Campbell wins Riverbank special election

jholland@modbee.comJune 4, 2013 

    alternate textJohn Holland
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Agriculture, Turlock; local news editor on Sundays
    Bio: John Holland has been a reporter at The Bee for 12 years. He has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and previously worked at the Union Democrat in Sonora and the Visalia Times-Delta.
    Recent stories written by John

— Cal Campbell rolled to victory Tuesday night in a special election for a City Council vacancy.

He had 1,001 votes, or 66.1 percent, with most of the ballots counted. Diana Gonzalez had 349 votes, or 23 percent. Jeremy Fennell had 165 votes, or 10.9 percent.

The count includes mail ballots cast before Tuesday and votes from polling places. Election workers planned a Thursday count of remaining mail ballots and provisional ballots, the latter cast by voters whose registration status was in question.

It's highly unlikely the uncounted ballots will change the outcome.

Campbell is scheduled to be sworn in at Monday night's council meeting and will serve until late 2014. The seat was vacated by Richard O'Brien's election as mayor in November.

Campbell thanked voters for their support Tuesday and in the November council election, when he placed third among seven candidates for two seats.

He said he and his supporters relied heavily on walking precincts and contacting likely voters this time around.

"I probably did 75 percent of that myself because I'm retired and I wanted to meet as many people as I could," he said.

Focus on finances

Campbell, 64, was a teacher and administrator in Oakdale schools for 35 years. He said his priority is to get Riverbank's finances back to health.

Several people had urged the council to appoint Campbell or another of the November candidates to the vacancy, thus saving the cost of the special election, budgeted at $57,000.

The council deadlocked 2-2 on the appointment process in December and January, thus forcing Tuesday's vote.

Fennell, 30, owns Sin Cal Industries in the Crossroads Shopping Center, which sells skateboards, signs and other products and does tattoos and body piercings.

He said Tuesday night that he appreciated the positive tone of the campaign.

"I'm still young," he said. "I definitely am going to stay involved with the community."

Gonzalez, 55, a school secretary, could not be reached Tuesday night.

Dispute with county

The city conducted the election because officials with Stanislaus County, which usually handles the job, contended that it was not called by the deadline in state law.

Riverbank officials insisted that they called the election on time and hired a Southern California firm to help with the vote.

The main difference was that the ballots were counted by hand rather than machine, at a lightly attended gathering at the Riverbank Community Center.

At each of three tables, one election worker softly stated the vote-getter's name on each ballot, while two others kept a written tally. Anyone within earshot could tell that Campbell was winning big.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at or (209) 578-2385.

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