Two candidates emerged with come-from-behind victories in the race for seats on the Los Banos school board with Raymond Martinez overcoming Geneva Brett in the Area 7 seat race, and Anahi Rodriguez over longtime incumbent Dennis Areias for the Area 1 seat, according to the final certified election results posted over the weekend.
Rodriguez received 691 votes, or 53 percent of the vote, while Areias trailed with 604 votes. Martinez barely edged Brett with 552 votes, six more than Brett’s 546 votes. Brett and Areias were ahead before the final vote count was released over the weekend.
Martinez said he always believed he would pull ahead at the end despite the candidates swapping leads as the Merced County Elections Office updated its vote totals over the past month.
“I worked very hard during the campaigns so I was very much expecting to be victorious,” Martinez said, noting that the tough competition he faced from Brett “brought the best out of me.”
With the victory coming by single-digit votes, Brett said she considered requesting a hand recount. But she said that would have meant forking over $4,000 per each day spent on the recount unless the recount resulted in her favor.
“I am disappointed but not devastated,” Brett said. “I’m a woman of faith. I trust God has a different plan for me.”
Martinez is an incumbent but had a shorter term after being voted in by a slim margin of 13 votes in a 2016 recall race over his John Mueller.
“I was just getting warmed up in this position for just a couple of years,” Martinez said. “I really didn’t want to lose my seat. I’m looking forward to really press in and make a difference.”
Also prevailing in the election is the City of Los Banos’ Measure H initiative. According to the final results, two out of every three Los Banos voters wanted their city to increase the sales tax to fund police and fire protection and several other city services.
Measure H, which will increase the sales tax rate in the City of Los Banos from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent, passed with the support of 5,542 votes, about twice as many as the 2,774 people who voted against it.
The measure allows the city to use an estimated $2.5 million raised each year from the increase to fund several city services, including police patrols, firefighting resources, park and recreation facility maintenance, 9-1-1 response, youth programs, curbing gangs, long-term financial stability and cleaning up city blight.
Here are the final results from other westside races.
Los Banos Mayor
- Mike Villalta: 70.2%, 5,566 votes
- Nilson Gomes Filho: 29.37%, 2,329 votes
- Write-in: 0.34%, 43 votes
Los Banos Councilmember, District 2
- Tom Faria: 61.11%, 1,210
- Refugio M. Llamas: 38.74%, 767
- Write-in: 0.15%, 3
Los Banos Councilmember, District 3
- Brett Jones: 56.27%, 1,220
- John Cates: 43.59%, 945
- Write-in: 0.14%, 3
LBUSD Board Member, Area 1
- Anahi Rodriguez: 49.23%, 289
- Dennis Areias: 50.60%, 297
- Write-in: 0.08%, 1
LBUSD Board Member, Area 7
- Raymond Martinez: 50.14%, 552
- Geneva Marie Brett: 49.59%, 546
- write-in: 0.27%, 3
Dos Palos Councilmember (Vote for two)
- Thomas Lee Pigg: 35.79%, 665
- Deborah A. Orlando: 26.59%, 494
- Alice F. Thompson: 25.57%, 475
- Kuldip Mahal: 11.95%, 222
- Write-in: 0.11%, 2
DPOLUSD Board Member (Vote for three)
- Jeremy O’Banion: 24.40%, 988
- Gordon Bonds: 23.41%, 948
- Moy Meraz: 18.99%, 769
- Armando Bravo: 18.79%, 761
- Olga Flores: 14.28%, 578
- Write-in: 0.12%, 5
- Patrick Nagy: 62.10%, 806
- Zachery Ramos: 37.67%, 489
- Write-in: 0.23%, 3
Gustine Councilmember (Vote for two)
- Rich Ford: 39.33%, 711
- Derek Alexander: 30.59%, 553
- Lynn Schultz: 30.03%, 543
- Write-in: 0.06%, 1
GUSD Board Member
- Kevin Bloom: 54.75%, 219
- Wendy Montgomery: 45.25%, 181