Election Night

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

As the 5th District Twists in the Wind, A Look at Rotwein's Chances

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Higgins
  • Higgins
Rotwein
  • Rotwein




























It looks like 5th Division Harbor candidates Patrick Higgins and Susan Rotwein are going to spend some time twisting in the wind.

When the smoke cleared, the final Election Night report had 12 votes separating the candidates, with Higgins, the incumbent, having stormed back from an early, vote-by-mail-ballot-driven deficit. Today, the elections office reports that there are hundreds of outstanding ballots in the race, and it may be weeks before a victor can be declared.

Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders said about 660 vote-by-mail ballots were turned in to polling stations on Election Day, with 230 of them dropped off at 5th District precincts. Additionally, she said, hundreds of vote-by-mail ballots were dropped off at the elections office on Monday and Tuesday — including 360 5th District ballots — that remain uncounted. Then, there were 75 provisional ballots cast at 5th District polling locations on Election Day.

Sanders said that means there’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 665 ballots yet to be counted in the 5th District race, but that number is sure to change. First of all, some of the provisional ballots could be tossed because the voter is ineligible and some vote-by-mail ballots could have been dropped off outside the voter’s district, meaning ballots that showed up in the 5th really belong in a different district and visa-versa. And, finally, Sanders said a new state law that went into effect this year requires the elections office to accept and count vote-by-mail ballots received in the mail by this Friday, as long as they were postmarked on or before Election Day, leaving an entirely unknown number of ballots still technically in play.

That all combines to mean Rotwein and Higgins have a lot of waiting to do in a race that’s already seen more than 3,600 ballots counted and currently has them separated by three-tenths of a percentage point. And these races can and do flip. Just think back to last November, when Eureka City Councilwoman Kim Bergel ended Election Night more than 100 votes behind incumbent Mike Newman. Two weeks later, she had a 46-vote lead and was crowned the winner.

In the 5th District race, it’s important to keep in mind that Rotwein rode the vote-by-mail ballots to a commanding early lead, taking 53.76 percent of the vote cast before this week. But, at the polls, Higgins more than flipped that script, hauling in 56.99 percent of the Election Day vote.

History has shown that the post-Election Day tallies generally more closely follow the poll trend than that of the early vote. That was the case with Bergel, who got pummeled in the early going, taking only 42.87 percent of the pre-election vote-by-mail ballots, but narrowed her deficit at the polls with 54.13 percent of the Election Day vote. Of the ballots counted after Election Day in that race, Bergel won 54.94 percent of them.

And Bergel’s just the latest example of what’s become a verified local trend.

Back to the 5th District. If we, for a moment, just assume for the sake of some quick math that there are 665 — and only 665 — ballots outstanding in the race, Rotwein would have to take 50.98 percent of them to come out ahead. That’s more than 8 points better than she fared on Election Day.

It’s entirely possible that happens, especially with a margin so slim. But, a Rotwein victory would buck Humboldt County’s recent electoral history.

Sanders said she’s hopeful to get a post-election results update out next Friday, but cautioned that would only include a portion of the outstanding ballots. It seems likely this race will hang in the balance until the election is certified Nov. 24.
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UPDATED: Dale Wins 2nd District Harbor Race

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 12:52 AM

Greg Dale, left, and Nick Angeloff. - FILE
  • File
  • Greg Dale, left, and Nick Angeloff.
SECOND UPDATE:
The final election night report is in, and the tally confirms Greg Dale’s re-election. With 3,080 votes cast, and all of the 2nd District’s 23 precincts reporting, Dale took nearly 64 percent of the vote to challenger Nick Angeloff’s 35 percent.

Celebrating at his Fortuna home with a Manhattan, Dale was pleased with the election night results. “We’re grateful for all the folks that have a rational position about the district and about where we’re going,” he said over the phone. “And pretty excited.”

FIRST UPDATE:
The second election night report is out, but few of the precincts in the 2nd District are reporting yet, meaning Dale is still strongly in the lead. 

