Fresno County races remain close, new totals show

The Fresno BeeJune 6, 2014 

A close race for Fresno County supervisor got even closer Friday.

In District 1, supervisor candidates Brian Pacheco and Blong Xiong are now neck-in-neck -- Pacheco leading by just 54 votes as of the latest ballot count announced by County Clerk Brandi Orth. After the initial count on election night, Pacheco had a 186-vote lead.

Pacheco, a Kerman dairy farmer and school board trustee, now has 36.8% of the vote, compared to Xiong, a Fresno city council member, who has 36.4%. Both will face off in November.

In District 4, supervisor candidate farmer Buddy Mendes still has 49.3% of the vote. To win outright, he needs 50% plus one.

Votes also remained close for another race -- Fresno City Council's District 1. Businessman Cary Catalano still has 35% of the vote compared to attorney Esmeralda Soria's 33.4%. They also will face off in the fall.

A $13 million school bond for Golden Plains Unified School District -- Measure G -- remains on the brink of passing. To pass, 55% of votes are needed, and the measure had 54.9% on Friday.

And a $4 million school bond for Pine Ridge Elementary School District -- Measure R -- still needs about 3% more votes to pass.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 12,600 ballots still to be counted in Fresno County. An updated count will be announced Wednesday.

Other close races

In Tulare County, District 5 supervisor candidate Mike Ennis pushed over the 50% threshold needed to win outright -- capturing 50.3% of the vote as of Friday.

In Mariposa County, District 3 supervisor candidate Marshall Long came out just shy of avoiding a rematch in November. Mariposa's final count, announced Friday, showed Long won 49.8% of the vote.

The Kings County election department plans to announce an update to its numbers early next week. There were 375 ballots which still needed to be counted as of Friday.

Madera County won't be providing updates until the final count, which should be completed within the next couple weeks, said Rebecca Martinez, county clerk/recorder/registrar of voters. About 3,500 ballots still need to be tallied, she said.

A statewide look

In the race for controller, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin kept her lead with 24.7% of the vote. Three candidates are still waiting to see who will emerge as her challenger in November. Republican accountant David Evans of California City and former Assembly Speaker John Perez of Los Angeles both had 21.6% of the vote on Friday, while state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, a Bay Area resident, had 21.4%.

Nearly a million ballots cast in Tuesday's primary election have not been counted yet, Secretary of State Debra Bowen reported Friday.

Elections officials in all 58 counties provided estimates to the state as they wade through ballots dropped off at polls and provisional votes cast on Election Day, which total 991,699.

The registrars have so far counted nearly 3.4 million ballots cast Tuesday, which puts turnout at 19.2%. With the outstanding ballots, turnout could approach 25%, which would be a record low for a regular election in California but better than some forecasts.

The previous low for a non-presidential primary was 33.1 percent in June 2010.

Turnout was 28.2 percent in June 2008, an anomaly when the state split the presidential and primary elections.

Many of the uncounted votes are from permanent absentee voters who receive their ballots in the mail but do not return them by mail. More of those voters appear to be getting their ballots early then sitting on them and turning them in at a polling place on Election Day, which delays the vote count, said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., a consulting firm that tracks voter data.

Tuesday was the first statewide election in which the top two vote-getters advance to November regardless of their party affiliation.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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