Early ballot results portend considerable turnover in key leadership roles

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IMPERIAL COUNTY — Early returns from Tuesday’s general election indicate there were be a major shakeup at the Imperial Irrigation District, as well as several other key positions of leadership throughout the county.

As of 10:18 p.m., first-time candidate J.B. Hamby was leading El Centro attorney Ryan Childers in the race for IID Division 2 by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent with 3,516 votes counted.

Perhaps more surprising, incumbent director in Division 4, Erik Ortega, was trailing challenger Javier Gonzalez by 39 votes, with 3,719 votes counted. Ortega trounced Gonzalez in the March primary, but failed to exceed the 50 percent of votes necessary to avoid a runoff.

Another surprise is that embattled Imperial County Office of Education trustee Annette Gonzalez-Buttner, who is facing felony charges related to allegations filed false residency documents in running for ICOE in mid-2014, looks poised to unseat incumbent Louis Wong as Imperial Community College trustee for Area 1.

Gonzalez-Buttner was leading Wong with just over 59 percent of the votes in her favor as of 10:18 p.m. She had 1,499 votes compared to Wong’s 1,018.

In the races for the other two open Imperial Community College trustee seats, incumbent Jerry Hart held a big lead (1,853 votes to 1,127) over local activist Hilton Smith in Area 3 while Isabel Solis was leading Yulil Alonso-Garza 1,281 votes to 764 votes in Area 4.

Meanwhile, two of the three incumbent trustees on the El Centro Elementary School District appear to be on their way out, with Chuck Fisher and Patricia Dunham sitting fourth and fifth, respectively, for the three seats in contention. Long-time trustee Frances Terrazas looks poised to reclaim the seat she lost in 2018 with 24.78 percent of the vote. She was followed by teacher Andrew Arevalo with 24.43 percent and incumbent Michael Minnix with 21.68 percent. Fisher and Dunham had collected 16.30 percent and 12.81 percent, respectively as of 10:18 p.m.

A major turnover looks likely on the Calexico City Council, with local activist Raul Ureña poised to assume the balance of the term vacated by disgraced former Councilman David Romero. He led incumbent Morris Reisen by a large margin, 68 percent vs. almost 27 percent of the vote, as of 10:18 p.m.

Incumbent Bill Hodge doesn’t look he’ll be getting another term, either. He was sitting in sixth place for the three full terms (9.56 percent of the vote) while fellow Councilman Lewis Pacheco was on the ropes in fourth place with 14.58 percent of the vote. Running first, second and third were Gloria Romo, Javier Moreno and incumbent Camilo Garcia with 15.80 percent, 15.68 percent and 15.37 percent of the vote respectively. Garcia joined the Calexico City Council in June after Romero resigned.

Darrell Pechtl’s days on the Imperial City Council appear to be coming to an end. He was running a distant fourth to Katie Burnworth for the two seats in play. Burnworth had 35.93 percent of the vote, while incumbent Robert Amparano had 26.47 percent. Imperial Chamber of Commerce CEO Susan Paradis was running third at 20.64 percent of the vote, with Pechtl sitting at just under 17 percent.

About the only certainty in the El Centro City Council race is that Jason Jackson’s run is over. As of 10:18 p.m., he was sitting dead last among the six contenders with 10.7 percent of the vote.

The top vote-getters for the three open seats on the council were Sylvia Marroquin, incumbent Efrain Silva and Martha Cardenas-Singh, with 20.03 percent, 18.75 percent and 18.42 percent of the vote, respectively. Incumbent Edgard Garcia was sitting fourth at 17.57 percent, and Sonia Carter was in fifth with 14.53 percent.

The running order of the three open Brawley City Council seats was George Nava, Ramon Castro and Donnie Wharton, with 31.09 percent, 25.22 percent and 24.34 percent of the 4,429 votes counted so far, respectively. Ronald Gray III was on the outside looking in with 19.35 percent of the votes tallied.

The two open seats on Calipatria’s City Council look like they’ll be going to incumbent Maria Nava-Froelich and Sylvia Chavez. They had 35.15 percent and 32.64 percent of the votes counted as of 10:18 p.m. George Prieto and Jacqueline Bravo Riddell were at 17.99 percent and 14.23 percent, respectively.

Mayor James Predmore appears to be done on Holtville’s City Council. He was in fourth place in the race for three seats behind incumbent Michael Pacheco (35.55 percent of the votes counted), newcomer J. Murray Anderson (24.62 percent) and incumbent Virginia Ward 22.94 percent. Predmore was at 16.90 percent.

In the race for the Area 5 open seat on the Imperial County Board of Education, Lucy Maria Hendry held a sizeable lead (1,303 votes to 1,097) over her opponent Laura Farris Goodsell.

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