With three out of 23 precincts reporting, Dale has 63 percent of the total vote. Angeloff trails with nearly 36 percent of the vote. The precinct returns are much more evenly matched than the mail-in ballots (51.17 percent Dale, 48.83 percent Angeloff), but Angeloff is still a distant second.

PREVIOUSLY:

The first returns from the elections office are in and incumbent Greg Dale has a commanding lead in the race for the Harbor District's 2nd District seat.

The first report shows Dale leading with 64 percent — 1,470 votes cast in his name. His challenger, Nick Angeloff, has nearly 35 percent — 796 votes. The first report only shows vote-by-mail ballots, and precinct reports are yet to be tallied.

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UPDATED: Higgins Pulls Ahead in the 5th

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 12:48 AM

Higgins
  • Higgins
Rotwein
  • Rotwein





























2nd UPDATE:
With the final Election Night report in, we have a nail biter in the race for the 5th Division Harbor District Seat.

After trailing all night, incumbent Commissioner Pat Higgins has taken a 12-vote lead over challenger Susan Rotwein with 100 percent of precincts reporting. With 3,666 votes counted in the race thus far, Higgins has 49.89 percent of the vote to Rotwein’s 49.56 percent. There are ballots yet to be counted — provisionals and vote-by-mail ballots that came in on Election day — and it looks like this one won’t be decided for days, or even weeks. That said, it looks good for Higgins, who took 56.99 percent of the precinct vote to erase Rotwein’s early lead.

1st UPDATE:
With another 2,345 votes counted, challenger Susan Rotwein has maintained her lead over incumbent Pat Higgins in the race to become the Harbor District’s next 5th Division commissioner.

Only 46 additional votes have been counted since the first return, which consisted entirely of vote-by-mail ballots and had Rotwein holding a 186-vote lead. Higgins’ has now widdled that down to 174 votes, but still trails with 46.01 percent of the vote to Rotwein’s 53.43.

It’s worth noting that Higgins took 63 percent of the Election Day ballots counted thus far. If that spread holds, a comeback is obviously still within reach.

With the clock creeping toward midnight, neither candidate answered Journal calls for comment.

PREVIOUSLY:
Challenger Susan Rotwein has jumped out to a slim, early lead in the race to become the Harbor District's next commissioner representing the Trinidad, McKinleyville and Willow Creek areas.

The first election returns, comprised entirely of vote-by-mail ballots turned in prior to Election Day, have Rotwein leading by 186 votes. Thus far, she's taken 53.76 percent of the vote to incumbent Pat Higgins' 45.67 percent with 2,299 ballots cast.

The race has essentially been a referendum on the current board’s very active last five years. While the incumbent Higgins has staunchly defended the board’s recent run and direction, challenger Susan Rotwein has charged that district has drifted off course.

Higgins, a fisheries biologist by trade who was elected to represent the Trinidad, McKinleyville and Willow Creek areas on the board in 2007, has campaigned on the district’s recent activity. On the campaign trail, Higgins has trumpeted the district’s 2012 acquisition of the Samoa Pulp Mill, and the property’s subsequent cleanup, saying it was good for the environment and economic development on the bay. He’s said the current board has taken the district from the brink of insolvency to solid financial footing by diversifying its economic interests and bringing the marina’s budget closer to balance, all while promoting transparency and increasing recreation opportunities around the bay.

Rotwein, on the other hand, has lambasted the board’s decision to acquire the old mill property, saying the cleanup left the district deeply in debt (though the bulk of the district’s borrowed funds will be forgiven in seven years and the balance was a prepayment on Coast Seafoods’ tidelands lease). She has also said the acquisition left tax payers on the hook for the cleanup, which should have been done by the private sector. Rotwein, a nurse consultant from Trinidad who co-owns a fishing boat, also charged the district needs to better serve the fishing industry, noting that it’s increased slip fees at the marina and moved a fishermen’s storage facility across the bay. Rotwein has said the district needs to prioritize shipping to and from Humboldt Bay to boost regional economic development.

