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Pending final ballot count, urgent care officials plan expansion on coast

Buoyed by special election results that show just enough support to pass a new tax for urgent medical care services in a remote area of the North Coast, the Coast Life Support District is hoping to extend clinic hours beginning as early as this summer.

But with the district's Measure J so far passing with only 58 votes to spare, no one plans any concrete action until all results are certified, board member Richard Perry said.

There are still more than 100 uncounted mail-in and provisional ballots to be tallied in both Sonoma and Mendocino counties before results can be finalized, election officials said. And while a change in the election outcome appears to be unlikely, no one can say with certainty.

"I'll feel better when the fat lady sings, when it's really over," Perry said Wednesday.

The Coast Life Support District covers a 60-mile stretch of coastline straddling the Sonoma-Mendocino county line, centered in Gualala, where the urgent care clinic is located. The district includes Fort Ross, Timber Cove, The Sea Ranch, Gualala, Point Arena, Manchester and Elk.

The ballot measure would impose an additional tax bill of $112 a year for most residents in the district to help sustain and expand urgent care clinic hours for residents who live 1.5 to 2.5 hours from a hospital.

A greater number of the district's voters live in Mendocino County, where Measure J won approval from 65 percent of the voters, just shy of the two-thirds needed for approval.

But since it won support from 75 percent of district voters who reside in Sonoma County, the tax's overall approval stands at just more than 69 percent.

The Mendocino County Elections Office reports having 106 absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted. Those results should be available Thursday, Assistant Registrar of Voters Katrina Bartolomie said.

In Sonoma County, 164 uncounted ballots must be processed from three special elections held Tuesday. It's unclear how many were from the Coast Life Support District election, said Gloria Colter, Sonoma County's assistant registrar of voters.

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