Incumbents have early lead in Somerton races
SOMERTON – Residents here appeared to favor the incumbents in Tuesday's primary election, as the current office holders held the lead in races for mayor and three city council seats.
In his bid for a second four-year term, Mayor Martin Porchas led his rival, Arturo Magana, by a vote of 395 to 257, according to incomplete preliminary returns released Tuesday night.
In the race for the council seats, incumbent Gerardo Anaya was leading all candidates with 381 votes, followed by first-time candidate Carlos Gonzalez with 327 votes, and incumbent Councilman Miguel Villalpando with 316 votes.
Rounding out the council races were first-time candidate Patricia Miranda, 226 votes; Arturo Vargas, a former city councilman who had 210 votes, and Franciso Vasquez, 119 votes.
Early and provisional ballots cast in the primary were still being counted Tuesday night, and final, unofficial election results were expected later in the week.
The city's general election is slated for May, but given that only two candidates competed for mayor, the outcome of that race will be decided in the primary.
Any council candidates who receive votes from more than half of all primary voters also will automatically assume a seat. Any remaining seats on the council will be filled in runoff races in the general.
Apart from Anaya and Villalpando, Magana is concluding a term on the city council, but he opted to run against Porchas for mayor in lieu of seeking re-election to the council.
The percentage of voter turnout for the primary was not immediately available, but voting as the city's poll site, the Somerton Public Safety Building, was reported as light Tuesday morning and afternoon. More voters were expected to arrive after 5 p.m.
City officials and candidates said they were hoping turnout for the primary would exceed the average of 700 voters seen in prior elections in Somerton.
“I hope more people go out to vote and that we can exceed 1,000 votes,” Porchas said Tuesday morning. “We haven't had good turnout in elections.”
Added Magana, “Just before the close of voting, we hope to see more people arriving to vote. That happens in every election. We just have to hope they participate.”
The campaign leading up to Tuesday's election had grown heated as Magana challenged the efficiency of the city's recycling and animal control programs, both of which have been backed by Porchas.
On Tuesday, neither was predicting the outcome of the race.
“The competition will make a better office holder of the person who wins,” Magana said. “He who wins will be a better mayor.”
Regardless of who wins, said Porchas, “The important thing is that Somerton continue progressing and doesn't go back to the past.”