Anaiah Kirk will replace two-term incumbent District 3 Supervisor Evan Royce at the start of next year, if Tuesday’s unofficial election night results hold.
Kirk ended the night with 1,775 votes, or 52.91, while Sylwester had 1,566 votes, or 46.81 percent, according to the final election results released Tuesday.
There were still 1,300 vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at the county Elections Office throughout Tuesday, as well as thousands more dropped off at polling places.
Debi Bautista, county clerk and auditor-controller, said that Kirk’s 209-vote lead appeared wide enough that he would likely be the winner after all votes are tabulated.
“Everybody up here knows I’ve worked really hard,” he said. “I think door knocking and meeting most of the constituents in District 3 has been a big part of this.”
Kirk said he was following the results with about 50 supporters at his campaign office in Sugar Pine.
Kirk said he spent much of Election Day working at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown, where he’s a supervising correctional counselor, and then played baseball with his son at home.
Kirk entered the fray days before Royce announced he would not seek a third consecutive term on the board to spend more time with his family and focusing on his private construction business.
Sylwester launched her campaign in late 2017 before any other challengers had announced, but quickly found herself in a primary battle against three other contenders.
One of the central messages of Kirk’s campaign was his hardline opposition to allowing commercial cannabis cultivation. He spoke against the board loosening any restrictions on the practice at a public meeting in January prior to announcing his bid for the seat.
Kirk strongly opposed and campaigned against Measure M, which would allow the Board of Supervisors to tax commercial cannabis businesses, but the initiative cruised to passage with 62.61 percent of the countywide vote.
Sylwester focused her campaign on her past experience serving as the District 3 supervisor from 1999 to 2003, during which she helped the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians in the development of their Black Oak Casino Resort.
Kirk outraised and outspent Sylwester throughout the campaign and received support from a number of local business leaders and public officials, including District 5 Supervisor Karl Rodefer and his wife, Jo, who donated a combined $3,650 in cash and in-kind contributions.
One of Sylwester’s main criticisms of Kirk was his plan to keep his full-time job as supervising correctional counselor at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown. He earned about $97,400 in regular pay and $65,200 in benefits last year, according to Transparent California, which tracks public employee compensation.
The county supervisor position pays about $51,000 a year, in addition to health and retirement benefits.
Sylwester pledged to quit her job as a teacher at Columbia College if elected to focus on being a supervisor.
Kirk went on the attack against Sylwester following the final candidate forum of the campaign, accusing her publicly of errors in her fundraising reports that underreported her contributions and spending by nearly 30 percent.
Sylwester said she was given advice by the California Political Practices Commission to include donations received in 2017 for the initial report for the year, which she later separated in amended reports filed after Kirk’s allegations.
Earlier in the evening, Sylwester held out hope that she would be able to catch up to Kirk after he took the early lead with only vote-by-mail ballots received through Monday counted.
Sylwester could not be reached for comment after the final election results were released, but she said after the first round of results were released that she was at peace with the campaign she ran.
"I said what I had to say and did the very best I could,” she said. “I’m very comfortable with my campaign and the feedback I’ve gotten from constituents.”
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.