Ending two weeks of ballot counting, Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer edged out his closest challenger to hold onto his council seat, according to unofficial results released Monday night.
Challenger Jay Humphrey trailed by 47 votes, meaning Righeimer's conservative three-man voting bloc will remain intact for the next two years. Councilman Steve Mensinger, a Righeimer ally, is up for reelection in 2016.
Righeimer had 7,524 votes to Humphrey's 7,477, an unchanged tally since Saturday's update. At times, the Righeimer-Humphrey gap was as low as 18 votes.
Righeimer said his win is not "a runaway," but one that sends a message.
"The message is that the community is 50-50 on the important issues," he said. "As an elected official, you have to look at that. They didn't go out there and give you a mandate to do whatever you're doing and continue to do."
Humphrey, a former councilman, said he would consider asking for a recount, but doesn't want to make any decisions until the vote is certified later this week. Humphrey would then have up to five days to request a recount at his own expense.
"I'm certainly going to take full advantage of where I can on that," he said.
Humphrey added that "no matter where we go, I couldn't be where I am right now if it weren't for all my wonderful volunteers and voters. I am very proud to have had all those folks associated with me. And hopefully, we'll reach a point to take care of their desires also."
Humphrey and running mate Katrina Foley, a school board trustee and former councilwoman who came solidly atop the list of eight candidates with nearly 27% of the vote, ran on a campaign opposing the Righeimer-led council majority.
Collectively, the Foley-Humphrey slate achieved 16,823 votes. Of those, 9,346 went to Foley.
In comparison, Righeimer and his ally, Lee Ramos, who campaigned alongside Righeimer though not as closely as Foley and Humphrey did, garnered 12,829 votes. Ramos came in fourth place behind Humphrey, getting 5,305 votes.
Foley and Humphrey's campaigns were boosted by activists — including endorsements from Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, which has opposed Righeimer's tenure — as well as funding from organized labor and small donations from residents.
Righeimer easily raised the most money, more than $150,000, much of which came from area business interests. He was also backed by the Republican Party of Orange County.
Righeimer said he'll meet with Foley "to see what's important to her. I think there are things we all agree on that we can get done right away. And the things we don't agree on, we'll work on those issues and close those gaps ... our job is to represent the whole city, not half."
Foley and Righeimer will begin their terms Dec. 2, when council members also will choose, from among themselves, a new mayor for the next two years.