Many Madera County votes remained uncounted Tuesday evening, but more than 22,000 absentee ballots offered a glimpse of how the final tally may settle.
A proposed half cent sales tax, Measure K, showed strong support of roughly 79 percent among the 38.8 percent of area voters whose absentee ballots had been counted.
Voters here strongly preferred incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Dist. 4, over his challenger Robert W. Derlet by 69.3 percent vs 30.7 percent. Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-Dist. 5, likewise claimed 67.4 percent of absentee votes against the 32.6 percent of Robert Carabas. Bigelow is a former Madera County supervisor.
Two-time rival Johnny Tacherra had a hefty lead of 60.4 percent to 39.6 percent over longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, D-Dist. 16, within Madera County. Despite that, Costa has demonstrated in past elections that his support in Fresno County far outweighs local sentiment.
In northwest Madera’s Area 1, Madera Unified School District trustee Ray Seibert led senior criminal investigator Luis Carillo of the Madera County District Attorney’s Office (59.8 percent vs 39.6 percent). Fellow MUSD trustee Ricardo “Ric” Arredondo similarly held off former trustee Lynn Cogdill (55.7 to 44.0 percent), but a low vote count suggests many voters in Area 6 simply abstained.
In the Madera Ranchos, Andy Wheeler kept a significant lead at 59.3 percent of absentee votes versus Warren Parr’s 39.9 percent in the battle to be the Golden Valley School District board trustee. In Bass Lake, Julie Greenwood commanded 67.5 percent of absentee votes against the 32.2 percent of Ron Bucheger for the Area 3 school trustee position.
Hardly an upset, unopposed Madera mayoral candidate Andy Medellin received 98 percent of early absentee votes and unopposed city councilmen Derek Orlando Robinson (District 4) and Donald E. Holley (District 6) nearly claimed nearly as high percentages. Former school trustee Jose Rodriguez fended off Jim Da Silva thus far at 54 percent vs 45.7 percent, but each’s vote count remained in the hundreds as of Tuesday evening.
Incumbent Director Carl Janzen of Madera Irrigation District took 59.8 percent of absentee ballots over MID Chief of Operations John Bese’s 39.6 percent for Division 5.
So far, most county absentee voters opposed repealing the death penalty via Prop. 62, tying drug prices to those given to veterans services in Prop. 61, carryout bags of Prop. 65, banning plastic bags, gun control in Prop. 63, political spending referendums of Prop. 59, adult film regulation of Prop. 60, the school bonds of Proposition 51, juvenile criminal sentences of Prop. 57, legalizing marijuana in Prop. 64, and the cigarette tax of Prop. 56.
Madera County absentee voters seemed more favorable to state MediCal fees returning to hospitals (Prop. 52), transparency in lawmaking (Prop. 54), extending an education tax on the wealthy (Prop. 55), the return of bilingual education (Prop. 58), and reforming death penalty appeals (Prop. 66).
Local preferences may not be decisive in the state at-large however, as several propositions unpopular with Madera County absentee voters appear to have won much greater support elsewhere in California, such as the legal pot proposed by Prop. 64.
Early Madera County voting showed heavy support for presidential candidate Donald Trump over rival Hillary Clinton (55.5 to 37.8 percent) as well as a relative surge in third-party love amounting to 6.7 percent of absentee votes.