Carlos Escobedo will be the first District 1 representative on the Santa Maria City Council after gaining the lead in a four-person race, with mayoral incumbent Alice Patino set to enter into a third term after a landslide victory over challengers.
Updated election results came Wednesday morning, with 100% of precincts reporting, although results remain unofficial until they are certified over the coming days by election officials.
Escobedo, an outreach specialist at Hancock College and the organizer of Santa Maria Open Streets, holds 1,543 votes for 43.94%, with challenger and nonprofit professional Osvaldo Sotelo garnering 1,170 votes for 33.31%.
Sotelo was followed by challengers Brian Billones, who earned 415 votes for 11.82% and Christopher Diaz, who earned 358 votes for 10.19%.
Patino, currently in the midst of her second mayoral term, holds 12,936 votes for 66.26%, followed by challenger Will Smith, with 3,295 votes for 16.88%, and challenger Alberto Ugalde, who earned 3,175 votes for 16.26%.
Watching initial results come in Tuesday night at Maya Restaurant, Escobedo emphasized that even though he is not a born-and-raised Santa Marian, he feels ready to make things happen for the community he loves.
"I’m running because I love this community, and this is a way for me to give back. I wasn’t born here, but this is the place my family has been for years, and I want to raise my family here," he said.
Following this election, Santa Maria will see its first year with four district representatives on the City Council. Councilwomen Etta Waterfield and Gloria Soto were elected in 2018 to districts 4 and 3.
In an uncontested race for the City Council District 2 seat, incumbent Councilman Mike Cordero earned 3,575 votes for 96.67%, indicating that he will remain on the council as the city's first District 2 representative.
Patino, who has 20 years of local political experience under her belt, has held Santa Maria's mayoral seat since 2012 as the city's first and only female mayor.
Thanking voters for granting her a third term, Patino said there is a lot of work to be done in the coming months and years.
"I think we need to determine what the vision is for Santa Maria, so we'll have that General Plan update we're working on, and we definitely need to work in the direction of housing, and figuring out how we are going to accommodate housing here in Santa Maria," she said.
She also highlighted the need to support businesses as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 shutdown. Over the past six months, Patino has been a strong proponent of reopening businesses and schools, mostly taking an educational stance when it comes to COVID-19 awareness rather than an enforcement stance.
"We need to focus on supporting businesses and rebuilding the economy again after it all went down," she said.
The 2020 election marks her second victory over challenger Will Smith, who also ran for mayor in 2016.
Updated election results can be found on santamariatimes.com.
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