While the campaign to represent the Fifth District on the commission has largely remained civil, the differences in the candidates’ platforms were not nuanced. Voters were largely left to decide whether or not they liked the district’s current direction and vote accordingly.

Meanwhile, over in the 2nd District, Greg Dale has jumped out to a commanding early lead with 64.19 percent of the early vote.

Read more about both candidates in past Journal coverage here.

Click here to visit the Humboldt County Elections Office webpage for full election results, including: Arcata’s Measure A, the McKinlevyille Union School Board, the Fortuna Union High School Board, the Fruitland Ridge Fire Protection District Board, the Humboldt County Board of Education, the Manila Community Services District Board, the Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District Board and the Willow Creek Community Services District Board.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's Not Too Late to Rock the Vote

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2015 at 4:37 PM

Kelly Erben cast her vote at the Sunrise Plaza in Eureka during Tuesday's election. Early returns are hinting at a low turnout, but Erben said her mother strongly encouraged her to vote in every election and she's only missed one since her 18th birthday. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Kelly Erben cast her vote at the Sunrise Plaza in Eureka during Tuesday's election. Early returns are hinting at a low turnout, but Erben said her mother strongly encouraged her to vote in every election and she's only missed one since her 18th birthday.
Anecdotal evidence is strongly hinting that today’s voter turnout in Humboldt County is dismally low, not that that’s a huge surprise with most voters facing sparse ballots and a pair of Harbor District races headlining the whole affair. The good news is that means your ballot has the potential to pull some real weight, and you still have a few hours to cast it before polls close at 8 p.m.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

UPDATED: Bergel Takes Lead in Ward 3 Race; City on Cusp of History

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 1:05 PM

electkimbergel.jpg
UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Elections Office has released its post-election update, which can be found here. The notables, other than Bergel's apparent come-from-behind victory, are the passage of Eureka City Schools' bond measure and the narrow failure of that of Jacoby Creek School District.

PREVIOUSLY:
It looks like Eureka’s going to seat what’s believed to be the first all-female city council in its history, after Kim Bergel has pulled out an improbable upset of incumbent Ward 3 Councilman Mike Newman.

Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich said the elections office is preparing to release a post-election update that shows Bergel — after finishing Election Day trailing Newman by 104 votes — now has a 46 vote lead. The results are not final, however, and Crnich said there is only a “slim” chance they change in any substantive way before they come before the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for certification.

Crnich said the current count has Newman with 3,313 votes to Bergel’s 3,359. After taking just 42.87 percent of the early vote-by-mail ballots and 54.13 percent of the Election Day vote, Bergel took 54.94 percent of the 1,398 ballots counted after Election Day.

Final voter turnout for the county was 50.65 percent, Crnich said, with 51.64 percent of Eureka’s registered voters casting ballots.

For more in depth look at the numbers in the Ward 3 race, and a glimpse at the historic feat of empanelling Eurkea’s first all-female council, check out prior Journal coverage herehere and here.

The Journal will update this post when the updated results are released this afternoon.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Keep Biting Those Nails

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 1:07 PM

MANUEL J. ORBEGOZO
  • Manuel J. Orbegozo
The Humboldt County Elections Office is zeroing in final election tallies, and has inched closer to determining the final number of ballots outstanding in the nail-biter of a race for Eureka’s Ward 3 city council seat.

When the dust settled from Election Day, incumbent Mike Newman led challenger Kim Bergel by 104 votes, having taken 50.76 percent of the vote to Bergel’s 48.8 percent. The Journal did some numbers crunching the following morning and estimated that Bergel would need there to be at least 1,200 outstanding ballots in the race to have a chance at bridging the gap, barring some kind of statistical anomaly in voting patterns. Well, it looks like this one’s going down to the wire; the final tally of yet-to-be-counted ballots is right in that neighborhood.

Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich said today that 1,065 vote-by-mail ballots remain at play in the race, a number that includes those dropped off at the polls on Election Day and those that came into the elections office on Monday and Tuesday of election week. Additionally, Crnich said 236 provisional ballots were cast at Eureka polling locations that have yet to be vetted and counted, and another unknown amount of damaged ballots from the polls still have to be tallied (Crnich estimated this number to be “fewer than 100”). So, all told, that leaves between 1,065 and 1,401 ballots still at play in the race, depending on how many of those provisional ballots are valid and the final tally of damaged Eureka ballots.

In the final election night results, Newman took 56.61 percent of the early vote-by-mail ballots, but just 45.51 percent of the vote at the polls on Election Day to Bergel’s 54.13. Traditionally, late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots trend more in the direction of the Election Day tallies.

So, if we chew the numbers Crnich provided today, here’s what we get: With 1,065 outstanding ballots, Bergel would need to take 54.92 percent to take the lead; with 1,401 outstanding ballots, she’d need to take 53.75 percent.

In the three-way race Newman won to take office back in 2010, Newman took 48.18 percent of the early vote-by-mail ballots and 41.98 percent of the Election Day tally to take a 171-vote lead over runner-up Ron Kuhnel. Newman then took 43.12 percent of the ballots tallied after Election Day to push his margin of victory to 183 votes.

The outcome of the Bergel-Newman race remains too close to call, but Crnich said she’s hopeful the county will release a post-election update tomorrow that should provide some clarity.
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Minimum Wage Rising Everywhere But Eureka

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 9:48 AM

HEIDI WALTERS
  • Heidi Walters
Eureka voters’ attempt to raise the minimum wage for the city’s largest employers failed decidedly Tuesday, but that’s one small defeat in a rising minimum wage movement.

Sixty-two percent of voting Eurekans cast ballots against the Fair Wage Act — the only time nationally a minimum wage measure has failed, apparently — and the overwhelming opposition didn’t strictly come from the conservative-skewing early voters. More than 60 percent said no to the wage increase at the polls.

It’s fairly odd, considering Eurekans overwhelmingly favored progressive Natalie Arroyo (who took 61 percent of the vote) and nearly voted in Kim Bergel (too close to call, yet) — two candidates who publicly supported Eureka’s Fair Wage Act.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

UPDATED: Kim Bergel's Slim, Slim Chance

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 6:25 AM

WWW.ELECTKIMBERGEL.COM
  • www.electkimbergel.com
UPDATE:
Hold the phone! Kim Bergel’s chances of unseating Eureka Councilman Mike Newman for his Ward 3 seat just got a fair bit chunkier.

When the Journal spoke to Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich after midnight, she estimated 1,000 or so ballots may have been dropped off at the Humboldt County Elections Office on Monday and Tuesday and remained uncounted. In a follow up conversation this afternoon, Crnich said it turns out the Elections Office received about 3,350 ballots, which could potentially change everything in a race that Bergel currently trails in by just 104 votes.

Earlier, we estimated that there would need to be at least 1,200 ballots outstanding in the race to give Bergel a reasonable shot at overtaking Newman. Well, that now seems very possible.

Crnich said about 707 ballots — 236 provisionals and 471 vote by mail — came into Eureka precincts on Election Day that have yet to be counted. Now we learn that there’s another 3,350 that came into the elections office and have yet to be tabulated. If we assume those ballots are representative of the county’s overall registration numbers, about 19 percent would come from Eureka voters, or about 636 ballots. If that holds true, there’s potentially somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,343 ballots uncounted in the race. Bergel would need to pull 53.89 percent of those to take the lead. She took 54.13 percent of the Election Day vote, but just 42.87 of the early vote-by-mail ballots.

It looks like this thing’s far from over, though Crnich said county elections office has to conduct an audit and other procedures before it can even get to sorting and counting those 3,350 ballots the office received Monday and Tuesday. So, it’s going to be a while before this race crystallizes.


