SALINAS — With most votes cast across Monterey County in last week’s primary election now counted and reported, executive director of Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley Regina Gage has jumped ahead of Salinas Mayor Kimbley Craig in the District 2 Monterey County Board of Supervisors race for second place.
After early returns had Gage trailing behind Craig by less than 2%, updated results released Tuesday afternoon left Gage with 19.76% of the 10,950 votes counted and Craig just below at 19.55%. If this stands, Gage will face top vote-getter Glenn Church in a November runoff to determine the next North County Board of Supervisors representative. Church, who runs Church Christmas Tree Farms in Royal Oaks, has maintained a double-digit lead since the June 7 primary, with the most recent returns warranting the local businessman 33.53% of votes counted.
Reflecting on updated results Wednesday afternoon, Gage said she’s feeling grateful.
“Obviously, we’re very optimistic,” she said. “It’s not final, but it’s been a real nail-biter. … We’ve had a lot of people helping us, supporting us and sending us wonderful kind regards. So it’s really been quite the experience.”
Gage said she went into the six-way race with “eyes wide open,” and that even though she retained optimism from the start, she knew the vote could — and did — go in six different directions.
Slipping into second, Gage finds herself in a familiar position. In 2018, Gage was the runner-up to current — but soon-to-be-retired — District 2 Supervisor John Phillips. Running as the incumbent in the two-person race, Phillips received 58.31% of the primary vote to Gage’s 41.69% to win reelection outright. This time around, Gage is hopeful a head-to-head contest with Church in the fall would turn out in her favor.
“When you’re the only one running against an incumbent, it’s a very different experience,” she said. “No matter how qualified you are or how your opponent is performing, it’s an uphill battle. This time, with no incumbent and an open seat, several candidates came out to throw their hats in the ring. That’s the beauty of democracy. … (Going into a runoff), I feel very good. We’ve had a lot of support from men and women in the county… and there’s a lot of people who voted for other candidates, so there’s a lot of votes available.”
Meanwhile, as last results trickle in, Craig is maintaining positivity through the end of the race.
“I’m assured there are ballots left to count, so my campaign team is headed down to the elections department to ensure provisional ballots and signature verifications are reviewed,” Craig said by text message Wednesday. “I am optimistic with the process of counting ballots all the way through the certification of the election.”
According to the Monterey County Elections Office, results will be certified no later than July 7. Craig emphasized her continued commitment to community members as Salinas mayor as her campaign keeps an eye on the results.
“In the meantime, I still have a job to do as Mayor of the largest city in Monterey County, serving the amazing residents of Salinas,” she said.
As for other results reported this week, updates revealed little change from initial returns.
In the contest for Monterey County sheriff, Marina Police Chief Tina Nieto retained a decisive lead with 48.90% of 60,550 votes counted, though Tuesday’s returns still left Nieto short of the 50% plus one tally needed to win the election outright. Rather, Nieto appears on her way to a runoff with Monterey County sheriff’s Capt. Joe Moses, the next closest candidate at 25.72%.
Keeping an edge in the sprint for California State Assembly District 30, Democrat Dawn Addis has received 40.81% of 34,791 votes counted, followed by Republican Vicki Nohdren at 30.96%. The pair, firmly positioned in first and second, will now vie for the top spot on the November ballot.
One race bound for outright election is the two-way contest for an open seat on the Monterey County Board of Education, as Annette Yee Steck rang in 57.55% of 17,250 votes counted in Tuesday’s update — enough to snag her the win over competing candidate Jake Odello, who trailed behind at 42.45%.
Looking to key issues on the primary ballot, the long-awaited — and debated — Measure B, which would halt the currently planned 1.5-mile Del Rey Oaks extension to the Fort Ord Regional Trail and Greenway project, appears headed for defeat. As of Tuesday, “No” votes cast against the citizen initiative accounted for 50.96% of 783 votes counted. “Yes” on the measure came in at 49.04%, missing the simple majority mark needed for passage by 16 votes.
The elections office currently has 13 conditional provisional votes to count but requires information from other counties to complete its tally, Monterey County Registrar of Voters Gina Martinez said in an email Wednesday. There are also lingering vote-by-mail envelopes that require a signature statement from voters, Martinez added, as well as vote-by-mail ballots returned in person to other election officials in the state that are making their way to the elections office. Though the official certification deadline is three weeks away, Martinez assured the elections office will announce whether results can be finalized sooner.
This year, Monterey County saw a primary election turnout — so far — of 31%. In 2018, local voter turnout was 37.11%.
All current and past election results are available at montereycountyelections.us.
Contributed by local news sources