Following last Tuesday’s election count, candidate Steven Funkhouser held a 65-vote lead over incumbent councilwoman Gloria Soto. But fast forward one week, and the latest count shows the leaderboard flipped with Soto now positioned as the frontrunner to win back her District 3 seat.
The morning after last week’s Election Night count, we spoke with Steven Funkhouser, who at the time had received 1,013 votes out of the 1,961 ballots counted in the District 3 race.
“I don’t want to get too excited because I know there are ballots that are still to be counted,” Funkhouser told KSBY last Wednesday.
In the days since then, an additional 1,200 ballots have been counted in the race, with the results now showing incumbent councilwoman Gloria Soto with a 25-vote edge over her challenger.
“Right now, my campaign team and I are cautiously optimistic with the lead that we currently have,” Soto told KSBY.
Soto, who was first elected to the City Council back in 2018, says she was not too discouraged when last Tuesday’s results showed her slightly behind in the ballot count.
“One of the things that we noticed leading up to the election was that a large percentage of the voters in District 3 did not have an in-person polling place, so that meant a surge of the votes would come in through vote-by-mail,” Soto added.
If re-elected for a second term, Soto says she would continue her work to provide more affordable housing options in Santa Maria, while Funkhouser says his top priority would be improving public safety.
“Answering those doors, when I come knocking and they answer, their concern is the safety of their family, the safety of their neighborhood and the community in general,” Funkhouser said.
But with more than 12,000 outstanding ballots still to be counted in Santa Barbara County, the District 3 race remains too close to call.
Both Funkhouser and Soto say they were simply grateful for the opportunity to campaign.
“I am new to politics, so this is all new to me. I am just really touched by the District for letting me get this close. Whether I win or lose, I am appreciative that they put their faith in me as a candidate and want me to represent them,” Funkhouser said.
“Regardless of what the outcome is, I look forward to continuing to serve my community and I am incredibly grateful to our voters, supporters, volunteers for the confidence that they have given,” Soto remarked.
Soto and Funkhouser tell KSBY they have not been in contact with one another since the 2022 election results began coming in. The next updated ballot count from the County of Santa Barbara will be released next Tuesday.
Click here for the latest election results.