SAN DIEGO – Two Democrats appear to be headed for a runoff election in the race to replace former California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

The first results Tuesday show David Alvarez is ahead of fellow Democratic candidate Georgette Gómez by nearly 500 votes with about 6,500 votes that still need to be counted. Alvarez is on top with more than 38% of the votes with Gomez not far behind with nearly 37%.

Republican candidate Lincoln Pickard trails in third with nearly 25% of the vote.

A total of 34,406 ballots were cast for the 80th Assembly District seat, roughly a 14% voter turnout. If any candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, they win the replacement seat outright, serving until December.

If not, the top two vote-getters move to a runoff, held at the same time as the June 7 primary election.

Speaking to FOX 5 Wednesday, Alvarez said he was “glad” to see Tuesday’s early results showing him leading so that he could get some rest after a long day.

“I was really thrilled,” he said. “We were really happy because in the beginning of this campaign, the Sacramento insiders were talking about how I wouldn’t even make it into a runoff. To be in first place is really a great place to be. Really excited about that.”

He adds, “The voters responded positively to my message and my vision of having representation in Sacramento that’s reflective of the values of the South Bay, focusing on education which is really important to families, focusing on homelessness and focusing on getting a university to the South Bay. Those are all things people really care about.’

Gómez, the former San Diego City Council president who was endorsed for her run by Gonzalez, said she will continue to talk to voters to remind them of the June election.

“I’m optimistic we’ll increase the turnout for June,” she said. “I was excited to see the numbers. The fact that I was that close to my opponent, close to 500 votes or so. We know those numbers are going to change as the Registrar of Voters continues to count the numbers and I’m optimistic that we’re gonna have a stronger showing.”

She’s targeted California’s housing crisis as her top priority in recognition that the state “continues to increase the cost of living.”

“We really need to tackle housing,” Gómez said. “We need to make sure we’re building housing that’s affordable to the people so that’s something I’m going to be focusing on.”

See Alvarez’s full interview here:

See Gómez’s full interview here:

FOX 5’s Aric Richards contributed to this report.