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December 3, 2022

County Elections Officials Close in on Final Results

Count deadline looms, results certified on Dec. 16

The elections process is like a fractal image: its microscopic detail resembles its macroscopic appearance, with individual voters casting their ballot into a wider pool of input. The results, the democratic election of public servants, can have a large impact on a city, county or state’s governance—and the national balance of power as well.

The results of the Nov. 8 election in Healdsburg are all but certain in every race save one, the office of the 2-year seat on the city council. As of Monday, Nov. 21, Ron Edwards held a 111-vote lead over Brigette Mansell, 1,938 to 1,827. 

But at noon the next day, Mansell had narrowed the race, with her 2,012 to Edwards’ 2,072, only 60 votes behind. 

It’s an uncomfortable déjà vu for Mansell, who in 2014 was coming in third for two council seats when she went to bed on election night, Nov. 4. Only 10 votes separated her from Jeff Civian, and it took several days for the totals to make clear that Mansell had narrowly won the seat. The other seat that year went to top vote-getter Eric Ziedrich, who had been on the council twice previously. 

“These latest election returns reflect Ron Edwards’ lead,” a resigned Mansell wrote to the Tribune this week. “While I will wait until all the votes are counted to formally concede, it looks good for Ron. My sincere hope, my intention, is to stay connected and collaborative.” She applauded Edwards “for his hard work, his personal outreach to meet his community and his commitment ‘to be a bridge’ at this critical time of decision-making.” 

Edwards, who was virtually unknown in Healdsburg before he filed for the office, remained cautiously optimistic. “I want to do a good job for all of Healdsburg if the numbers hold,” he told the Tribune. “If not, I will continue to bring the issues I learned canvassing to the council.”

There is no such uncertainty in the other city council race for the full 4-year term, which show incumbent Evelyn Mitchell earning re-election and Chris Herrod elected to the council in his first try for the job. Interestingly, Herrod has a slight lead over Mitchell, 2,657 to 2,650, but both will presumably be seated on the Healdsburg City Council at its Dec. 5 meeting. 

However, if the county hasn’t finalized the counting of the votes, it’s possible the swearing in of the new council will take place at the next meeting, on Dec. 19, said City Manager Jeff Kay.

Both city measures, Measure L (assigning TOT income) and Measure K (creating a cannabis business tax), easily won passage, each with over 70% of the vote.

These words from the state secretary of state clarify the post-election day process: 

“While media outlets and others may ‘call’ an election contest, or candidates may ‘concede’ to their opponent, on Election Night or in the days following, these calls and concessions are based on the semi-official results and not the final election results. The election results are never final until the secretary of state has compiled the official statewide results after all county elections officials have reported their official canvass of the votes.”

“By law, California county elections officials have 30 days, also known as the canvass period, to count every valid ballot and conduct a required post-election audit.  During the official canvass, elections officials are required to conduct a public 1% manual tally of the ballots tabulated by the county’s voting system in order to verify the accuracy of the automated count.

“County elections officials must finalize their official results to the secretary of state by Dec. 8. The secretary of state will then certify the results on Dec. 16, 2022.”