Once Behind, Ibarra Moves Even Further Into 2nd Ward Lead

Though the results are not official, San Bernardino Second Ward Councilwoman Sandra Ibarra’s come-from-behind victory in the June 7 balloting seems virtually assured.
Ibarra, a community activist who was first elected to the city council in 2018, had to battle through two contests that year – the June primary and the November general election – to land a berth on the council. In 2018, Benito Barrios was the incumbent Second Ward councilman. He was challenged by Ibarra and Cecilia Miranda-Dolan. Barrios’s incumbent status did him no good, as Miranda-Dolan prevailed in the June balloting with 699 votes or 39.6 percent, outdistancing both Barrios, with 525 votes or 29.75 percent, and Ibarra, who outpolled Barrios as well, with 541 votes or 30.65 percent. That November, Ibarra surpassed Miranda-Dolan, after she outhustled her during the campaign by walking the ward’s precincts door-to-door and making a personal connection with voters. When the votes were tallied, Ibarra logged an impressive turnaround, gathering 2,371 votes or 62.12 percent of the 3,817 cast in the Second Ward to Miranda-Dolan’s 1,446 or 37.88 percent.
This year, it appeared that Ibarra might not face any competition at all, as no one inside the confines of the Second Ward was willing to step up and challenge her. Ibarra’s political enemies outside the ward, however, provided Seventh Ward resident Terry Elliott with a couple thousand dollars to allow him to rent an apartment in the Second Ward just prior to the opening of the filing period for this year’s election. In that way, Elliott convinced City Clerk Genoveva Rocha he was eligible to run for the Second Ward position on the council dais. In addition to springing for Elliott’s rent for the abode in the Second Ward, his supporters, who were affiliated with Mayor John Valdivia and the police union, provided Elliott with $27,493 as of May 27 to run his campaign and endowed another independent expenditure committee calling itself the Committee for Ethical Government to Support Elliott and Oppose Ibarra for City Council 2022 with $22,100 by May 27 with which to send out mailers attacking Ibarra.
Ibarra, who ran a grassroots campaign, had spent through May 27 $1,352.99 since the beginning of the year, primarily on signs and her filing fee for her candidacy.
Shortly after the polls closed on Tuesday night, June 7, the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters released its first results, consisting of the mail ballots that had come in up to that point.
Of the ward’s 13,263 voters, 670 had sent in mail ballots early enough to arrive before the polls had closed on election day. Elliott was off to a slim nine-vote lead, as he claimed 336 votes or 50.15 percent to Ibarra’s 327 votes or 48.81 percent. Another seven votes or 1.04 percent in the form of write-ins went to Alissa Payne.
At 10 p.m. on election night, no further mail-in ballots had come in, but the polling results from ten of Ward Two’s 17 precincts had been counted. Those additions reflected an amazingly minuscule voter turnout, with a mere 58 votes having been registered at the ten precincts. Ibarra logged 30 of those and Elliott claimed 26. Two were what the registrar of voters’ office called “unresolved write-in” votes. Elliot led by five votes, 362-to-357. Whereas previously he had claimed a majority of the votes cast, Elliott’s total had dipped below 50 percent, which made for a crucial distinction. To win the race outright under San Bernardino’s charter, a candidate must capture a majority vote, that is 50 percent and at least one more vote. But with Elliott’s tally of 362 votes and Ibarra’s total of 357 plus what were at that point nine write-in votes, Elliott’s percentage of the vote had dropped to 49.73, while Ibarra was at 49.04 percent.
Two hours later, at midnight, one further precinct reported, making 11 out of 17. A total of 65 votes were cast at that precinct, which was more than the number of votes at the 10 previously counted precincts combined. Ibarra received 28 of those votes while Elliott scored 36. There was a single unresolved write-in vote in the precinct’s ballot box. At that point, Elliott had recaptured a majority of the vote counted that far, a total of 398 out of 793 votes cast, equal to 50.19 percent. Ibarra had registered 385 votes or 48.55 percent.
