In a comeback reminiscent of his 2018 bid for Santa Cruz City Council, Justin Cummings has declared victory in the race for the 3rd District Santa Cruz County Supervisor after Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson conceded Monday night.
In updated results released by the Santa Cruz County Elections Department Monday evening, Cummings had 10,221 (50.95%) votes counted in his favor. Kalantari-Johnson trailed him with 9,678 (48.25%) votes.
Initial election night results showed Cummings trailed 53.87% to 45.23%. But in the days following Nov. 8, he slowly but surely chipped away at Kalantari-Johnson’s advantage before taking the lead on Nov. 10. He was up by a mere 33 votes on Nov. 18 before building his current triple-digit lead in Monday’s update.
Cummings said that although he expected the race to be close, the slim margin was unexpected. Before the latest results came in, he said he was cautiously optimistic and holding out on any celebrations until the votes are certified. He believed same-day registration votes, which take longer to count due to the two-step verification process to eliminate the possibility of voter fraud, could carry him through to a win.
“Oftentimes, historically in Santa Cruz, people who vote early have more of a conservative vote,” said Cummings. “The people who are more progressive vote later. That’s what happened to me in 2018, and I feel like that’s what’s happening again.”
Cummings said the County Clerk already plans on hand-counting votes in the tight races across the county. When asked before the latest results came in if he would call for a recount should Kalantari-Johnson take the win, he said that would be unlikely.
“When I was mayor, I gave Gail Pellerin a key to the city because of how much effort she put into making sure that people had access to being able to vote or drop off their ballots,” said Cummings. “A recount is not something I’m thinking about right now.”