Tuesday’s runoff battle for Tulare County supervisor in District 1 was waged late into the night, but Dennis Smith eventually overcame opponent Kuyler Crocker to win the election.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Smith had 5,761 votes, or 51 percent of the vote, to Crocker’s 5,541 votes, or 49 percent of the vote.
The release of the county’s election results was delayed by several hours because of long lines of voters and a lack of paper ballots at some Tulare County polling places.
District 1 includes Lindsay, Exeter, Farmersville, Three Rivers and east Visalia. Incumbent Allen Ishida of Lindsay did not seek re-election.
Smith, 64, co-owns a business supplying doors and construction materials to homebuilders and custom homes.
Crocker, 29, is a citrus farmer and utility company energy adviser.
Smith said it is too soon to claim victory, but the trend is in his favor and he expects he will know more by Friday as more ballots are tallied by the county elections division.
“I am optimistic but guarded,” he said. “Until those votes get counted, I’m sitting here on pins and needles.”
Both Smith and Crocker are farmer-friendly Republicans who said water for farmers – in the district and for agriculture in general – was the No. 1 issue in the election.
Smith, a member of the Tulare County Republican Central Committee who is active in the Central Valley Tea Party, did not mince words during the campaign when he said that he views regulation of groundwater as an attack on private-property rights.
“Water is a private-property right,” he said. “I’m not just going to sit here and be told what to do by the state.”
Smith said during his campaign that if elected, he would work with other counties to challenge the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Crocker had portrayed himself as more reasonable in tone than Smith.
“I have a broad range of support from people who know and understand the issues,” he said during the campaign.
Crocker obtained endorsements from Ishida and from primary election opponents John Elliott of Three Rivers and Ted Macaulay of Exeter.