Two hours later, as of 2 a.m. on June 8, no further precincts had reported but three more votes for Elliott were recorded. It is not clear whence those votes came. The additional votes boosted his total to 401 of 796 votes cast, or 50.38 percent. Ibarra remained static with 385 votes, though her percentage dipped to 48.37.
At 4 a.m., the results from the final six precincts were tallied and reported, showing that just one vote had been cast at the half dozen precincts, that single vote being for Ibarra. That pushed her combined number of 327 mail ballot votes and 59 polling place votes to 386 total votes or 48.43 percent, while Elliott held a majority of the 797 votes cast with 401 or 50.31 percent.
That afternoon at 4 p.m. on June 8, the registrar posted an update of the tally, consisting of the incoming mail ballots received and counted that morning and afternoon. Ibarra received 20 more mail-in votes and Elliott 14. Thus, Elliott remained in front, with 415 of the 831 votes cast and Ibarra trailing by nine with 406 votes. At that point, Elliott could no longer claim to have a majority of the vote needed to win the election outright, as his vote ratio stood at 49.94 percent to Ibarra’s 48.86 percent.
The following day, 24 hours later at 4 p.m. on Thursday June 9, another updated posting was made. Ibarra picked up 25 more votes from incoming mail-in ballots, pushing her vote total to 431. Elliott picked up 13 votes, which meant that he had suffered a deficit relative to Ibarra of 12, which dropped him into second place by three votes. At that point, Ibarra was ahead, 431 votes to 428. Two of the write-in votes received at the polls were declared to have been for Payne, giving her a total of nine votes. The other write-in vote that had been cast at one of the precincts was disregarded. Neither Ibarra nor Elliott could claim outright victory, as neither had a majority of the vote, with Ibarra favored by 49.65 percent of those voting and Elliott supported by 49.31 percent.
At 4 p.m. on Friday June 10, the mail-in votes that had come in since the previous day – 90 for Ibarra, 90 for Elliott and two write-ins for Payne – were counted. At that point, Ibarra was leading, with 521 or 49.62 percent of the 1,050 total votes cast in the Second Ward, with Elliott nipping at her heels with 518 votes or 49.33 percent.
The next update came on Monday June 13 at 6 p.m., at which point 215 votes poured in for Ibarra, giving her 736 votes while Elliott added 173 votes to his total, bringing him to 626 votes. Payne claimed four further write-in votes, such that she had 13 votes. For the first time Ibarra eclipsed 50 percent, with 51.11 percent. Elliott stood at 47.99 percent. Payne claimed 0.9 percent.
The next day, Tuesday June 14, at 11 a.m., another count was made. Elliott picked up 13 votes, Ibarra 11 votes and Payne none. Ibarra led with 747 or 51.02 percent. Elliott had closed the gap, but only slightly to 704 votes or 48.09 percent.
Two days and five hours later, yesterday, Thursday, June 16 a few more straggling mail-in votes were counted, with six of those going to Elliott and 19 registering for Ibarra. There were none for Payne. Thus, at present, Ibarra is on top, with 766 or 51.44 percent. Elliott stands at 710 votes or 47.88 percent.
The next count update is due on Thursday June 23, 2022 at 4:00 p.m., one week after yesterday’s count.
There is a slight possibility that Elliott could make up the difference over the next six days. Such a change is not anticipated. The San Bernardino Sun, the county’s largest daily newspaper, has called the election for Ibarra.
Elliott has not conceded.
At Wednesday night’s council meeting, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Kimberly Calvin pronounced all three incumbent council members who were up for election this year – First Ward Councilman Ted Sanchez, who is now up by 56.03 percent to his one opponent’s 43.97 percent; Ibarra and Fourth Ward Councilman Fred Shorett , who is ahead of his closest competitor 55.5 percent to 39.44 percent – as winners.
Mark Gutglueck

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