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Fleming solidifies reelection to Santa Rosa council, Cloverdale’s Measure K losing

Roughly 2,000 ballots – just 1% of the total vote – are left to count across Sonoma County.|

With only a tiny share of ballots left to count across Sonoma County, Victoria Fleming appears to have secured a second term on the Santa Rosa City Council, besting rival Terry Sanders in a tight race seen as pivotal for determining the balance of power.

The update Tuesday afternoon from the county’s election office added 90% of what remained uncounted after last week. Roughly 2,000 ballots — just 1% of the countywide vote — are left to count, according to Registrar of Voters Deva Proto.

Fleming had 40.1% of the vote to 37.3% for Sanders with 11,655 votes counted in the four-way District 4 race.

In an interview, Fleming thanked her supporters and vowed to serve all residents in the northeastern Santa Rosa district and lead “in a way that feels representative to as many people as possible.”

“I’m really grateful for all of the support that I’ve received,” she said. “I’m looking forward to moving past the campaign, turning the chapter on that, and moving back into governing.”

She increased her lead slightly in the latest returns to 320 votes with the addition of 634 newly counted votes in District 4. With so few ballots outstanding countywide, it was highly improbably Sanders could overcome the difference.

Nevertheless, Sanders, 53, a retired Oakland firefighter, said he would wait for the final votes to be tallied before conceding.

He said he was proud of his campaign and believed his message resonated with voters. He noted 60% of voters who cast ballots in the race didn’t support Fleming and said it was now up to her to build bridges with all residents in the district.

“If she’s successful in doing that, then we’re all successful and that’s what this is all about,” he said.

Fleming’s reelection keeps in power a nominally progressive council that has held sway in Santa Rosa in recent years and beats back a challenge from business and public safety interests that had propelled Sanders’ campaign. Fleming was backed by labor and environmental groups.

As the race entered the final weeks, outside spending by interest groups and the rival campaigns fueled a last effort to target undecided voters. The campaign drew more money than other city races across Sonoma County this election cycle and is one of the most expensive for a Santa Rosa council seat in recent years.

Businessman Henry Huang, one of the other contenders, captured 20.3% of the vote, complicating Sanders’ bid to oust Fleming. Scheherazade “Shari” Shamsavari, a retired health and education professional, had 2.3%.

Fleming, 42, a licensed clinical social worker, said priorities in her second term include continuing to address homelessness, particularly providing assistance to people who are experiencing mental health or drug addiction issues — a top concern residents in her district identified, she said.

She also wants to tackle housing needs, road safety and infrastructure improvements, including investing in infrastructure needs in fast-growing parts of the city such as Roseland.

She said her reelection would help “push forward those types of policies.”

Three other seats on the seven member council were filled in the Nov. 8 election. Voters elected political newcomers Mark Stapp in southeast District 2 and Jeff Okrepkie in District 6 in the city’s northwest. Dianna MacDonald, who was appointed in February to fill a vacancy, ran unopposed in District 3, which spans Rincon Valley and Oakmont.

Tuesday’s update, two weeks after Election Day, added 15,125 ballots and brought the countywide count to 197,789, equating to 65% turnout, in line with projections last week by Proto, the county elections chief.

The District 4 race was one of the most decisive outcomes in Tuesday’s updated tallies. Another came in Cloverdale, where Measure K, which would outlaw fireworks, was on its way to a loss. It trailed by a wider margin than last week, with 47.2% of the vote in favor and 52.8% opposed, with 3,483 votes counted.

The update also clarified what are likely to be final standings in the at-large race for three council seats in Sebastopol with Stephen Zollman, Jill McLewis and Sandra Maurer winning and in Petaluma’s District 3 race where Karen Nau edged out her closest rival John Hanania.

Meanwhile in Healdsburg, Ron Edwards’ lead over former council member Brigette Mansell shrunk by nearly half. The political newcomer had 45.9% of the 4,518 votes counted to 44.5% for Mansell, leading by 60 votes, down from 111 last week.

Remaining ballots include provisional ballots and ballots submitted by voters who registered to vote within 14 days of the election or on Election Day.

Proto said last week she anticipated making occasional small updates with additional election results until her office certifies the election. It has until Dec. 8 to do so.

You can reach Staff Writer Paulina Pineda at 707-521-5268 or paulina.pineda@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @paulinapineda22.

Paulina Pineda

Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park city reporter

Decisions made by local elected officials have some of the biggest day-to-day impacts on residents, from funding investments in roads and water infrastructure to setting policies to address housing needs and homelessness. As a city reporter, I want to track those decisions and how they affect the community while also highlighting areas that are being neglected or can be improved.

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