RIVERBANK — Residents will have to wait a little longer until they know who their mayor is.
Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters Lee Lundrigan said Wednesday her office has 13,000 to 15,000 more mail-in votes to count and expects to tally the bulk of them by Friday or Saturday. These votes are from throughout the county so officials don't know how many are from Riverbank.
And Lundrigan's office still has to count provisional, damaged, military and overseas ballots from Tuesday's election. These ballots typically make up a small percentage of the total votes cast but can make a huge difference in a tight race.
So the nail biting continues. Former Councilwoman Virginia Madueño is clinging to a 55-vote lead over Richard O'Brien, a retired Navy commander who manages one of his family's three grocery stores.
O'Brien, 58, would not concede and Madueño, 43, would not claim victory Wednesday.
"Fifty-five votes is almost insurmountable," O'Brien said, "but I am optimistic. As soon as we know the final votes, we'll go from there. If it's me, great. If not, I will congratulate Virginia Madueño."
Madueño, who owns a public relations firm and failed in her first bid to become mayor in November 2008, said, "I'm nervous but confident. I'm remaining optimistic, but I don't want to say anything because I don't want to jinx it."
Madueño and O'Brien are the front-runners in the six-way race. She has 724 votes, or 39.87 percent. He is a close second with 669 votes, or 36.84 percent.
Their nearest competitor is Councilman Dave White with 244 votes, or 13.44 percent. The three remaining candidates — Mark Ensley, Larry King and Paul Gutierrez — had a combined 175 votes, or 9.64 percent.
Madueño and O'Brien said it's premature to talk about a recount until all of the votes have been counted. The Registrar of Voters office will conduct a recount if a candidate requests one and is willing to pay for it.
The county election office has until Nov. 23 to certify Tuesday's vote.
Madueño has said she expected about 2,000 of Riverbank's 8,568 voters to cast ballots based on research conducted by her campaign.
More than 1,800 votes have been counted, leaving about 200 mail-in and other votes left to count if Madueño's projection is correct.
O'Brien has had the edge with mail-in voters. He received 39.7 percent of the more than 1,100 counted so far compared with Madueño's 35.6 percent.
Madueño's strength was with voters who went to the polls Tuesday. She received 46.8 percent of those nearly 700 votes, compared with O'Brien's 32.4 percent.
The City Council has been down to four members since its last mayor resigned in May to take a job out of the area.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.