Santa Maria’s race for the District 3 City Council seat is still separated by less than 50 votes as of Wednesday.
If Gloria Soto maintains her lead ahead of incumbent Michael Moats, she would become the youngest woman ever elected to the city council.
The Santa Barbara County Clerk Recorder’s Office tells KSBY there are still 50,000 vote-by-mail ballots and 1,000 provisional ballots left to count before the results in this race can be certified.
“I think that our foray into district elections went very well. We had received and answered many questions about that leading up to the election for a few months, we had interactive maps on the city’s website, we thought ahead and we answered a number of questions proactively. I think what the results show is that every single vote counts,” explained city spokesperson Mark van de Kamp.
While he’s currently down 44 votes, incumbent Michael Moats is in a favorable position regardless of whether he wins or loses, as he’ll still have a seat on the city council.
“Dr. Moats will continue to be on the city council for two more years. That will fulfill his four-year term to which he was elected in 2016. He was elected the year before the city went to district elections so he still serves at an at-large seat covering the entire city, whereas the district election seat just covers that particular district,” Van de Kamp said.
Moats said Wednesday that his opponent Gloria Soto had “an aggressive ground game to get out the vote,” but he’s hoping to still wait and see what happens once the ballots are counted.
“I think Santa Maria, at least in the third district, they’ve spoken; they’ve spoken about what kind of change they want to see in our community and I’m eager to bring about that change,” Soto said shortly after the latest ballot results were released.
The county’s clerk-recorder says the results don’t get certified until 29 days after the election. If the results are extremely close, such as four or five votes, they will do a recount. Otherwise, candidates can pay for a recount on their own.
If Soto is elected, she will be the sixth woman in the city’s history elected to the Santa Maria City Council.
The next election for the other districts is in 2020.