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Gilroy
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November 28, 2021

Updated: Smith reacts to sheriff’s seat win

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith trounced challenger Kevin Jensen and will serve her fifth term in office.
June 3 election returns from the Registrar of Voters office show that Smith beat challenger Kevin Jensen, capturing roughly 60 percent of votes cast.
“We focused on what we’ve done versus being negative,” Smith said.
Unofficial returns posted on the county registrar’s website Tuesday night show that only 20 percent of the county’s approximately 805,000 voters cast ballots in the June 3 primary. That’s far below the maximum showing of 35 percent predicted by officials and experts before the balloting.
Smith, who was first elected in 1998, won about 89,000 of the votes cast. About 60,000 voters voted for Jensen, a retired sheriff’s captain who was endorsed by the Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriffs Association.
Jensen said, “If you look back at when we started, there was absolutely zero name recognition anywhere” and that to secure 40 percent of the vote is a good start.
He added, “There’s so much more to be done,” and that “whatever it takes to get the changes we need for the public and employees, I’m hopeful it will happen.”
Jensen said he “kept striving to be the voice of reason.”
“If it was me and I had all of those things stacked against me, I would look in the mirror and ask, what have I done wrong, and what can I do to fix it? I hope our sheriff does the right thing,” Jensen said.
The sheriff said the fact that she ran a “clean campaign” was a key determining factor in the result.
Turnout was light in the June 3 gubernatorial primary, which featured numerous statewide races including governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and others.
State Assemblymember Luis Alejo, who represents District 30 which includes Morgan Hill, beat challenger Mark Starritt with about 58 percent of the vote, according to returns from the California Secretary of State’s office. And U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who represents District 19 which includes Morgan Hill, easily defeated challenger Robert Murray with about 76 percent of the vote.
Among uncontested races, First District Santa Clara County Supervisor incumbent Mike Wasserman took home another victory.
“I’m honored that the voters of District 1 have re-elected me to a second term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors,” Wasserman said. “My priorities for the next for years continue to be safeguarding the health, safety, and well-being of our 1.9 million residents.”
Local scene
Many polling locations in Gilroy were reporting lower than expected voter walk-in and drop-offs in tune with predictions by the Santa Clara County Registar of Voters office of low overall voter turnout.
Not just slow, “super slow.”
That’s what bilingual poll volunteer Rose Zuno had to say while stationed at Familia Para Christo Church in Gilroy, a first-of-its-kind polling location in Gilroy on the 8900 block of Monterey Road.
Zuno and two fellow volunteers reported 11 voters total came in during the June 3 Primary Election as of roughly 3 p.m. June 3.
Quiet day at the polls
The slow and sparse voter walk-ins came in light of what Santa Clara County election officials predicted as a low overall voter turnout for the June 3 balloting with absentee drop-offs dominating the day’s polling.
At Gilroy High School where volunteers Loreen Down, Sonia Alegre, Lourdes Arellano-Perez and Walt Glines manned the precinct polling booths, only a trickle of voters popped in and out of the polls. Eight of 200 non-vote-by-mail ballots were cast by mid-afternoon. Vote-by-mail voters in that precinct far outnumbered walk-ins with an estimated 500 ballots cast vote-by-mail.
“I understand it’s going to be very slow,” Dow said.
County elections officials estimated a roughly 35 percent total registered voter turnout for the June 3 primary, according to Santa Clara County Assistant Registrar of Voters Matt Moreles.
Of the voters who turn out in an election like this, about 80 percent vote-by-mail (or by drop-off), and 20 percent go to the polls, Moreles said.
Among the 20 percent were Gilroyans Larry and Ruth Ann Eggers, who voted at Gilroy Public Library.
The couple makes it their duty to vote in each election, and although they both cited the increasing difficulty in getting to know candidates, they wanted to vote regardless.
“We believe it’s our right,” Ruth Ann said. “Use it or lose it.”
Inside Gilroy Public Library, Martin Oliverez reported roughly 40 drop-offs and 19 walk-ins where Antonella Millett, a disabled volunteer from Gilroy, joined fellow volunteers during a slow day at the polls joined by her service dog, Piccolino.
“It’s slower than I expected,” Oliverez said.
Despite the low turnout, election officials are required by state law to fully staff the precincts, Moreles explained. The number of precincts, as well as the volunteer staff and bilingual volunteers required at each polling place, is determined by formulas based on the number of registered voters in each geographical area.
“Regardless of the expected turnout, you have to have a fully staffed number of polling places,” Moreles said.
The predicted low overall turnout is partly due to typical low interest in primaries, though even 35 percent would be “at the low end” for most primary elections in Santa Clara County, Moreles said. Primary elections with no U.S. Presidential race on the ballot “generally (have) less voter awareness and less voter enthusiasm.”

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