The Shasta County Elections Office maintained a tentative peace Tuesday evening as early voting ballots were tabulated inside the facility and election day ballots from the precincts began to arrive.
County election officials updated their site security procedures for this election after angry confrontations occurred within the Elections Office during the June 2022 primary ballot counting process. Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies and Redding Police Department (RPD) Officers were on site inside the facility. Elections officials also closed off the alleyway behind the Elections Office where vehicles arrive carrying election-day ballots for counting.
Only a limited number of election observers and members of the media were allowed inside the Elections Office at any given time and were accompanied by elections staff.
The only concerning security incident occurred at around 9:30 pm in the alley behind the Elections Office when Richard Gallardo, a candidate for the County Board of Education, member of a local self-described militia, and self-identified citizen-journalist, attempted to stay behind the Elections Office barricades and close to the ballots after being asked to move back.
He was confronted by two security personnel and Assistant County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Joanna Francescut, who reprimanded Gallardo while calling for police backup. Two RPD officers arrived soon after and convinced Gallardo to move back behind the barricades without further incident.
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Shasta County Board of Supervisors Preliminary Results
Very narrow vote margins for the two open Shasta County Board of Supervisors seats favor political newcomers, although voting results are still preliminary. Current totals show Christopher Kelstrom holding a lead of less than 300 votes over long-term Anderson Council member Baron Browning for the County’s District 5 seat, while Kevin Crye has about 200 votes more than sitting Redding council member Erin Resner in the race for District 1. If those margins hold, the county’s balance of power will swing farther towards individuals who have expressed interest in disrupting the county’s usual governance processes.
Kelstrom, who has referred to himself as an extreme Constitutionalist, and Crye, who refers to himself as a political outsider, would join current supervisors Patrick Jones, Tim Garman, and Mary Rickert. Jones and Garman both ran for office on a platform that included opposition to COVID mandates and restrictions. Only Mary Rickert has served long-term on the county board.
Redding City Council
Three council seats are open on the Redding City Council. Preliminary results show the incumbent, attorney Michael Dacquisto, holding a strong lead in the ten-candidate race, with more than 18 percent of the vote. Tenessa Audette, a campaign manager running for office for the first time, is currently second with more than 13 percent of the vote. Jack Munns, a retired law enforcement officer, is third with more than 12 percent of the vote.
Audette and Munns are both known to be affiliated with local megachurch Bethel and if victorious would join council member and Bethel elder Julie Winter on the council, creating what some have referred to as a “Bethel majority.” Locals worry about the outsized influence of the church, whose attendees represent approximately ten percent of the city’s population.
The church subscribes to a theology known as the 7 Mountain Mandate, which says Christians should infiltrate the “mountains” of society to take them back from the demonic realm. Audette has said that she supports the separation of church and state and that her affiliation with the church would not affect her work on the council. Munns has not responded to requests for comment.
Shasta County Board of Education
Preliminary results show incumbent Steven MacFarland and political newcomer Authur Gorman poised to win the two open seats on the County Board of Education. Gorman, a registered nurse who helped organize district-wide school walkouts in respond to COVID vaccine mandates, is leading in the race with almost 28 percent of the vote. MacFarland, who has served on the board for 25 years, seems likely to take the second seat. He currently has over 25% of the vote.
Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District
Current results show first-time candidate James Rickert, an agricultural real estate appraiser and the son of county supervisor Mary Rickert, holding a significant lead in the only contested race for the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District’s (A.C.I.D.) board. Rickert ran against sitting president and 21-year board incumbent Brenda Haynes, who has come under public scrutiny for transparency concerns related to the board’s decision to sell all the district’s remaining water after severe federal water cuts this year.
Shasta County’s elections results are still preliminary and the Elections Office has said it intends to release new vote totals by 5 pm every Friday until the vote is complete.
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