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One Santa Clarita City Council seat remains undecided

Posted: April 9, 2014 7:19 p.m.
Updated: April 9, 2014 7:19 p.m.

Up to five candidates were still jockeying for a third seat on the Santa Clarita City Council on Wednesday — and they’re not likely to learn the results of the election until next Tuesday.

With Mayor Laurene Weste and Councilwoman Marsha McLean assured to rejoin the council for another term, five candidates finished within 406 votes of each other in the race for the third and final seat up for grabs, according to unofficial results from the city.

And with 679 vote-by-mail ballots and 286 provisional ballots still to be reviewed, the newcomer to the City Council is uncertain.

Close race
As of Tuesday night, Dante Acosta had settled into the coveted third spot with 4,562 votes, according to unofficial results from the city.

“I’m grateful that I’m in that position, that I’m in third,” Acosta said Wednesday. “It’s going to be a long week but certainly I’m grateful and honored to just be in the position I’m in.”

Acosta’s hold on the third spot is tenuous, though, as he finished just 46 votes ahead of Alan Ferdman.

Ferdman, in fourth place overall, said Wednesday he is waiting for the final balloting to finish.

“Certainly I would have rather been a little bit further ahead, rather than sitting 46 votes behind, but it is what it is,” Ferdman said.

“And we know there’s going to be a final count on Tuesday so it’s just going to be a horse race until then, and then we’ll know exactly what the voters’ choice is.”

Ferdman said he was proud of his campaign, though he acknowledged there were some things he could have done differently.

“This was the first campaign we’ve run and we missed some opportunities,” he said. “And if we do it again we’ll make sure we don’t miss those.”

If the gap between himself and Acosta holds even after the remaining provisional and vote-by-mail ballots are counted, Ferdman said, he would probably not request a recount.

Gloria Mercado-Fortine occupied fifth place with 4,355 votes when Tuesday night’s counting was done. She stands 161 votes behind Ferdman and 207 behind Acosta.

“Our team did a great job, so I thank all my volunteers and supporters,” she said Wednesday.

Mercado-Fortine said, even if she is not able to mount a come-from-behind win to grab the third seat on the council, she will continue to look for ways to serve the community and continue in her role as a board member in the William S. Hart Union High School District.

“I love my community, so I will continue serving my community,” she said.

The uncounted ballots are expected to be added to the election tally on Tuesday.

Weste paced the field of 13 candidates with 5,822 votes, according to unofficial results from the city. Weste’s re-election means she would serve a fifth term on the City Council, though this would mark the first time she would be the top vote-getter in a City Council race.

Weste said there is much to do heading into a new term, citing an array of future amenities such as a permanent Canyon Country Community Center and a library in Saugus, along with continued work to improve public safety and the local economic climate.

“I’m proud to be part of that amazing community and there’s a lot of work to do,” Weste said.
McLean pulled in 5,363 votes to put herself in position for a fourth council term.

“Obviously, I’m very pleased with the results,” McLean said Wednesday. “It was a very long, hard campaign and I’m very, very happy to be going back to work and carrying on with the things that I want to accomplish.”

Those future endeavors include continuing to work on transportation issues, McLean said.

“I’m looking forward to having the (Metrolink) station open at the Burbank Bob Hope Airport so that our residents, for the first time, can take the train directly for the airport,” McLean said.

Other candidates
A duo of other candidates is also not mathematically out of the running for the council’s undetermined seat.
Duane Harte pulled in 4,198 votes, putting him 157 behind Mercado-Fortine, and Maria Gutzeit finished with 4,156, according to unofficial results from the city.

“I would venture to guess that the third-place seat is still up for grabs, but I don’t bet the other two will change,” Harte said Wednesday.

Even though there are hundreds of votes left to be counted, Harte said he doesn’t anticipate himself making a late charge to secure a council seat.

“I don’t foresee anything like that happening,” he said.

Gutzeit, who ran a re-election campaign to the Newhall County Water District board in November before turning her attention to the City Council race, said she was happy with the campaign she and her team ran.

“Of course we wanted to be in the top three, but I’m happy that we did a really good campaign in a really short amount of time,” she said,

Gutzeit said she plans to run in the next City Council election and also said she thinks Tuesday’s results illustrate that not enough people turned out to vote to allow challengers to outpace incumbents.

“I attribute it to the fact that establishment supporters voted, and the people that wanted change didn’t vote enough,” she said. “They have to get the turnout up.

“It’s one thing to say you’re involved, and a lot of people did get involved in our campaign, but if you want change you have to go vote,” she said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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