Election night started out on shaky ground for Tulare County as some polling places ran out of ballots and voters were forced to vote electronically. Other sites around the county were copying ballots for the unexpected huge numbers that showed up. At around 10:15pm voters in parts of Visalia and Lindsay were still waiting to cast their ballots and the Tulare County Registrar of Voters had to delay posting results until 11:15pm.
The Visalia Times-Delta reported that six voters were still waiting to vote at their polling place at Grace Community Church at around 10:22.
Another election earthquake on a national scale happened when Republican Donald Trump was declared president-elect. It was described by Fox News as a political miracle. Trump gave his victory speech at 11:50pm.
National news pundits reported that anger and dissatisfaction with the government was stronger than previously acknowledged. Trump’s campaign message resonated with the American people and his demographic showed up in force, bringing a victory for Trump.
Rep. David Valadao, who did not officially endorse Trump, said that he did not expect this result.
“But when you have an FBI investigation against you and allegations of corruption it can’t help,” Valadao said.
He also said that Trump may have spoke to the working class better than Clinton. Even though Trump is a billionaire, he said, he is simply the type of person who can relate to the average American.
“His message resonates better with people and he is better at getting his message across than Cliinton.”
The atmosphere was festive at the victory parties for Congressmen Devin Nunes and Valadao. Valadao gave his victory speech around 9:30, saying that it was an expensive and ugly race against his challenger, Emilio Huerta. He expressed gratitude that it was over. He said he was glad to be able to continue working hard for his district and his constituents.
Local Democrats React
Local Democrats gathered at the Visalia Pizza Factory on election night to watch the returns and lick their wounds. The crowd of approximately 50 was cautiously optimistic.
Then Ohio went for Trump.
“If Trump wins,” Victor Moheno, “master mentor” to the group, said, “women can forget about their reproductive rights.”
Moheno, Abigail Solis, President of the Visalia Democratic Club, and Ruth McKee, Chairperson of the Tulare County Democratic Central Committee, discussed their reaction to the election returns.
Right away, McKee said, “The stock market will crash.”
“And nukes will proliferate,” Moheno said. “He doesn’t seem to care who has them. He’ll deport people. He’s against the Dreamers. You can forget about comprehensive immigration reform. People will be fearful.”
Solis interrupted at this point, saying, “There will be a fear of what will happen to us, what will happen to our families. There will be a level of fear.”
“He’ll rip up all of Obama’s executive orders,” McKee said.
“But there’s a separation of powers,” Moheno said. “He can only do certain things alone.”
This was hours before it was learned that the House and Senate would both now be under Republican control.
Before that, the group discussed what would be the “bridge too far” moment for Trump.
“Healthcare,” Moheno said. “Twenty million people now have healthcare they didn’t have before. And now there’s such a thing as not discriminating against pre-existing conditions.”
Anti-Incumbent Streak in Healthcare Districts
In the Tulare Local Healthcare District, challengers Kevin Northcraft and Mike Jamaica appeared to beat their incumbent opponents, Sherrie Bell and Laura Gadke, at 63.94% and 63.15% respectively.
The candidates gathered at an election party in Tulare – one that ended before any results came in from Tulare County elections officials. At the party, Northcraft said he was “cautiously optimistic” for their chances.
Later in the night, Citizens for Hospital Accountability, the group endorsing both candidates, released a short statement:
“Their success is a result of their hard work in getting out their message of transparency and accountability. Their success is also the result of the great citizens of Tulare understanding that the role of each Board Member is uphold the public trust by holding open, honest and transparent meetings to conduct the business of the District,” the statement read.
“Most importantly this election has shown the People’s desire to hold the current Board accountable and to ensure our tax money is used wisely and appropriately so the Tulare Regional Medical Center can return to being OUR public hospital that delivers quality healthcare.”
The wave that the two candidates rode in on was almost certainly fueled by disdain for Tulare’s failed Measure I bond proposition, also defeated by a two-thirds to one-third margin.
Similar feelings played a large part in Kaweah Delta’s hospital board campaign.
Nevin House, Robert Gilson, and Elbia Luz Fernandez ran as part of the “No on H” slate of candidates, formed after the failure of Measure H, Kaweah Delta’s bond measure, and intended to take the leadership of the hospital district in a different direction.
House narrowly defeated the incumbent, Teresa Ramos, at 51.75% to 47.20%. Gilson and Fernandez didn’t fare so well – incumbents John Hipskind and Herbert Hawkins, respectively, won by 63.59% and 59.33%.
In other election results, in the race for the Visalia City Council District 1 seat, Phil Cox won over Adam Peck at 55.42% to 43.96.
In Visalia’s District 2 seat, Bob Link was able to score a victory over his opponents at 56.5%.
“I feel good. I’ve heard nothing negative,” Link said at his election party, before results were released late in the evening. “We’ll have to wait and see the first result.”
For the Tulare County Supervisor District 1 Dennis Smith was leading Kuyler Crocker 50.58% by 48.65%. For State Assembly District 26 Devon Mathis won by more than 30 points.