Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate
Jessica Cejnar
Del Norte Triplicate

Incumbent Del Norte County Supervisors Chris Howard and Gerry Hemmingsen retained their seats with solid victories in Tuesday’s primary election.

The race

At 8:10 p.m., preliminary mail-in results showed incumbent Howard leading over challenger Jake Smith by a comfortable 65.45 to 34.55 percent margin in District 3.

In District 4, incumbent Hemmingsen was out ahead of three challengers with 50.99 percent of the votes. Challenger David Mason followed with 27.02 percent of the votes, Roger Daley with 11.5 percent and Ron Phillips with 10.84 percent (one vote).

When all votes were counted, Howard and Hemmingsen retained their board seats with 66.1 percent and 51.75 percent, respectively.


Incumbent supporters awaited results at SeaQuake Brewing where the atmosphere was jubilant as Howard and Hemmingsen celebrated.

“I’m on top of the world,” Howard said. “It was a lot of work, an extra 22 hours to my week that I wasn’t counting on. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling knowing that the community’s behind you.”

As he looks forward to another term on the Board of Supervisors, Howard said it’s important to keep a unified approach with all community groups to go forward “in the same direction.”

Everybody needs to participate, Howard said.

“There’s a lot of people out there with a voice and they want to be heard,” Howard said. “Even though we have a lot of disagreements, the discussions at the board were we want to work to get through those disagreements.

Although “it’s not over ‘till it’s over,” Hemmingsen said he was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events and gave kudos to his campaign crew.

“I’ve done the best job that I can do for the county and I’d love to continue to do that,” Hemmingsen said. “It’s all about the kids. We need to leave something here for our kids and our grandkids. Especially my grandkids.”

As he watched the results trickle in earlier in the evening, Mason, Hemmingsen’s opponent, said he was OK with second place. Mason said voter turnout among Republicans seemed to be greater than Democrat voters, but “who knows how they voted.”

“I’m not ordering stationery or measuring for carpet and curtains,” Mason said, adding that with four candidates running for a single seat he thought the odds of a runoff election were high.

“A couple of ballots would tip it into a runoff,” Mason said.

Although Tuesday’s vote counts are unofficial and some mail-in and provisional votes may show up in coming days, it appeared Hemmingsen’s win margin was enough to avoid a runoff in November.

Mason said he tried to run his campaign by focusing on positives rather than negatives.

“I take a look at all the problems the community has and I have solutions or suggestions for solutions for every single one of them,” Mason said. “I don’t have any ‘I don’t know.’”

Although he began election day feeling anxious, Smith said he was feeling “surprisingly relaxed” since the first election results were released. He said he tried to run a campaign “his way” and said he feels satisfied with it, although he regrets missing the Youth Justice forum last month.

“I would say what I’ve enjoyed the most is going out and talking to people,” Smith said. “I’ve been to over 600 houses. I would say the most enjoyable part was talking to people about their lives, about what matters to them, what’s important to them and that was a good experience. I really enjoyed that.”

Other county results

Measure A, which will impose term limits on future supervisors, passed by a 63.88 percent margin.

Also, one unopposed county candidate won with only 94.5 percent of the vote. School District Superintendent Jeff Harris faced a late-introduced campaign by Bill Hartwick, a write-in candidate.