Victory within reach for Esmeralda Soria in the CA Assembly race


Democrat Esmeralda Soria will face Republican Mark Pazin in the 27th District Assembly race in November.

Fresno Bee File

Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria continues to hold a slim but increasingly secure lead over Mark Pazin in their controversial contest to represent the 27th Assembly District in the California Legislature.

The latest results also clear up many of the Fresno County races, but a congressional seat remains too close to call.

After updated election results Friday afternoon in Fresno and Madera counties, Democrat Soria has 44,784 votes, or 51.2 percent, while Republican Mark Pazin, the former Merced County sheriff, has 42,734, or 48.8%. The margin of around 2,050 votes is only a slight change from the midweek totals.

The 27th District includes parts of Fresno, Merced, and Madera counties. Across all three counties, regardless of district, there are approximately 3,300 ballots left to be processed and counted.

For Pazin to make up the difference on Soria, not only would the lion’s share of those unprocessed ballots have to come from voters in the 27th District, but Pazin would have to garner the vast majority.

One North Valley race that remains highly uncertain is in the 13th congressional district. This hotly contested election pitted longtime National Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, against Republican businessman and farmer John Duarte of Hughson.

Since election night Nov. 8, the lead has wavered between the two men, and at no time has the margin even reached a percentage point.

That did not change after Friday’s updates from Fresno and Madera counties, which are part of the district along with Merced County and parts of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Duarte now has 63,539 votes, or 50.3% of the votes counted to date, compared to 62,674 for Gray – a margin of 865 votes or six tenths of a percentage point.

The California secretary of state’s office reported Friday that Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties still have more than 60,000 ballots to process and count. But it’s unclear how many of those ballots came from voters in the 13th District.

The 13th remains closely watched nationally as a victory for Duarte would add to the narrow margin the Republican Party has now secured in the U.S. House of Representatives, while a victory for Gray would strengthen the position of the Democrats in as a minority party.

In addition to multi-county races for the Assembly and House of Representatives, Fresno County’s latest update helped consolidate results in a slew of local contests starting in the Nov. 8 midterm general election. .

Unified Fresno

In one of the Fresno Unified School District’s most closely watched board races, incumbent Veva Islas widened her lead over challenger Karen Steed, a retired FUSD teacher, for area seat. from McLane High School in the district.

The margin between the two candidates, which was as narrow as 25 votes on election night, increased to 325 votes. That gives Islas nearly 45% of the vote, compared to Steed’s 39.7%. Chemist Michelle Scire, a second challenger, trails with 15.2%.

There was talk of a possible recount in that race, according to Islas, although Steed neither confirmed nor denied his intentions to request one during an interview on Tuesday.

As for the other three Fresno Unified seats that were up for election, two incumbents and a challenger maintained command trails with every count updated since election night.

In the Bullard High School area, challenger Susan Wittrup, a retired FUSD school psychologist, edges out incumbent Terry Slatic, a retired United States Marine Corps major, by nearly 6,000 votes. She took 58% of the vote against 26% for Slatic. FUSD teacher James Barr and retired FUSD campus security assistant Michael Haynes are third and fourth with 11.7% and 4.3% of the vote respectively.

Holders of the remaining two races swooped in on election night and have retained them ever since. Keshia Thomas, the incumbent of Edison High in the district, maintains a massive lead of more than 2,000 votes over her only opponent Wayne Horton. Thomas has 76% to Horton’s 23.8%.

Fresno Unified’s Sunnyside High area titular Valerie F. Davis is in first place in a group of four by just under 2,000 votes. She leads with 47.4% to second place to alternative educator Karl C. Diaz with about 23.3% of the vote. Educator Tammy McMahon-Gorans follows with 20.7% of the vote, and marketer Michael Osmer is in last place with 8.5%.

Unified Clovis

Little has also changed in Clovis Unified’s two races on the ballot.

Clint Olivier, a nonprofit executive and former Fresno City Council member, still leads the competition for the district’s Zone 1 seat with more than 4,000 votes. He took communications consultant Samantha Bauer’s 39.3% to 32.4%. Businessman Chuck Der Manouel and real estate agent Joanne Burton trailed with around 23.5% and 4.6% of the vote, respectively.

In the race for the Zone 6 seat, parent and teacher Deena Combs-Flores leads easily with more than 14,000 votes. She took 62% of retired business owner Bill Whitmore’s 37.9%.

Clovis Town Hall

The departure of two Clovis City Council incumbents meant there would be at least two newcomers after the November 8 election results were finalized. The top voters remain unchanged from election night among the crowded field of 10 candidates. Voters were asked to select up to three candidates on the ballot.

Incumbent Drew Bessinger continues to lead the overall race with 21.5% of the vote, while Republican party activist Diane Pearce is second with 20.9%. Matt Basgall heads for the third council seat with 20.1% of the vote. Over 85,000 votes were counted in the contest.

The three are safely ahead of their closest rival, Joshua Phanco, who garnered 8.2% of the vote. No other candidate exceeded 7% in the electoral results.

Local ballot measures

No big change has occurred in the results of four important local ballot measures that were put to Fresno County voters last week. Three sales tax measures are all being defeated, while a tax on hotel rooms/lodging in the town of Clovis far outweighs it.

Fresno County Measure C: The proposal to extend the Fresno County half-cent sales tax for another 30 years to help pay for road and transportation improvements still seems doomed. The “yes” votes for measure C so far total 121,787 votes, or 58.03%. But that falls short of the two-thirds majority, or 66.67%, required to pass. Nearly 42% of voters said no to the extension of the tax.

Fresno County E-Measurement: The 0.2% countywide sales tax proposed to support improvements to college programs as well as facilities in Fresno State required a simple majority of 50% plus one vote to pass. But despite a massive campaign endorsed by Fresno entrepreneur and developer Richard Spencer, Measure E is heading for defeat as 53.1% of voters rejected the measure. This compares to 46.9% who voted yes.

Measure M of the city of Fresno: The 0.125 percent sales tax proposed by the Fresno City Council to provide money for veterans’ programs and facilities falls far short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass. Of nearly 100,000 votes cast in the city, Measure M had received “yes” votes from about 59.2% of voters, compared to “no” votes at 40.8%.

Clovis City Measure B: Measure B before the voters of the city of Clovis propose to increase the tourist tax on hotels and accommodation from the current rate of 10% to 12%. With over 36,000 votes cast and counted so far, he is heading for an easy victory with 69.7%, topping ‘no’ votes at 30.3%. Measure B required a simple majority of 50% plus one vote to pass.

Julianna Morano, a journalist at the Fresno Bee Education Lab, contributed to this report.

This story was originally published November 18, 2022 7:03 p.m.

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Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked as a reporter and editor in the area since 1986 and has worked for The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and also covers the California High Speed ​​Rail Project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a degree in journalism from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.
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