The election of the Merced County supervisor for District 5, which includes Los Banos, Dos Palos, Gustine and Santa Nella, may be wrapped up sooner than later as top vote-getter Scott Silveira holds a commanding lead.
Silveira, a dairyman and Los Banos city councilman, held more than 61.6 percent of the vote compared to 19.7 percent for second place finisher Patricia Ramos Anderson, the director of the Santa Nella County Water District who also retired from the city of San Jose.
The other two candidates in District 5, business owner Richard De La Paz Jr. and law clerk Lea Hernandez Holguin, had 14 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
A candidate needs at least 50 percent of the total vote, plus one vote, to avoid a runoff election in November with the next highest vote-getter.
Silveira was cautious not to claim victory too soon.
"I am cautiously optimistic. I am highly confident that we're not going to be going to a runoff," he said Wednesday. "I'm pretty sure we're going to be good, but I want to wait to hear it from (the registrar)."
There are still 12,400 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots left to be processed, according to Barbara Levey, the registrar of voters. Also, there are more bound to come in the mail that are properly postmarked.
If his lead holds, Silveira is poised to take the seat of longtime Supervisor Jerry O'Banion, who announced his retirement last year.
O'Banion has been representing the county's Westside communities for seven terms on the board since 1990. Before that, he served on the Dos Palos City Council for 10 years, three of them as the mayor.
He is part-owner of O'Banion Ranches, and told the Sun-Star he will stay active in the community.
Also in the election, Los Banos Unified School District's residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of Measure X, according to preliminary counts that indicate 68.2 percent of voters cast a "yes" vote. The bond measure needs at least 55 percent approval to pass.
The bond measure would extend a previously passed tax increase for the school district through the 2051-2052 school year, allowing it to issue $65 million in bonds "to improve local schools, with independent audits, citizen oversight and all funds locally controlled," according to the ballot question, which notes that it would raise on average about $3.8 million per year, or 4.3 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Specifically, Measure X is aimed at building a new elementary school, new additions to existing schools, renovations at Loftin Stadium and improvements in classrooms.
Merced County Office of Education Superintendent Steve Tietjen held 53.2 percent of the vote in his countywide race, according to the unofficial numbers.
Tietjen, who previously was superintendent of the Los Banos school district, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Challenger Richard Lopez, who is the superintendent for Merced River School District, conceded the victory on Facebook. With 46.6 percent of the vote, the need for a runoff in November is unlikely.
"Over 46 (percent) of our constituents saw a need for change, but democracy spoke and we live with the outcome," he wrote on Facebook. "I will stay the course to improve the educational system for all students in our county."
Incumbent Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II also conceded his race to first-time challenger Kimberly Helms Lewis, a veteran government attorney and prosecutor. With all precincts reporting, Helms Lewis secured 65.7 percent of the vote compared with Morse's tally of 34.1 percent, according to the unofficial numbers from the Merced County Elections Office.
Merced's Measure Y garnered 76.9 percent approval to allow the city of Merced to tax the sale of recreational marijuana by up to 10 percent. It needs 66 percent to pass.