City Council: Spears in the lead
Controversy over the sudden ousting of Bill Spears as chief of police in September was likely the downfall of two once popular Willows City Council members.
Willows Mayor Vince Holvik and Councilman Gary Hansen were voted off the council Tuesday, based on preliminary results, and Spears, Larry Domenighini and Lawrence Mello were voted in.
Although Spears said he would have preferred to have kept his job as chief of police for another two years, he will trade his position as the highest law enforcement officer in Willows for a seat on the council.
Although election results won't be final until the end of the week, voters overwhelmingly supported Spears over Holvik.
Spears garnered 977 votes after the mail-in-ballots and all three precincts reported on Tuesday, compared to Holvik's 421 votes.
It was Holvik who recommended to the council the non-renewal of Spears' employment contract, which was unanimously supported.
That decision probably cost incumbent Gary Hansen his seat, based on unofficial results.
Hansen raked in 556 or 13.54 percent of the votes, trailing challengers Larrry Domenighini with 768 votes and Lawrence Mello with 585.
With seven candidates vying for three open seats, the City Council race might still be too close to call until the large number of absentee ballots that were dropped off at the polls on Tuesday are counted.
Election officials said they will begin counting those ballots today.
Domenighini, a rice farmer, is a member of the Willows Planning Commission.
Mello is a retired businessman and military recruiter.
Challenger Trudi DeVoss placed fifth in the field with 490 votes.
DeVoss, a retired police officer, said she will run for City Council again in two years when incumbents Terry Taylor-Vodden and Jeff Cobb are up for reelection.
Mike Butler garnered 309 votes or 7.53 percent.
Butler is married to City Clerk Natalie Butler.