The 2020 election has been nothing but a nail-biter, even in local races.
For the first time in history, nearly 10,000 Colusa County registered voters had easy access to the democratic process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only did Colusa County election officials mail a whopping 9,807 ballots to all registered voters, the state also extended the time for the ballots to be counted.
Although a trickle of ballots may still come in with a Nov. 3 postmark, 7,759 out of the 9,807 ballots, a 79.12 percent voter turnout, had been counted by Friday. Since election night, eight days ago, some races, even with daily updates, have been very close to call.
“I have been cautiously optimistic but am starting to feel better after Friday’s count,” said Daurice Kalfsbeek Smith, who was in a run-off election with Dave Markss for the District 2 seat on the Colusa County Board of Supervisors.
If certified, Smith will replace Supervisor John Loudon, who did not seek reelection in 2020.
“Thank you District 2 for believing in me,” Smith said. “It is such an honor to be your Supervisor. Grimes and Colusa voters turned out in record numbers to support the election and make their voices heard. I am so grateful and ready to get to work.”
Although not yet certified, this year’s election, which saw the rare toss out of an incumbent president after just one term, turned out to be a huge victory for some local incumbents, but a defeat for others.
Former Colusa Mayor Greg Ponciano secured his reelection to the City Council at the top of the leaderboard. The six-person race for three open seats was the most contested Colusa City Council race since 2012.
Ponciano, who has served eight years, won a third term with 1,261 votes. He will be joined by newcomers Daniel Vaca (1,020 votes) and Denise Conrado (1,016 votes).
“I would like to thank everyone for the support and trust for me to serve the City of Colusa for another four years,” Ponciano said. “I am humbled and grateful for their confidence.”
Incumbent Brent Nobles (826 votes), who came in fourth, is off the council after serving two years. Colusa natives Ryan Codorniz (706 votes) and Matthew Recsche (530 votes) made their debut on the 2020 ballot and could possibly return in the 2022 midterm election when two seats are again up for grabs.
“I commend everyone who ran, and congratulate new councilmembers Conrado and Vaca,” added Ponciano, who also thanked his family.
Incumbent Colusa City Treasurer Robin Rauch was in a tight race with challenger Devin Kelly, but as of Friday, Kelly (1,084 votes) had 52.34 percent of the vote over Rauch (987 votes).
A challenger also unseated an incumbent in the Williams City Council race.
Former Mayor John Troughton Jr. and Councilman Roberto Mendoza have been in a too-close-to-call (until official) battle to keep their seats, after challenger Don Parsons turned out to be the top vote getter.
Parsons, in his first run for local office, garnered 643 votes to secure his spot on the City Council. Mendoza edged out Troughton, 612 to 602.
In Williams, 1,319 votes were cast out of 1,852 eligible, with voters also defeating Measure B with 57.19 percent (716 votes) voting no. The measure to increase the local sales tax a half cent required a 50 percent plus one affirmative vote to pass.
“While there are still votes remaining to be counted, I am humbled by the support I received,” Parson said Monday. “With measure B going down in defeat,the city now has to look at other means to make repairs to city water sewer and roads. I hope that a major failure does not occur any time soon.”
It was also win some, lose some for incumbents in local school board races.
Three challengers in the Williams Unified School District board race unseated the only incumbent running in the Nov. 3 election.
Kathleen Bautista (1,031 votes), Cesar Perez (926 votes) and Former Williams Mayor Patricia Ash (835 votes) will become the new majority, along with Ed Davis, who was not on the ballot as the single candidate for the 2-year seat. The quest by four newcomers to possibly shake up the district’s administration resulted in the unseating of appointed incumbent Alejandra Lopez, who received just 520 or 15.07 percent of the vote.
On the Colusa school board, challenger Erin Steidlmayer picked up 1,961 votes to topple incumbent Michael Phenicie (1,311 votes) from the school board. Current Board President Melissa Yerxa Ortiz (1,607 votes) and Kelli Griffith-Garcia (1,582 votes) will retain their seats for four more years.
On the Pierce school board, incumbents Abel Gomez Sr. (1,046 votes) and Current Board President George Green Jr. (1069 votes) will retain their seats, with the addition of former Board President John Friel Sr. (1,013 votes), who is making a return to the board after a brief hiatus.
Challenger Scott Arens picked up 667 votes and Matt Wilkerson picked up 350 votes.
In the race for Trustee Area 4 on the Colusa County Board of Education, former Maxwell School Board President Cristy Edwards garnered 58.39 percent or 884 votes to secure a win over incumbent Trustee Lynn Burnham (630 votes).
Williams City Clerk Mariana Pineda and Colusa City Clerk Shelly Kittle were reelected as well, running as unopposed candidates.
In the national contest, votes cast as of Friday, 57.34 percent or 4,399 votes were for incumbent President Donald J. Trump (Mike Pence). Joe Biden (Kamala Harris) picked up 3,114 votes. There were 79 votes cast for Libetarian candidate Jo Jorgensen (Spike Cohen); 28 for Independent candidate Rocky De La Fuente (Kanye West); 27 for Peace and Freedom candidate Gloria La Riva (Sunil Freeman); and 25 for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins (Angela Walker).
On Election Day, 666 voters cast their ballot at the polls, compared to 1,912 who voted in person in 2018. Total voter turnout four years ago in Colusa County was 66.12 percent.