Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Karl Rodefer will represent Columbia and Jamestown-area voters on the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors next year, if unofficial ballot tabulations Tuesday night hold.

District 5 voters heavily favored Rodefer over opponent Domenic Torchia, about 65.5 percent to 34 percent, late night Elections Office counts showed.

An estimated 5,000 absentee and 1,800 provisional ballots were still uncounted countywide by close of business at the Elections Office on Tuesday night.

Rodefer, though, was confident in his 2,246 to 1,165 lead.

"I am feeling comfortable," Rodefer said when reached by phone. "Without presupposing anything … I greatly appreciate the breadth and depth and scope of my support in the county."

The two faced each other in a runoff after Rodefer nearly received the 50-percent threshold in the June primary to win the seat outright. He will likely replace Dick Pland, who announced last year he was not seeking re-election after 16 years on the board.

Rodefer's campaign prioritized the local economy, and much of his message focused on cutting back regulations on agriculture, mining and timber harvesting, while attracting jobs to the county to keep working-aged families from leaving the community.

He also leaned on his own government experience as a retired Air Force colonel, a Defense Department employee and a defense contractor after his service.

Rodefer said he believed his vision of creating jobs in the county to retain working-aged residents resonated with the voters.

"People are concerned primarily about being able to fend for themselves and fend for their families. To do that you need to have good jobs and a decent income," he said. "In our most recent past we've had some challenges at the state level and locally in that regard."

Torchia ran a campaign critical of recent board policies, and he regularly called for ending funding for projects like the Law and Justice Center off Old Wards Ferry Road.

Torchia was unavailable for comment late Tuesday night.

In a statement earlier Tuesday, however, Torchia said he won't stop his activism with the election's end.

"I will continue to fight the battles for fairness and equality," Torchia said.