Merced College President Ben Duran and county Supervisor John Pedrozo, two local hogs who have fed too long at the public trough. Skinny cowboy caught in the middle.-- Photo: Marci Stenberg, Merced Sun-Star, June 6, 2012
Merced County supervisor race may need runoff
Walsh re-elected; Pedrozo, Pacheco could meet again…MIKE NORTH
Two incumbents in the Merced County Board of Supervisors races both led their elections, but one of them, John Pedrozo, could face a runoff if Tuesday's unofficial election results don't change.
Though some absentee votes still need to be counted, numbers have District 1 Supervisor Pedrozo leading his race with 49.2 percent of the vote, and District 2 incumbent Supervisor Hub Walsh beating his challenger, Casey Steed, with 61.2 percent of the vote.
Jim Pacheco, a sergeant with the Merced County Sheriff's Department, had 31.3 percent of the vote and is among the three candidates challenging Pedrozo for his District 1 spot on the board.
If none of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the race will be decided during a runoff election in November between the top two vote-getters.
The election started as a gentle race between the four candidates, which also include former Livingston Mayor Daniel Varela Sr. and substitute teacher Peggi Gioletti, but it quickly shaped into a malicious two-man race with Pedrozo and Pacheco slugging it out.
Attacks on Pedrozo by Pacheco on his special district funds and the Wal-Mart distribution center prompted the incumbent to release a late set of mailers criticizing Pacheco for his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence last year.
Pacheco said he's unenthused about all the negativity, but understands that politics can get vicious.
"It's not what I expected," he said. "I'm kind of disappointed about that."
Pedrozo echoed a similar sentiment. "It's unfortunate that it had to come to negativity," he said.
Pedrozo held his election party at Fernando's Bistro in downtown Merced on Tuesday night, and when the first results came in showing he had more than double the votes of Pacheco, a smile came to his face as he got congratulatory pats on the back from his friends and supporters.
"That's going to set the tone," he said of the results. "We've worked real hard to get to this point."
Pacheco monitored the election results with friends and family at the Pizza Factory in Le Grand. Despite the sluggish numbers, he said he's hopeful that it'll end up in a run-off election between him and Pedrozo.
"We knew we were the underdog and it was going to be a challenge," he said. "But we're still optimistic for a runoff."
The heated race overshadowed the other two supervisor hopefuls. Gioletti garnered 12.4 percent of the vote, while Varela got only 6.9 percent, according to Tuesday's results.