LIVINGSTON — The recall election of Mayor Daniel Varela Sr. and Council- woman Martha Nateras passed by a landslide Tuesday.
Not counting provisional ballots, 76.77 percent voted to recall Varela and 76.98 percent voted to recall Nateras.
Turnout at the polls was high, with 32 percent of registered voters casting their ballots, excluding provisional ballots that had not been counted, said Karen Adams, Merced County clerk.
More than 90 percent of voters chose Councilman Rodrigo Espinoza to replace Varela as mayor, and an equally high percent chose Theresa Land, an instructional aide, to replace Nateras.
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The vote will must be certified before the two can take their positions, which could take a few weeks.
Nateras and Varela were targeted because of their support for expensive water and sewer rate hikes last year.
The utility increases prompted three lawsuits, two of which were filed by the city's largest employer, Foster Farms.
In addition, Espinoza has accused Varela and Nateras of a wide range of inept or inappropriate behavior, including trying to keep business out of Livingston, which Varela adamantly denied.
The recall was the second ousting of local government leaders in the Northern San Joaquin Valley in the past two weeks.
Last week, Hughson voters kicked out three councilmen who were accused by a civil grand jury of violating a state open government law and conspiring to fire a city manager. Their replacements took office Monday.