San Andreas restaurateur Cliff Edson, attempting to unseat Calaveras County District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli, held a lead of more than 400 votes at the end of Tuesday’s Election Day ballot count.
Edson, who has served as both a San Andreas Parks and Recreation District and Calaveras County Parks and Recreation commissioner, made up substantial ground from the June 5 primary, in which Tofanelli seemed to have an outside chance at an outright majority from among three candidates after initial counts.
He had 1,816 votes (56.6 percent) to Tofanelli’s 1,383 (43.1 percent) in Tuesday’s unofficial results.
Edson credited his strong performance to a combination of elbow grease on the campaign trail and events subsequent to the June election.
“I was out there hitting the bricks,” Edson said. “More than anything, I think, that’s probably it.”
Edson said he did extensive door-to-door campaigning and held campaign and community events that included a methamphetamine-awareness seminar featuring Amador County author Scott Thomas Anderson.
Primary voters in Valley Springs favored Tofanelli and outnumbered those in San Andreas, who gave a majority of their votes to Edson.
“I knew that my challenge was in Valley Springs, Burson and the Wallace area,” Edson said. “People didn’t know me.”
Public interest in board matters was piqued by a couple of major events in the campaign, Edson said, starting with a critical grand jury report that cited unprofessional behavior by the board during meetings and minimal ethics training.
“People paid attention after that, I think, maybe more than before,” he said.
A controversial Oct. 23 vote to grant a pay raise of almost $19,000 to Public Works Director Tom Garcia saw Tofanelli cast the deciding vote in a 3-2 split.
“I don’t think there was anybody really happy about that $19,000 raise,” Edson said.
Tofanelli could not be reached Tuesday for comment.
“Gary’s a good guy and a worthy opponent,” Edson said. “From the beginning, I never thought I’d lose. I never felt like I’d win, I just never really felt like I’d lose.”