Marsha Croninger
Paul Wellman

Despite finding herself nearly 1,000 votes behind after election night, Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees hopeful Marsha Croninger is on the brink of a remarkable comeback. Based on as yet uncertified numbers released by the County Elections office yesterday afternoon, Croninger — who was one of the driving forces behind the challenger slate that was looking to unseat the four incumbents — has ridden a wave of provisional and mail-in ballots. She’s not only closed the gap on Desmond O’Neill but, with 100 percent of the ballots cast now counted, has actually passed the incumbent by some 123 votes.

If the numbers hold — and according to the County Elections Division, they should — Croninger would join fellow challengers Marty Blum, Peter Haslund, and Lisa Macker when they are sworn in as new trustees early next month.

Desmond O'Neill
Paul Wellman (file)

When the dust settled on election night, Croninger found herself with 16,218 votes, good enough for fourth place in the District 3 race and exactly 820 votes behind second-place finisher Desmond O’Neill. With the top two vote-earners in that district gaining a seat on the seven-member SBCC Board of Trustees, the showing — though impressive for the political newbie — was obviously disappointing as it seemed, with a large majority of precincts reporting, that Croninger would be the only member of the challengers slate to not be victorious, despite steadily closing the gap on O’Neill as the night wore on.

However, crunching numbers late that night, fellow challenger and eventual District 4 winner Lisa Macker opined, “Obviously we are happy, but we have to get Marsha in there, too. It’s not over yet. She can still do this — those numbers just need to keep on coming up.” Turns out, that is exactly what happened. O’Neill declined to comment on today’s news.

As per the Elections office this morning, Croninger now has 21,484 votes to O’Neill’s 21,361 (while District 3 winner Marty Blum took home 33,192 and fourth-place finisher Joe Dobbs ended up with 21,318). Technically speaking, Croninger earned 22.01 percent of the vote while O’Neill had 21.88 percent. According to Billie Alvarez, the county’s Election Division manager, the major late-hour swing was made possible by such a large volume of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots. In fact, there were approximately 22,000 vote-by-mail votes and some 6,000 provisionals cast.

The results are scheduled to be certified on November 30.


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