IMPERIAL — As the first of the Imperial City Council election results were released Tuesday, Nov. 3, Katie Burnworth found herself feeling extremely humbled and with tears in her eyes.
Her reaction was certainly understandable, considering the first-time office seeker and fifth-generation Imperial resident had established a healthy lead over the race’s other three contenders from the start.
“It’s a really cool feeling,” Burnworth said on Nov. 3, “I can’t explain it.”
Burnworth’s finish was significant in the four-person race for two open seats that included two four-year incumbents.
Her share of the vote was nearly 10 percent greater than her nearest contender, incumbent City Council member Robert Amparano.
In the end, the unofficial results had allotted her with 35.8 percent, or 1,511 votes, of the 4,221 total ballots counted. Amparano netted 26.6 percent of the counted ballots, or 1,125 votes.
All told, some 4,221 ballots were counted as of 1:02 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, according to the county election department’s unofficial results stated.
Burnworth said she credits her successful candidacy to the relationships she has established both in her personal and professional life. She expects her many accomplishments in both spheres will greatly help her transition over to the political domain.
“I’m a fresh new face who will ask the hard questions,” Burnworth said. “I’ll bring new ideas and perspective and not just the status quo.”
She said she is also intent on maintaining the city of Imperial’s small-town roots and sense of community at a time when it has been experiencing continued growth and development.
“That’s really what we’re all about,” said Burnworth, an Imperial County Air Pollution Control District special projects coordinator.
Election Day’s unofficial results effectively assured Amparano of his return to the dais, as well.
The Imperial Irrigation District emergency services coordinator said he attributed his successful re-election to his constant presence in the community and his accessibility to his constituents.
“I attended every event I was invited to and I spoke at every event I was invited to,” Amparano said Nov. 3. “I would bever turn away anybody.”
And while his life of public service has required a delicate balance between his professional, civic, and familial duties, Amparano said it has also taught his three children of the importance of it all.
“They see that, and they understand what it takes,” he said. “They understand the commitment and they understand that it’s not for me, it’s for everybody.”
Like other elections throughout the county, where incumbent’s political fortunes appeared to have been dashed by newcomers, the City Council race here proved no different.
As of the last vote tally, incumbent council member and current mayor, Darrell Pechtl, trailed the four-person field for the race’s two open seats. Though his 17 percent, or 720 votes, exceeded the 15 percent vote tally he garnered in his successful 2016 bid, it ultimately fell short this time around.
Pechtl, who prior to being elected to the council had served for 14 years with city’s Planning Commission, stood 145 votes behind political newcomer Susan Paradis, who totaled 20.4 percent, or 865 votes.
Paradis, the Imperial Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, trailed Amparano by about 6 percentage points, or 260 votes, according to county election data.
The county election department is in the process of counting mail-in and provisional ballots and is not expected to release official election results for some weeks.