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Carter re-elected in preliminary results

March 06, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

With 1,230 votes separating the candidates, Imperial County Sheriff Harold Carter was elected to a second four-year term Tuesday over challenger Ernie Mendoza, a chief deputy with the Sheriff's Office.

Carter garnered 7,815 votes, or 53.94 percent of the vote; Mendoza received 6,585 votes, or 45.45 percent.

Imperial County Elections Department officials called that tally an unofficial final count, stating there were still absentee and provisional ballots to count.

Officials were unsure this morning how many such ballots were left to count.

The unofficial final vote states 133 of 142 voting precincts were accounted for, roughly 93 percent of the precincts.

Dolores Provencio, head of the Elections Department, said the unaccounted for precincts are small mail precincts where either no voters reside or a few reside and none cast ballots.

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Carter said this morning he is honored to have the chance to serve another four-year term.

"I understand the badge of my office belongs to the citizens of Imperial County," he said. "They just loan the badge to me so I can serve them."

Carter added he wanted to thank those who helped him in his campaign.

"I'm still amazed at the people who volunteered their time to help a candidate," Carter said.

Mendoza was unavailable for comment Tuesday following the release of the results.

Carter said he was expecting a wider margin in the final count.

However, he said voter turnout was lower this time — about 14,000 votes were cast — than the last time he was elected sheriff, a runoff he won over Mendoza.

Still, Carter said with the race over, he can focus on serving the people of the Imperial Valley.

"I look forward to the next four years to build the kind of Sheriff's Office the people of this county want and need," Carter said.

He added there are a number of goals he wants to accomplish in the next four years.

One is the creation of a single database that all law enforcement agencies in the Imperial Valley could share to access information relevant to cases.

Carter said he wants to continue to place focus on preventing agriculture-related crime, improve technology available to his department and increase crime prevention efforts.

Carter said, "Progress was made in the last three years and it is just beginning."

He added, "We have some challenges to face. We have the talent, the resourcefulness and the ability to overcome those challenges."

He said ultimately he wants to make the Sheriff's Office stand out as the premier law enforcement agency in the Imperial Valley.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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