Local Election

Could be weeks before Merced District 6 race winner is determined

Candidate Delray Shelton, left, a Merced County Sheriff’s sergeant, speaks with supporters in Merced on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. He’s running for District 4.
Candidate Delray Shelton, left, a Merced County Sheriff’s sergeant, speaks with supporters in Merced on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. He’s running for District 4. tmiller@mercedsunstar.com

Daily updates are planned by the Merced County Registrar of Voters Office as one Merced race has turned into a nail-biter.

Just five votes separate District 6 candidate Delray Shelton (1,178) from opponent John Bliss (1,173) in the bid for the new northernmost section of Merced.

As waves of updates became public on Election Day, the race went back and forth several times. The election has the potential to waffle more as thousands of mail-in and other ballots remain to be counted, according to Registrar Barbara Levey.

“Once we process everything, we’ll see where it lies,” she said. “It’s only a recount if one of the candidates requests it.”

Noting that the public is anxious for results, Levey said she “beefed up” the crews that count ballots in an attempt to get to the results sooner. It was not immediately clear exactly how many provisional and other ballots are left to be counted.

The early signs show that the election garnered a better turn out than the typical races in Merced County, she said.

Bliss, a 55-year-old high school teacher, noted the large number of ballots still to be counted. “Well, I knew this would be a very close election,” he said. “Both of us worked very hard and I believe that we both want every vote to count.”

Also noting the outstanding ballots, 34-year-old Shelton said he expects the outcome will take some time to become clear.

“This is obviously a closer result than I think either candidate wants,” the Merced County Sheriff’s sergeant said. “Most of the updates throughout the evening showed increased support for my candidacy, so I am optimistic.”

AK UC Building Lighting Ceremony 12
Merced Mayor Mike Murphy speaks during a building lighting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the first three buildings of the Merced 2020 Project, on the UC Merced campus in Merced, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. Andrew Kuhn akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

Mayor Mike Murphy, an attorney, claimed victory with more than 70 percent of the vote, or 6,862 votes, on Tuesday in his race against Monica Kay Villa, a homeless woman who has run several times for elected office in the past five years. She earned 2,651 votes in Tuesday’s election.

“I’m certainly pleased with the result,” the 39-year-old Murphy said on Tuesday night. “It feels good to have been on for two years and to serve as mayor. It’s a good time for our city.”

Councilmember Kevin Blake declared victory Tuesday night, securing a second term on the council with 56.3 percent of the vote, which was 1,333 votes, for District 4. The Merced County Sheriff’s sergeant outpaced the 1,032 votes (43.6 percent) collected by UC Merced employee Karla Seijas.

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Councilmember Kevin Blake, a Merced County Sheriff’s sergeant, looks at the election results one a big screen TV in Merced on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. He’s running for District 4. Thaddeus Miller tmiller@mercedsunstar.com

“I think that (voters) are happy with the direction of the city and my work on the city council the past five years,” the 38-year-old said.

The District 2 race was over before it started with only one candidate, Fernando Echevarria, qualified for the ballot. His votes outpaced write-in candidate Ronnie De Anda at 398 and 216 write-in votes, respectively.

“I’m humbled by the responsibilities that lay ahead of me,” the 56-year-old said. “I’m anxious to roll up my sleeves and get started.”

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