Hill overtaking Ferrara in A.G. mayor race
November 6, 2014
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
A spectacular political upset may be brewing in the colorful race for the mayor’s seat in the village of Arroyo Grande, with write-in candidate Jim Hill gaining substantial ground Thursday on longtime incumbent Tony Ferrara as county election officials continued counting additional ballots.
Ferrara’s initial 9-point lead, fueled by early mail-in tallies, plummeted overnight to 3.5 percentage points, with 800 more ballots to be counted, probably by the end of Friday’s work day. Hill collected more than twice as many new votes as Ferrara today.
Another 1,216 votes are slated to be counted, most by Friday at 5 p.m.
If needed, 717 additional ballots — either left blank by the voter, or with the write-in candidate’s name written, but without the oval blackened — would finally be counted.
Ferrara’s advantage has been eroding ever since the opening of polls Tuesday morning. At today’s end of counting, he claimed 2,545 votes, or 51.79 percent, and Hill’s total had climbed to 2,369 or 48.21 percent. The candidates now are separated by only 176 votes.
After avoiding the media for days following the election, Ferrara finally contacted KSBY with the following statement, in which he blamed reporters, radio personalities, city residents and police, and a lack of communication for what he called “the results of the election.”
“The results of the election have clearly indicated a need for the City and the Community to find ways to better communicate. It has also exposed the disconnects that can often occur when people believe everything they read on an internet site or hear on talk radio. It is troubling when no attempt is made by reasonable people to verify false assertions made through these media. Hopefully, we at the City can open the door wider at City Hall for the community to feel comfortable and welcomed to do so in the future. We will also be welcoming a new Council member and this will provide an opportunity for all of us to share new ideas about the future of the City and also exploring more opportunities for comprehensive communication and outreach for the community.” (Tony Ferrara)
Hill’s brief but fast-moving campaign evolved from community dissatisfaction with the handling of a July 3 City Hall incident in which City Manager Steve Adams and a subordinate employee, Teresa McClish, the city’s community development director, were found near midnight in Adams’ darkened office by police responding to an emergency call.
Citizens accused Ferrara and the rest of the council with fashioning a cover-up of the incident — and then suggesting that responding police officers were lying about the circumstances to further ongoing contract negotiations.
Ferrara is the newly elected president of the powerful League of California Cities, a post he’d have to vacate if he loses to Hill.
Also, next Tuesday’s regularly scheduled city council meeting has been cancelled.