Smith Takes the Fourth
Parker concedes with provisional ballots still outstanding.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
After a very tight race for 4th District Supervisor seat that was too close to call, and was not finally decided until a week after Election Day, Seaside Mayor Jerry Smith finally won by 210 votes.
On Nov. 9, after election department officials finished counting nearly 4,000 absentee ballots from the 4th District, contender Jane Parker conceded the race to Smith.
“I appreciate the strong support of the voters in the 4th District,” Parker said, “And it’s very, very close. But I don’t think there are enough remaining votes to close the gap and put meon top.”
An estimated 6,800 provisional ballots—given to voters who show up at a polling place where their name is not listed on the voting roll—have notbeen processed.
These ballots are more time-consuming because election department workers must verify the signatures on the ballots and determine whether or not the voter is registered. According to Registrar of Voters Tony Anchundo, about 75 percent of those ballots are likely to be valid, based on previous elections.
But Anchundo said it’s impossible to estimate how many of the provisional ballots came from District 4.
“That universe is so vague and ambiguous,” he says. “I can’t even guesstimate.”
At about 5:30pm, Parker called Smith and left a message on his answering machine.
“I congratulated him on a good race, a close race, and I told him I’d see him around,” Parker says. “Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done in the county and I plan to be involved. I won’t be a sitting supervisor, but I do plan to continue to work on these issues and hold our county leadership accountable to the vision that a good half—if not more—of the voters really responded to.”
Smith, who was at the elections department Tuesday to receive the post-election update, left Salinas thinking he and Parker would not know who won the race until possibly Thanksgiving—Anchundo’s goal for sorting the remaining provisional ballots.
He didn’t know he won the seat until he arrived home in Seaside.
“I’m very happy,” he said in a phone interview with the Weekly. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here to receive Jane’s call. We had a very hard race, and I’m really a little surprised. I thought this was going to go down to the final wire, but, as I said before, I was always optimistic about winning. The fact that it was as close indicated that people of this community want us to deal with the issues that we posed.”
By late Election Night, Smith appeared to have won the seat by a narrow margin. However, as workers continued to count late absentee ballots through the end of last week and early into this week, Parker slowly picked up votes, closing the gap from 300 to 210, as of Nov. 9. But following the latest count, Parker said she didn’t think that the provisional ballots would make a difference in her race.
She said she hopes that Smith will fight for things like affordable housing and healthcare, and other hot topics repeatedly mentioned as top priorities to District 4 voters.
Smith says he will.
“My top priority is to work with the other supervisors, and we’ll focus on how to move this county forward, how to provide jobs and housing and opportunities for our children,” he said. “The issues are still the same: affordable housing is an issue, the county budget is an issue, a sustainable water supplyis an issue, our traffic circulation is an issue, and certainly public safety is something that I feel very strongly about.”
Smith will take office in January. He will replace outgoing Supervisor Edith Johnsen.