It’s Upton, Lovell and Cole |

It’s Upton, Lovell and Cole

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily TribuneJohn and Roxie Upton watch election returns from their home. Upton won a bid for the City Council.

South Lake Tahoe City Council candidate John Upton sang his way to victory Tuesday night, rushing home at 9:45 p.m. from a Tahoe Choir gig to host a party at his Edgewood Circle home for about two dozen of his supporters.

With all 10 of the city precincts reporting as of 11 p.m., Upton will share the future of the city of South Lake Tahoe with newcomer Kathay Lovell and incumbent Hal Cole, who was elected to a third term.

Election Day in the city turned out to be a horse race, with the third seat too close to call for Cole and runner-up Michael Phillips at many times during the evening.

Both continued to glance up at the screen the city and county placed on display in the City Council chambers. The two men carried votes through the night that were less than a percentage point apart. They ended the count 75 votes apart.

The three winners will join council members Tom Davis and Judy Brown Dec. 10, as Mayor Brooke Laine and Councilman Bill Crawford bow out of the panel.

“The thing I always wondered about (with this race) is how people are going to feel about this. Will they think I had my day? I think what they’re saying is they need the experience,” Upton said, clutching his wife, Roxie.

He acknowledged all the relationships he developed while working on previous successful campaigns for Measures S and C, the recreation proposition and the school bond initiative.

Upton, who now owns and runs the Chris Haven Mobile Home Park, has worked as the city treasurer and on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board.

“I’m honored to be elected and to be what appears to be the top vote getter,” he said. Upton led the pack all night, ending with 19.1 percent of the vote.

Lovell, a Verizon telecommunications account executive who was armed and surrounded by a large campaign staff at her home, said she felt the same way as Upton.

“I feel so honored and grateful to this community,” she said of her 17.1 percent of the vote late Tuesday.

When Lovell appeared victorious on Channel 21, she said her twin children, Ryan Wagoner and Jill Miller, jumped up and down — because Mom was victorious and they were correct in their predictions.

“From Day 1, when I set my mind to this, I decided to give it everything I had,” Lovell said.

Cole said he would not characterize his 15.1 percent victory as one of elation, instead describing the news as a “weight lifted off of me.”

He said he was relieved to have squeaked by Phillips, a Lake Tahoe Auto Village service manager who serves on the city Planning Commission.

But the victory was bittersweet, saying Phillips’ heart was in the right place.

Phillips was also closely followed by Pete Mac Roberts, the Viking Motor Lodge manager who was the former president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association.

The long campaign pitted the diverse group against each other in a contest marked by a multi-interview circuit and a new threshold for campaign contributions. Five of the eight candidates raised $56,000 collectively. Only the 1994 City Council election came close with five candidates receiving a reported $46,000 on the campaign trail.

A near spoiler, the surprise for Tuesday night’s contest came when former Tribune Managing Editor Claire Fortier continued to pull in votes, despite having pulled out of the race.

On several occasions, she gained more votes than two candidates — retired airport employee Gunnar Henrioulle and Mark Cutright, a painter who for the first time threw his hat in the ring for public office.

Reinhard, a newspaper carrier who serves on the parks and recreation commission, brought his family to the council chambers to watch the democratic process in action.

City Treasurer Steve Wysong, who ran unopposed, will also take office next month. Assistant City Clerk Susan Alessi, who was also the only candidate looking to replace City Clerk Angie Peterson, will take over the seat Jan. 7.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User