Felipe Hernandez keeps a close eye on election returns at Jalisco’s restaurant in downtown Watsonville Nov. 8. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—Felipe Hernandez has increased his lead on Jimmy Dutra in the race for the 4th District seat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, according to updated results released by the County Elections Department on Friday evening.

Hernandez, the former mayor of Watsonville, now leads Dutra, a current Watsonville city councilman, by 676 votes. There have been 5,663 votes counted for that race as of Friday, and Hernandez has gathered around 55.5% of them.

The Elections Department said that an additional 23,744 ballots were added to the results reported early Wednesday. Overall, 61,622 votes have been counted, which amounts to around 36.9% of the county’s 166,837 registered voters.

Another round of updates is expected Monday evening.

Hernandez, 51, served as a Watsonville city councilman between 2012-2020. He ran unsuccessfully for the 4th District Supervisor seat in 2018, taking third in the primary that year.

If he hangs on, Hernandez would be the first Latino to serve on the board of supervisors since Tony Campos was ousted in 2010 by current outgoing Supervisor Greg Caput, who elected not to run for a fourth term earlier this year and endorsed Hernandez for the seat.

In a statement sent to the Pajaronian Thursday, Hernandez said he was “proud of the support I’ve received from the voters.” 

“We built the strongest coalition with the broadest range of political support, kept a positive campaign, and spoke about the issues the voters cared about the most,” he said. “We definitely worked hard coming in as the underdog from the primary in the campaign. We still have votes to count, but we feel good about a solid victory, because of the response we got talking and connecting door-to-door to the voters.”

Dutra, 47, earned his second term on the city council in 2020. He served as mayor last year. His first term on the city council was from 2014 to 2018. He stepped away from politics after running unsuccessfully for the 4th District Supervisor seat in 2018—he placed a distant second behind Caput.

Dutra amassed the most votes in the June 7 primary and nearly won the seat outright in a three-candidate race. But his campaign suffered a significant blow on Oct. 5 when a man filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Dutra, claiming that the candidate molested him when he was 12. 

Dutra has denied the allegations, calling them “baseless.”

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


    • not hardly. scandal sheets that have no identified individuals or even a phone number or address l often win elections for people who are gullible, like you.
      by the way, BOTH Felpe and Jimmy are Democrats like me. we do not elect RETHUGLICANS and Trumpturds to office in Watsonville, or in most of CALIFORNIA , for that matter. grow up, Monique.

      • See Steve the way you talk to people sounds like you think you’re better than everyone. I for one can compromise with people who I don’t always see eye to eye. That’s where your two party system fails everyone because it keeps us divided. Just like Jesus said why can’t citizens vote for the person, their values and their policies? Definitely agree with Jesus that it’s people like you who tow the line for the divide.

        Btw I don’t need to worry about who votes for who here because I am moving to a state that votes red all across the board and is probably the most red state in the USA. Thank God for common sense in these places still.

    • Monique you are correct as usual. We should vote for the politician not because of their sexual orientation but rather for their values. Steve is such a small mind however he will continue to try to get on the city council with an eye on being mayor. He is a cancer on this forum and a disgrace to the city when you shows up at city council meetings! He would support Satan if he was LGBT


  1. Steve, the two party system is meant to divide.
    Why can’t citizens vote for the person, their values and their policies?
    You are part of the problem.

    • As usual, Steve FALSEjillo places his ignorance on display in full grandeur. Steve is so busy being woke that he has apparently fallen asleep. When he wakes up from his nap please inform him that REPUBLICAN CASEY CLARK has been elected to the Watsonville City Council–an achievement that has eluded Steve. In Watsonville, COMITY is promoted by bipartisanship. COMEDY is promoted by Steve—who is always willing to volunteer as the butt of a joke.

  2. I am so happy that Felipe has won this election! His record is impeccable community activism and support for our schools. When he was mayor Felipe Hernandez made substantial strides to help the citizens of Watsonville he is a great father and family man!

    Go Felipe We are all behind you! Congratulations!


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