Two incumbent council members in Lindsay appear to have been ousted in Tuesday's election, while an incumbent supervisor in Kings County overcame scandal to win re-election.
Meanwhile, Visalia voters soundly rejected a proposal to change council member elections from citywide voting to district elections, but the vote could leave the city open to voting-rights lawsuits.
A voter revolt in Lindsay appears to have knocked two incumbents off the Lindsay City Council.
Ed Murray, mayor for 11 years, and Esteban "Steve" Velasquez, a council member for 16 years, both came up short in the field of seven seeking election to three seats.
Challenger Rosaena Sanchez got 20% of the vote, followed by challenger Steven Mecum at 17% and incumbent Pam Kimball at 16%.
Velasquez got 15% and Murray got 13%.
Candidates Timothy Daubert and Eric Eugene Perfecto Sinclair got 12% and 7%, respectively.
The race is too close to call because an unknown number of ballots must be counted, but Velasquez, only 42 votes out of third place, said he does not expect the final count to alter the outcome.
Mecum said he campaigned by calling for reform.
"Over the last two years, the City Hall has been exposed for fraud and corruption," he said.
A home loan program meant to help city residents unfairly favored city employees, and the Tulare County Association of Governments sued the city for the return of wrongly spent Measure R road building monies, he said.
He also said the City Council should cut salaries of top city officials.
Kimball said an audit of city finances uncovered mistakes in how programs were financed or managed, and that the challengers used it to bash the incumbents.
The challengers' victories Tuesday "took us all by surprise," Kimball said.
Murray, a businessman first elected in 1996, called the charges of fraud and corruption "slanderous lies."
"They have no idea how city government works," he said. "So be it. That's the way it goes.
Velasquez, a school district employee in Corcoran, has been on the council 16 years.
He said Mecum and Sanchez were involved in a recall petition against council members that was called off at the last minute, but used the momentum to challenge the incumbents at the ballot box.
"They decided to run for office," Velasquez said. "That's good. That's what they are supposed to do."
Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle posted a convincing win over challenger Ron Hoggard to claim a second term.
Valle received 61% of the vote compared to 39% for Hoggard, according to the Kings County elections division, with five of five precincts reporting.
Wednesday, Valle credited his win to his opposition to a planned high-speed rail line through Kings County and sympathy with west-side voters who fear disruptions to agricultural water supplies.
The victory grants Valle, 42, a second chance at a political future that was threatened in late 2010 when criminal charges alleging sexual assault were filed against him, only to be dropped earlier this year in advance of the June primary.
The dismissal allowed Valle to say he was moving on, and Hoggard never directly attacked Valle on the charges.
Valle represents District 2, including Corcoran, Avenal and Kettleman City and much of southern Kings County.
Measure P in Visalia, which would have established district elections of council members to replace citywide voting, failed to gain approval of voters by 59% to 41%.
But it's unclear what happens next.
"The citizens of Visalia have spoken," said Mayor Amy Shuklian, who opposed Measure P.
The city will have to wait to see whether it gets sued by voting-rights activists alleging violation of the California Voting Rights Acts, she said.
The city hasn't been sued on the issue so far but did get a threatening letter last year from an activist group, city attorney Alex Peltzer said.
The council cannot vote to change the city to council elections on its own because the city charter can only be changed by a vote of the people, he said.
Council Member Warren Gubler, who supported Measure P, said the City Council may have no choice but to defend the city charter if the city is sued.