The difference in the Stanislaus County sheriff's race came down to about 6,100 votes, enough to re-elect Sheriff Adam Christianson to his second term in office.
By Wednesday morning, challenger Turlock police Capt. Rob Jackson had called to congratulate Christianson and concede the election.
Christianson had 24,641, or 56.84 percent, with all of the precincts counted in the sheriff's race. Jackson garnered 18,549 votes, or 42.79 percent.
The county has about 24,000 mail-in and provisional ballots left to count, but Christianson's margin is unlikely to be reversed.
"I think the numbers themselves might have something to do with low voter turnout," Christianson said. "The final results, however, showed that the people are happy with the Sheriff's Department. We had a positive, upbeat campaign, and I think that resonated with the voters."
Jackson spent part of Wednesday removing campaign signs from lawns and other locations around the county. Although he was disappointed with the election's outcome, Jackson said he was happy to know the election was close.
"That tells me a great number of people were behind what we stood for," Jackson said. "It feels good to see the number of people who came out to support us."
Jackson said he will remain at the Turlock Police Department and "support the Sheriff's Department any way I can."
Christianson has to deal with budget cuts for the next fiscal year that will slash $6.4 million in spending, require 40 layoffs, close three of four barracks at the low-security Honor Farm and eliminate 16 vacant positions.
"The biggest challenge will be our ability to meet the public's demands with limited resources," Christianson said.
'Devastating' cuts coming
Jackson agreed, saying the Sheriff's Department will face budget cuts in the next two to three years that will affect response times and the ability to house jail inmates.
"They're having staffing cuts that will be devastating to the department, and I think there's more cuts coming," Jackson said.
Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini, a vocal critic of Christianson, said it's not going to be easy for any department head dealing with the budget in the next two years.
"(Christianson has) got to keep up a reasonable level of service with declining funding," DeMartini said. "He's going to have to adjust his priorities to meet the demands of the county."
Stanislaus County Supervisor Jeff Grover expected the sheriff's race to be close, because it's too difficult to get a landslide win in a countywide election.
"It's too expensive and too difficult to get that message out there," said Grover, who endorsed Christianson in the election.
He said the challenge will be for Christianson to be creative and effective in providing public safety to the county with less funding and fewer employees.
Grover said Christianson has shown he is up to the task after emerging from a divisive election with a win in 2006.
"Whoever was elected four years ago had a tough road ahead of him," Grover said. "I think Adam has handled it as well as anyone could."
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.