The Santa Barbara City Clerk’s Office received approximately 15,083 ballots for the Santa Barbara City Council election as of press time on Monday afternoon.

Ten candidates are vying for three open seats on this year’s ballot in the city’s second mail-in-only format vote. The results thus far represent roughly 34 percent of Santa Barbara’s estimated 45,000 registered voters. The council contenders include incumbents Dale Francisco, Michael Self and Randy Rowse, as well as former two-term member Iya Falcone, former KCSB News and Public Affairs Director Cathy Murillo, Milpas Community Association co-founder Sebastian Aldana Jr. and Santa Barbara Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz.

Milpas Community Association Executive Director and Neighborhood Advisory Council representative Sharon Byrne, UCSB alumnus Cruzito Cruz and massage therapist Jerry Matteo — known locally for engaging voters with a “free hug” campaign — are also running in the election.

The Santa Barbara County Democratic Party is endorsing Falcone, Schwartz and Murillo in an attempt to reclaim a liberal majority on the currently conservative-leaning council. The 2009 election drew approximately 23,000 votes out of the 46,718 registered voters.

According to the City Clerk’s Office, more votes are expected by tonight’s 8 p.m. deadline. Ballot drop-offs are at the Braille Institute at 2031 De la Vina Street, the Santa Barbara Municipal Tennis Center at 1414 Park Place, Grace Lutheran Church at 3869 State Street, Pilgrim Terrace Homes at 649 Pilgrim Terrace Drive and Santa Barbara City Hall at 735 Anacapa Street.