Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Second District: Fennell Lead Shrinks with Final Tally, November Runoff Possible

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2020 at 8:23 PM

click to enlarge (from left to right) Sean DeVries, Rick French, - Michelle Bushnell, Michael McKaskle, Estelle Fennell
  • (from left to right) Sean DeVries, Rick French,Michelle Bushnell, Michael McKaskle, Estelle Fennell

Final Election Night Report:
In the final Election Night tally, incumbent Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell fell back to the pack slightly and it now seems very possible she will end up in a November runoff with challenger Michelle Bushnell.

In the final tally, Fennell finished with 49.92 percent of the vote — just shy of the 50 percent threshold she would need to eclipse to avoid a runoff. Bushnell trails Fennell with 29.93 percent of the vote, followed by fellow challengers Michael McKaskle with 11.3 percent, Rick French with 4.47 percent and Sean DeVries with 4.38 percent.

While the race remains much too close to call with an unknown number of ballots outstanding, there seems to be a good chance Fennell and Bushnell will have more campaigning to do.

Third Election Night Report:
With the third return of the night, incumbent Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell has grown her already formidable lead over four challengers and seems poised to potentially escape a runoff in November.

The second return of the night, which includes roughly 1,300 Election Day votes to go with the initial tally of vote by mail and early votes, has Fennell taking 52 percent of the vote and holding a 1,108 vote lead over her closest challenger, Michelle Bushnell, who has taken 29 percent of the vote thus far.

The other three challengers in the race have so far been unable to gain much traction. Michael McKaskle currently has about 10 percent of the vote, followed by Rick French with 5 percent and Sean DeVries with 4 percent.

Fennell needs to finish with more than 50 percent of the vote in order to win re-election outright and avoid a runoff in November.


Second Election Night Report:
The second report of the night included no additional votes for the Second District, meaning things sit exactly as they did after the first return of the night.

First Election Night Report:
Two-term incumbent Second District Humboldt County Supervisor Estelle Fennell jumped out to a considerable early lead over four challengers in the first returns on Election Night.

Fennell took 50 percent of the first tallies, comprised entirely of vote-by-mail ballots that arrived at the Humboldt County Elections Office prior to today and early votes physically cast at the office prior to Election Day. She currently holds a 692 vote lead over her closest challenger, Michelle Bushnell, who has 30 percent of the vote thus far.

Next in line is Michael McKaskle with 11 percent of the vote, followed by Rick French with 4.8 percent. Sean DeVries, meanwhile, is currently bringing up the rear with 4.5 percent of the vote.

Over months on the campaign trail, the crowded field has proven a colorful one, with candidates offering a variety of outside-the-box ideas to address county problems, which range from a large population of chronically homeless people and a sluggish economy to a backlog of deferred road maintenance and the need to reduce the county’s carbon footprint in the face of the global climate crisis. In interviews with the Journal, DeVries called for the county to become a psychedelic therapy hub, McClaskle called for the creation of a local public bank and French said he suspects corruption lurks in many corners of county government, while Bushnell said individual responsibility can help fix many of the county’s ills, from making it more attractive to tourists to making it more energy independent. Fennell, meanwhile, largely touted steps the county is already taken toward addressing these issues and creating a more sustainable, diversified economy.

Fennell, who would need to get more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff in November, also entered the race with a huge cash advantage over her challengers.

For more on the campaign, see past Journal coverage here. And complete election results can be found here.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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