Santa Clara County's Measure A, the Valley Water District measure that would extend the term limit for board members from three terms to four terms, was winning with 53.1% of the votes counted as of Wednesday afternoon; a majority is needed to pass. However, the Registrar's Office estimated that 46% of the ballots have yet to be counted, or 158,000, so the measure still has the potential to fail.
If the registrar's estimate is correct, voter turnout in Santa Clara County for this primary election was 34.8%. That's a bit higher than turnout in 2014, when 32.8% of voters cast ballots, but lower than 2018's 43.6%, the year that Gavin Newsom was elected governor.
In San Mateo County, the Ravenswood City School District $110 million bond measure for facilities upgrades is headed for a win, with 68% approval as of Wednesday afternoon, when only 55% is needed to pass.
Read on for more about the races.
Eshoo's November challenger
Democrat Kumar is poised for a November rematch with Eshoo, with early election results showing him ahead of six other candidates vying for her congressional seat.
Eshoo held an overwhelming lead on Wednesday afternoon over the seven candidates vying to replace her in the 16th Congressional District, which stretches along the coast from Pacifica to north San Jose. With all precincts partially reporting, Eshoo was seeing support from 48.8% of voters, with a greater percentage of San Mateo County voters (58%) favoring her than their Santa Clara County counterparts.
Kumar faced a tough challenge for the second spot from Republican Ohtaki.
The unofficial results, which don't include some vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, showed Kumar leading the field of challengers by 2,261 votes.
In Santa Clara County, which has the vast majority of the District 16 population, Kumar had received 11,639 votes, or 16.5% of the total votes cast in the county, while Ohtaki trailed him with 8,982 votes, or 12.7%, according to results released just before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Republican Richard Fox and Democrats Greg Tanaka and Ajwang Rading were trailing them with totals in single-digit percentages.
In San Mateo County, 396 votes separated the top two challengers to Eshoo as of Wednesday afternoon. Ohtaki was in second place with 12% of the votes, or 1,570 total votes, while Kumar was in third with 9%, having received 1,174 votes. Fox, Rading and Tanaka were trailing them.
Republican Benjamin Solomon and John Karl Fredrich, who is not affiliated with any party, pulled up the rear with less than 2% of the vote each.
If the results hold up after the final tally, the November runoff will be a rematch from the 2020 general election, when Eshoo faced off against Kumar. She prevailed after picking up 63% of the vote.
District Attorney to stay in office
Santa Clara County District Attorney Rosen appears to have won reelection, besting former Deputy District Attorney Daniel Chung and county Public Defender Sajid Khan.
By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Rosen's lead held at 59% to Chung's 24.2% and Khan's 16.8%, according to the Registrar of Voters.
If Rosen's majority lead sticks, he will win the election outright without the need for the general election this fall. Voters select the top two candidates to face off in November unless one contender garners more than 50% of the votes and is thus declared the winner.
Voters appeared to be less interested in radical change on either end of the spectrum than in maintaining an even-handed status quo.
Rosen, 54, who has been county DA since 2011, ran on his record as a "pragmatic progressive" who has beefed up victims' services and created programs for defendants of low-level crimes to reduce recidivism.
He developed multiple specialized units to address specific problem areas of crime, including tackling an increase in serial burglaries and robberies and the recent spate of smash-and-grab retail burglaries, in addition to creating a major Crime and Drug Trafficking Unit that targets the fentanyl trade and organized crime.
If elected to a fourth term, Rosen said he would focus more on gun violence and keeping guns out of the hands of felons and individuals with domestic violence restraining orders.
Khan, 39, a public defender, is the son of Muslim immigrants who raised him and his siblings in Milpitas and San Jose. He ran on a big-picture reform platform of radical change and has said he would greatly reduce prosecutions by amping up special services programs to attack the root causes of crime.
He campaigned on making major shifts in how cases are prosecuted, starting with juveniles, whom he would not prosecute as adults. He said he would work to end cash bail and seek to have records of most offenders expunged when they served their sentences. But his message of radical reform appears not to have strongly resonated with voters.
Chung, 33, has been the self-proclaimed "moderate" candidate of the three. A former deputy district attorney, he was terminated by Rosen's office and ran against his former boss. He said he would focus on policy and structural changes within the DA's office to streamline prosecutions.
Chung's campaign also prioritized prosecuting serious, violent and repeat offenders and zealously prosecuting gun, retail and hate crimes.
Rosen's financial war chest was also exponentially larger than Chung's and Khan's. He had more than $445,000 to Khan's roughly $118,000 and Chung's more than $18,000.
In a statement Tuesday night, Rosen appeared to declare himself the winner.
