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County voters avoid the polls - Engel and Judd face November runoff

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

Plumas County’s 43.45 percent voter turnout in the June 3 primary is the lowest that local election officials can recall, but it far surpassed the state’s 18.3 percent, which was a historic low.

Kathy Williams, the county’s chief elections official, said she expected a lower turnout than usual, but was surprised at just how few people turned out to vote.

She attributed that to a lack of local contested races, as well as state contests that hadn’t garnered a lot of interest.

Election night proved to be uneventful at the courthouse, with ballots arriving quickly from the precincts and results posted online by 9:25 p.m.

However, it wasn’t until the following afternoon that workers were able to verify and count the vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at the precincts, the provisional ballots and the write-in votes for District 5 supervisor.

District 5 runoff

Three names appeared on the ballot: Jon Kennedy, Jeff Engel and Jim Judd. Early in the campaign, Kennedy announced his intention to relocate and not seek a second term, paving the way for Judd or Engel to succeed him. Then in the waning days of the campaign, Clio resident Alice Berg filed as a write-in candidate.

Despite his withdrawal, Kennedy received 118 votes, 8.48 percent of the vote, while Berg received 123 votes for 8.84 percent.

Engel garnered the most votes with 608 (43.71 percent) and Judd finished second with 542 votes (38.96 percent).

The morning after the primary, Judd took down his campaign signs and began thinking about the November runoff.

Traditionally, campaigns slow over the summer and pick up momentum again after Labor Day.

Judd plans to spend the ensuing months “working behind the scenes” by attending special district and Board of Supervisors meetings, as well as meeting with county department heads.

His strategy moving forward is to show the voters the distinct differences between himself and his opponent, and define his vision.

“I want to show a distinct vision for the future of Plumas County and what we can do by diversifying the economic base,” he said.

Engel said he wasn’t surprised to be the top vote earner and said that if he hadn’t been so busy working and could have devoted more time to campaigning, the race might have been decided in the primary.

Engel said he will continue to meet with people over the summer and is optimistic about winning in the November runoff.

“In this phase of my life, I want to pay back the county for all it has given me,” he said.

While Engel wasn’t surprised that he was the top vote earner, Kennedy said he was surprised that he didn’t get more votes, even though he had announced his intention to move out of the area at the end of his term.

“I thought it was good that people were paying attention and knew that I had stopped running,” he said. “I guess people really read the newspaper.”

Kennedy isn’t endorsing either candidate, but may decide to support one over the other — it’s a distinction he clearly makes.

Faced with the realization that his time as a supervisor will conclude at the end of the year, Kennedy said, “This whole decision was not easy. I absolutely loved the job of county supervisor.”

He explained that it was a few people at the eastern end of the county that prompted his decision to leave. “I would have dealt with it,” Kennedy said, but he couldn’t ask his family to do the same; they wanted to escape the vitriol.

Other races

All other county officials ran unopposed, but that didn’t mean they received 100 percent of the vote. Clerk Recorder Kathy Williams received the highest percentage with 99.53 percent, while Superintendent of Schools Micheline Miglis came in at 95.84 percent.

For a complete rundown of how Plumas County voted in the statewide and local races, go to



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