counted after Tuesday’s election, Councilman Mike Murphy declared his campaign as a victory over Councilmen Noah Lor and Josh Pedrozo, and small-business owner Necola Adams.
In second place was Pedrozo with 28.2 percent of the vote, followed by Adams at 15.1 percent and Lor at 14 percent. An unknown number of mail-in and provisional ballots remained to be counted, according to county voting officials.
Murphy, a 37-year-old business attorney, has served a single term on the City Council. “It’s been a good run and I’m ready to step into my new role as mayor on Day One,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on the City Council.”
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We’ve got a lot of good things that are happening, and it’s an exciting time to be mayor. I certainly feel honored that the residents of Merced have given me this opportunity.
Candidate Mike Murphy, who declared victory on Wednesday
Murphy said his priorities include improving Merced’s economy and making the city safer. Those efforts include a focus on highway retail on Mission Avenue, strengthening the downtown sector and collaborating with UC Merced, he said, among other efforts.
Adding three to five officers a year will also help the Merced Police Department to get back to full staffing, he said. The department topped out at 111 officers in 2007.
He went on to say that making the city safer also includes providing more activities for young people and improving parks.
“We’ve got a lot of good things that are happening, and it’s an exciting time to be mayor,” he said. “I certainly feel honored that the residents of Merced have given me this opportunity.”
Pedrozo, who teaches history at Merced High, said he was surprised by the outcome so far, adding he would wait for the final count before conceding. “I know that we ran a good race and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
I know that we ran a good race and we’ll see what happens
Candidate Josh Pedrozo on the voting results
Regardless of how the votes shake out, Pedrozo remains on the council through 2018. Even if he loses the mayor’s race, his council seat isn’t up for another two years. He said voters may have wanted to “have their cake and eat it, too” by keeping both Pedrozo and Murphy on the council.
Pedrozo and Murphy have said they do not expect the final results to damage their working relationship on the council.
“My job at the end of the day – regardless of who is mayor – my job is to work for the citizens of Merced, the community of Merced,” Pedrozo said.
Los Banos and Livingston saw mayoral candidates run unopposed. Mike Villalta won his fourth bid for mayor of the Westside’s largest city. In Livingston, Councilman Jim Soria won his first go at the mayor’s seat.
Dos Palos and Gustine, the county’s smallest cities, appeared to be on their way to having new mayors.
Challenger April Smith Hogue garnered 61.8 percent, putting her in front of Dos Palos’ incumbent Mayor Jerry Antonetti, who had 37.9 percent.
Gustine incumbent Dennis Brazil (42.1 percent) remains behind his opponent, Mel Oliveira (57.7 percent).