The Santa Maria City Council election has two close races that were too close to call Tuesday night, with just a handful of votes separating the candidates.
Fewer than 100 votes separated Steven Funkhouser and Gloria Soto in the District 3 Santa Maria City Council race in semi-official election results released late Tuesday night by the County Elections Office.
Funkhouser had received 1,013 votes to Soto’s 948.
“We’re still waiting for the results to come in, and we’re anxiously awaiting but we’re really optimistic,” Soto said late Tuesday night. “We did a lot of work leading up to the polls closing, so we’re very optimistic.”
She and suppporters gathered at a union facility at the corner of Miller and Cook streets, while Funkhouser and supporters were at the Santa Maria Country Club awaiting results Tuesday night.
“I’m extremely excited about the race and grateful for the work of everyone who volunteered and worked for the campaign over the last year,” Funkhouser said. “Considering that the race is this close just confirms the fact that the district needs change; specifically when it comes to our public safety.”
For the District 4 seat local attorney Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez was ahead with 1,686 votes while Carol Karamitsos, an obstetrician/gynecologist, had 1,595 votes in semi-official election night results.
Public safety, homelessness, downtown revitilization and housing were among topics discussed by candidates during the campaign.
Soto, executive director for Future Leaders of America, is seeking her second term to represent the southwest neighborhoods of the city.
Funkhouser opened Starry Sky Coffee on the Allan Hancock College campus in 2009. He also serves as a board member for Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley and has participated in a number of local nonprofit organizations.
Soto has gained support of multiple labor unions and Democrat politicians on Santa Barbara County while Funkhouser has been endorsed by Mayor Alice Patino, former police chief Phil Hansen and the Santa Maria Peace Officers Association.
The District 4 incumbent, Etta Waterfield, decided against running for re-election to represent the southeast neighborhoods in Santa Maria.
Aguilera-Hernandez has served eight years on the Santa Maria Planning Commission.
She received endorsements from a number of elected officials, planning commissioners and community leadership.
Karamitsos has been a member of the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District board for several terms and spent Election Night leading the meeting as president.
She followed her father in becoming an obstetrician in the Santa Maria Valley.
All four candidates grew up in the Santa Maria Valley.
The winners of Tuesday’s election will begin their new four-year terms in December.
They will join Mayor Alice Patino along with council members Mike Cordero and Carlos Escobedo. Their four-year terms will be on the ballot in 2024.
After polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the County Elections Office released results for all the ballots that had already been received and counted. A semi-official tally was posted late Tuesday night.
Results will be updated again on Nov. 15, which is the deadline for vote-by-mail ballots to be delivered to the County Elections Office as long as the ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day.
The Santa Barbara County Elections Office will certify the Nov. 8 election results by Dec. 8.