Susan Gorin widened her slim advantage over rival John Sawyer in what had been a neck-and-neck race Tuesday night for an open seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.
With a majority of mail-in ballots counted in the county's 1st District and all 104 precincts reporting, Gorin led Sawyer by 51.5 percent to 48.2 percent.
Out of 39,215 votes reported by 1:30 a.m. today, the longtime rivals on the Santa Rosa City Council were separated by 1,299 votes.
The margin had not changed by mid-morning and is not expected to until county election officials finish counting votes on an thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots turned in Tuesday. That process could take weeks, officials said.
In results released after midnight, Gorin's lead grew from a slimmer margin of around 400 votes, the difference between the two candidates most of Tuesday night. Gorin and Sawyer are vying to replace retiring Supervisor Valerie Brown.
Early Tuesday night, Gorin, 60, said she was not “taking anything for granted,” but said it was “gratifying that a grass-roots organization seems to be prevailing in the race.”
If Gorin's lead holds, and some political observers said there is a good chance it could, the six-year Santa Rosa councilwoman and former mayor would take over in January from Brown, a veteran in state and local government who has represented the 1st District since 2002. It includes Sonoma, Sonoma Valley and parts of eastern Santa Rosa.
Gorin's election would mark a triumph for the county's more liberal political interests that have been unable for decades to secure a solid majority on the Board of Supervisors.
A victory by Gorin likely would shift the board to the left on a range of issues, with at least three of the five members, including Supervisors Shirlee Zane and Mike McGuire, favoring tighter oversight of land use, often the most controversial matter for the board. It also could herald a different approach to decisions on county services, including roads, parks and open space and aid programs.