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Incumbent Alice Patino draws closer to winning third mayoral term in Santa Maria
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Incumbent Alice Patino draws closer to winning third mayoral term in Santa Maria

In a three-person race for the Santa Maria mayor’s seat, incumbent Alice Patino held a strong lead in the first round of unofficial results Tuesday night with 11,888 votes, or 67.33%. 

Patino was followed by challenger Will Smith, who earned 2,911 votes for 16.49% in initial returns. Challenger Alberto Ugalde received 2,748 votes for 15.56%, with 15 of 26 precincts reporting. 

Early results began coming in shortly after Patino finished a regularly scheduled meeting in the Santa Maria City Council chambers, with other candidates watching the race from their homes. 

Watching results with her husband John following the meeting, Patino said she was pleasantly surprised by her strong lead in early returns. In her coming term, she said she is eager to work with the newest member on the City Council and to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I just feel very excited, and very pleased that people would vote for me," she said. "It’s very exciting to have a third term and there is a lot to do. We’ll have a new person on the council, so there’s a lot to accomplish there, and we have to get this COVID over with and open again," she said.

The mayor’s seat is a four-year term, which Patino has held since 2012 as the city’s first and only female mayor. In her eight years thus far, she has focused on youth programs and public safety, co-founding the Mayor's Task Force on Youth Safety and Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley. 

A four-way race for the Santa Maria City Council District 1 seat saw challenger Carlos Escobedo in the lead Tuesday night in the first round of unofficial results, garnering 1,367 votes for 43.58% of ballots counted with three of seven precincts reporting. 

Prior to her role as mayor, Patino served on the Santa Maria City Council, as a teacher in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District and as a board member in the Santa Maria Joint-Union High School District. 

This election marks the first time that the mayor will preside over a fully district-based City Council, with representatives for districts 1 and 2 also being chosen in the General Election.

While City Council candidates are elected only by members of their district, the mayor is elected at-large. 

The 2020 race also was the second time that challenger Will Smith faced off against Patino for the mayor’s seat, with Patino leading by a similarly large margin in 2016.

This was local barber Alberto Ugalde’s first time running for office. 

Election results remain unofficial until they are certified by election officials over the coming days.

Updated election results can be found on santamariatimes.com

Election 2020: Results stories, photos and profiles from local races

We will be updating our results page throughout Election Night and until the votes are made official. Go through this collection of our stories covering the local city council, mayoral and school board races.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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