Emily Jo Cureton, The Triplicate

Challenger says he met half the people in his district during campaign

In the run-off race for District 1 Del Norte County Supervisor, Roger Gitlin held a seemingly decisive lead over incumbent Leslie McNamer on Wednesday afternoon, with around 700 provisional and absentee ballots still uncounted.

Gitlin's lead of 583-532 over the two-term incumbent appeared certain to stand. The outstanding ballots come from all of Del Norte County's 18 precincts, only three of which are in District 1.

"I'm just overwhelmed," Gitlin commented by phone Wednesday.

"I'm so humbled that the voters of District 1 have had the confidence in me to put me in this position, effective Jan. 1. I want to say this to those that did not support our candidacy: I'm looking forward to working with all of Del Norte County, including those whose positions disagree with mine, to find solutions to solve some of our problems."

Gitlin, 65, is a retired educator and sports announcer and sits on the steering committee for the Del Norte Tea Party Patriots. He is also a founding member of the Santa Clarita Valley Independent Minutemen.

On Tuesday night, McNamer was at her campaign headquarters in a former record store downtown, right next door to the county Republican Party's home base, where Gitlin dropped by before spending most of election night at the county Elections Office.

From I Street, both candidates could be seen at once, separated by a thin wall between storefront windows, occasionally blurred by condensation or blocked by campaign signage as they mingled with supporters.

The lights went dark at GOP headquarters by 8:30 pm, shortly after TV networks called the presidential race for Barack Obama.

When initial local results showed her trailing Gitlin, the mood at McNamer's headquarters took a turn for the resigned.

"I wasn't overly surprised," McNamer said of the unofficial results Wednesday. "I know that door-knocking just means so much in an election like this, and unfortunately with my health problems this year I just couldn't do it."

Gitlin's campaign focused on door-to-door outreach, and he estimated on Tuesday that "I probably reached 50 percent of the people in the district, as in, literally met them."

The Gitlin campaign spent $6,800 to McNamer's $5,300.

Raw figures put District 1 voter turnout right around 56 percent.

Countywide, 64 percent of Del Norte's 12,515 registered voters turned out.

County Clerk Alissia Northrup said she hopes to have all the additional votes - 230 provisionals and 477 mail ballots - counted by next week, if not sooner.

In processing provisional and mail ballots received on Election day, officials must confirm each voter's registration status, verify each voter's signature on the vote-by-mail envelope, and ensure each person did not vote elsewhere in the same election.

Reach Emily Jo Cureton at ecureton@triplicate.com.