3 Riverside Races Head to a Runoff

Times Staff Writers

In an election that saw the lowest voter turnout in local history, three Riverside City Council races failed to produce winners and will be decided in a runoff election in January.

In the city's Ward 7 race, three candidates were separated by just 22 votes, and election officials will spend the next week counting absentee and provisional ballots to determine which two will make the runoff.

In San Bernardino, a City Council candidate supported by Mayor Judith Valles was soundly defeated in a race rife with allegations of corruption. And in Redlands, a ballot measure intended to provide municipal services for an unincorporated area within the city borders, in exchange for sales tax revenue from that area, was approved.

About 17% of registered Riverside County voters went to the polls Tuesday, the lowest percentage in local recorded history, said Registrar of Voters Mischelle Townsend.

"Then again, never in the history of California have we had a statewide special election within four weeks of a local election, nor have we had the extreme wildfires that caused this much damage, as we had in the past week," she said.

In Riverside, voters overwhelmingly approved a $20-million bond measure to build fire facilities and reelected Councilman Ed Adkison in Ward 5.

Voters were divided in the rest of the council races. None of the 18 candidates running to represent the other three wards on the ballot won more than 50% of the vote. The two candidates with the most votes in each ward will be in the Jan. 13 runoff.

The runoff candidates in Ward 1 will be businessman Dom Betro and Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Fick. In Ward 3, they will be businessmen Art Gage and attorney Mike Goldware.

But candidates in the race to represent Ward 7, the westernmost parts of the city, were divided by the narrowest of margins. Former Mayor and Councilwoman Terry Frizzel won 744 votes. Retired policeman Steve Adams got 724 votes and retired educator Mary Lou Morales got 722.

Townsend said the runoff candidates would be decided after her office counted the absentee ballots turned in on election day and the provisional ballots filled out by voters who were not on the rolls at their local polling places. Any of the candidates can request a recount.

In the city of San Bernardino, unofficial results indicated that incumbent council members Wendy McCammack and Gordon McGinnis and challengers Chas A. Kelley and Rikke Van Johnson were elected to the council. In the race for Ward 5, Valles and City Atty. James Penman backed rival candidates. Valles supported incumbent Joe Suarez, while Penman supported Kelley, a nutritional services employee.

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