"Today's vote once again shows there is a mandate for safety and fairness. Not one at the expense of the other but both," he said. "Although I disagree with their political positions, I respect the Democratic principle of those who also ran for this vital job. I hope they continue to use their passion to help people.
"Public safety and criminal justice reform won today — smart justice won today. Now it's back to work. I look forward with determination to face our many 21st century challenges, including gun violence, hate crime, racial disproportionality, and property crime. From Palo Alto to Gilroy, we are bending the arc toward justice."
Chung said in an email that his campaign has exceeded all expectations.
"I am grateful for the extraordinary support from the community. To be in second place, despite the lack of money and endorsements, is a true testament to the community's belief in me and my values and priorities. My message clearly resonated with people, and they want significant change to improve public safety. I look forward to seeing the full election results and making sure that every vote is counted."
Khan said by phone that he is proud of his campaign.
"We ran a very value-based, authentic and principled campaign" that has shone a light on inequity, mass incarceration and the need for mental health and other services and reforms, he said.
Jonsen, Jensen to vie for Sheriff's Office
The November election will see retiring Police Chief Jonsen square off against retired sheriff's Capt. Jensen, the pair having taken the top two spots in the race to become the Santa Clara County's top cop, according to unofficial primary election results.
By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jonsen had 33.6% of the vote to Jensen's 30.5%, with 54% of ballots counted, according to the Registrar of Voters.
Sheriff's supervising Sgt. Christine Nagaye was in third with 18.7%. Sgt. Sean Allen was in fourth place and mother Anh Colton stood at a distant fifth.
The contentious race will pit Jonsen and Jensen, two longtime law enforcement professionals, in a battle to reform the Sheriff's Office. The office has endured years of controversy and alleged misconduct under outgoing Sheriff Laurie Smith, including a vote of "no confidence" by the county Board of Supervisors and bribery charges against her top brass related to campaign contributions for her reelection in 2018. Then there have been incidents causing injury and death to mentally ill inmates held in the county jail, which is managed by the Sheriff's Office and have cost the county about $20 million.
The primary election marks Jonsen's first foray into elected office. On Tuesday night, he said that he was encouraged by the numbers.
Jonsen said he and his wife watched the results during a quiet night at home but noted that the wait was suspenseful.
"I've never wanted a Wednesday to come so fast," he said.
Jonsen said he has a proven record for establishing strong community policing programs and developing strategic solutions. He launched the Palo Alto Police Department's his first foray into politics Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) last November, which pairs an officer with a licensed mental health clinician from the Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services Department to provide rapid intervention to people in a mental health crisis.
As sheriff, he would advocate for additional funding for mental health programs to help de-escalate crisis encounters.
Jonsen said he would also address lagging recruitment and retention of deputies and staff.
Jensen said via text message on Wednesday that he is thankful to voters for the opportunity to continue what he has been doing for more than 12 years: "Calling out the corruption and mismanagement in order to bring the positive change and ethical leadership that our community and our agency deserves."
Jensen said the critical comparison and contrast between him and Jonsen is that he has stayed in the same department that gave him a chance as a young 21-year-old husband and father who believed in the honor of serving and protecting.
He noted that he rose through the ranks into management and executive management command positions and called out "the painful misconduct over many years in our own department." Before the Board of Supervisors, the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Jails and in the media, he said, he has championed reform and transparency.
"My hope and belief is that the public will choose the most experienced and dedicated candidate who chose to serve his community by staying in the fire at the agency that gave him a chance," he said.
Nagaye, who ran on a platform of transparency and accountability with promises to hold officers and deputies responsible for their actions and to improve training in the jails and in the field, has landed in third place, according to unofficial election results. She said by phone Tuesday night that she "feels great" about her campaign and that she got out her message of the need for law enforcement reform, additional training and mental health support for jailed inmates.
Being third isn't where she wanted to be, but she said she will continue to push for reforms in Santa Clara County and in law enforcement nationwide.
"I would like to congratulate Kevin Jensen and Bob Jonsen on moving forward to the general election for the office of Santa Clara County Sheriff," she said in an emailed statement. "I pledge to do everything in my power to support whoever wins, although I am concerned the much-needed changes will not be made with either of them fulfilling this role.
"We are in desperate need for law enforcement reform in the sheriff's office, and tonight's results have only strengthened my resolve to be a part of that. I will make sure my reform plan and my suggestions for solving the problems in both the custody and law enforcement divisions land on the desk of the new sheriff on day one, and I pledge to my supporters I will do everything I can to hold that person accountable to the community."
Mail-in and provisional ballots continue to be counted, and elections registrars must certify the official results of the primary election by July 7.
This story contains 2025 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a member, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Membership start at $12 per month and may be cancelled at any time.