It’s official!

Posted on Posted in Elections, Local

Challenger Eddie Tejeda wins Redlands council seat

REDLANDS >> Final certified election results show that Eddie Tejeda has edged past incumbent John James to win the second open seat on the City Council.

Tejeda, 44, declared victory last week after watching his lead in the vote count grow since the Nov. 8 election.

According to final results posted by the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters late Monday, Tejeda won 12.46 percent of the 45,995 votes cast in the council election. He won 5,733 votes compared to James’ 5,477 votes.

“I feel excited. I feel humbled. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to represent the community at large,” Tejeda said. “I feel happy that residents looked beyond the fact that I live in the north part of town and got the message that I would not be a ‘one side of town’ council member.”

Councilwoman Pat Gilbreath, meanwhile, won election to her sixth term as the top vote-getter in the contest that drew nine candidates. Gilbreath captured 17.86 percent, or 8,216, of the votes cast.

She and Tejeda will be sworn in at the council’s Dec. 20 meeting.

James, who was appointed to the council in 2015, initially was in second place behind Gilbreath. His lead dwindled in following days, and Tejeda eventually took the lead and has held it with each updated ballot count.

“I have lived in the city my whole life and experienced the historical culture of the city,” James said Tuesday. “A lot of that is because of the action of the many city councils of the past decades, and I was very honored to have the opportunity to participate in the process for the last couple of years. While I would have liked to continue, we have elections so the voters put people who feel it is best to continue that culture.”

While James will not have a seat on the council, he plans to remain active in the community. As far as plans for running for council in the future, he said he would have to see what develops.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’ll see what comes my way.”

Tejeda, a special education teacher who lives in north Redlands, has pledged to be a voice for residents there who complain that the council has not adequately addressed concerns in their neighborhoods. The other four council members all live in south Redlands.

“I look forward to providing (the council) the life experience of living on my side of town,” Tejeda said, “so whenever we make decisions on the council, those perspectives are taken into consideration, which, to me, haven’t been taken into consideration before.”

The Nov. 8 election likely is the last at-large council contest in Redlands. Pending approval, the council is expected to switch to a district-based voting system by the November 2018 election.