O’Gilvie Bests Cole In Come-From-Behind Photo Finish In 29 Palms

In the final and therefore most dramatic of more than a half dozen actual or near reversals of the election day outcomes in the 2018 general election throughout San Bernardino County, political newcomer Karmolette O’Gilvie sprinted past Twentynine Palms incumbent Councilman John Cole in the home stretch of the race to serve as the representative in the 4th District of the 26,000-population desert city.
From the first count of votes in Twentynine Palm’s newly drawn 4th District until earlier this week, O’Gilvie trailed behind Cole in the first election under a district voting system in that city’s 31-year history. Cole had previously been elected to the council when Twentynine Palms held at-large elections in which there were no residency restrictions on those vying for council beyond living somewhere within the city’s 59-square mile confines. At that time, voters in the city were free to vote with regard to the candidacies of all of those running in the election and cast up to two votes for the two seats contested in years corresponding to the national presidential election and up to three votes for the three posts at stake in the years corresponding to California’s gubernatorial election.
At 8:05 p.m. on election night November 6, 2018, five minutes after the polls closed countywide, the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Office released its first tally of votes across the county, consisting mainly of mail-in ballots that had been received up to that date. At that point, Cole had jumped out to a lead, which he maintained through the evening and into the morning of November 7 as all nine of the precincts in Twentynine Palms District 4 reported, by which time Cole was ahead 253 votes or 51.32 percent to 240 votes or 48.68 percent.
Nevertheless, O’Gilvie was never far off the pace, and with each of the registrar’s updates of the counts as more and more late arriving and straggling provisional ballots were validated and totaled, she continued to stalk Cole.
On November 14, with 624 ballots having been counted in District 4, Cole was up by 12 votes, 318 to 306.
Throughout the remainder of November, Cole maintained his lead with each tally, though the distance between him and O’Gilvie diminished by three or four with each count.
On November 29, O’Gilivie was just two votes off the clip, with 342 votes to Cole’s 344.
Over the next four days, four further votes came in from District 4, all for her, such that on the next count on December 3, she had eclipsed him, 346-to-344.
Yesterday, Thursday, December 6, the county did its final tally, at which point Bob Page, the county’s interim registrar of voters, certified the results, affirming in writing that the total number of votes cast in San Bernardino County had been recorded and that tally was “full, true and correct.” According to that final report, 692 votes had been cast in Twentynine Palms District 4, with 347 of those or 50.14 percent endorsing Karmolette O’Gilvie and 345 or 49.86 percent designating Cole.
O’Gilvie, the wife of a retired Marine formerly stationed at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base and a Twentynine Palms resident for over 25 years, attributed her victory to a “grassroots effort.” She said she had “dreams of positive change for Twentynine Palms” that might now be transformed into reality by her victory. In office, she said she hopes to “embody transparency” and “streamline the process.”
Though O’Gilvie’s victory was the last come-from-behind win in San Bernardino County this year, it was not the only one.
In Victorville, Rita Ramirez-Dean had been running in fifth place on election night among 11 candidates for two contested seats on the council there. Over the next several weeks she passed Lizet Angulo, Lionel Dew and Eric Negrete to capture second place, with 5,196 votes or 14.13 percent as of yesterday to gain a berth on the council.
In Upland’s Fourth District, Rudy Zuniga had trailed incumbent councilwoman Carol Timm when the first several precincts reported the night of November 6. With the tallying of a final precinct early in the morning of November 7, Zuniga pulled ahead, and he was declared the official winner yesterday with 1,939 votes or 45.87 percent in a three-person contest.
In the San Bernardino Mayoral Race, Councilman John Valdivia trailed incumbent Mayor Carey Davis in the first three counts of the evening on November 6 but had pulled ahead by the next morning and thereafter never relinquished that lead. He was declared the official winner yesterday with 19,155 votes or 52.51 percent.
In Rancho Cucamonga’s District 3, it initially appeared that Ryan Hutchison’s electoral bid had been thwarted by outgoing California Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, who continued to hold his lead until Hutchison passed him a week later. Hutchison is now confirmed as the winner with 4,215 votes or 34.39 percent among five candidates.
In Needles, where five candidates were vying for three positions, Zachery Longacre was running in fifth place in the initial vote returns, but has since bypassed both Barbara Beard and incumbent Louise Evans to finish in third with 491 votes or 18.72 percent as of yesterday, qualifying him for office.
In Hesperia’s Fourth District, Jeremiah Brosowske, despite his status as an appointed incumbent in an at-large council post, trailed Brigit Bennington on election night and for more than a week thereafter. He subsequently moved past her and has now prevailed with 1,688 votes or 52.08 percent.
In Barstow, Planning Commissioner James Noble fell behind incumbent Councilman Merrill Gracey on election night in their District 2 race. He overtook Gracey as more votes came in and he was the top vote-getter in that four-person race with 372 votes or 33.54 percent.
In San Bernardino’s Ward 4 contest, incumbent Fred Shorett narrowly avoided being the also-ran in what had all the markings of a potential come-from-behind victory by Alexandra Beltran. Shorett’s lead on election night was neither substantial nor truly comfortable, but was more than marginal. With each subsequent reporting of Ward 4’s 38 precincts, however, that lead eroded. That trend continued as absentee and provisional ballots were counted in the intervening intervals. Shorett, by the skin of his teeth, was declared the winner yesterday with 3,709 votes or 50.05 percent to Beltran’s 3,701 votes or 49.95 percent.
-Mark Gutglueck

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