|Harwood ‘Bendy’ White||8,884||18.24%|
|Megan Diaz Alley||5,489||11.27%|
|Cruzito Herrera Cruz||1,227||2.52%|
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Two incumbents will be joined by a new-but-familiar face on the Santa Barbara City Council following tabulation of city-wide balloting.
With 17,659 ballots counted — or 38.3 percent of registered voters — Councilmen Frank Hotchkiss and Harwood “Bendy” White were among the top vote-getters for three council seats that were up for election.
Gregg Hart, who served two previous terms on the council from 1996 to 2004, rounded out the top three.
White led with 18.24 percent of the vote, followed by Hart with 16.08 percent and Hotchkiss with 13.49 percent.
The city counted the provisional ballots Monday morning.
Hart said he believes his previous two terms on council gave him the edge in this election with so many other candidates.
“I worked very hard for a very long time, since January,” Hart said.
He hasn’t taken a day off in months, and admitted he needs a vacation before starting his new job.
Voters remembered him from before, respect his work and were supportive of him wanting to go back, he said.
Many of the issues are the same – affordable housing, transportation, positive opportunities for youth – and the time away has made him “older and wiser,” he said.
Even though the office is supposed to be nonpartisan, there are ideological lines drawn during many council votes, and Hart hopes to find ways to work together with all his new colleagues.
When the first wave of results came out, Hart was eagerly hugged by Councilwoman Cathy Murillo – “Oh my god, we get to work together!” she said – and First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who greeted him as “Councilman Hart.”
White came out strong from the very first vote count, holding his roughly 18 percent of the vote throughout the night.
He said he was “grateful and relieved” to be re-elected.
“I’m glad that we’re done with this phase and can get back to running the city,” he said.
Hotchkiss was tentative about the results considering he came in third, but he was encouraged by the early lead.
His re-election campaign efforts were somewhat hampered by the fact he was thrown from a horse just before the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Parade. He couldn’t walk for a while, so he called everyone to make up for the face-to-face time, his campaign manager Chris Collier said.
Mayor Helene Schneider cruised to re-election, with 73.32 percent of the vote compared to 26.68 percent for her sole challenger, Wayne Scoles.
Schneider has served on the City Council since 2004, including one term as mayor, and raised a record amount of money for a race in which her opponent didn’t raise enough to even trigger campaign finance disclosure rules.
She celebrated with White and candidate David Landecker Tuesday night, saying she was glad to be working with White again but was disappointed it looked like Landecker wouldn’t be joining them.
It has been an honor representing the city as mayor and an honor to be re-elected, she said.
Scoles is known for his public confrontation with Police Chief Cam Sanchez at a park and a civil lawsuit alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution.
The other council candidates included David Landecker, 11.59 percent, Megan Diaz Alley, 11.27 percent, Lesley Wiscomb, 11.24 percent, Jason Nelson, 10.83 percent, , Michael Jordan, 3.54 percent, Cruzito Herrera Cruz, 2.52 percent, and Matthew Kramer, 1.20 percent.
Measure F, an ordinance to allow a land swap between the city and the U.S. Army involving MacKenzie Park and the Fremont Army Reserve Center at State Street and Las Positas Road, also was on the ballot, and gained overwhelming approval, with 85.60 percent voting yes and 14.40 voting no.
The election was conducted via vote-by-mail ballot.
Marcelo Lopez, assistant city administrator and head of administrative services, has overseen four city-run elections. The city received about 13,000 ballots by Monday night, with another 3,000 or so on Election Day itself, he said. With a total of 17,659 ballots received, the city considers it a good turnout even though it’s lower than 2011 and 2009.
“In 2007, the city’s first election, turnout was 37 percent, but let me emphasize that, in an off-year election like ours, during an odd year, this is a good turnout,” Lopez said. “The even-year elections tend to have a higher voter turnout, so this is a good number.”
Ballot processing staff inspect each envelope and ballot before the ballots themselves are counted by machine and tallied up. The process has been going on for a week, but a panel of inspectors – including many city employees and department heads – examined ballots to be counted Tuesday night in the Council Chambers of City Hall.
The newly-elected mayor and councilmen will be sworn in during the first council meeting in January, Lopez said.
Noozhawk staff writers Lara Cooper and Giana Magnoli contributed to this report.
— Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.