The race for District 2 is moving on to November and will determine which side controls the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, after Jimmy Paulding defeated Lynn Compton and Bruce Gibson failed to gain the 50% needed to avoid a runoff, the latest vote count shows.
On Friday, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office released what is likely one of its last ballot updates, adding another 2,552 ballots to the total and leaving only about 262 ballots left to be counted.
The batch left Paulding with more than 600 votes over Compton in District 4, while Dawn Ortiz-Legg won the District 3 seat by a landslide.
In District 2, Gibson saw his hopes for a decisive victory erased, and now he’ll have to go head to head with Bruce Jones to determine whether a new liberal majority takes control of the board — or conservatives maintain their advantage.
Ortiz-Legg and Paulding won the District 3 and 4 seats, respectively, and the District 1 and 5 seats are currently occupied by John Peschong and Debbie Arnold. If Gibson wins the District 2 runoff, the board will have a liberal majority for the first time in eight years.
“The consequence of the Second District race is a big deal, and it’s about what kind of government this county is going to have,” Gibson told The Tribune last week.
In total, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office has now tallied 88,045 ballots countywide, bringing voter turnout to 48.4%.
Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano said her office will certify the election by Thursday, July 7.
Cano said she has heard rumors that people will request a recount, but she doesn’t know if the recount will be sought for the entire election, or just one race. Voters can request within five days of the election’s certification, she said.
District 2 sent to a runoff in the general election
The latest results for District 2 show Gibson slipping further below the 50%-plus-1 threshold he needed to win the seat outright.
Gibson’s initial election night lead of 114 votes crumbled with each of the last five updates. On Friday, he slipped below 50% by another 96 votes — sending the race to a runoff in the general election.
Jones, a retired orthopedic surgeon, was the second-place vote-getter with about 19% of the vote, and will challenge Gibson in the general election.
Geoff Auslen followed Jones by 276 votes. With only 293 ballots left to county countywide, Jones’ spot in the runoff is all but assured.
The trend line from the six ballot count updates show Jones building what was a narrow lead of 25 votes to 276 now.
Auslen and John Whitworth were both voted out of the race, ending with 17.4% and 16% of the vote, respectively.
On Friday, Gibson said he feels prepared to face Jones in the general election.
“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to campaign hard, and I think we’ll be successful,” Gibson told The Tribune.
While campaigning during the primary, Gibson noticed that the new District 2 voters cared about the same issues as his former constituents — from water management to homelessness to affordable housing, he said. These are the issues that he’ll focus on if elected, he said.
“There’s no fundamental difference in the things that are on people’s minds,” he said. “They want responsive, competent, policy-based government.”
Gibson noted that he has more experience than Jones, which gives him an advantage in the primary.
“I’ve got a deep knowledge of how county government works. I have a set of relationships,” Gibson said. “So the voters are going to have a very clear choice.”
Jones said his advantage over Gibson is his conservative values, such as fighting for managed spending and reducing taxes and fees, he said.
Jones said he will focus his campaign on public safety, in addition to supporting police and local businesses.
“I think the government needs to get out of the way so that business, agriculture and tourism can survive and recover from losses during the pandemic,” Jones said.
With 18,103 ballots counted in District 2, the voter turnout leveled at 49.2%.
Dawn Ortiz-Legg secures landslide victory in District 3
Ortiz-Legg, the appointed incumbent, breezed into an easy victory in District 3 with 62.7% of the vote.
With nearly all ballots counted, she won 5,177 more votes than challenger Stacy Korsgaden, who took 34.1% of the vote. Arold Ruiz trailed in third with 3.1%.
Ortiz-Legg was named to the Board of Supervisors in 2020 following the death of late Supervisor Adam Hill.
“It’s very nice to win a race on my own, considering that I was appointed by the governor,” Ortiz-Legg told The Tribune the morning after Election Day. “That’s pretty significant to actually know that the voters do support my platform.”
“I’m joyous,” Ortiz-Legg added.
Ortiz-Legg said she’ll focus on protecting the county’s water resources and finding solutions to homelessness, while expanding housing and energy generation.
“I look forward to supporting our legacy industries, and promoting innovations to address societal issues such as climate, mental health and workforce development,” Ortiz-Legg wrote in a statement. “That should keep me busy for the foreseeable future. “
Voter turnout landed at 49.8% in District 3 with TK ballots counted.
Jimmy Paulding holds on to win District 4
After watching his lead shrink in recent counts, Paulding ultimately built a big enough advantage to defeat the incumbent Compton.
As of Friday, his lead was at 638 votes. Paulding took 51.5% of the vote, while Compton took 48.5%.
“I am profoundly grateful,” Paulding wrote in a statement to The Tribune. “You can count on me to work tirelessly on your behalf — not only for those of you who voted for me, but for all of the people in District 4.”
The race was a rematch from four years ago, when Compton defeated Paulding by 60 votes.
When Paulding takes office, he said he will focus on restoring transparency and accountability to the Board of Supervisors.
He said he will purse solutions to big issues like water security, homelessness and public safety, and “restoring a willingness to work together across the aisle, build consensus and get stuff done,” he told The Tribune.
“I’m just really excited to get in there and do the people’s work,” he said.
Paulding also had parting words for Compton, who served on the Board of Supervisors for almost eight years.
“”While she and I disagree on many issues, I know she worked hard to do what she thought was best for District 4,” Paulding said in a statement. “I respect her willingness to serve these past eight years, and I wish her well.”
Compton failed to respond to multiple interview requests from The Tribune.
Voter turnout was 53.6% in District 4 — 5.2 points higher the county’s total voter turnout. As of Friday, 21,465 ballots had been counted in District 4.
Who won the other SLO County races?
Incumbent Elaina Cano won the race for county clerk-recorder with 61.8% of the vote. James Baugh and Stew Jenkins followed with 22.3% and about 16%, respectively.
Cano said she’s grateful to have the chance to continue her work leading the office.
“The people that did vote for me, that’s a sign of trust — and there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with each and every one of those votes,” Cano said. “I’m very thankful. I’m appreciative. I intend to still work hard for those that didn’t vote in my favor.”
During her term, she said she will continue voter outreach and education to increase the public’s trust in the Elections Office.
“The end goal is to provide transparency and trust and of course integrity with the entire process,” she said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. There’s a lot to do to instill the public’s trust.”
In the judge race, Mike Frye defeated Paul Phillips by a large margin, 66.9% to 33.1%.
Jennifer Ford won a partial term on the Morro Bay City Council with 57.5% of the vote. James Costanzo followed with 42.5%.
And the Oceano fire tax, which needed a two-thirds vote to pass, failed by a sizable margin. According to the near-final election results, 57.6% of voters supported the measure, and 42.4% were against it.