Incumbents rule the night after initial Tulare County election returns

Vice Mayor Brian Poochigian with his family at the Visalia Country Club celebrating his victory

Tuesday’s elections produced few upsets in Tulare County, as of 11:00pm on election night — incumbents were able to rest easy with favorable results.

Visalia Vice-Mayor Brian Poochigian was celebrating with friends and family at the Visalia Country Club after the elections results were posted a little after 8:00pm tonight cementing his re-election in District 3.

As of publication time, Poochigian received 74% of the vote against newcomer Heather Carter with 50% of precincts reporting in his district.

Carter participated in the candidates’ forums, and was well versed in the issues, but did not do an extensive amount of campaigning.

This will be Poochigian’s second term after beating Merritt Wiseman in 2018.

Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen also easily held onto his seat in District 5 with 65% of the vote — and 13 of 14 precincts in the district reporting — against challenger Kris Korsgaden, who received 34%.

Korsgaden did extensive campaigning, but declined to participate in either of the candidates’ forums. Valley Voice reporting also raised questions as to whether he truly resided in District 5.

Liz Wynn, holding the District 1 seat, easily beat out her two challengers with 59% of the vote and all precincts in her district reporting. She was initially appointed to replace the late Councilmember Phil Cox.

The District 4 seat, held by retiring Councilmember Greg Collins, led three candidates to throw their hats in the ring and created the most buzz amongst the Visalia City Council races.

Three articulate and engaged candidates threw their hats in the ring, but Emmanuel Soto appeared in the lead with 50.93% and all precincts in his district reporting — after running a barebones campaign with only $4,000

His challengers, Marie Line-Labbee and Bob Ainley raised $11,000 and an impressive $57,000, respectively. Ainley was also supported by many of Visalia’s influential developers and farmers.

Ainley received 34.70% of the vote, and Line-Labbee received 14.37%.

The lone surprise of the night was Vicki Riddle’s victory over incumbent Steven Garver in Exeter City Council’s District D.

Riddle ran on a water and public safety platform, feeling that the Exeter City Council had not been responsive to its citizens. She pointed out that the current city council had neglected to pursue state grants to repair their water infrastructure, said that violent crime in Exeter is higher than in other towns their size, and that the Exeter Police Department needs more officers.

Exeter City Police Officers speaking during public comment tonight during the city council meeting

In fact, many members of the Exeter Police Department attended Exeter City Council’s meeting tonight to speak during public comment to request a raise for their officers.

Riddle won with 59% of the vote to Garver’s 40%.

The closest race this election was Visalia Unified School District’s Area 2, with incumbent Juan Guerrero trailing challenger Paul Belt by only ten votes. At press time this race is too close to call.

In the VUSD race for Area 4, Todd Oto led by 45.06%, with incumbent Catalina Blair trailing behind at 34.96%, challenger Crystal Reynolds farther behind at 14.26%, and Jesus Morales-Grace at 5.73%.

Two other VUSD incumbents fared better.

Area 1 incumbent Walta Gamoian led with 61.77% of the vote to challenger Jesse Perez’ 38.23%, and Randy Villegas took 70.35% of the vote over challenger Jonelle Murphy at 29.65%.

Finally, Greg Sherman, incumbent for College of the Sequoias Ward 1 had an easy victory, earning re-election with 72% of the vote against challenger Neissan Foster, a former VUSD trustee.

4 thoughts on “Incumbents rule the night after initial Tulare County election returns

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  1. I was disappointed Bob Ainley didn’t win this seat, not only because I liked his policy positions, but I thought his experience and knowledge was above and beyond the other candidates. No, I don’t believe the best candidate won because I thought Bob Ainley would be an asset on city council and his endorsements speak for themselves, but the residents in the district have chosen, so I respect their decision.

    • Ainley didn’t even live in this district and literally moved right before the election just so he could try and buy this seat with the rest of his rich buddies.

      Glad the voters saw right through that and elected someone who actually looks like they care about the community more than their own ego. Also applaud you for respecting the will of voters, unlike some of these crazy Republicans who think they either win, or “the other side cheated”

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