On a night of landslide victories in hotly contested San Luis Obispo county races, one key election contest ended too close to call.
With all precincts reporting, but not all votes counted, incumbent Supervisor Lynn Compton leads challenger Jimmy Paulding by a total of 83 votes. Compton and Paulding are vying for the District 4 seat on the SLO County Board of Supervisors. Not only is the supervisor’s seat at stake, but the board majority as well.
Compton received 6,092 votes, or 50.32 percent, while Paulding garnered 6,009 votes, or 49.63 percent. It is unclear how many ballots are left to be counted. Election workers have yet to count all of the mail-in ballots.
In a back-and-forth affair, Compton narrowly led Paulding for most of election night. Then, after the second to last batch of votes was counted, Paulding overtook Compton. The lead changed hands again, with Compton surpassing Paulding following the final election night tally.
Compton, who is currently serving her first term in office, is a Republican and part of the conservative board of supervisors majority. Paulding, a project manager and attorney, is a Democrat.
If Paulding were to win, the board majority would flip. Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who won the three-way District 2 race outright on Tuesday, is a liberal Democrat. So is Gibson’s ally on the board, Supervisor Adam Hill.
The board has had a clear conservative majority for the past two years following the election of Supervisor John Peschong.
Paulding, like the challengers in the sheriff and district attorney races, received sizable financial backing from the family of Andrew Holland, the inmate who died in SLO County Jail after being strapped to a restrain chair for 46 hours. Holland’s family accused Compton of not taking appropriate measures in the aftermath of the jailhouse death and contributed $40,000 to Paulding’s campaign.
Nonetheless, a Paulding victory would amount to a major upset, as no Democratic candidate has been elected to the District 4 seat in more than 40 years. District 4, which includes Nipomo, Arroyo Grande and Oceano, has 2,386 more Republicans than Democrats. However, Democrats have been gaining on Republicans in the district in recent years.
It may take several days or even multiple weeks for the final result of the District 4 race to be decided.