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April 3, 2020

San Benito County Board of Supervisors chair Jaime de La Cruz trailing challenger Bea Gonzales

With hundreds of vote-by-mail ballot still uncounted as of 6:35 pm Friday, March 6, one San Benito County supervisor was assured of re-election, a four-term incumbent was staring at a possible upset loss and one November race was set.

The lingering uncertainty in the supervisor primary election results was in the mostly-Hollister District 5, where teacher Bea Gonzales pulled ahead of four-term incumbent Jaime de La Cruz on Friday, by 66 votes. Elections officials estimated Friday that approximately 750 ballots remained to be counted in District 5.

Gonzales had trailed De La Cruz when polls closed on Election Day, March 3, by 17 votes.

De La Cruz, the current chair of the Board of Supervisors who collected three times as many campaign contributions as his opponent, most of it from labor unions and county vendors, saw his early lead dwindle steadily through election night. He had been unopposed in 2016. Gonzales lent her own campaign $1,400 in her grassroots effort. 

It was unclear whether De La Cruz was hurt by his strong support of a zoning change for four Highway 101 interchanges, which was soundly rejected in a countywide vote on Tuesday. The District 5 race also has potential implications for City of Hollister politics, as De La Cruz is a poltical ally of Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and Councilmember Rolan Resendiz, and Gonzales is allied closely with Councilmember Honor Spencer, who has announced she is running against Velazquez in November.

The District 1 and District 5 primary ballots served as general elections, with the winners of eah two-person race—if they have more than 50 percent of the vote—declared the winner. There would be no November election.

The District 1 one-term incumbent Mark Medina, also a strong proponent of the Highway 101 rezoning, who was chair of the Board of Supervisors when it was unanimously approved last year, appeared to have been unaffected by the ballot measure. He was leading newcomer Betsy Dirks with 59 percent of the vote Friday evening. Elections officials estimated approximately 1,000 votes remained to be counted.

Elections officials had hoped that nearly all mail ballots would be counted by Friday, March 6. Ballot counting would continue over the weekend.

The one supervisor election in November that will pit the top vote getters against each other is in District 2, left vacant by the departure of Supervisor Anthony Botelho: Political newcomer Kollin Kosmicki continued to hold a solid lead March 6 with 36 percent and Democratic Party activist Wayne Norton recorded 22 percent of the votes cast. If the percentages hold, with more than 1,000 votes remaining to be counted Friday, these two will face each other in November. Planning Commission chair Valerie Egland followed at 17 percent, Frank Barragan had 16 percent, and San Juan Bautista Councilmember John Freeman had 9 percent of the vote as of Friday evening.

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