While the Tulare and Kings Counties’ Congressional and Assembly races remain too close to call, local races are all but decided.
Tulare Council gets two new members, Mayor stays
With a razor-thin margin, Tulare appears to have two new city council members.
With all districts reporting on election night, Mayor Jose Sigala retained his seat with a nearly two-to-one victory over Clara Bernardo in Area 1, while in Area 5, voters replaced incumbent Greg Nunley handily, awarding a majority to newcomer Patrick Isherwood, whose numbers indicate a solid win.
In the most watched race, between incumbent Carlton Jones and his opponent, Steve Harrell, in Area 3, Jones appears to have been unseated by a mere 55 votes.
Harrell’s Close Win
Harrell, who spent the election evening at an event for fellow colleague Isherwood, was surprised to find out he’d won. He had already decided to retire for the night when news of the result came.
“I guess I’m not a true politician, if I’m not willing to stay up until midnight to find out,” he said.
As election day approached, Jones was caught destroying one of Harrell’s election signs after Harrell’s son was arrested during a sting by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and accused of soliciting sex with a minor. But, on the whole, Harrell avoided involving himself in Jones’ attempts to link Harrell’s son’s legal trouble with the campaign.
The margin of the vote was narrow, with 993 (51.42%) votes for Harrell and 938 (48.58%) votes for Jones.
“I’m pleased,” Harrell said. “I ran what I consider to be a very fair and ethical campaign. I didn’t attack anybody. That was my game plan.”
This is the second time area voters have given Harrell a position of responsibility. He also serves as a member of the Tulare Local Health Care District’s governing board. He says he’ll be thanking his supporters by serving responsibly.
“They must have felt I have something to offer to them,” he said.
Isherwood Wins Five-Way Race
Late on election night, the apparent winner in Area 5 was still awaiting the county’s certified results before declaring victory.
“I’m pretty happy with where it came out,” Isherwood said. “I’m a candidate, so I like to wait until that final certification, but I’m very excited.”
Isherwood, an asset manager for Self-Help Enterprises, took a plurality of votes, garnering 39.68% of votes, according to late returns. That outpaced his nearest competition, Grady Dodson, by nearly 17 points. Isherwood had 1,576 votes to Dodson’s 907. Challengers Mario Flores had 793 votes (19.96%), and Courtney Oliver had 214 (5.39%).
Incumbent Greg Nunley, who recently ended a unsuccessful $16.5 million lawsuit against the city for libel and slander, received only 482 votes (12.13%).
Sigala Welcomes Newcomers
“I congratulate Steve Harrell and Patrick Isherwood on their apparent victories,” Tulare’s mayor said.
Mayor Sigala retained his own seat with 849 (60.95%) votes to 544 (39.05%) for Bernardo.
“I’m very proud of the race we put together and obviously humbled by the support of the voters,” he said. “I feel good about the last minute voters. Lots of folks we called said, ‘We dropped it (their ballot) off today.’”
Sigala and Jones have clashed frequently, and he was pleased to hear Jones is likely out.
“Early returns have him losing the race, and I hope they stay that way,” Sigala said.
He looks forward to working with two new councilmen, and Isherwood echoed that sentiment.
“I look forward to working with the council members. I think we’ve had a great relationship working on projects in the past,” Isherwood said. “I think we’ll have a good mix. It’ll be good to work with them moving forward.”
He hopes things will improve for Tulare.
“We have a new day,” Isherwood said.
Micari Ahead for Tulare County Supervisor
With 98.5% of the votes counted for Tulare County Supervisor District 1, challenger Larry Micari has the lead over incumbent Kyler Crocker. Not wanting to take a victory lap until all the votes are counted and the election is certified, Micari said he was very pleased with the result and optimistic about the final outcome.
During the March 3 Primary Micari held a similar lead against Crocker.
Mixed Bag for Sierra View Board of Directors
There was a mixed bag of results in the very contentious race for the Sierra View Medical Center Board of Directors. Three seats were up for grabs: Zones 1, 2, and 4.
Zone 1 was an open seat as incumbent Daniel Smith decided not to run. With 100% of the precincts reporting, Dr. Bindu Sagar Reddy won the election with 60.53% of the vote to 30.50% for Jyotsana (Ela) Pandya. Dr. Kiran Sandhu was on the ballot but had pulled out of the race.
In Zone 2, with 80% of the precincts reporting, incumbent Dr. Gaurang Pandya, Ela’s husband, was ahead of challenger Dr. Kuldeep Jagpal 74.48% to 25.52%
Zone 4 could experience an upset with Physicians Assitant Liberty Lomeli ahead of Incumbent Dr. Rakesh Jindal. With 90% of the precincts reporting Lomeli has 35.79%, Jindal has 33.84%, and Victoria Porter with 30.38%.
VUSD Areas 5 & 7 Gets New Reps
At least two new trustees–and perhaps a third–will join the Visalia Unified School District’s Governing Board.
With a clear margin of victory, Megan Casebeer-Soleno has edged out incumbent Neissen Foster in Area 5. Casebeer-Soleno, a deputy Tulare County district attorney, garnered 55.65% of the ballot with 2,978 votes to Foster’s 2,373 votes (44.35%). Foster is a postal worker.
In the Area 7 race, VUSD administrator Jacquie Gaebe won with a plurality of votes 2,476 or 40.07%. Her nearest opponent was Nora Allstedt with 1,404 (22.72%). Colijia Feliz took 1,052 votes (17.03%), Randy Evans had 802 votes (12.98%) and James Reynolds had 445 (7.20%).
VUSD Area 6 Is Close They Come
Even with all precincts reporting, the Area 6 race between incumbent Dr. Lucia Vázquez and challenger Christopher Pope is a virtual tie, with Pope leading by 34 votes. Vázquez took 1,203 votes (49.30%) and Pope has 1,237 (50.70%).
A recount seems likely, but there is no provision for automatic recounts under the California election law.
Tulare City School Incumbents Stay
At the Tulare City School District, incumbents Daniel Enriquez (Area 2) and Teresa Garcia (Area 5) both retained their seats on the governing board.
Enriquez took 1,924 votes (62.55%) against challenger Brian Spencer with 1,152 votes (37.45%). Garcia took 605 votes (50.88%) to challenger Connie Diaz’s 584 votes (49.12%).
Upset in Hanford City Council
In an upset, Hanford City Council member and former mayor Sue Sorensen lost her seat to challenger Kalish Morrow. This was Morrow’s second run for Hanford city council. With 100% of the precincts reporting Morrow won 43.79% of the vote to 31.62 for Sorensen. Jacob Sanchez came in third with 24.59%.
Catherine Doe contributed to this article