Dr. Paul Berry, a general practitioner at Oroville Community Hospital in Oroville, garnered the most votes, 15.56 percent, as of 12:08 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3. Health care board veteran Harold Hill was second with 15.44 percent of votes, and registered nurse Ramona East had 14.97 percent.
Only 18 votes separated East and Del Puerto Health Center landlord John Ramos with an unknown number of provisional and absentee votes to be counted.
Seven candidates vied for three seats on the health care board. Del Puerto Health Care District runs Patterson District Ambulance and the Del Puerto Health Center at Highway 33 and Ward Avenue, which is soon to move to the Keystone Pacific Business Park in west Patterson. The district also aims to increase health care amenities for the West Side.
The race became particularly heated this year, with Ramos trading barbs with candidates Hill, Ed Maring and Linda Sandoval in paid advertisements.
Board chairman Maring was in fifth place as of midnight Wednesday with 14.24 percent of the vote, followed by Mayor Becky Campo (13.91 percent) and Sandoval (10.88 percent).
Election results in the close race varied widely throughout the evening, depending on how many precincts had been counted. During some periods, it appeared Maring had enough votes to be elected, while at another point, it seemed Hill would be the top vote-getter.
East was surprised to learn early Wednesday that she was in the top three after she appared to be trailing in fourth place earlier in the evening.
She described the race as a “win-win situation,” as she planned to attend district meetings regardless of whether she was elected.
Hill declared he, too, was surprised by the early results this week.
“Quite frankly, I didn’t expect Dr. Berry to be as strong as he was,” he said, noting that the doctor did no local campaigning.
“I have no idea what his plan is,” Hill added. “I hope if someone is on the board that they will attend the meetings.”
Berry was fired by Del Puerto Health Care District leadership in February 2006 after he notified the district in December 2005 that he wanted to either renegotiate his contract or resign the following April. He has since sued the district for $2 million and settled for an undisclosed amount.
Berry could not be reached for comment this week. His campaign manager, Sharon Reeves, said last month said that he lives in Chico, but he listed a rented home on Olive Avenue in Patterson as his mailing address on campaign paperwork. At the time, Reeves said Berry would move there if elected.
Election laws require that health care directors live within the district they represent, and some of Berry’s opponents have publicly questioned whether his campaign is legal.
However, residency can sometimes be a murky subject, Lee Lundrigan, Stanislaus County’s registrar of voters, said last month. For instance, people can temporarily live outside an area and still maintain that it is their primary residence, she said.
The Fair Political Practices Commission oversees matters of candidates’ residency, but Margo Arnold, CEO of the Del Puerto Health Care District, did not know of anyone who wanted to press the issue with the commission.
“Who knows? (Berry) might move here and be a good board member,” Arnold said.
Assuming that the Berry, Hill and East are elected in the final vote count, Arnold said it may be a good mix.
“I think it’s got some good balance, and I think we’re going to have some good conversations,” Arnold said.
As for the election count, Lundrigan predicted Wednesday that the elections office would know by the end of the day how many provisional and absentee ballots have yet to be reviewed in the county. Updated elections results are expected to be released by Monday, she said. Officials have up to 28 days to certify the election.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187 or