Nearly three weeks after the Nov. 3 Presidential Election, Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters Donna Linder announced on Monday that every vote had been counted and election results were final.
There were 279,730 registered voters eligible to cast a ballot in the 2020 election, of which 217,517 actually voted. This represented a 77.76% voter turnout compared to the county’s 73.38% voter turnout in the 2016 Presidential Election. An additional 38,534 Stanislaus County residents registered to vote between 2016 and 2020.
While some local races were decided on election night, there were a few candidates waiting for the area’s final results to be announced before celebrating victory or lamenting defeat. Both of the incumbents running to reclaim their seats on the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees lost their races to newcomers, with Daniel Benedict unseating 19-year incumbent Frank Lima in Area 5 and Jose Sanchez defeating appointed incumbent Miranda Chalabi in Area 1.
Sanchez, an administrator at Del Puerto High School and Open Valley School, held onto his lead throughout the counting of the ballots. Final results showed Sanchez received 2,056 votes (46.79%) compared to Chalabi’s 1,628 (37.04%). Turlock Black Lives Matter co-founder Jaimee Ellison received 710 votes.
Sanchez thanked both Chalabi and Ellison for the great campaign, as well as his family and friends for their support. He also expressed gratitude to Chalabi for her service on the Board.
“I’ve been an educator for almost 20 years, so I’m familiar with the public school structure, however, we are currently facing some challenges that many of us never expected,” Sanchez said. “I will work closely with the students, parents, certified and classified staff, Superintendent Dana Trevethan and her team. Our goal is to provide opportunities for all Turlock USD students.”
Chalabi was appointed to the Board in June of last year and said she gave her first campaign her all.
“It was a very interesting experience to go through a campaign and election, especially during a global pandemic. There were so many additional challenges that were unlike a normal election, but I’m really proud of what we did and it’s really unfortunate I didn’t win,” Chalabi said, adding that her year and a half on the Board didn’t feel like enough time to accomplish the goals she set for herself when she was first appointed.
She gave some advice to her successor, who takes over the Area 1 seat at a time when parents and community members are divided on the decision of students returning to school.
“He’s a principal, so he should have no problem handling the stress of it all,” she laughed. “My advice to him is to always be open to both sides of any conversation...especially right now, you don’t want to turn anyone away from connecting with you and sharing the challenges of their situation.”
The race between Lima and Benedict came down to the final tally, as the former Turlock Nursery School Board member defeated the incumbent by a margin of 62 votes. Former TUSD Board member Grady Welch came in third place with 26.61% of the vote.
Benedict said that as a first-time candidate, he is “ecstatic” about the victory. He thanked Lima for his time on the Board and Welch for his willingness to run, and stated he hoped to work with both of them on bringing different ideas to TUSD.
“When my friends encouraged me to run, I was unsure about my chances. I remained optimistic, but also realistic. Running against Mr. Lima meant it was not a sure thing. The way I was looking at it, if I didn’t win this time, it was a perfect chance to start to get my name out into the public and would try again in four years,” Benedict said. “Now that the results are in, I’m looking forward to getting familiar with my colleagues, as well as the rest of the stakeholders in the community. I’m eager to work toward our goals of offering the best education possible for the students in the district.”
Lima offered his congratulations to his successor and thanked him for his willingness to serve on the Board.
“I hope his services on the Board will be as gratifying for him as the service has been for me,” Lima said.
Another tight race for Yosemite Community College District Area 3, which includes Turlock, was also decided on Monday when the final results showed former Stanislaus State athletic director Milton Richards defeating Modesto City Schools teacher Bryon Rogers. In Stanislaus County and Merced County combined, Rogers received 15,005 votes while Richards emerged victorious with 15,093.
Richards will replace longtime YCCD Board member Abe Rojas, who chose not to run for reelection.
“It is an incredible honor to be elected to serve on the Yosemite Community College District. My goal is to help ensure that education remains affordable while exploring ways to reduce or eliminate the cost,” Richards said. “Education is the underpinning of every child’s future — and ensuring it is reasonable or free is tantamount. I want to thank Bryan Rogers for his call today, my campaign manager Balvino Irizarry for all his hard work and finally my wife, Amy Bublak, for her continued support for everything I do.”
“It was a close race, and while I’m disappointed in the outcome, I’m glad for YCCD’s students, faculty and staff that there was so much interest in this race. I have spoken with Dr. Richards to offer him my congratulations and thanks for a positive race in a trying time of political division,” Rogers said. “I remain committed to helping grow the educational opportunities for students in our region and will continue to advocate for policies that support teachers and students in the difficult task of education during the pandemic.”
While the results for other local races became clear much sooner than Monday, here are their final results:
Incumbent Congressman Josh Harder defeated challenger Ted Howze by over 10 points, collecting 165,004 votes from District 10 constituents in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties compared to Howze’s 133,904.
Also keeping his seat is incumbent State Assemblymember Heath Flora, who earned the support and votes of 60.9% of District 12 with 129,799 votes. His challenger, Democrat Paul Akinjo, received 83,287 votes or 39.1%.
Turlock City Council District 2 will now be represented by Rebecka Monez, who received 49.77% of the vote and defeated fellow challenger Ruben Wegner and incumbent Gil Esquer. Pam Franco won the seat in District 4, receiving 4,746 votes over fellow candidate Robert Puffer’s 2,780. Diana Lewis will remain the City of Turlock’s Treasurer, defeating challenger Matt Beekman by 263 votes out of 27,051 ballots cast.
In Keyes Union School District, incumbent Harinder Grewal was defeated by challenger Mike Bernal. Bernal received 249 votes while Grewal received 159.
Lastly, the City of Turlock’s General Fund will receive a boost after Measure A passed, with 56.71% voters choosing “Yes.”