The votes are all in but the results are still being tallied to determine the winner in the race for Riverside County Supervisor between candidate Kevin Jeffries and incumbent Bob Buster. The registrar of voters has been counting since election night provisional votes, vote-by-mail, and damaged ballots that require duplication.
Buster is seeking his sixth term and has served as First District Supervisor for nearly 20 years.
Jeffries has been serving as a State Assemblymen for the 67th State District since 2006 and termed out.
Buster was heavily challenged this election. In the June primary, the Riverside-area citrus farmer, failed to win more than 50 percent of the vote, when Jeffries and retired California Highway Patrol Lt. Mike Soubirous received enough votes to overcome the incumbent. Jeffries eventually edged out Soubirous and became the challenger in the general election.
This was the first time Buster had been forced into a runoff election since his campaign in 1992.
According to the County of Riverside Registrar of Voters Jeffries remains in the lead by a narrow margin.
Jeff Greene, campaign representative for Jeffries, said they are still waiting for the vote-by-mail ballots to be counted by the Registrar’s office.
“The official victory announcement has been postponed again, but we still believe Kevin (Jeffries) will end up on top when they are finished counting all the votes,” said Greene.
Jeffries camp is hoping to hold onto the lead they currently have showing on the Registrars website which reads Jeffries with 44,813 at 50.45 percent and Bob Buster with 44,006 votes at 49.55 percent.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Small Business Administration endorsed Jeffries who promised voters, if elected, he would work to convert supervisors’ retirement plans to self- funded 401(k)s.
Buster, if elected, said one of the ways he wants to improve the local economy and save money is by backing public employee pension reform, and pushing through much needed transportation projects to increase lanes, widen bridges and improve interchanges throughout Riverside County.
About 86,000 vote-by-mail and 18,000 damaged ballots were left as of Thursday. Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil said a partial update will ready tonight at 6 p.m. another update Saturday at 6 p.m. but the election results won’t be official until 28 days after Election Day.
According to the Registrar’s office eligibility has to be verified and it could take a couple weeks before provisional ballot results are known.
“I cannot speculate but usually if the margin is increasing for the candidate in the lead it is a pretty good indication,” said Verjil.
According to Verjil the Secretary of State considers an election a close contest when the margin of error is within 2 percent.
Buster could not be reached for comment.
Michelle Mears-Gerst is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.