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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 7:43 pm | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 
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Murillo, Rowse Win Re-Election to Santa Barbara Council; Dominguez Triumphs on Eastside

Voter turnout is 35 percent for first district election contest in 40 years

Incumbent Cathy Murillo gets a hug from a supporter Tuesday night as she was cruising to re-election in the District 3 race for Santa Barbara City Council.
Incumbent Cathy Murillo gets a hug from a supporter Tuesday night as she was cruising to re-election in the District 3 race for Santa Barbara City Council. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Cathy Murillo and Randy Rowse cakewalked to re-election Tuesday night, but the biggest surprise was on the Eastside, where Jason Dominguez handily defeated Andria Martinez Cohen and Jacqueline Inda to win a seat on the Santa Barbara City Council.

As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Murillo was winning with 906 votes over Milpas Community Association Executive Director Sharon Byrne, who had 432 votes. Cristina Cardoso received 118 votes. 

"We walked door-to-door until it hurt," Murillo said at her victory party at Super Cucas on the Westside. "I want to make a pledge that I will look out for the whole city even as I look after my district. It's a whole new ballgame and I look forward to embracing that."

Byrne held a party at Bo Henry's on the Westside, before heading to Dominguez's victory party. 

"I am surprised," Byrne told Noozhawk. "This clearly is not what we were expecting. I know I walked every house in the district twice."

District 1 Candidates Total Votes
Dominguez 1,074
Martinez Cohen 475
Inda 350
Herrera Cruz 90
Merenda  29

Santa Barbara moved to district elections this year after a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit alleged that Latinos where underrepresented on the City Council. With Murillo's re-election and Dominguez winning a seat, the city now has two Latinos on the seven-member panel.

On the Eastside, Dominguez celebrated at Taqueria El Bajio. He received 1,074 votes. With a fresh haircut and wide grin, Dominguez reveled in his victory.

"I'm feeling really good," Dominguez beamed. "This is a testament to a great set of volunteers."

Jason Dominguez handily defeated his opponents to win the District 1 seat on the Santa Barbara City Council. Click to view larger
Jason Dominguez handily defeated his opponents to win the District 1 seat on the Santa Barbara City Council. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Dominguez, a registered Democrat, sought the backing of moderates and business conservatives on the Eastside after unsuccessfully attempting to get the Democratic Party's endorsement.

He told Noozhawk Tuesday night that the key to his success was talking about the issues, not the parties. He also said he knocked on 1,500 doors and worked from 7 a.m. until 7:45 p.m. on election day. 

"I kept the focus on nonpartisan issues," Dominguez said. "I really want to thank the voters of Santa Barbara for being so engaged in this election."

District 2 Candidates Total Votes
Rowse 2,096
Esparza 438
McSweeney-Zeitsoff 379
Burke 105

Daraka Larimore-Hall, chairman of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, said he was disappointed in the District 1 results.

"Now we get to see which Jason Dominguez won the election," Larimore-Hall said. "Is it the liberal Democrat or is it the guy who promised the moon to Realtors and the chamber of commerce. We shall see."

Cohen and Murillo were the only two candidates to show up at City Hall to watch the election results. While Murillo smiled at the results, Cohen was disappointed. She received 475 votes, less than half that of Dominguez.

Sharon Byrne was surprised by her loss to incumbent Cathy Murillo in the District 3 race for Santa Barbara City Council. Click to view larger
Sharon Byrne was surprised by her loss to incumbent Cathy Murillo in the District 3 race for Santa Barbara City Council. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

"I'm definitely surprised it wasn't closer," Cohen told Noozhawk. "We worked really hard. I had a great experience. I had no regrets."

Cohen also revealed that perhaps the results where meant to be. 

"I am 14 weeks pregnant," she said. 

Rowse celebrated at The Paradise Cafe, the restaurant he owns on Anacapa Street. The incumbent took home 2,096 votes.

Rowse was the clear frontrunner heading into the election.

"I feel fine," he said. "The campaign on the Mesa wasn't quite as interesting as District 1 or District 3."

District 3 Candidates Total Votes
Murillo 906
Byrne 432
Cardoso 118

Rowse said even though he won, he doesn't like district elections.

"It's still one town," he said. "I am not a big fan of of the fact that district elections came along and chopped up the town."

In District 1, Inda received 350 votes. Cruzito Herrera Cruz got 90 votes. Michael Merenda received 29. 

In District 2, Luis Esparza placed second with 438 votes. Missy McSweeney Zeitsoff received 379 votes. Robert Burke took home 105 votes.

Cathy Murillo shares a laugh on a happy election night. Click to view larger
Cathy Murillo shares a laugh on a happy election night. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Tuesday's election was the first based on districts in more than 40 years.

The city's vote-by-mail election saw a 34.9 voter turnout.

The full elections results won't be known until Monday because of a new state law that allows voters to mail their ballots on election day and they will still count. The results of those ballots are not expected to affect the results. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.

Randy Rowse was the night’s top vote-getter and was easily winning re-election to the Santa Barbara City Council in District 2. Click to view larger
Randy Rowse was the night’s top vote-getter and was easily winning re-election to the Santa Barbara City Council in District 2. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

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