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San Luis Obispo County ballots still being counted

With more than 25,000 ballots yet to be counted, five local races — including mayoral races in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo — are too close to be officially decided.

Final ballot tallies are not expected until next week, though county Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said she could know results sooner.

In San Luis Obispo, Jan Marx leads Paul Brown for mayor by only 204 votes.

The gap is even smaller in Morro Bay, where mayoral hopeful Bill Yates is 89 votes ahead of opponent Betty Winholtz.

The races for Paso Robles and San Luis Coastal school board seats are also close. But nothing beats Shandon’s school district, where the third-place finisher has a one-vote lead in a race for three seats.

Rodewald hopes to have a tally completed by today of how many ballots are still out for each contest; counting the ballots will begin at noon today and resume Friday morning.

Will those votes possibly change the direction of the close races?

“We won’t know until we get all the vote-by-mail ballots scanned and into our system,” Rodewald said.

If the absentee ballots do not spread the lead in close races, Rodewald said staff would concentrate on those contests first when counting provisional ballots and damaged ballots next week.

Rodewald said 46,400 absentee ballots were received and 36,590 voters were counted at the polls — putting the county turnout at about 65 percent.

“That’s a good turnout for a midterm election,” she said, adding that, in the last midterm election in 2006, about 64 percent of voters cast ballots.

Rodewald acknowledged the eager anticipation of candidates and their supporters but said her staff had already put in long hours — some of them pushing almost 24 hours on Election Day.

“That isn’t conducive to a person’s best work,” Rodewald said. “Everyone needs to get rest and just keep moving forward as efficiently as we can.”

A glimpse at the close races:

San Luis Obispo

Jan Marx held the lead for mayor Tuesday, but only 204 votes separated her from rival former Councilman Paul Brown.

“I really don’t know what to expect,” said Marx, adding that she is cautiously optimistic. “Anything can happen.”

“I am patient and OK with waiting until the process is completed,” she added.

It is also a close race between City Council candidates Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter; Smith leads Carpenter by 233 votes.

Morro Bay

In the Morro Bay mayor’s race, Bill Yates is up by 89 votes against opponent Betty Winholtz.

Yates said there’s nothing he can do but wait until the final results come in.

“I can’t feel cocky about this until I win it,” he said.

Paso Robles Public Schools

In the race for a third seat on the Paso Robles Public Schools board, Field Gibson edged out Jeanne Dugger, unofficial returns show from Tuesday’s election.

Gibson earned 16.54 percent of the vote, compared to Duggan’s 16.34 percent. Only 53 votes separated them.

San Luis Coastal Unified School District

With 100 percent of ballots counted, retired teacher Jim Quesenberry beat incumbent Kathryn Eisendrath Rogers for the second seat on the San Luis Coastal school board.

Quesenberry captured 32.4 percent of the ballots to Roger’s 31.8 percent. They were separated by 183 votes.

Shandon Joint Unified School District

Only one vote separated Ester C. Garcia and Michael Wimmer in their quest for a seat on the Shandon Joint Unified School District board, making it the closest race in San Luis Obispo County in Tuesday’s election.

With all of the ballots counted, the unofficial return showed that Garcia had 114 votes to Wimmer’s 113.

They were competing for the third seat.

Of the four people who ran, incumbent Jack Cook and newcomer Amy Russell were able to win four-year terms.

Managing Editor Tad Weber contributed to this report.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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