Eric Hammer talks with a reporter on election night. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

With a difference of just 26 votes separating them on election night, the vice-tight race between Eric Hammer and Bruce McPherson for Fifth District Supervisor is still ongoing, with election results still being counted.  

“We’re plugging away here every day and on track to certify by Dec. 4,” said County Clerk Gail Pellerin.

“Anyone who moved, or their signature does not quite match, or their name changed—there are countless reasons why a ballot is put in the provisional pile, but they need to research each and every one to ensure that everyone possible can have their vote count,” reads a statement from the Hammer campaign.

Last week McPherson’s lead stretched to 245 votes with just 1,300 left to count—making it a likely (though not certain) victory for McPherson.  

Despite raising only about half the campaign funds McPherson did and entering the race with even less comparative name recognition, Hammer’s impressive comeback story—win or lose—is due to his strong ties in the San Lorenzo Valley. “I’m a local boy,” he regularly told residents when walking precincts. Indeed, as of Nov. 15 Hammer was leading in the unincorporated San Lorenzo Valley, with 8566 votes to McPherson’s 7757.

During debates and in interviews with this newspaper, both candidates were quick to assert that, though Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley are technically part of the district because of the redistricting done a matter of months ago, the San Lorenzo Valley is the most “in need” part of the district, since it has no city council—the Fifth District Supervisor is its only representative. While Hammer campaigned vigorously in all areas of the district, his identity is closely tied to the San Lorenzo Valley.

“Critics say, ‘You don’t know Santa Cruz, you don’t know Scotts Valley.’ Well, you know what? I know them well enough,” Hammer told the Weekly in October.
It appears Hammer does know Santa Cruz well enough, as he led the race there as well (by 200 votes). But Scotts Valley is where McPherson charged ahead, leading Hammer 2794 votes to 1540.