A former Visalia City Council member was returned to office by a large margin over a member of the planning commission, while a council incumbent won election to his fifth term in office in Tuesday’s election for two council seats.
This is the first year city council members have been elected by district after years of at-large elections.
The release of the county’s election results was delayed for several hours because of long lines of voters and a lack of paper ballots at some Tulare County polling places.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting in Visalia City Council District 1, Phil Cox beat Adam Peck by 55.4 percent (3,341 votes) to 43.9 percent (2,650 votes). District 1 covers north-central Visalia and a portion of central Visalia.
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Cox, 59, is a former Tulare County supervisor who was defeated in June by Visalia Councilwoman Amy Shuklian. He previously served on the Visalia City Council. Peck, 46, is a member of the Visalia Planning Commission.
Meanwhile, in the Visalia council race for District 2, incumbent Bob Link, 79, was challenged by Adam Arakelian, 58, a retired firefighter, and Susanne Gundy, 74, a retired county employee. District 2 covers southeast Visalia.
Link won the seat with 56.5 percent of the vote (3,007 votes) compared to 32.2 percent (1,715 votes) for Arakelian and 10.3 percent (553 votes) for Gundy.
“I think name recognition helped me,” Link said, noting that he and his brother owned a downtown store, Link’s Men’s and Women’s Wear, that was in business for 70 years.
Issues in the election included how the city should deal with homelessness, prior elective experience and funding for police, firefighting and city streets.
Link said the council will have to deal with the homeless issue because the topic comes up so much in conversation with residents.
Also on the ballot in Visalia, Measure N, the proposed half-cent sales tax to help fund police, firefighting, streets and parks, was approved with 64 percent “yes” votes to 36 percent “no” votes. It needed a simple majority to pass.
It was placed on the ballot by the Visalia council and billed as the “essential services” measure. It’s a general tax, but the council passed an ordinance specifying a plan on how it would be spent that would be approved yearly.