With 100 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Robert Clarke and N. "Chris" Djernaes were winners in the four-way race for two Solvang City Council four-year seats.
Incumbent Joan Laird Jamieson followed close behind, while Kim K. Jensen trailed.
Early in the evening Tuesday, as mail-in ballot results were posted, Clarke and Djernaes were initially tied at 511 votes, or 24.7 percent of the 2,111 tallied votes. Jamieson took 424 votes and 20 percent of the early mail-ins, while Jensen sat at 386 votes and 18 percent. Denise El Amin had 199 or 9.4 percent of the votes while “Esko” Lama Newyork took 53 votes, or 2.5 percent, despite withdrawing from the race.
“I love politics. I’ve been following them my whole life. It’s fascinating to watch, and it’s neat to see me in the lead, but we’re waiting to see more,” Clarke said.
Djernaes, Jensen and El Amin did not return calls for comment. Jamieson held her comments until votes cast at the polls could be tallied.
Final unofficial results Wednesday morning showed Clarke with 725 votes, or 24.43 percent, Djernaes with 715 votes, or 24.09 percent, Jamieson with 593 votes, for 19.98 percent and Jensen with 546 votes, or 18.40 percent. El Amin finished with 294 votes for 9.91 percent, and Newyork with 87 votes, for 2.93 percent.
For the two-year seat made available by the Hans Duus resignation in 2017, appointed incumbent Karen M. Waite finished ahead of challenger Edwin Skytt with 922 votes, or 56.70 percent. Skytt's final tally was 698 votes, for 42.93 percent.
“At this point, it’s looking pretty good. Right now, I’m very happy about all of it,” Waite said Tuesday night, as she watched the results trickle in with her campaign manager.
“We know it’s a close race. This is a very small valley, so we know everyone involved in this. It’s too early to say. I’m hopeful and I appreciate all the votes I’ve gotten from Solvang residents, and I’m hoping I do win this election. A lot’s riding on it,” Waite said.
Skytt did not return a request for comment.
Waite, the incumbent appointed in 2017 to fill the Duus seat, had hoped to keep the ball rolling on a variety of city projects in which she had become active including groundwater basin management, taxation of cannabis business, and the return to Solvang of the AmGen Tour of California.
Skytt, her challenger, is a two-time city councilman aiming to unseat Waite to serve a third, non-consecutive term in office to help Solvang maintain a solid tourism industry that funds city service.
Jamieson was running for her fourth consecutive term in hopes of maintaining continuity on the council, seeing through upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment system, continuing to support the Solvang Branch Library, and maintaining a good relationship with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.
Jamieson said she was first appointed to the Solvang City Council nine years ago and has since run for, and won, election twice. She has served on a variety of committees including the library committee, waste water treatment ad hoc committee, and as City Council liaison to the Chumash.
First-time candidate and Solvang native Jensen hoped serving on the council would allow him to help to make lasting change that will improve the city for residents and business owners alike.
Another first-time candidate, Clarke recognized tourism as a key contributor to the city’s budget, but said he would like to see a push to attract more conferences to the community to drive mid-week, multi-night tourism. He also looked to streamline the building permit process and finding solutions to ever-increasing traffic in Solvang.