The Power of One Vote

Fresno, CA, USA John Montano's bid for a seat on Parlier's City Council against incumbent Edward Barela was a nail biter until the very end. He said, "It's crazy, one vote! My kids keep going on the computer and saying 'dad, you're behind by one, you're behind by 8' so I said ok, ok."

The numbers were so close that Fresno County's Clerk counted the ballots 3 times. And twice there was a different winner.

Montano admitted, "Some people gave up the first week, but I said it's not over yet man." 413 people voted in that race. Barela got 206 votes, Montano got 207. One vote won Montano the Parlier city council seat.

Barela, his opponent said, "No matter what election it is, it makes a lot of difference in getting elected." Fresno County Clerk Victor Salazar told Action News, "Hey, if one of those people had stayed home we could have had a very different outcome."

Salazar calls this election cycle highly unusual because two other races were also decided by a solitary vote. Pine Ridge Elementary School District candidate Cynthia Farley won her seat with 217 votes, her opponent Kimberly Briggs got 216. And Kerman's hotel tax failed by one vote.

Salazar said, "So the future of those communities, of those school boards will have been decided by one person."

But the Valley has seen an even closer race; in fact, it was a dead heat in 1996 when two mayoral candidates in Kingsburg got exactly the same number of votes. And the winner was decided by a coin toss! There was so much controversy over that election it made news around the world.

John Montano isn't expecting those kinds of headlines for his win. He'll settle for a local one. He said he's, "Ecstatic! Throw a party!"

Other close races included school board seats in Mendota and Laton. Those winners won by 3 and 4 votes respectively.


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