Doing the math

County workers counting the late ballots for final results

Tami Ritter and Randall Stone watch election results with other Democrats at Beatnik’s Coffee House.

Tami Ritter and Randall Stone watch election results with other Democrats at Beatnik’s Coffee House.

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It’s all over but the counting of last-minute absentee and provisional ballots—at least at the Chico City Council level. While Mayor Ann Schwab came in first with 11,279 early absentee and Election Day precinct votes, only eight votes separate fourth-place finisher Randall Stone and fifth-place finisher Andrew Coolidge in the race for four council seats.

Tami Ritter (9,978 votes) is a solid second-place finisher, and Sean Morgan (9,115 votes) is sitting comfortably in third place. Appointed incumbent Bob Evans came in fifth and so will be off the council by the end of this year. Depending on how the Stone-Coolidge contest goes, the council will have either a 4-3 or 5-2 liberal bent.

A County Clerk’s Office employee said there were “a lot” of ballots yet to count and that the final tally should be posted by Saturday (Oct. 10). Getting a grip on how many uncounted ballots are from Chico precincts is an inexact science. In the 2008 presidential election, which saw a similar voter turnout of about 80 percent, there was total of 55,446 countywide mail-in or provisional ballots—those that may or may not be valid. This year, by Election Day, the clerk had received 41,587 such ballots, with 12,904 from within the city of Chico. If the numbers stay constant, that could mean another 14,000 countywide ballots have yet to be counted and about one-quarter of them (about 3,500) could be from Chico.

Measure J, the effort to protect the city’s annual $900,000 utility tax based on cell phone use, went down by a 53-47 percent margin, while Measure K, which asked voters to protest the Supreme Court ruling that recognizes “corporate personhood” was approved with 58 percent of the vote.

Doug LaMalfa stands between Jim Nielsen, right, and Dan Logue at the Republican candidate gathering in Chico’s Holiday Inn on election night.

Photo By Kyle emery

Measure L, which called for a city charter change to have the city clerk be appointed by and report to the City Council rather than the city manager, was approved with 64 percent of the vote, and Measure E, the Chico Unified School District bond measure to fund school maintenance, was approved by 63 percent of the voters.

In the 1st Congressional District race, Republican Doug LaMalfa has a commanding 58 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger and second-time candidate Jim Reed, who lost to longtime incumbent Wally Herger by virtually the same count two years ago.

Republican Dan Logue has retained his 3rd District Assembly seat with 56 percent of the vote over Democrat Charles Rouse. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) is barely holding onto the needed 50 percent-plus-one vote in the special election to fill the District 4 State Senate seat that opened up when LaMalfa stepped down on Aug. 31 to concentrate on his run for Congress and possibly save the taxpayers from having to fund a standalone special election.

If Nielsen doesn’t get enough votes, there will be a taxpayer-funded runoff in January between him and the second-place finisher, who right now is Magalia Democrat Mickey Harrington (28 percent), followed by Logue (11 percent), who withdrew from the race on his doctor’s orders but too late to remove his name from the ballot, and current Chico Unified School Board Trustee Jann Reed (6 percent), who ran as an independent.

Speaking of the school board, incumbent Liz Griffin (32 percent) and newcomer Linda Hovey (28 percent) are ahead of Gary Loustale (24 percent) and Erik Lyon (17 percent) for the two open seats. And in the contest for the 5th District Supervisor seat, Doug Teeter beat Paradise Town Councilman Joe DiDuca. In the race to fill DiDuca’s and two other Town Council seats, Greg Bolin (35 percent), Mayor Woody Culleton (27 percent) and John Rawlings (26 percent) finished ahead of veteran candidate Stan McEtchin (11 percent).

In statewide measures, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Prop. 30, a temporary tax increase to fund schools and public safety, squeaked by with 54 percent of the vote, though 53 percent of Butte County voters rejected it. Statewide 53 percent of voters said no to Prop. 37, the call for labeling genetically modified foods, with 57 percent of the voters in ag-based Butte County rejecting the effort.

The Butte County Clerk’s Office has 30 days to vet and tally the mountain of uncounted ballots that are currently sitting in a county warehouse in Oroville.