PREVIOUSLY:
With the dust still settling from Election Night, Eureka Ward 3 challenger Kim Bergel sits 104 votes behind incumbent Mike Newman in a race that has already seen 5,309 ballots counted. It’s a slim margin, but does Bergel really have a shot at pulling the upset? Let’s look at the numbers.

Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich told the Journal early this morning that some 471 vote by mail ballots were dropped off on Election Day at Eureka polling locations, where another 236 provisional ballots were cast. Now, assuming all those mail-in ballots are actually from Eureka voters and that all those provisional ballots prove valid — and that none of those voters left the Ward 3 contest blank — that means at least 707 votes remain uncounted in the race. Additionally, Crnich said there could be another 1,000 or so vote by mail ballots that arrived at the county elections office Monday and Tuesday that have yet to be sorted.

Let’s start with the 707. If Bergel is to make up the 104-vote gap, she would need to win 406 of those votes. That would be 57.4 percent. She pulled only 42.87 percent of the vote on the mail-in ballots that have already been counted and 54.13 at the polls on Election Day, so that seems a tall order.

But let’s factor in those other potential 1,000 or so ballots. If those ballots are representative of the county’s overall registration numbers, then about 19 percent would come from Eureka voters, or about 190 ballots. If we add those to the 707 we just discussed, we get 897 ballots. To make up 104 votes in that scenario, Bergel would have to pull 55.85 percent of the vote.

Basically, in order to pull this thing out without some statistical anomaly in the voting patterns — or to win while pulling the same 54.13 percent of the vote she got at the polls — Bergel would need there to be more than 1,200 ballots outstanding in the race. That seems unlikely.

But consider this: Four years ago, when Newman edged out Ron Kuhnel to take the seat, 1,825 votes showed up in the final tally that weren’t recorded in the final Election Night summary. But before Bergel supporters get too hopeful, it should be made clear that those numbers are from an election that saw 66 percent turnout in Humboldt County. The preliminary tallies Tuesday show just 39 percent of those registered casting ballots.

So, the short of it is that Bergel has a steep hill to climb and you can bet she’s hoping for a flood of Eureka ballots to materialize from somewhere as the math gets better for her as the number of outstanding ballots increases. Meanwhile, it’s a safe bet Newman and his supporters are hoping the majority of those 707 vote by mail ballots dropped off in Eureka are really from Garberville voters who just happened to be passing through town and that the bulk of those 236 provisional ballots don’t qualify.

With anything less than 1,200 votes outstanding, Newman seems a lock to keep his seat.

And, because we've been sitting on this tidbit and this might be our last shot to use it, we'll note that if Bergel does somehow pull this thing out, it would result in what we believe is the first all female city council in Eureka's history. After consulting with a couple local historians and Eureka City Clerk Pam Powell, all seem pretty sure five women have never governed Eureka together. (It should be noted that under Eureka's form of government the mayor isn't officially a member of the council).

A Bergel win would result in a council composed of Melinda Ciarabellini, Linda Atkins, Marian Brady, Bergel and Natalie Arroyo, who handily beat incumbent Chet Albin to take the city's Ward 5 seat. Powell provided the Journal with the city's official council record, which dates back to 1955, and it looks like the closest the city's ever come to is in the 1990s, when four of five council seats were occupied by women. What exactly happened between when Eureka incorporated as a city in 1874 and when it began keeping official council records in 1955 isn't entirely clear, but nobody consulted by the Journal felt it likely the city was run by five women back then.
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UPDATE: FINAL Report: Measure P On Solid Ground

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 12:23 AM

cornfield.jpg

FINAL REPORT:

Votes cast:28,653
Precincts reporting: 107 of 107
Yes: 59.43 percent
No: 40.57 percent


Fourth report:

Votes cast: 26,140
Precincts reporting: 94 of 107
Yes: 57.91 percent
No: 42.09 percent


Third Report: 

Votes cast: 21,684
Precincts reporting: 69 of 107
Yes: 56.11 percent
No: 43.89 percent

It's looking like P will win, as expected. The Pro-P folks no doubt are feeling especially relieved, as they considered Measure P the county’s last chance for local control over crop-related decisions following a new state law that takes effect with the new year.

