Women appeared to win the night in the election for three new Gustine Unified School District Board members.
Businesswoman Pat Rocha received 27.63 percent of the votes. Christina Gardner, a homemaker and former board member, received 20.30 percent. And educator Loretta Rose won 18.21 percent.
After an evening watching "Dancing with the Stars" and eating ribs and brownies at Rocha's home, Rocha and Rose said they were honored to win.
By 10:20 p.m., the Merced County registrar of voters reported that 100 percent of the precincts had been tallied. The results appeared on a computer screen after more than an hour of stagnant numbers for Gustine.
"The neighborhood woke up," Rose said, when their shouts of excitement filled the room.
The registrar reported that 2,059 votes came in, of 3,047 registered voters in the area. Gustine has a population of 5,152, according to the California Department of Finance.
Richard Guimmond II had 14.72 percent of the votes, while Fernando Silveira won 11.27 percent. Former school board member Robert Asmus had 6.99 percent and write-in candidates got 0.87 percent.
Though he didn't win, Guimmond said he was pleased with the results. "It's the first time anyone from Santa Nella ran," he said. "Gustine is a tough town to break into."
Guimmond spent the evening at Gardner's home; her son was his campaign manager. Gardner baked oatmeal raisin cookies. While waiting for results, they relaxed and tried to talk about topics other than the election.
About 10 p.m., a friend called to tell Gardner the votes had been counted, so she and her husband drove to Gustine Veterans Memorial Hall, where each precinct's results were posted. Gardner added the numbers and said she was elated, honored and excited to have been selected.
Board members will be sworn in next month, she said.
Hoarse from the evening's excitement and chatter, and possibly an oncoming cold, Rocha said she was "still reeling" from the win.
Rocha already has been reading board agendas and other paperwork related to her new duties. Her first official event, however, will be Friday's grand opening of Gustine Middle School.
"That's the part I like," she said. "I don't want this job to be just decision-making in a negative environment, with people in the audience mad because you're not doing something. I want to go be a reader on Na- tional Reading Day and be invited to the Christmas play. These are the things I want do."
Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2235.