A familiar face-off this fall seemed less likely early Wednesday in the race to represent the Third District on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, but a number of uncounted ballots after Election Day means the outcome won’t be certain for days.
For most of Tuesday night, incumbent Joan Hartmann and challenger Bruce Porter appeared headed to a run-off election in November, according to semi-official results released by the Santa Barbara County Elections Division.
But as of the seventh update posted at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Hartmann, seeking a second term, received 52.3 percent of the vote compared to 35.7 percent for Bruce Porter, small business owner, in results from thousands of vote-by-mail ballots and those from all 49 precincts counted.
Hartmann is leading Porter by 2,613 votes.
A third candidate, Karen Jones, a Santa Ynez Community Services District director, received 6.6 percent of the vote.
Isla Vista resident Jessica Alvarez Parfrey, a community organizer who suspended her campaign after ballots were printed, received 5 percent. When she canceled her campaign, she tossed her support to Hartmann.
Hartmann hovered below 50 percent for most of Tuesday night, but climbed above the number as more votes were counted.
If one candidate doesn’t win a majority of the votes Tuesday, the top two vote-getters will head to a runoff in the General Election on Nov. 3.
Results trickled in with only 20 percent of the precincts reporting as of 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, leading both candidates to release cautious statements.
“I am encouraged by the early returns and am proud of my campaign which was based on integrity and my record serving the people of the Third District,” Hartmann said in a written statement. “I look forward to the final count,” she said.
“We are deeply gratified and honored by the support we’ve received in early results,” Porter said. “We’re confident that our message of independence and commitment to bringing a new voice to all residents resonated deeply with voters. Should the race continue to November, we are confident that we can build on this solid base to achieve victory and a win for county residents.”
Approximately 30,000 ballots countywide remain to be counted in the coming days, according to Joe Holland, Santa Barbara County clerk-recorder-assessor-registrar-of-voters.
Additionally, between 4,000 and 5,000 provisional ballots, or those deemed problematic for various reasons, still need to be counted with many of those from Isla Vista, Holland added.
The sprawling Third District encompasses a variety of communities, including UCSB, Isla Vista, western Goleta, the Gaviota Coast, the Santa Ynez Valley, Mission Hills, Vandenberg Village, Casmalia, Tanglewood, and the city of Guadalupe.
Both candidates spent Tuesday conducting eleventh-hour campaigning in Isla Vista and on the UCSB campus.
In 2016, Hartmann and Porter faced off in the November runoff race, and she won the seat with 53.47 percent while Porter had 46.27 percent. They were the top vote-getters five months earlier in the primary election among the field of five candidates, which included Jones.
The person representing the Third District seat often winds up as the five-member Board of Supervisors’ tiebreaker between a pair of liberal supervisors representing the south and a pair of conservative supervisors in the north.
The Third District was one of three supervisorial seats up for grabs on Tuesday.
For the First District, incumbent Das Williams faced challenger Laura Capps in the bid to represent the southern part of the county and Cuyama Valley.
In the Fourth District, with incumbent Peter Adam retiring after two terms, his chief of staff, Bob Nelson, did not face a challenge for the job.
Nelson still appeared on the ballot, and in early results had received 96 percent of the vote in the bid to represent Orcutt, the city of Lompoc and some southern segments of Santa Maria.
The new four-year terms for each seat will begin in January when they will join Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart, currently the board chairman.