Deva Proto was on track to win outright the three-candidate race to become Sonoma County’s next clerk-recorder-assessor and elections chief, likely avoiding a November runoff.
Proto had more than 64 percent of the vote with all 405 precincts reporting Wednesday morning, far ahead of Ray Leonard, who had 27 percent. Trailing both of them was Rod Marusic with more than 8 percent of ballots cast in his favor so far.
The three candidates, all of them current county employees, formed one of the few contested countywide races, and this month’s election marked the first time in 12 years the office was up for grabs.
The vote-getter needs 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff this fall.
Proto, the county’s chief deputy clerk-recorder, was monitoring the results with supporters at Bibi’s Burger Bar in downtown Santa Rosa. She didn’t declare victory, though she admitted the early returns looked to be in her favor.
“It’s not over until it’s over, but it’s looking very good at this point,” Proto said. “I am absolutely thrilled that Sonoma County has put (its) trust in me, from what it looks like right now, to fulfill these duties.”
Proto entered the race last year shortly after Bill Rousseau, the current clerk-recorder-assessor and registrar of voters, said he would step down when his term expired. She was endorsed by Rousseau and all five county supervisors.
Leonard, the department’s administrative services officer, drew support from some prominent local officials as well, including current Sheriff Rob Giordano, Windsor Councilwoman Deb Fudge, three former county supervisors and Janice Atkinson, Rousseau’s predecessor. Leonard was Atkinson’s chosen successor when she was stepping aside in 2012, but the Board of Supervisors passed him over in favor of Rousseau.
Leonard was hopeful Tuesday night that he might gain more ground as the remaining ballots were counted.
“What I’m hearing is there’s a lot that came in at the polls today,” he said. “We want to remain optimistic.”
Marusic, an assessment specialist, said he would run immediately after Rousseau announced he wouldn’t seek election again. Marusic ran as “the taxpayers advocate” but lagged behind Proto and Leonard in fundraising and endorsements.
You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or email@example.com. On Twitter @thejdmorris.