The polls have now closed in Oakland, and throughout the city, candidates and voters are awaiting the results of closely-watched local and state races that includ a seven-way race for the District 1 city council set and a closely-matched at-large race, while others have begun celebrating the apparent victory of President Barack Obama, after CNN, NBC, Fox News and CBS all projected a win for the president at approximately 8:15 p.m.
Shortly after the opening of the polls in California at 7 a.m., supporters of Proposition 30, which would increase the state’s sales tax as well as income taxes on high earners to prevent $6 billion in trigger cuts to California schools and colleges, were already waiting for Governor Jerry Brown, former mayor of Oakland, to round the bend on Skyline Boulevard in Montclair and cast his ballot at his neighborhood fire station. Around 7:30 a.m., Brown finally appeared, shook hands with supporters on the side of the road, entered the station and voted.
During a press conference afterwards, the governor speculated about whether or not the proposition, which he proposed, would pass. “It’s been very a hard-fought campaign but I’ve been throughout the entire state and I have a sense that people are ready to invest in their future, which is the kids in California,” he said.
As the governor wrapped up the conference, he said he planned to spend election day indulging in a quiet hike. “The only creatures I expect to see are wild boar, rattlesnake and hopefully a few elk,” he said.
Meanwhile, the rest of Oakland got to voting, while Oakland city council candidates and ballot initiative supporters worked on their last-minute campaigning.
At 12th and Broadway, seven members hosted a “honk and wave” event in support of Proposition 37, which would mandate the labeling of food made from genetically modified organisms. “I care about the food system. I think it’s ridiculous that we’re a human experiment,” said Rachel Pachivas, 27, the Northern California field coordinator for Yes on 37, as she waved at cars passing by.
The gathering at the intersection elicited honks from drivers of all kinds of vehicles: new hybrids honked, beat-up Chevrolets, Cadillacs and shiny SUVs. Cabbies honked, and so did the driver of a semi emblazoned with the Budweiser logo. A bicyclist with a crate strapped to the back of his bike rode by saying, “Beep beep beep.”
Several local candidates used the afternoon to make phone calls to voters. Throughout the afternoon District 1 candidate Amy Lemley sat at her wooden dining table at home, where she had been since 9:30 a.m., tuned in to her iPhone earbuds, making calls—most of them to leave messages. “Hi Ellen, this is Amy Lemley and I’m running for Oakland city council,” she told one answering machine. “I was calling today to remind you to vote. If you’ve got questions about polling places or need any assistance, give us a call.”
Her campaign coordinator, Vishnu Subramaniam, joined in the effort in the living room. “I feel very good,” he said about the election. “We’ve had a very strong grassroots campaign. We’ve made 5,000 actual voter contacts throughout the district.”
Dan Kalb and a volunteer for his campaign, as well as a Richard Raya supporter, passed out flyers for their candidates under a large “Len Raphael for Oakland City Council” sign in the MacArthur BART station. Dan Kalb, sporting a “Bike to Work Day” bag, encouraged people coming home from work to vote. He said he was feeling good, but tired. “I think my chances of winning are good,” he said.
Rebecca Kaplan’s volunteers spent their evening at her at-large council seat campaign headquarters in downtown Oakland. The room, decorated with maps of precincts and a photo of Big Bird to support Proposition 30, held 15 to 20 tired people. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Kaplan’s campaign manager, Jason Overman.
At Ignacio De La Fuente’s campaign headquarters, Daniel Weinzeg, a volunteer for the at-large candidate, said that he has had an exciting four days making calls. “People are being very receptive,” he said, 55 minutes before the polls closed.
Shortly after 8 pm, as major news networks began to call the election for Obama, partygoers gathered at Miss Pearl’s Jam House for an event hosted by GO Oakland Public Schools celebrated his apparent win. “I am so happy that Obama still has work to do,” said Deanite Lewis.
“It was such a close call, and I feel just a wave of relief,” said Gina Gargano 28, of Fruitvale. “For me the he was the right choice between the two. I don’t agree with everything he does, but if had to pick between him and Romney, it would be him by a landslide.”
Shouts of “Four more years!” and “No more Mittens!” filled the room.
At Z Bar in downtown Oakland, where residents had gathered to watch the returns, Ellen Pippins began crying when the networks called Ohio for Obama. “I feel a lot of hope,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed right now. I expected to him to win but to see it so quickly was a surprise. He needed a second term. I’m so fortunate to witness this.”
Ignacio De La Fuente responded to the news with, “Wow! This is incredible news. He ran a great campaign–energetic, non-stop. People really get him. It’s a very exiting time.”
As of October 22, the Secretary of State’s website reported an approximate 2 percent increase in the number of registered voters for this election cycle than the 2008 election cycle, the Field Research Corporation, an independent and non-partisan organization that surveys California public opinion, released a poll today which stated that one million fewer Californians are likely to vote this year than the amount in 2008. Alameda County had the highest percentage of registered Democrats with 810,836 total registered voters.
As of 8 p.m., many candidates and their supporters had begun parties throughout the city to watch the news and wait for results. Oakland North has a crew of reporters out to cover the results and watch parties and will be updating the site and our social media feeds throughout the evening.
Steve Fisher, Lauren Kawana, Angela Hart, Vanessa Rancano, Theresa Adams and Pen Harshaw contributed to this report.