City council race gets closer between Leach, Smith
Results posted by the Tehama County Elections Department on Monday afternoon show an eight-vote division between Corning City Councilmanb John Leach and challenger Willie Smith for the second of two open seats.
The latest count, which are not final, show Smith ahead, said Lee Pryatel of the Tehama County Elections Department.
Pryatel said another update will be posted today.
"We are still going through our hand-count ballots," she said.
The other open seat appears to be locked up by retired police Chief Tony Cardenas, who has so far earned 38.93 percent of the votes, against Smith's 30.59 percent and Leach's 30.29 percent.
"I'm just going to wait and see what the final outcome is," said Smith. "I just don't know what to say. I'm on pins and needles, and so is John (Leach). I just wish it would be over."
Mayor Gary Strack, who retained his seat for another two years after running unopposed, said it has been awhile since the town has seen a race this close.
"I think the last time we had a City Council race this close was when incumbent Hubert Weeks lost by just a couple of votes many, many years ago," Strack said.
Strack said he is really surprised to see the race so close "seeing as Leach is the incumbent."
"I asked the Elections Department and there is no automatic recount. One of the candidates would have to ask for it and then they would have to pay for it."
That is true, unless the count changed the winner.
"It is in the hands of the city voters and too close to call. Hopefully it will be over soon. Basically all I can say is the best candidate will win," said Leach. "I would like to serve for another four years because so much is going on right now with the new city park, employee negotiations and Rodgers Theatre."
Of the two council seats open, one has been held by Leach for one four-year term, and the other was held by Councilwoman Toni Parkins, who chose not to seek re-election.
Leach also served a previous term on the council in 1998-2000, when he had to resign for medical reasons.
The winners of the race are scheduled to be sworn in on Dec. 4.
"I hope they have a final results before then," Leach said.
The delay is caused by the need for the county staff to count by hand mail-in ballots dropped off at polling sites.
Officials must confirm each voter's registration status, verify each voter's signature on the vote-by-mail envelope, and ensure each person did not vote elsewhere.
Other ballots that are processed include provisional ballots, and ballots that are damaged or cannot be machine-read and must be remade by elections officials.
County elections officials have until Dec. 4 to finish processing ballots and until Dec. 7 to report their certified election results to the California Secretary of State.