“I think the real story is about AB 2470 and how the seed companies played fast and loose with the legislative process,” said Measure P spokesman Bill Schaser earlier this evening. “It appears that nobody had their eye on the ball."

Assembly Bill 2470, passed and signed earlier this year, alters California Seed Law to “prohibit a city, county, or district, including a charter city or county, from adopting or enforcing an ordinance on or after January 1, 2015, that regulates plants, crops, or seeds without the consent of the secretary.”

Measure P, if indeed it passes, goes into effect immediately.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

4TH UPDATE: Tax Measures

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 8:41 PM

busted_cover.jpg
4TH UPDATE:
Here's the final Election Night Report, with no changes. All local tax measures have passed, with the notable exception of the 1-percent proposed sales tax increase in Fortuna, which voters rejected decisively.

Final report (results shown in percentages)

Measure Q (Eureka) - 65.79 for, 34.12 against
5,586 votes cast, 100 percent of precincts reporting

Measure T (Blue Lake) - 53.61 for, 46.39 against
319 votes cast, 100 percent of precincts reporting

Measure U (Rio Dell) - 53.19 for, 46.81 against
564 votes cast, 100 percent of precincts reporting

Measure V (Fortuna) - 36.51 for, 63.49 against
2,490 votes cast, 100 percent of precincts reporting

Measure Z (Humboldt County) - 55.41 for, 44.59 against
28,555 votes cast, 100 percent of precincts reporting

3rd UPDATE:
With more than 85 percent of county precincts reporting, the results on local tax measures are all holding steady with one notable exception: Blue Lake's Measure T.

Trailing as of the third report, the measure has swung in the other direction, and now the 4-percent utility users tax seems poised to psas, drawing 53.61 percent of the vote.

We'll keep you updated through the final report tonight.

Fourth report (results shown in percentages)

Measure Q (Eureka) - 65.79 for, 34.12 against
5,586 votes cast, 87.85 percent of precincts reporting

Measure T (Blue Lake) - 53.61 for, 46.39 against
319 votes cast, 87.85 percent of precincts reporting

Measure U (Rio Dell) - 53.19 for, 46.81 against
564 votes cast, 87.85 percent of precincts reporting

Measure V (Fortuna) - 36.51 for, 63.49 against
2,490 votes cast, 87.85 percent of precincts reporting

Measure Z (Humboldt County) - 55.10 for, 44.90 against
26,115 votes cast, 87.85 percent of precincts reporting

2nd UPDATE:
With more than 65 percent of precincts reporting, little has changed on the local tax measure front. Measures for Eureka, Humboldt County and Rio Dell all hold solid leads, while those for Fortuna and Blue Lake are trailing.

But there are still a lot of votes to be counted from precincts outside Eureka, so pretty much all the results could swing, with the exception of Q, which seems poised to pass handily.

Check out the third return tax measure results below:

Third return (results shown in percentages)

Measure Q (Eureka) - 65.79 for, 34.12 against
5,586 votes cast, 64.49 percent of precincts reporting

Measure T (Blue Lake) - 46.28 for, 53.72 against
121 votes cast, 64.49 percent of precincts reporting

Measure U (Rio Dell) - 53.19 for, 46.81 against
564 votes cast, 64.49 percent of precincts reporting

Measure V (Fortuna) - 36.51 for, 63.49 against
2,490 votes cast, 64.49 percent of precincts reporting

Measure Z (Humboldt County) - 54.70 for, 45.30 against
21,732 votes cast, 64.49 percent of precincts reporting

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