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Eastside Contenders 10 Votes Apart; Jordan Wins Mesa Contest for Santa Barbara Council

Second Round of Ballot Counting Decides District 2, but District 1 Still Tight

District 2 candidate Michael Jordan smiles with the semi-final election results showing a comfortable lead against four other competitors. (November 5, 2019) | Credit: Paul Wellman

With 2,200 additional ballots having been counted election night, the results for the City of Santa Barbara City Council race appear to be only halfway resolved. In District 2, candidate Michael Jordan — a 10-year planning commissioner and longtime City Hall insider — has amassed such a lead over his closest challenger, first-time candidate Brian Campbell, that even if Campbell were to take all the remaining ballots still to be counted — about 150 — he still could not win. Much less resolved, however, is the fate of District 1, which encompasses the city’s Eastside.

On the Mesa, Jordan is now ahead with 1,495 votes while Campbell has 1,118. Coming in third place is Teri Jory, president of the Our Mesa Neighborhood organization. Campbell’s numbers are especially notable given that he’s never run for office before and is a Republican in a heavily Democratic district. He bombarded the district with yard signs and complained about City Hall inaction in addressing the homeless problem. The Mesa, he said at one forum, was “becoming a skid row.” Coming in fourth was Tavis Boise with 369 votes. Boise wasted little opportunity to raise the issue of climate change and global warming. Coming in fifth was Luis Esparza with 301 votes. Esparza, a declined-to-state candidate, struck a low-key posture while raising an alarm about the unhealthy influence of special interests and the Democratic Party. 

Photo: Paul WellmanJoined by family, friends, and supporters, a cautiously optimistic Alejandra Gutierrez celebrates her current 10 vote lead after the second round of District 1 election results on Friday afternoon. November 8, 2019)

In District 1, challenger and first-time candidate Alejandra Gutierrez on Tuesday’s election night was 31 votes behind incumbent Jason Dominguez. As of Friday’s afternoon, she was 10 votes ahead. With more than 100  ballots still be counted, it’s way too close to call. With margins so tight, a recount is well within the bounds of both possibility and probability. Candidate Cruzito Cruz — now on his sixth campaign — saw his tally increase by about 30 votes; he now has 97, likely considerably more than the eventual margin of victory. 

Gutierrez was staying calm: “We don’t know anything yet. This is such a tight race. I want to thank everyone who volunteered on my campaign and all the hard work put into giving the Eastside a voice.”

Although both Gutierrez and Dominguez are card-carrying Democrats, Gutierrez enjoyed the blessings of the local Democratic Party machine, whose leaders have no love left to lose where incumbent Dominguez is concerned. Those differences are as personal as they are political. Dominguez and Mayor Cathy Murillo have clashed openly on the dais and the two are currently among the field now vying for the State Assembly seat vacancy created when Assemblymember Monique Limón announced she would be running for State Senate. That election takes place this March. As of this writing, Gutierrez has 939 votes, Dominguez has 929, and Cruz has 97.

Dominguez commented, “Votes are still being counted, and this is an incredibly close race. I am deeply appreciative of all the support I have received, and I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished over the last four years. I am proud to have helped secure more funding to address homelessness, championed policies to combat climate change, and revitalized our local parks and city services. I look forward to continuing to serve our region in whatever ways I can.”

The final results should be in by next Friday.

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