Meredith Matthews, likely winner in the Arcata City Council race, checks results on her phone at her election night party at Septentrio Winery. Photo: Andrew Goff.



Looks like it’s going to be a good long while before we find out for sure who won most of the high-profile local races.

That’s because the Elections Office only managed to get 16,998 votes counted on Election Night — it’s unknown, at this moment, how many votes are left to count, but it is likely tens of thousands more —and many of the most watched races are pretty close.

For instance: In the only countywide race on the ballot — the Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters runoff — is on a knife’s edge:

HUNT NIELSEN7,30449.37%

Supporters of Juan Pablo Cervantes can take comfort, if they wish, in the well-known “blue shift” phenomenon, which shows that votes tabulated late tend to be more progressive than those counted on Election Night. (Lefties vote later.) That held up for Supervisor-Elect Natalie Arroyo in June, though who knows — the pandemic and universal vote-by-mail may still be scrambling our voting patterns.

The races for Eureka City Council are likewise too close to call:


In the Third Ward, Fullerton is the anti-Cervantes — a fairly solid lead for a conservative candidate, that, if traditional patterns hold, will erode over the coming weeks. How far will it erode? That’s unknown, but check those vote totals. The Elections Office has, so far, only counted 776 votes in the Third Ward. Four years ago, there were 2,747 ballots cast in that ward. So a lot of counting left to do.

Up in Arcata, at least, the results seem pretty conclusive — Meredith Matthews and Kimberley White each have more than 30 percent of the vote tallied so far for the two open seats on that board, and their closest runner-up, Raelina Krikston, is down at around 12 percent. Matthews and White should have no problem winning. 

Progressive candidate Julie Ryan still has a healthy lead over Alan Bongio in the fascinating race for the Humboldt Community Services District board. With two seats open, incumbent Gregg Gardiner has about 39.6 percent of the vote, with Ryan at 32.9 percent and Bongio at 27.6 percent

Likewise, in Fortuna there are three open seats and three candidates with clear leads — Mike Johnson, Christina Mobley and Kyle Conley.

(Full election night final results, in PDF form, at this link.)

What happens next? Sometime soon — perhaps today or tomorrow — the Elections Office will figure out how many ballots are left to process. Again: It will almost certainly be higher than the number of ballots that have been counted so far.

Then the office will start issuing weekly updates as those remaining ballots are checked and tallied. The county has about a month to certify its results, and it’s likely that it’ll use all that time. The picture will likely become clearer in some of the races before that, but settle in for a long period of uncertainty!