It was a new year with a new system of voting that was supposed to create new outcomes. But in the end, the biggest winners on Tuesday included some very familiar faces.
In Sonoma County, it was a year for incumbents as both supervisors seeking a second term won handily.
In the 5th Supervisorial District, it was evident from the first returns that Efren Carrillo was headed for an outright victory against his opponents, former Supervisor Ernie Carpenter and former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi. Carpenter ran a spirited campaign that included openly criticizing Carrillo for some votes he argued compromised the county's general plan. But in the end, voters were not persuaded it was enough reason to make a change. Carrillo not only was the top vote-getter but appeared to have enough votes to avoid a fall runoff.
Supervisor Shirlee Zane also was easily defeating her challenger for the 3rd District seat, former Rohnert Park Mayor Tim Smith. As of late Tuesday, Zane was headed for victory with more than 60 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, it appeared that two other familiar faces in regional politics will be squaring off in the fall to determine who will succeed Supervisor Valerie Brown in the 1st District. Santa Rosa City Council members Susan Gorin and John Sawyer, whose campaigns have been trading barbs in recent days, were headed toward a Nov. 6 run-off. If their leads hold, voters in that district can expect to see a high-spending, high-octane contest between two longtime City Council rivals.
In the closely watched 2nd Congressional District, as expected, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a Democrat, was way ahead of a 12-candidate contest to see who will succeed Rep. Lynn Woolsey as representative of the coastal areas. But who he will be facing was still up in the air late Tuesday.
Republican Dan Roberts of Mill Valley held a narrow lead for the second spot, followed closely by progressive Democrat Norman Solomon. Democrats Stacey Lawson, a San Rafael businesswoman, and Susan Adams, a Marin County supervisor, were following in third and fourth place respectively.
As expected, incumbent Mike Thompson, whose district has shifted back inland around the Santa Rosa area, was leading by a significant margin in the 5th Congressional District.
Meanwhile, the closely watched 10th Assembly District race was too tight to call late Tuesday, but it appeared that San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine and Assemblyman Michael Allen, who lost his previous seat to redistricting, will be the top two candidates and advance to the general election.
Overall, local voters appeared committed to incumbents for now. But in many of these races, this was just the first act in a two-act play that will finish in November.