Ryan Sundberg (left) and Steve Madrone
In a shocking turn of events, Fifth District challenger Steve Madrone has taken a 33-vote lead in the final election night tally over incumbent Supervisor Ryan Sundberg.
Sundberg led throughout the evening, from the early returns through the third election night report, which saw him with a 185-vote edge, but the final return of the night has catapulted Madrone ahead. He currently has 50.25 percent of the vote to Sandberg's 49.56 with 4,796 votes counted.
But with an unknown number of provisional and late arriving vote-by-mail ballots still to be counted, the race is obviously too close to call.
Incumbent Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg has built on his early lead in the third election night report, which has him fending off challenger Steve Madrone with 52.66 percent of the vote to Madrone’s 47.19 percent.
Sundberg has taken 54.95 percent of the ballots cast on Election Day thus far, with 3,380 total ballots cast in the race and 185 votes separating the candidates.
The tallies in the Fifth District supervisor race remain unchanged in the second election night report, with zero Fifth District precinct votes having been counted in the updated tally.
Incumbent Ryan Sundberg still leads the race by 73 votes, having taken 51.54 percent of the vote to challenger Steve Madrone’s 48.33 percent, with 2,270 early votes tallied.
Incumbent Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg has jumped out to a slim early lead in the first returns of the night, which are entirely comprised of vote-by-mail ballots that arrived at the Elections Office before today and early voting.
Sundberg, a two-term incumbent and California Coastal Commissioner, took 51.54 percent of the first tallies with challenger Steve Madrone trailing with 48.33 percent of the vote. The first report from the county elections office included 2,270 ballots cast in the race and has Sundberg leading by 73 votes.
The hard-fought campaign pitted Sundberg against Madrone, the executive director of the Mattole Salmon Group and a 45-year Humboldt County resident who helped pioneer the Hammond Trail.
On the campaign trail, Sundberg largely touted his experience and track record as Madrone countered that he would bring fresh ideas, more balance to the board and a new approach.
While Madrone repeatedly questioned whether Sundberg has a conflict of interest on cannabis issues, having accepted a swath of campaign donations from the industry, Sundberg fired back in the campaign's final weeks, alleging that Madrone is misinformed on the issues or deliberately misleading voters. The hostilities peaked with a recent article by the Lost Coast Outpost
, in which Sundberg accused Madrone of being "racist" in comments critical of a long-planned freeway interchange project south of Trinidad being championed by the Trinidad Rancheria, of which Sundberg is a member. Madrone, Sundberg charged, had not spoken with the Rancheria about the project, yet was quick to condemn it. (Madrone has been endorsed by Karuk and Yurok tribes, while the Hoopa Valley Tribe issued a rare co-endorsement of both candidates.)
Sundberg began the race with a hefty fundraising advantage — he entered 2018 having already taken in more than $31,000 in contributions to Madrone's $3,700 — but Madrone was able to close the gap down the stretch. In 2018, Sundberg reported raising a little more than $29,331, almost $1,000 shy of Madrone's $30,247 total. Still, the incumbent was able to outspend Madrone nearly 2-to-1, doling out more than $59,000 to Madrone's $32,000.
With a host of serious issues staring down the Fifth District — which includes McKinleyville north to the county line, and the eastern stretches of the county, including Hoopa, Willow Creek and Weitchpec — the Journal
asked the candidates to answer a few questions via email to lay out their plans and to fill out a questionnaire giving voters a sense of where they come from, who they are and how they see the world. Check out what they had to say here