Crews ‘beefed up’ to count Merced District 6 bal­lots

Merced Sun-Star - - Front Page - BY THADDEUS MILLER tmiller@mer­ced­sun-star.com

Daily up­dates are planned by the Merced County Reg­is­trar of Vot­ers Of­fice as one Merced race has turned into a nail­biter.

Just five votes sep­a­rate District 6 can­di­date Del­ray Shel­ton (1,178) from op­po­nent John Bliss (1,173) in the bid for the new north­ern­most sec­tion of Merced.

As waves of up­dates be­came pub­lic on Elec­tion Day, the race went back and forth sev­eral times. The elec­tion has the po­ten­tial to waf­fle more as thou­sands of mail-in and other bal­lots re­main to be counted, ac­cord­ing to Reg­is­trar Bar­bara Levey.

“Once we process ev­ery­thing, we’ll see where it lies,” she said. “It’s only a re­count if one of the can­di­dates re­quests it.”

Not­ing that the pub­lic is anx­ious for re­sults, Levey said she “beefed up” the crews that count bal­lots in an at­tempt to get to the re­sults sooner. It was not im­me­di­ately clear ex­actly how many pro­vi­sional and other bal­lots are left to be counted.

The early signs show that the elec­tion gar­nered a bet­ter turn out than the typ­i­cal races in Merced County, she said.

Bliss, a 55-year-old high school teacher, noted the large num­ber of bal­lots still to be counted. “Well, I knew this would be a very close elec­tion,” he said. “Both of us worked very hard and I be­lieve that we both want ev­ery vote to count.”

Also not­ing the out­stand­ing bal­lots, 34-year-old Shel­ton said he ex­pects the out­come will take some time to be­come clear.

“This is ob­vi­ously a closer re­sult than I think ei­ther can­di­date wants,” the Merced County Sher­iff’s sergeant said.

“Most of the up­dates through­out the evening showed in­creased sup­port for my can­di­dacy, so I am op­ti­mistic.”

Mayor Mike Mur­phy, an at­tor­ney, claimed vic­tory with more than 70 per­cent of the vote, or 6,862 votes, on Tues­day in his race against Mon­ica Kay Villa, a home­less woman who has run sev­eral times for elected of­fice in the past five years. She earned 2,651 votes in Tues­day’s elec­tion.

“I’m cer­tainly pleased with the re­sult,” the 39-year-old Mur­phy said on Tues­day night. “It feels good to have been on for two years and to serve as mayor. It’s a good time for our city.”

Coun­cilmem­ber Kevin Blake de­clared vic­tory Tues­day night, se­cur­ing a se­cond term on the coun­cil with 56.3 per­cent of the vote, which was 1,333 votes, for District 4. The Merced County Sher­iff’s sergeant out­paced the 1,032 votes (43.6 per­cent) col­lected by UC Merced em­ployee Karla Sei­jas.

“I think that (vot­ers) are happy with the di­rec­tion of the city and my work on the city coun­cil the past five years,” the 38-year-old said.

The District 2 race was over be­fore it started with only one can­di­date, Fer­nando Echevar­ria, qual­i­fied for the bal­lot. His votes out­paced write-in can­di­date Ron­nie De Anda at 398 and 216 write-in votes, re­spec­tively.

“I’m hum­bled by the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that lay ahead of me,” the 56-year-old said. “I’m anx­ious to roll up my sleeves and get started.”

THADDEUS MILLER tmiller@mer­ced­sun­star.com

It will take time for the win­ner to be de­ter­mined be­tween District 6 can­di­date Del­ray Shel­ton, left, and op­po­nent John Bliss in the bid for the new north­ern­most sec­tion of Merced. The re­sults are close with only five votes, at one time, sep­a­rat­ing the two.

THADDEUS MILLER tmiller@mer­ced­sun­star.com

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