The Butte County Board of Supervisors will tilt further right come January with the ouster of District 2 incumbent Debra Lucero.
In the final results from the June 7 primary, released Friday morning (June 24), Chico police sergeant Peter Durfee received 50.7 percent of the vote to win the seat outright. Lucero took 45 percent, with Carl Jeffries getting 4.3.
“Another way to look at this is if he had received 76 votes less, we would be headed to a runoff in November,” Lucero posted on Facebook. “That’s why EVERY vote counts….”
A first-term supervisor, Lucero led on election night, but Durfee passed her in the next wave of counting. The finally tally was 5,398 for Durfee versus 4,790 for Lucero of the 11,708 votes cast. Turnout in District 2 was 42 percent—three points higher than the county total, which was nine points below the 48 percent participation in the last nonpresidential primary, 2018.
District 3 incumbent Tami Ritter already held a comfortable margin and wound up with 68.6 percent to defeat challenger Mary Murphy-Walfdorf by 37 points. Durfee’s election will leave Ritter as the lone progressive on the board, thereby giving conservatives a supermajority as required to pass certain measures (i.e., the budget).
This election followed the county’s redistricting from the 2020 census—a process that yielded a map approved by the three conservative supervisors (Bill Connelly, Tod Kimmelshue and Doug Teeter) over sharp opposition from the two Chico progressives that turned Lucero’s district from compact and urban to largely suburban and agricultural.
“I wish Mr. Durfee luck and hope he will represent all of us well,” Lucero’s post continued. “I want to thank all of my supporters and those who stood beside me during the race….
“In the end, the gerrymandered district, the smear campaign by the Political Action Committee Butte Forward (supported by our Assemblyman [James Gallagher], fellow supervisors and their families, and many agricultural industrialists) plus a third candidate spoiler and low voter turnout was too much for my campaign to overcome. It was a hard-fought race.
“It saddens me that I won’t be representing District 2 come January 2023, but I have to believe the past four years have not been in vain. I have enjoyed representing my constituents and Butte County at the state and federal level … and will continue to do so through the end of this year.”
County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar Candace Grubbs told the CN&R by email Friday afternoon that California does not conduct automatic recounts and that anyone who requests a recount must pay for it.
Durfee said in a statement released noontime Friday, “I am humbled to be chosen by my Chico neighbors to represent them on the Butte County Board of Supervisors.” Working with his future colleagues, he continued, “I will ensure Chico residents have a voice in Butte County government. As promised, I will focus on making Chico safer while tackling our homeless crisis. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and partner with my fellow community members to find the best solutions to Chico’s difficulties while bettering our city for all Chico residents.”