Election fallout on the morning after the morning after:
AFTER ALL THAT? — Modesto's first district elections were a major letdown in one respect: Fewer than 800 people voted in District 2, which includes 34,000 people and more than 9,000 registered voters.
Some Bay Area lawyers sued the city for election reforms in 2004 under the California Voting Rights Act, contending that citywide races dilute the strength of the Latino vote.
Modesto voters then adopted district elections when they passed a ballot measure in February 2008. The city settled the lawsuit three months later, paying $3 million to the attorneys who worked on the case.
Hence, the opportunity for Latino candidates to run and represent the district. That didn't materialize. Non-Latino Dave Geer ran against Al Nava, who moved into the district only last spring. Outspent, Nava also shunned the media beyond Internet postings while running to represent one of the city's least-connected areas. That's hardly a blueprint for election success.
Through Wednesday, Geer leads with 389 votes. Not by 389 votes, with 389. Nava has 313.
Put bluntly, and considering the low turnout, mostly Latino District 2 will be represented by a 67-year-old white guy.
MONEY TALKS — In the vast majority of races, money prevailed. Those who spent the most won. There were a couple of dichotomies, though.
In the Oakdale Joint Unified School Board race, challenger Diane Gilbert raised more than $29,000 and leads with 2,011 votes. Meanwhile, incumbent Mike House spent only about $600 and is in second, 49 votes behind Gilbert. He and fellow incumbent William Dyer are likely to retain their seats while Gilbert will replace two-term member Rick W. Jones, fourth in the voting.
And in the race for Modesto City Council's District 4 seat, candidate Robert Stanford bashed winner Joe Muratore, claiming Muratore would be beholden to developers who contributed to his campaign.
Muratore outspent opponents Jeff Perine and Stanford to garner 53 percent of the vote. But the voters certainly didn't elect him as a mandate for development, if the advisory vote outcomes are any indication. All five growth-related measures were easily defeated.
POWER SHIFT — While challengers Sue Zwahlen and Ruben Villalobos joined incumbents Nancy Cline and Cindy Marks as big winners for the Modesto City Schools board, will the big loser in all this be Superintendent Arturo Flores?
Marks is no Flores fan, while Cline has made it clear she has doubts about his job performance. Zwahlen and Villalobos were elected because they campaigned on the promise to ask the tough questions as the district prepares to cut $15 million to $20 million from its 2010-11 budget. Both received financial support from the teacher's union that opposes any extension of Flores' contract in this district's current economic situation.
SORE LOSERS — If voters ever feel candidate remorse, it generally ends the moment the loser fails to show dignity in defeat.
One of the most egregious examples came in June 2006, when Assistant Sheriff Mark Puthuff reacted to his loss by calling Sheriff-elect Adam Christianson "a chubby Pinocchio."
Puthuff later said he regretted making the statement, but stopped short of apologizing.
Christianson, meanwhile, went on a diet and dropped 50 pounds.
"It was a little motivating," Christianson now admits.
Tuesday, Modesto Irrigation District board member Mike Serpa lost to challenger Glen Wild for the Division 2 seat.
"The voters have spoken, and they'll get what they asked for," Serpa told The Bee that night.
Yes they did, since Wild creamed him with nearly 61 percent of the vote.
By that same standard, you could say the voters got what they asked for when they elected Serpa four years ago.
Had he just asked the tough questions and voted based on the answers he might have won re-election. But Serpa harassed MID staff and often hijacked the process by delaying votes, claiming he didn't have enough information. And when it came to the commercial solar power incentive issue in September, he asked numerous detailed questions and then abstained.
And in that political quagmire known as Riverbank, appointed incumbent Dave White boasted that he was the only experienced candidate in the mayoral race while taking repeated potshots at challenger and former Councilwoman Virginia Madueño.
The early returns Tuesday night showed White would lose the mayor's seat (but retain his council seat). At that point, challenger Richard O'Brien held a slim lead, and White called to congratulate him.
"My philosophy at the start of this was anyone but Virginia," White told The Bee. "O'Brien, I have no problem with him."
Really? If his mantra was "anybody but Virginia," why didn't he simply campaign for O'Brien instead of running to retain his mayor's seat?
Madueño forged ahead by 55 votes late Tuesday night. If her lead holds, "anyone but Virginia" will indeed be Virginia.
And is she waiting, cell phone in hand, for a congratulatory call from White?
"I wouldn't bet on it," Madueño said.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2383.