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.”