.Nov. 8, 2022 Election: Cummings Takes Lead in Race for 3rd District

A victory would mark the Santa Cruz City Councilmember’s second unlikely comeback

Update: 6pm, Friday, Nov. 18

Justin Cummings maintained the lead Friday afternoon by a thin margin, with 9,459 (49.68%) of the votes cast in the race for Santa Cruz County 3rd District Supervisor. Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson is closing in with 9,426 (49.51%) of the votes, a difference of a mere 33 votes. 

Cummings says this all feels too familiar, referring to his 2018 bid for Santa Cruz City Council where he jumped from sixth to first place. Although he expected this race to be close, this slim of a margin was unexpected. But, he is cautiously optimistic and holding out on any celebrations until the votes are certified.

He is hopeful that same-day registration votes, which take longer to count due to the two-step verification process to eliminate the possibility of voter fraud, will carry him through to a win. 

“Oftentimes, historically in Santa Cruz, people who vote early, have more of a conservative vote,” says 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 says the County Clerk already plans on hand-counting votes in the tight races across the county. When asked if he would call for a recount should Kalantari-Johnson take the win, he says that’s 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,” says Cummings. “A recount is not something I’m thinking about right now.” 

Original story: 9am, Friday, Nov. 18

In a comeback reminiscent of his 2018 bid for Santa Cruz City Council, Justin Cummings has taken a razor-thin, 35-vote lead on Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson in the race for the 3rd District Santa Cruz County Supervisor seat.

In updated results released by the Santa Cruz County Elections Department Thursday evening, Cummings had 9,428 (49.69%) votes counted in his favor, with Kalantari-Johnson right behind him with 9,393 (49.5%) votes.

Initial election night results showed Cummings trailed 53.87% to 45.23%. Throughout the week and a half since election day, he’s inched closer in votes to his opponent.

In a social media post, Cummings let his followers know of the news.

“We flipped it, but now we gotta hold it,” he wrote. “It’s not over until it’s certified.”

Cummings, who would be the first Black man to be elected supervisor in Santa Cruz County if he defeats Kalantari-Johnson, mounted a similar come-from-behind victory in 2018 to capture his current seat on the city council.

“At the beginning of the night, I was in sixth place. I think by the end of that first night, I was in fourth. But by the end of the week, I was first,” he told GT on election night.

Cummings also said he expected to secure last-minute voters, who he thinks might tend to be the younger university students.

The Elections Department said it would provide another round of updates on Friday, Nov. 18, at 4pm.


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Aiyana Moya
News Editor
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