Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries Wednesday night declared victory in the race to represent Riverside County's First District, thanking his opponent, Supervisor Bob Buster, who in turn congratulated Jeffries.
"With the votes reported tonight, I am pleased to announce that we have clearly won our race, and I look forward to bringing a new direction and energy to the First District office," Jeffries, 51, said in an online statement.
The latest ballot count in the cliffhanger race showed Jeffries with 57,467 votes compared to 56,243 for Buster, or 50.54 percent to 49.46 percent. Jeffries' lead -- which he called "insurmountable" -- was about 100 votes greater than on Monday.
" I want to thank Bob Buster for his 20 years of service," Jeffries said. "Even when I disagreed with his positions, I knew he was fighting for what he believed in, and I appreciated his independence.
"In the end, I believe my message of transparency, accessibility and reform of county processes, advocacy for job creation by helping small businesses and making front line public safety the first priority of our budget resonated with voters."
Buster, 68, congratulated Jeffries by telephone.
According to the Registrar of Voters' website, 5,000 provisional ballots were left to be processed from the Nov. 6 general election. But those ballots were from races countywide, not just the First District. A final vote count update is scheduled to be released at 6 p.m. Monday.
Buster, a Harvard-educated citrus farmer, failed to win more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary, forcing him into a runoff election for the first time since his first campaign in 1992.
Buster's camp underscored a record of trying to improve the local economy and save the county money through public employee pension reform and backing infrastructure projects that employee local laborers.
Jeffries, who is in the final weeks of his third term in the Legislature where he represented Lake Elsinore and Murrieta, criticized Buster's six-figure pension and vowed that if elected, he would work to convert all the supervisors' retirement plans to self-funded 401(k)s.
The property management firm owner also criticized Buster for supporting some aspects of Gov. Jerry Brown's 2011 "realignment" plan that resulted in many state responsibilities being shifted onto counties.
-City News Service