Two close races in Riverbank and Patterson decided

local@modbee.comNovember 29, 2012 

— Two close races in Riverbank and Patterson were decided Thursday after the Stanislaus County elections office released its final, official results for the Nov. 6 election.

Riverbank Councilman Richard O'Brien defeated incumbent Virginia Madueño by 53 votes among the more than 6,100 cast in that city's race for mayor, and Sheree Lustgarten defeated Dennis McCord by eight votes for the final seat on the Patterson City Council.

"I'm excited to start the new term," said O'Brien, who finished a close second to Madueño among six candidates in the 2009 mayoral race. He was elected to the council in 2010.

Madueño — who served on the council from 2005 to 2008 before being elected mayor — wished her opponent well. "I extend my congratulations to Richard O'Brien," she wrote in an e-mail to The Modesto Bee. "My term as mayor was very rewarding; Riverbank is truly worth celebrating, promoting and protecting."

O'Brien received 3,098 votes to Madueño's 3,045 in their latest matchup.

Lustgarten trailed McCord by eight votes as of Nov. 20, when elections officials had about 3,500 provisional ballots left to count. But Thursday's final count had her with 1,665 votes to McCord's 1,657 votes.

"I'm very happy and excited to have the opportunity to serve our community," Lustgarten said. " … I'm eager to get busy."

Lustgarten and McCord were among six candidates running for two council seats. Councilman Dominic Farinha, who was re-elected, was the top vote-getter with 1,766 votes.

"It was a very close race," McCord said. "Very clearly, special interests had enough money to win. I was the local candidate and Sheree was from L.A. and supported by Modesto Democrats and unions. And that was enough to win."

Lustgarten said her financial support was broad-based and included contributions from Patterson residents and businesses. She said she spent about $3,500 in her campaign.

Defeated candidates can request recounts and must pay the cost if the results do not favor them. But as in all close races, the elections office performed a second count by hand of the Patterson and Riverbank races. Registrar of Voters Lee Lundrigan said the vote counts did not change in either case.

Lundrigan said she spoke to the Patterson and Riverbank candidates about the results and said neither Madueño nor McCord asked for a recount.

The elections office reported that 156,935 of Stanislaus County's 232,887 registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election. That's a turnout of 67.39 percent.

In the November 2008 presidential election, 162,941 of the county's 230,163 registered voters cast ballots, for a turnout rate of 70.79 percent. Lundrigan said that was the highest turnout for a presidential election in her nearly 11 years as registrar of voters.

Stanislaus joins 24 of California's 58 counties in releasing official, final election results, according to the secretary of state's Web site.

O'Brien said he spent about $6,500 in his campaign, which was less than a fourth of the more than $27,000 Madueño had reported raising from July 1 through Oct. 20.

He said he walked neighborhoods and knocked on doors for several months during his campaign and spoke to about 2,000 voters. O'Brien said he picked up a valuable lesson while knocking on doors: "Never interrupt a voter during a 49ers game," he said. "I'm serious about that."

For final Stanislaus County election results, go to www.stanvote.com.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or (209) 578-2316.

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