By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Right out of the chute, candidates who started with a lead ended the night with a win in each of Del Norte County's election races.
Just as the doors closed at polling stations throughout the county at 8 p.m., absentee ballot vote counts were posted on the county's Web site, unofficially predicting the night's outcomes.
Mike Riese won the district attorney race by about 500 votes. As votes were counted, the numbers stayed close, giving his opponent Nan Udell some hope.
Riese could not be reached for comment, but was watching election results trickle in at a campaign aide's home in Fort Dick.
For sheriff, Dean Wilson won handily against opponent Mike Ross with 1, 500 more votes in his camp.
"It doesn't surprise me, because I was knocking door-to-door and that was what I was hearing from the voters," Wilson said.
The win puts Wilson in office almost immediately, with outgoing Sheriff Jim Maready retiring as of noon today. The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors will decide on Oct. 12 whether to seat Wilson before his term officially begins in January.
"We're ready to go to work," Wilson said last night after the results were in.
Winning the two Crescent City City Council seats are the two newcomers Ray Martell and Dennis Burns bumping out incumbent Jack Burlake and replacing outgoing longtime-member C. Ray Smith who did not run again for the seat.
"It says the voters are willing to look into some different types of experience and looking for a change. I promise to do the best job that I can," said Martell.
With Martell and Burns now elected, the city council has no long-term members and five relative newcomers. Present council members Glenn Gary, Herb Kolodner and Mickey Youngblood were all elected in the 2000 election.
Two newcomers will also take office on the Crescent City Harbor District Board as Mario Deiro and Dan Kirkpatrick were elected last night by a relative landslide.
Of the five candidates running, Kirkpatrick got the most votes taking 32 percent; Deiro came in second taking 25.5 percent of the votes (despite being out of town for the last two weeks of the race on a family emergency). Incumbent Bev Noll came in third with 19 percent of the votes; in fourth was Mike McKenzie-Bahr with 18 percent and Kate VanDyke came in last place with 6 percent of the votes.
Now, all but one of the five harbor board members will be newcomers with Bonnie Williams as the only long-term member.
A surprising upset was rendered in the race for the three open seats of the Smith River Community Services District as longtime-incumbent Duane "Sparky" Countess was ejected from his seat and newcomer Susan Ramirez won by more votes than any of her four opponents.
Winning the seats with Ramirez were incumbents Jimmy Floyd with 22 percent of the votes and Keith Sellers with 19 percent of the vote.
Just over half of Del Norte County's registered voters showed up to the polls with a 54.3 percent turnout. There are 12,067 registered Del Norte voters and 6,551 of them turned in their ballots.