Friday, February 23 , 2018, 10:50 am | Fair 53º


Local News

Alice Patino Wins Second Term as Mayor in Santa Maria

Mike Cordero and Dr. Michael Moats elected to City Councl seats

Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino poses with granddaughter Sophia Patino, 12, and husband John Patino Tuesday night, as she was headed for an easy re-election victory.. Click to view larger
Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino poses with granddaughter Sophia Patino, 12, and husband John Patino Tuesday night, as she was headed for an easy re-election victory.. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Mayor Alice Patino, the first woman to hold the job in Santa Maria's history, appeared headed to another 4-year term Tuesday night.

Patino had captured 73.6 percent of the votes compared to 26.0 percent for Will Smith, a former educator who served a contentious stint on the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board, just after midnight.

"I am so glad this is finally over. It’s certainly been a long campaign," Patino said. "I feel very humbled the people of Santa Maria support me."

In addition to the mayor’s job, terms now filled by Councilwoman Terri Zuniga and Councilman Bob Orach were up for grabs, with a close race among three of the candidates in the field of six.

While Zuniga sought a second term, Orach announced last summer he intended to retire after 30 years on the City Council.

Five men also ran to serve on the City Council of Santa Barbara County’s largest city. 

They were Mike Cordero, a retired police lieutenant and former councilman; John C. Childers Jr. businessman/contractor; Ed Hernandez, businessman; Dr. Michael Moats, dermatologist; and Hector Sanchez, businessman.

While Moats appeared to lead the field of six candidates early in the night, the race for the winners remained close. 

Late Tuesday night, Cordero climbed into first place with 25.1 percent while Moats had 24.3 percent with 100 percent of the precincts counted. 

Early voting totals came from vote-by-mail ballots — likely supporters of Moats, he said, expecting the initial numbers revealed in early results would be skewed. Still, the dermatologist said Tuesday night he remained "cautiously optimistic."

Upon learning early Wednesday morning that he had pulled ahead to the top spot Cordero said he was happy.

“I’m so excited the citizens have given me this great opportunity,” Cordero said.

Other results were Zuniga with 22.8 percent. A significant gap separated the remaining candidates, with Sanchez at 14.3 percent, Childers at 9.1 percent and Hernandez at 4.2 percent.

Zuniga said she was in a similar position on Election Night in 2012.

“Not nearly this close, we were much further behind,” she added.  “Traditionally, my voters have been those who go to the polls to vote so we’re hopeful we’re not that far behind, we’re not that far out of placement,”

She expected she would gain votes and move into second place once polling place ballots were tallied.

In the coming days, elections workers will count numerous provisional ballots and some remaining absentee ballots before results will be finalized.

Zuniga, who works for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Program, was first elected to the council in 2012 after narrowly missing in 2010. Through the years, she has been active in multiple community organizations. 

Cordero spent 36 years working for the Santa Maria Police Department before serving a 4-year stint on the council. In 2012, he ran for mayor, but lost to Patino, who captured 49 percent of the votes in a field of four candidates. Cordero placed second with 35.8 percent

His wife Linda serves on the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board, and sought re-election Tuesday. She led the field of candidates in that race.

Sanchez grew up in Santa Maria, and moved away for college and career in business and high tech before returning a few years ago to help run the family business, Sanchez Immigration and Tax Services.

He also has been active in One Community Action, a grassroots coalition that formed after a spike in violence in Santa Maria.

Moats, a  38-year resident of Santa Maria, operates his private dermatology practice in the city. He previously served on the Planning Commission. 

Moats was the top campaign spender among the field, according the campaign finance disclosure paperwork, spending nearly $33,000 as of late October and collecting more than $40,000. He received dozens of donations from many long-time Santa Marians. 

Patino received more than $22,000 in contributions, and had spent more than $18,000 by late October.

Zuniga received $15,888 in donations by late October, and had spent more than $9,700. 

Prior to running for the job of mayor, Patino served on the City Council since 1999. She is a former teacher.

The new terms begin Dec. 20 when the mayor and councilmembers will take the oath of office.

Those who won Tuesday will join the other two council members — Jack Boysen and Etta Waterfield — whose terms weren’t up this year.

Also appearing on the ballot, but running unopposed, were City Clerk Patti Rodriguez and City Treasurer Teressa Hall.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Mayor Alice Patino was re-elected mayor and Michael Moats won a seat on the City Council in Tuesday’s election. Click to view larger
Mayor Alice Patino was re-elected mayor and Michael Moats won a seat on the City Council in Tuesday’s election. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
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