It’s official: incumbent Keith Blackburn scored an easy re-election victory on the Carlsbad City Council, while challenger Cori Schumacher narrowly beat the other incumbent, Lorraine Wood, to become the first Democrat ever elected to the nonpartisan office.
According to official results released Dec. 8 by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Blackburn came in first among the six contenders vying for two open seats, with a total of 21,671 votes, or 23.79 percent of the total.
Schumacher, an environmentalist and former surfer who was a leader in the fight earlier in the year against a proposal to build a mall on the south shores of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, finished second, with 18,624 votes, or 20.44 percent of all votes cast.
Wood, a former city clerk, was defeated in her bid for re-election, trailing Schumacher by 700 votes. In the final tally, Wood received 17,924 votes, or 19.68 percent of the total vote count,
Schumacher steadily expanded her lead over Wood since election night, when she was 73 votes ahead of Wood. At the time, 620,000 mail and provisional ballots, countywide, remained to be counted.
Blackburn and Schumacher will be sworn in at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting, followed by a public reception at City Hall. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber at 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive.
In the official vote count, former Carlsbad Unified School Board president Ann Tanner finished fourth with 15,287 votes (16.78 percent). Consultant Bill Fowler came a distant fifth with 7,982 votes (8.76 percent) and zookeeper Brandon Rowley is last with 4,357 votes (4.78 percent).
A seventh candidate, Melanie Burkholder, dropped out of the race in October but in the final tally received 5,252 votes (5.77 percent).
Wood was elected to her first term on the council in November 2012. At the time she received 26,760 votes.
Blackburn is a former Carlsbad police sergeant who was elected to the council in November 2008 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor against fellow Councilman Matt Hall in November 2010. He was re-elected to the Carlsbad City Council in November 2012, receiving 30,506 votes to top Wood, 53.13 percent to 46.61 percent.
Both Blackburn and Wood in 2012 ran unopposed.
Both Wood and Blackburn have come under fire, along with the mayor and the rest of the city council, for approving the controversial lagoon mall project in August 2015 without putting the matter up for a public vote.
Carlsbad residents were so angered by the August 2015 Council action that they mounted a successful referendum to force a vote — and in a Feb. 23 special election, what appeared on the ballot as Measure A was defeated, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Three of the five challengers —Schumacher, Tanner, and Fowler — were vocal critics of the mall proposal. Schumacher, in particular, was one of the leaders in the fight to first get the matter on the ballot, and then to defeat it.
Burkholder supported Measure A.
Schumacher has posted a notice on her Facebook page, saying, “I want to let everyone know that I am hard at work in preparation for taking office. Much of my time is currently being spent meeting with City Staff and community members and building the website I promised to provide to the community so that we can stay connected and continue our conversations around the issues that thousands of you have told me are important to you!”