Democrat Jose Sigala, Republican incumbent Devon Mathis to face off in November runoff, Gubler concedes in Facebook post
TULARE COUNTY – While California’s primary was over two weeks ago, some of the closer races were not decided until last weekend. In particular the race for California’s 26th Assembly District encompassing Inyo County, almost all of Tulare County and part of Kern County.
After election night on June 5 Democratic challenger Jose Sigala, Republican challenger Warren Gubler and Republican incumbent Devon Mathis jockeyed for position for the top two spots. Mathis came out in the lead in the days following the primary while Sigala opened a steady lead over Gubler in the two weeks after the primary forcing Gubler to bow out of the race last weekend.
“Well folks, it seems we do not have the votes to continue on to the runoff in November. While we are certainly disappointed, I want you to know how grateful I am for those who supported and encouraged me during the campaign,” Gubler said in his concession post via Facebook. “I will keep working for our local citizens in my capacity on the Visalia City Council, and I look forward to exploring new ways to serve in the future.”
In a distant fourth came Jack Lavers with only 12% of the vote while Mathis and Sigala had 30.3% and 29.5% respectively.
According to the Tulare County Election Office there are 4,300 overall ballots left to be counted. Of those 2,500 need to be duplicated, meaning they need to be confirmed because a voter did not fill out the ballot properly, and 1,800 are provisional ballots left outstanding. Gubler, who is still trailing Sigala by as much as 705 votes as of Tuesday would have a small chance of overtaking Sigala for second place with the amount of ballots remaining.
Two weeks after election night and it looks as if one county race is still too close to call.
There is little doubt that Craig Wheaton will finish first in the primary election for the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, but he may have to do it again in November if he wants the job of Tulare County’s top educator.
Wheaton, the current deputy county superintendent of schools, leads Tim Hire, the current superintendent of Exeter Unified School District, by 2,800 votes with an estimated 3,700 to count as of press time. Since election night the percentage of votes has changed little for the two administrators as Wheaton has picked up a percentage point with 44.65% and Hire is still hovering below 39%. Unless a disproportionate number of the remaining votes are for Wheaton, the former Visalia Unified superintendent will not crack the 50% mark, forcing a runoff in November.
Longtime Tulare County educator Anthony Martin of Porterville has been mathematically eliminated after garnering just 16% of the vote.
But two more county seats have been decided since election night. Eddie Valero, an Ivy League-educated but grass roots driven Orosi native, finished with more than half of the votes in a three-person race for the District 4 seat on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. Valero has more than a 1,600-vote lead on Dr. Kuldip Thusu with an estimated 2,000 votes outstanding. Valero had 55% of the vote as of press time to Thusu’s 33%, meaning Valero will replace four-term Supervisor Steven Worthley, who did not seek re-election. Thusu, not a medical doctor but has a doctorate in experimental medicine, seemed to have the advantage heading into the primary as a sitting city councilmember in the district’s largest city in Dinuba and having several key endorsements. However, in the June 2014 primary District 4 voters in unincorporated communities, such as Valero’s hometown of Cutler-Orosi, represented 55% of voter registration, had a higher voter turnout than any of the cities, and cast three times as many ballots as Dinuba. Valero’s victory marks the first time an Orosi resident has held the District 4 seat since 1984, the earliest electronic records available.
Architect Dennis Townsend’s lead in the race for District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors has remained steady with more than 60% of the vote. The Sun-Gazette estimates there are only a few hundred votes left to be counted in District 5, not enough for former Porterville City Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola to catch her opponent. Townsend will replace Mike Ennis on the Board of Supervisors. Ennis announced last year that he would not seek a fourth term on the board.