Riding a late wave of voting results, Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Susan Gorin boosted her cushion over rival John Sawyer and claimed victory Wednesday in a tight race for an open seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.
Although thousands of mail-in ballots remain uncounted from the election Tuesday, Gorin, 60, a former Santa Rosa mayor and six-year council member, voiced confidence that the result will hold and an eagerness to get to work in her new full-time job.
She was buoyant and sleep-deprived as she fielded dozens of congratulatory messages, including a call from Supervisor Valerie Brown, whose 1st District seat she is set to assume in January.
"We are celebrating," Gorin said. "I'm looking to create lots of opportunities for people and groups to work with me on issues they feel are important."
Sawyer, 57, a Santa Rosa councilman since 2004, conceded the hard-fought race in an interview and said he planned to call Gorin at some point.
He said it was unlikely he could eliminate the 1,299-vote margin that separated the two candidates Wednesday, a larger margin than the approximately 400-vote lead Gorin had enjoyed most of Tuesday night.
"To start out even a few hundred votes behind is never a good indicator," he said. "I'm thankful for the support I received. It was heartening."
Gorin and Sawyer are longtime rivals on the Santa Rosa council and were favorites in the race from the beginning, long before the June primary, as they sought to represent a much wider swath of the county. The 1st District encompasses Sonoma, Sonoma Valley and eastern Santa Rosa.
They engaged in a contest that was bruising at times, including their own attacks and those launched by their proxies. Spending in the race, including independent expenditures, topped $720,000 as of last week. The county record of more than $815,000 was set in the 2010 2nd District race between David Rabbitt and Pam Torliatt.