As count continues in 2 races, supervisor hopefuls keep busy

Dick Monteith got up for an early appointment at the county office. Terry Withrow turned his attention to clients who had been patient during a hard-fought campaign. Bill Lyons did paperwork at his ranch. Balvino Irizarry climbed on his bicycle and rode 20 miles, trying to let campaign cares float away.

And election workers on Wednesday kept counting ballots to see who wins and who loses in a pair of Stanislaus County supervisors' races that remain too close to call.

Lyons' 196-vote lead over Withrow in District 3 seems to mean little with about 24,000 ballots left to count, including absentee ballots delivered close to election day.

"We're still in the game," said Withrow, a first-time candidate who took on a well-known, well-financed former state agriculture secretary in an open race to succeed Supervisor Jeff Grover.

Withrow sneaked away for lunch with his family, including two daughters home from college, but otherwise worked at his accounting firm.

Lyons visited with ranch hands and worked in his office. "It's kind of a normal day," he said. "Hey, the sun still comes up in the morning."

Withrow received 3,346 votes, or 48.4 percent, but is in striking distance of Lyons' 3,542 votes, or 51.24 percent.

The county clerk's office has 22,000 to 23,000 mail-in ballots left to count, as well as more than 1,350 provisional ballots that are awaiting examination. There are five supervisors' districts, so it's fair to assume that about a fifth of those ballots will go to the Lyons-Withrow race, and about a fifth will belong to the campaign for Monteith's seat.

Four years ago, Monteith waited two weeks for word that he'd prevailed by only 16 votes out of more than 23,000 cast over Janice Keating. He won't tear his hair out this time, he said, to see if his commanding lead on Tuesday translates into an outright win, or whether he'll campaign for five months more.

"I had people calling and congratulating me. I say, 'Thank you very much, but let's hold off till the final analysis,' " Monteith said.

The District 4 incumbent's 5,513 votes amount to 51.54 percent. He'll need to stay above 50 percent to avoid a November contest with Irizarry, who captured 3,278 votes, or 30.64 percent.

A third candidate, Carmen Sabatino, trailed with 1,857 votes, or 17.36 percent, and conceded Tuesday.

Irizarry said his resolve to ignore Sabatino's attacks seems to have worked. He wore a Lance Armstrong victory uniform Wednesday, he said, while unwinding on his bicycle.

"I did what I love best," Irizarry said. He referred to the ride — not biting nails while waiting to see if he lives to fight another day.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at or 578-2390.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star