Elections in Peninsula contests became anything but status quo affairs.
With an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 ballots still to be counted countywide, the results from Tuesday's election could change. But the tally by Wednesday showed that voters in Marina, Pacific Grove, Monterey and Seaside likely added one new member each to their city councils.
In Pacific Grove and Seaside, incumbent Mayors Carmelita Garcia and Felix Bachofner continued to run behind Pacific Grove City Councilman Bill Kampe and former Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio.
In Marina, Mayor Bruce Delgado had a comfortable lead over challenger Steve Emerson, while Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala won a new term without challenge.
The tightest race on the Peninsula was for one of two Marina City Council seats up for grabs. Incumbent Frank O'Connell was the leader among five candidates in the race, with nearly 27 percent of the vote. But only 16 votes separated attorney Gail Morton, running second, and incumbent Councilman Jim Ford.
"I'm excited that the mayor was re-elected and Frank O'Connell, but it's too close to call at this point," said Morton, who made her first bid for public office.
Ford said he didn't expect the race to be this close.
"It's not done yet. I'm not letting go," he said.
The Elections Office will release its next tally on Friday as it processes thousands of mail-in ballots delivered on or just before Election Day along with provisional ballots.
Assistant Registrar Claudio Valenzuela said the plan is to release successive updates each Friday for the next week or two. The official canvass of Tuesday's election is due Dec. 4.
In Monterey, incumbent City Councilwoman Libby Downey narrowly led a field of five candidates seeking two council seats. Just 10 votes behind her was Monterey Peninsula College professor Alan Haffa. Former Monterey police officer and businessman Ed Smith trailed in third place by about 350 votes.
"It looks pretty good, but we won't know until the vote is finalized," Haffa said. "I'm humbled. It's very gratifying so many people support you."
Councilman Jeff Haferman didn't seek re-election. Smith was endorsed by Mayor Della Sala and Councilman Frank Sollecito and was the leading spender in the race.
In Pacific Grove, incumbent Councilmen Robert Huitt and Dan Miller were among the top three vote-getters in a five-candidate race for three council seats. But the leader with nearly 28 percent was first-time candidate Casey Lucius.
"I am feeling good," Lucius said Wednesday, after teaching classes at the Naval Postgraduate School, where she is a professor.
Lucius, who said she would bring representation to the council for Pacific Grove families who juggle children and work, said her success "sends a signal that Pacific Grove residents are open to change and welcome change."
In Seaside, only 217 votes separated Rubio, the leader in the mayoral race, from Bachofner, and neither candidate appeared ready to say the race was over Wednesday. Bachofner ousted Rubio two years ago by a 21-vote margin.
Bachofner said he wanted to wait until all votes are counted "to give the people their vote."
An even tighter margin separated two candidates in the hunt for two seats on the Seaside council.
Longtime city recreation superintendent Dave Pacheco, making his first foray into politics, topped the field with nearly 30 percent of the vote. But incumbent Ian Oglesby, running second, had a 78-vote lead over fellow incumbent Steve Bloomer for the second council seat.
Pacheco said: "This is all new to me. I am cautiously optimistic and very grateful to the community for believing in me.
As to whether his lead could vanish in the final tally, Pacheco said, "Whatever happens, happens." He said he would be happy as long as the city moves forward.
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or email@example.com.