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Uhrig leads Waite in Solvang mayor's race, Infanti, Orona on track for council seats

Uhrig leads Waite in Solvang mayor's race, Infanti, Orona on track for council seats

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Early election results showed Charlie Uhrig gaining steam over Karen Waite in the race for Solvang mayor, with Mark Infanti, Claudia Orona and Justin Rodriguez leading in the race for two open council seats.

With mail-in ballots tallied and one of three Solvang precincts reporting, Uhrig held 1,488 votes, or 56.4%. Waite trailed with 1,135 votes, or 43.03%.

“It’s very humbling. It means a lot. I’ve just been trying to remain as calm as possible. I’m very grateful for all the people who have supported me through all this,” Uhrig said late Tuesday.

Infanti led the council race with 1,277 votes, or 30.92%, with Orona following at 1,106 votes, or 26.78%. Rodriguez trailed closely at 1,031 votes, or 24.96%. Chris Bowyer rounded out the race with 682 votes, or 16.51%.

“My greatest feeling was that Charlie Uhrig won mayor, it looks like. I think Charlie is the individual that can lead us. I want to support him, and it looks like I will be on the City Council to do that. That fulfills what I wanted to accomplish,” Infanti said.

Uhrig noted the new council would see an almost complete turnover in this election which also showed overwhelming voter support for the recall of Councilman Chris Djernaes. Uhrig’s old boss, former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas, looked to be in the lead to fill Djernaes’s seat.

“I think eliminating Chris Djernaes will make the job of healing the city more easy,” Infanti said.

Uhrig —- the self-proclaimed “old new guy, or new old guy” — was Solvang’s community services deputy for 16 years under the city’s contract with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office before medical leave which was followed by a shift to bailiff duties.

Rumors about Uhrig’s residency ran amok throughout the campaign. A city resident in the late 1980s and again in the 1990s, Uhrig again moved to Solvang in mid-July when he placed his Buellton home up for rent.

Waite, a six-year Solvang resident, ran on her record of community service which spanned parent-teacher organizations to elected office.

Infanti once served on Solvang’s now-defunct Board of Architectural Review. He disagreed with the council’s expenditures on studies and outsourcing, any idea that would make Solvang more like Disneyland, and the use of outside consultants. He campaigned on creating a good budget plan, opposed the city’s spending on its current city attorney, and wants to diversify the city’s tax base to reduce its dependence on tourism.

Orona, who owns the Solvang Trolley Carriage Company and Solvang Trolley Ice Cream Parlor, has been an outspoken opponent of Djernaes. She and her parents, Lorena and Sal Orona, claimed Djernaes bullied them and threatened their livelihoods by pushing for competitive carriage companies entering the market. Orona advocated for returning the tourism marketing contract to local experts, addressing affordable housing, and addressing accessibility and related issues that resulted from the closure of Copenhagen Drive.

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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