Hodge, Aguilar take lead in Grass Valley city council race | TheUnion.com

Hodge, Aguilar take lead in Grass Valley city council race

In Grass Valley, incumbent Ben Aguilar, who was appointed in 2016, and Hilary Hodge took an early lead with Bob Branstrom trailing in the race for two open seats on the city council.

Only ballots turned in by Saturday had been counted at of 8:30 p.m., shortly after the vote centers closed. After an update released at 10 p.m., Hodge was in first place with 1,384 votes, while Aguilar had 1,276. Branstrom was in third place with 868 votes.

Steven Slack, who withdrew from the race too late for his name to be removed from the ballot, received 387 votes.

Branstrom, noting it was unclear how many ballots remained to be counted, was not ready to concede Tuesday night.

"It's premature for me to bow out at this point," he said. "I'm feeling a lot of uncertainty at this point about the outcome. I was very optimistic coming into this, and I'm still somewhat optimistic. I think this is only about half the results."

But win or lose, Branstrom said, Grass Valley "will be well-served whoever ends up (winning). All of us care about the city and want good things for the city, and we will all be working towards that … Ben and Hilary are both good people. I think the city is going to do well whether I'm on the council or not."

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Hodge echoed the sentiment.

"I think the entire race has been about the community of Grass Valley," she said. "The most important thing when you're a representative is to represent the values and the mission of the people who live where you live."

Hodge said she received "some very clear directives" from the citizens of Grass Valley while she knocked on doors.

"We want affordable housing, we want good jobs, we want a solution for those who are unhoused, and we want to make sure our community is safe," she said. "I will be dedicated to that mission, and I will always govern with our community in mind."

Aguilar, running for the first time since he was appointed to fill Terry Lamphier's seat in 2015, said he felt validated by the early vote results.

"It's been a great opportunity to serve the people of Grass Valley for almost four years, and I look forward to continuing on with my work with the council and the great momentum the city is on right now," he said. "My daughter, even though she doesn't know what I'm doing late at night on a Tuesday, she gets to experience it (playing) at the park … It makes what I do worthwhile."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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