Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

Rail Road Flat nonprofit director Chris Wright edged closer to securing the closely contested District 2 seat on the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors in an updated vote count Friday evening.

Wright padded his lead by six votes to a 119-vote edge against West Point store owner Bruce Randall in the count of absentee ballots.

According to Calaveras County Elections Coordinator Rebecca Turner, the remaining ballots to be counted, probably by mid-week, are primarily provisional ballots cast at polling sites that must be checked against voter rolls to ensure no one voted more than once.

The Elections Office is closed today for the Veteran's Day holiday.

At stake, besides the tight supervisorial race, is a Vallecito Union School District trustee seat in which Carol Gordon's lead against Tom Pratt shrank from 57 votes to 37 in the latest count, a 0.51 percent margin.

With 18,774 votes tallied countywide on Tuesday night, an additional 2,550 were processed and counted at the end of the business week.

Last Wednesday, Turner announced 3,423 ballots remained to be counted after election night, comprised of 2,460 absentee ballots returned to polling sites, 397 returned to the Elections Office between 5 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday and 566 provisional ballots.

Among the absentee votes collected at polling sites, she estimated 590 to be from District 1, 570 from District 2, 730 from District 3, 830 from District 4 and 700 from District 5. The Vallecito Union School District schools are all within District 3.

Turner said the provisional ballots are often cast by voters outside their own precinct, thus making it an iffy proposition to estimate how many votes remain in each district.

All three ballot measures, a countywide vehicle license fee for junk car abatement, a Copperopolis fire levy and Circle XX roads parcel fee, remained safely above 70 percent approval, needing just a two-thirds majority.

The added counts did little to shift two other supervisorial races on Tuesday's ballot, as challengers Debbie Ponte in District 4 and Clifford Edson in District 1 kept comfortable double-digit percentage leads. Ponte's 20-point route of seven-term board veteran Tom Tryon is almost beyond the margin of all 873 remaining votes, winning by 868 votes as of Friday.

Edson had a 464-vote advantage against incumbent Gary Tofanelli in District 1, making a comeback for either incumbent a virtual mathematical impossibility.

The makeup of the board is thus up for a shake-up come January's swearing-in of three new members of the five-seat panel that heads up county government, regardless of whether Wright or Randall ultimately claims the open District 2 seat vacated by retiring Steve Wilensky.

The newcomers join District 5 Supervisor Darren Spellman, of Rancho Calaveras, who will be midway through his first term, and District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway, of Forest Meadows, who first gained election to the board in a 1993 recall election, and replaces Tryon as far and away the dean amongst the supervisors.

Though the board is officially nonpartisan, it is notable that the supervisors' registration split of two Republicans, two Democrats and a Libertarian will also shift. Edson is a "no party preference" registrant, Spellman and Ponte are Republicans and Callaway a Democrat.

Wright is also a Democrat while Randall is a Republican.

Contact Sean Janssen at or 890-7741.