Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, has conceded the race for the newly drawn 40th Assembly District seat to Democratic challenger Pilar Schiavo, who led in the polls as of Tuesday’s latest post-election update with 545 ballots separating the two candidates.
“Against all odds, only a few hundred votes separate my opponent and me,” Valladares wrote in a prepared statement. “I am extremely honored by the confidence of so many Republican, Democratic and independent voters.”
“Ours is a great electoral system. However, there are not enough remaining votes for me to close that small gap, and so I must concede this election,” her statement read.
On Election Night, Valladares led the polls with 54.31% (49,117) of the votes while Schiavo received 45.69% (41,319) of the votes. But each consecutive post-election results update showed Schiavo closing the gap and ultimately pulling ahead in the race.
“I am a single mom. I quit my job to run because I’m so passionate about fighting for our community,” Schiavo said during an interview with The Signal. “Our race really shows that every vote counts. Every vote makes a difference. I’m grateful to the 40th Assembly District and our community for entrusting me with this amazing opportunity.”
In her statement, Valladares said she was blessed to represent the people of the former 38th Assembly District, now the 40th Assembly District, in the California State Assembly. She also thanked her family, the voters and her Assembly staff, campaign team and her supporters.
“We began this journey in the middle of a pandemic, sponsoring COVID clinics, delivering for this wonderful community and helping thousands of local workers and families get needed (Employment Development Department) assistance,” Valladares wrote in her statement.
She also said she helped pass legislation “against all odds” and fought for the issues that needed a strong voice.
According to Valladares, the redistricting process made the newly drawn 40th Assembly District a more challenging race for a Republican because it was drawn into a district where President Joe Biden won by 16 points and Democrats hold a 13-point registration advantage.
Valladares congratulated Schiavo on her victory. She added that her district team would be working with the incoming assemblywoman to ensure that she has the resources needed to continue serving the people of “this great community.”
Valladares said it was bittersweet, but easy to give Schiavo a call to congratulate her. She hopes Schiavo will continue to represent the 40th Assembly District with love and passion for the constituents.
“I think she understand that she’s going to have to build some relationships with the community. It was a very close race,” Valladares said. “She’s her own person. We are from different parties. We have different policy solutions for issues that are plaguing our community, but at the end of the day, she’s also a mom.”
Valladares’ advice was for Schiavo to prioritize her children and family.
According to Valladares, the job can be tough and there’s a lot of pressure. Sometimes family gets put on the side and they make a lot of sacrifices.
“That’s not always easy to remember,” Valladares said. “I remember for Charlotte’s first day of kindergarten, I was supposed to be flying out to Sacramento. I took a late flight and I was late to session, but I wasn’t going to miss my daughter’s first day of kindergarten.”
Valladares said she would not be pursuing a recount.
“Recounts are very costly,” Valladares said. “At this point, if it were closer like in some of these other races that are 12, 20 votes apart, then yes, but we’re about 570 votes off. I don’t feel like a recount would end up changing the outcome of the race.”
Valladares said she doesn’t feel defeated. Rather, she and her team accomplished many things. Her next move is to take a step back and assess what she plans to do moving forward. There are no concrete plans, she added.
“I look forward to what the future holds and to continuing to fight for those things that need fighters,” Valladares wrote in her statement.