IMPERIAL VALLEY — With just 880 ballots left to be tallied before county election officials suspended the count due to social distancing, frontrunners John Brooks Hamby and Ryan Childers are mentally preparing themselves for the November runoff to claim the Imperial Irrigation District Division 2 seat now held by incumbent Director Bruce Kuhn.
In seeking a fifth term on the district board, Kuhn
looked as though he might face Hamby in the runoff based on early returns in
the March 3 primary race. But as mail-in and provisional ballots continued to
roll in, Kuhn was overtaken by Childers for the second spot in the Nov. 3
The Division 2 IID race was the only local election
ever in question from the unofficial final tally from March 3.
Although county Registrar of Voters Debbie Porter said
there were 880 ballots remaining as of March 23, Childers believes his “math”
will hold up and he’ll face Hamby in the runoff. The top-two finishers in the
four-man primary move to the November general election.
“I’m feeling confident. … Overall, the general trend
has been in our favor,” Childers said during an interview March 24. “It’s not
mathematically impossible, but it will be difficult to overcome our lead.”
Childers figures there are about 175 ballots left to
be counted in the division, and as of March 23, Childers had opened a 38-vote
lead over Kuhn.
The incumbent said last week he would not seek a
recount no matter how close of a race.
Hamby was the clear frontrunner from the start,
leading with more than 40 percent of the total votes cast in the division since
the primary election.
As of March 23, Hamby had 2,126 votes, or 41.8 percent
of the total votes cast in the division. Childers had 1,343 votes, or 26.41
percent, and Kuhn had 1,305, or 25.66 percent. Dilda McFaddin was in fourth
place with 312 votes, or 6.13 percent.
Now, Hamby and Childers are turning their sights
“We are still humbled by the overwhelming support and
are thrilled to build the momentum as we work toward earning the full support
of the people this November and get to work in December,” Hamby stated in an
email March 24.
“In a time of great uncertainty like the present, it
allows us to focus on the things that really matter. Water is life in the
Imperial Valley, and no matter the challenges of the past or present, it is vital
to prepare for our future to keep our water in our Valley,” Hamby stated.
“It’s going to be important to reach out to the voters
and supporters of the other candidates and consolidate that support behind me,”
Childers said during an interview. “It’s important to elect an experienced
person to do this important job on Day One.”
Kuhn said before that he and Childers shared similar
concerns and themes and that they likely robbed votes from each other. Kuhn had
said that if either he or Childers had run alone, it might have been a very
March 23 was the final day of counting before
elections department staff was sent home to due to social distancing in the
wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Porter said. “Extra help” would be brought in
March 26 to resume the tally, which Porter added includes about 600-plus
provisional ballots and about 250 mail-in ballots that need to be processed.
Porter predicted the count would be certified by April