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The St. Helena mayoral race between incumbent Alan Galbraith and City Councilmember Geoff Ellsworth was too close to call on election night, with only 16 votes separating the candidates.

Galbraith had 539 votes (50.75 percent) and Ellsworth had 523 votes (49.25 percent) in early results posted at 8:01 p.m. Tuesday.

Galbraith’s supporters were gathered in his house as the first vote tally was released.

“The initial vote is very close,” Galbraith said, adding that he would issue a statement as soon as the winner is determined.

"I don't expect that for several days at this point," he said.

Ellsworth and his supporters were having an election night party at Grace Episcopal Church when the preliminary results came in. Shortly after 8:01 p.m., a group of people gathered about Ellsworth, all looking at their cellphones.

After seeing the results, Ellsworth said, “It looks pretty close. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

More ballots will be counted over the next week before the election results are certified. Even if Ellsworth loses his mayoral bid, he will retain his seat on the City Council.

Galbraith’s campaign emphasized his government experience, including four years as mayor, his role in passing the Measure D sales tax, and his endorsements by regional elected officials.

Ellsworth’s campaign called for new leadership, better management of the city’s water and finances, and more equitable water and wastewater rates.

Measure E, which would increase St. Helena’s hotel taxes by 1 percent to raise money for housing, has 832 votes in favor (78.12 percent) and 233 votes against (21.88 percent). It needs a two-thirds supermajority to pass.

Anna Chouteau and incumbent City Councilmember Paul Dohring are running unopposed for two council seats. Chouteau has 680 votes and Dohring has 696.

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St. Helena Reporter

Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.