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General Election 2022: Candidate reactions, turnout numbers and updated results for the Central Coast

The polling place at the SLO County Government Center
Gabriela Fernandez
The polling place at the SLO County Government Center.

Election Day is over, but there's still a while to go before Central Coast election results are final.

KCBX News has an update on local candidate reactions, turnout numbers and preliminary results.

SLO County District 2 supervisor race

In San Luis Obispo County, one of the main races to watch is SLO County’s District 2 Board of Supervisors race. After the last redistricting cycle, the district now encompasses much of the county’s north coast and stretches inland to Atascadero and nearby areas.

Right now, incumbent District 2 supervisor Bruce Gibson is narrowly leading the race with about 53% percent of the vote. Challenger Bruce Jones is close behind at about 47% percent of the vote.

Still, only about a third of all the votes cast are counted and processed right now in SLO County, so there’s a while to go.

Bruce Jones participated in a forum moderated by the SLO County League of Women Voters on Thursday, Sep. 29.
Screenshot/League of Women Voters
Bruce Jones participated in a forum moderated by the SLO County League of Women Voters on Thursday, Sep. 29.

Vote-by-mail has expanded so much in the last few years that it’s now even more difficult to predict the future of each race. That’s playing out right now in the SLO County District 2 race.

Conservative challenger Bruce Jones believes early voters skew Democratic, so he predicts he will get a higher percentage of votes — or even pull ahead of Gibson — as more votes are processed.

“Those folks who vote early tend to be more Democrat, particularly mail-in voters who vote early,  and the Republicans tend to come on the last day and vote at the precinct or put their ballot in the last day or two," Jones said.

Gibson, the progressive incumbent District 2 supervisor, said he doesn’t think more ballots will necessarily lean more conservative. He said the major changes to election processes brought by the rise of vote-by-mail in the last few years means nothing is certain.

“We're in the new era of voting [where] everyone is mailed a ballot. That really has changed the dynamic of who votes when. I don't think there are a lot of hard rules right now," Gibson said.

bruce jones
SCreenshot/League of Women Voters of SLO County
Bruce Jones participated in a forum moderated by the SLO County League of Women Voters on Thursday, Sep. 29.

If Bruce Jones ends up moving into first place and winning the District 2 seat, it would mean the board majority will remain conservative-leaning.

If Gibson wins, it will shift to a liberal-leaning Board majority.

The election still has to be certified by County Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano, who has scheduled the next preliminary results update for Friday.

Cano also said there are about 30,000 ballots left to count in SLO County. The official outcome of the District 2 supervisor race won’t be announced until all ballots are counted and the election is certified, which Cano said will happen in less than 30 days.

SLO County mayoral candidates react to current numbers

With the November general election behind us, candidates are waiting to see how preliminary results change with each update. KCBX News spoke with some local mayoral candidates about how they’re feeling post-Election Day.

Four candidates are running to be mayor of San Luis Obispo, with incumbent Erica Stewart in the lead at 70 percent.

Stewart said she is feeling optimistic about her standing in the race and is eagerly awaiting final results.

“I'm hoping that my lead will hold. I feel like it's a pretty strong lead from the other candidates, so that's exciting," she said.

A polling location in San Luis Obispo prepares for election day.
Gabriela Fernandez
A polling location in San Luis Obispo prepares for election day.

Jeffery Specht is currently in third place for the SLO mayor seat at about 13 percent. He said though the polling numbers are still subject to change, he does not believe they will change much in his favor.

“The numbers, I think, will change a little bit. I doubt that’s gonna put me in a position where I’ll win. You know, I’m Republican and it’s primarily [Democratic] in the city of San Luis," he said.

But Specht also said even though he believes he is unlikely to win the SLO mayoral seat, he will continue to advocate for the changes he wants to see in the city, including stopping what he calls “endless” increases in sales tax, parking fees and more.

The other SLO mayoral candidates are Richard Orcutt and Donald Hedrick, who also trail far behind Stewart as of current preliminary results.

In a different SLO County city, a challenger is currently ahead of an incumbent mayor. In the race for Morro Bay’s mayor seat, local restaurant owner Carla Wixom is leading the race at about 57% of votes, while incumbent mayor John Headding trails behind at about 43%.

These are preliminary results and reflect about 38% of total votes cast so far.

Throughout their campaign, candidates have discussed two renewable energy projects that have been proposed for Morro Bay – the proposal to put floating offshore wind turbines in the waters off the coast, and another one to build a massive battery storage facility where the city's three smokestacks now stand.

Wixom said she thinks her lead in the race is because the residents of Morro Bay haven’t felt heard by their local leaders — especially when it comes to the renewable energy projects that could bring major development to the city.

A map of the proposed wind energy area off of Morro Bay.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
A map of the proposed wind energy area off of Morro Bay.

“I think its just pretty much saying that the community is feeling that it's been not heard. And there's that concern for some of the large scale-energy projects that are being proposed for our community,” she said.

Wixom said she’s excited to be in the lead, but acknowledged the results are not final. Whatever the results may be, she said she appreciates the integrity of this campaign process against Headding.

“I appreciate that the current mayor and my campaign both ran campaigns with integrity, and it was nice because with a lot of mud-slinging these days. It's nice to be in a small town where you can have that, I appreciate that," Wixom said.

Incumbent Mayor John Headding did not respond to a post-election day interview request but did speak to KCBX News this week.

Updated results: Assembly Districts 30 and 37

New results for California State Assembly also came out this afternoon, signaling clear leads for Democratic candidates in Districts 30 and 37.

Democratic candidate Dawn Addis is leading with 57,788 votes in District 30, amounting to 60.8% of the total votes cast.

Meanwhile, Republican Vicki Nohrden currently stands at 37,320 votes — totaling 39.2% of the vote.

In District 37, Democratic candidate Greg Hart is leading with 58% of the vote over Republican contender Mike Stoker, with 42%.

As of today's update, Hart has garnered 46,465 votes and Stoker has received 33,589.

Those results come from the California Secretary of State’s office.

In SLO County, Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano plans another update Friday. For full SLO County preliminary election results, visit slovote.com.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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