The 5th District Santa Cruz County Supervisor seat was still up for grabs Wednesday, June 6, as none of the four candidates had garnered enough votes Tuesday, June 5, to be declared the outright winner.
With all precincts in the district reporting unofficial results, Bruce McPherson led Eric Hammer by 1,164 votes — just 55 votes shy of the 50 percent plus 1 required to be declared the victor.
The race will continue until the Nov. 6 general election if no one reaches the 50-percent plus one threshold after all mail-in ballot are counted.
“It’s not over yet, that’s for sure,” McPherson said Wednesday. “Getting a majority with four people on that ballot is challenging.”
According to Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin, the final results of the June 5 election might not be available until July 3, the county’s deadline to certify the election.
Many military and absentee ballots are still waiting to be counted at the Santa Cruz County elections office, Pellerin said, that could alter the unofficial outcome reported this week.
“It’s going to be thousands (of ballots),” Pellerin said.
She hoped to have a better idea about the number of ballots remaining to be counted by Friday.
Of the 10,243 votes cast in the 5th District race, McPherson earned 5,068 votes (49.48 percent); Eric Hammer received 3,904 (38.11 percent); Bill Smallman got 638 votes (6.23 percent); and Susan Weber, who withdrew from the race in March but was too late to withdraw from the ballot, drew 566 votes (5.53 percent).
Sixty-seven votes went to write-in candidates, representing an additional 0.65 percent of the total votes.
Hammer expressed excitement about a likely runoff against McPherson, calling it “an opportunity.”
“We’ve got a couple of weeks to figure out what’s going on,” Hammer said. “It’s looking like it’s going to a runoff.”
McPherson said his campaign was going to be in a holding pattern until results are made official, but was “ready to go” if the voters' decision was pushed to November.
“It’s a wait-and-see game at this point,” he said.
In November 2008, a similar situation occurred in a race for a seat on the Lompico Water District board of directors. It took about a month for the winner to be announced.