WATSONVILLE—Jimmy Dutra opened a large, early lead on Tony Gomez in the race for the District 6 seat on the Watsonville City Council, a position that will come with the mayorship in the incoming year, and never looked back.
Dutra had 64% of 2,484 votes Thursday afternoon, cruising to his second stint on the council—he previously served from 2014-18.
He called the results “overwhelming.”
“I’m so thankful to the community that has come out to support me in such a big way,” he said. “I feel like they want experienced leadership and someone who will be a voice for all people. That’s something I want to be as mayor.”
He will be Watsonville’s first openly LGBT mayor, and only the second-ever openly LGBT Mayor in the history of the county.
“This is a going to be a huge year for the LGBT community,” he said.
He credited his victory to his boots-on-the-ground approach, saying that he knocked on every door in his district at least three times leading up to the election.
“And we listened to the people,” he said.
In District 2, incumbent Aurelio Gonzalez also opened a big lead over Vanessa Quiroz-Carter, a first-time city council candidate, in the early results, and solidified his standing as the week went on. He was holding 54.5% of the 1,589 votes already tallied Thursday.
Gonzalez, who was voted into office via a special election in 2018, said having a complete four-year term to work with gives him some “relief.”
“But I still want to keep doing things and helping my community,” he said.
At the top of his priority list: housing, transportation, economic growth and art projects such as the recently-completed mural at the Santa Cruz METRO station in Watsonville. Smaller issues such as lighting improvements and sidewalk reconstruction are also on his radar, he said.
Gonzalez, 58, said the Covid-19 pandemic presented some challenges during door-to-door canvassing. His own battle with the novel coronavirus in July and August, he said, also took precious campaign time away.
Still, he was happy with the final results, and commended Quiroz-Carter, 33, for getting District 2’s young voters involved and interested in local politics.
“I heard she focused her work on social media and did a lot of phone banking,” he said. “Whatever she was doing, she was doing something right.”
Eduardo Montesino ran unopposed for the District 1 seat vacated by Felipe Hernandez, who termed out. He received more than 1,300 of the 1,522 that were tallied as of Thursday.
Editor’s note: This story was updated from an earlier version.