Born: Visalia, CA
Children: Liv Merritt and Zion Philip
- CLOSE CONTEST: In the 2022 General Election, the SD-16 contest between Shepard and Melissa Hurtado was the closest in the history of the California State Senate (in terms of percentage of votes separating the candidates). The day after the election, Shepard was ahead with 52.6% of the vote, growing to 53.4% on Thursday. Beginning on November 11th, Shepard's lead began to slowly fall, landing at 50.18% by November 21st. It wasn't until December 2nd (the Friday before the new state legislature is sworn into office) that Hurtado took a 12-vote lead over Shepard. At the start of the 2023-2024 legislative session, the State Senate took the unprecedented step of not seating either candidate. Hurtado was sworn into office on December 10th. On December 14th, Shepard announced that he had requested a recount by the county elections officials. After finding 10 additional ballots in the Kern County elections office, on December 19th a judge approved an extension to the ballot counting, raising Hurtado's lead to 22 votes. As of December 27th, Hurtado's lead had narrowed to 16 votes. By January 4th, Hurtado still led by 17 votes. After Kings County reported in their final numbers on January 5th, the gap had closed to 15 votes. On January 18th, Shepard conceded the election. Because the result of the election didn't change as a result of the recount, the revised numbers resulting from the recount will not be certified by the Secretary of State.
Source: "As on December 27th, Hurtado's lead had narrowed to 16 votes" by David Taub, GVWire (12/27/2022)
Source: "Hurtado Grows Lead Over Shepard Before Recount Even Begins" by David Taub, GVWire (12/20/2022)
Source: "ELECTIONS: GOP State Senate Leaders Want to Block Hurtado Victory" by David Taub, GVWire (12/9/2022)
Source: "Hurtado Has 12-Vote Lead Over Shepard for 16th Senate Seat" by David Taub, GVWire (12/5/2022)