After several rounds of ranked choice balloting, Oakland and Alameda County election returns are in.
In the Oakland at-large contest, after five rounds of balloting, incumbent Rebecca Kaplan secured a victory with 60.74 percent of the vote, while current District 5 representative Ignacio De La Fuente took second with 39.26 percent. Speaking late Tuesday night, Kaplan’s spokesperson Jason Overman called her win “a very decisive victory.”
“The voters of Oakland have spoken to move Oakland forward. They chose a record of success rather than getting stuck in the politics of old money and dishonest attacks,” he said. “Campaigns are often long and hard, but the people have spoken with a real loud voice. We are representing all of the people of Oakland. The work is about how we progress together not how we attack each other.”
In District 1, Dan Kalb won after seven rounds of balloting, with 52.25 percent. Amy Lemley finished second with 47.75 percent. But because of the tight margin, and because the Alameda County Registrar of voters has not yet certified the results, on Wednesday morning Kalb was cautious about declaring himself the victor. “I’m waiting for the absentee ballots to be counted–there’s still a lot to be counted,” he said by phone. “It looks very good, my lead looks very good. I feel very optimistic. I’m not going to make a public statement until more ballots are counted.”
District 3’s new city councilwoman is Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, who won with 53.76 percent after six rounds of balloting. Sean Sullivan trailed with 46.24 percent.
Longtime Oakland school board member Noel Gallo took the District 5 council seat with 54.59 percent of the vote ahead of Mario Juarez’s 45.41 percent after four rounds of balloting.
In District 7, council president Larry Reid held his seat with 59.51 percent of the vote, beating runner up Sheryl Walton who earned 30.85 percent after a single round of balloting.
Barbara Parker will keep her post as Oakland City Attorney after earning 68.46 percent of the vote over current District 1 representative Jane Brunner’s 31.54 percent. That race took only one round of balloting to decide. Speaking at a celebration Tuesday night at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, Parker said, “It’s extraordinary to see that the people of Oakland have spoken loud and clear that they wanted a professional city attorney that’s not a politician. It really restores my faith in the American people and the people of Oakland. They were not fooled by negative attacks.”
Two of three Alameda County ballot measures failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to pass. Measure J, a bond measure funding schools facilities, passed with a generous 83.65 percent of the vote. A1, a parcel tax to fund the Oakland zoo, failed to pass, winning 62.69 percent; B1, funding transportation improvements, also came up short, with 65.54 percent.
In Oakland school board’s races, the incumbents in North Oakland’s District 1 and West Oakland’s District 3 came out ahead: current school board president Jody London won re-election with 76.24 percent of the vote over Thearse Pecot, and current board vice president Jumoke Hinton-Hodge beat out two other candidates, Richard Fuentes and Benjamin Lang, with 47.2 percent of the vote.
“I thought it was a great day,” London said Wednesday morning. “I really feel like the voters of Oakland sent a very clear message that they support the direction that the district is going, they support the strategic plan, they support the leadership that [Superintendent] Tony Smith has been providing and I have been providing.”
Two new people joined the school board ranks, taking the District 5 and 7 seats. Oakland attorney Rosie Torres beat educator Mike Hutchinson by nine percentage points, and GO Public Schools founding member James Harris took the District 7 seat, ousting longtime school board member Alice Spearman.
On the state level, Proposition 30, which will levy a temporary sales tax to fund education, as well as boost income taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year, passed with 53.9 percent of the vote. But voters shot down education tax Proposition 38, which would have increased income taxes on anyone who earns over $7,316 per year; the measure garnered only 27.7 percent of the vote.
In Oakland, school board winner Jody London said board members had set $13 million aside when they adopted their budget in June, in order to prevent mid-year cuts if Prop 30 failed. “Now we have this money that we can look at and say ‘Wow, what’s a better use for this money?’” London said. “First I couldn’t sleep because I was worried, and then I didn’t think I could sleep because I was so excited.”
Voters widely supported Proposition 35, which will raise the penalties for human trafficking, with 81.1 percent of the vote; and authorized a repeal of California’s “three strikes” law, which passed with 68.6 percent of the vote.
Voters nixed Proposition 34, which would have repealed California’s death penalty and failed with only 47.2 percent of the vote; as well as Proposition 37, which would have mandated the labeling of food made from genetically modified organisms, and garnered 46.9 percent of the vote.
Voters also decided against Proposition 32, which would have barred unions and employers from using employee payroll deductions to fund political campaigning; the measure failed, with only 43.9 percent of the vote.
With ballot counting underway through late Tuesday night, many local candidates hosted get-togethers at local bars and restaurants, but most of the celebrations wound down before midnight with the celebrants still uncertain about their place in the final polling.
For Kalb, who was following election updates from his cell phone with a group of supporters at Barclays Restaurant & Pub in Rockridge, things looked good by the end of the evening—with Kalb showing a 4 percent lead in the District 1 race. “It’s always good to start ahead, not behind,” he said. “But it’s way too early to talk about results now.”
Kalb stayed at the pub until 11:30pm, and by then the race was yet to be decided. “I’m very nervous,” he said. “I even scheduled a massage for tomorrow.”
The Oakland Green Party hosted its own gathering at the campaign office of Theresa Anderson, a candidate for the council’s at-large seat. “So far I have 3,000 votes,” she said as she watched the returns. “It’s not enough to win, but it’s still good for a first time.”
Also running for the at-large seat was longtime District 5 council member Ignacio De La Fuente, who followed election results with supporters at the Mua Bar until late in the evening. As Kaplan’s lead held nearing 11 pm, shots of tequila were thrown back by the De La Fuente group, who cheered: “To Ignacio!” with each drink.
“This makes me a bit nervous,” said Lupita Peimbert, a volunteer in De La Fuente’s campaign, as election results came in showing Kaplan’s lead holding. “It is relevant that Oakland has Ignacio. I haven’t met anyone with more compassion for Oakland.”
Meanwhile, all across Oakland, celebrations were in full swing for the re-election of President Barack Obama, who delivered a victory speech just before 11 pm Pacific Standard Time.
A large crowd at the New Parish watched first Governor Romney’s concession speech, then Obama’s victory address with raucous cheers. District 1 city council candidate Richard Raya, who at that point was in third place in his own race, watched Obama finish his address on the big screen at the New Parish. “His speech was beautiful,” said Raya. “He has a way of bringing together the diversity of our country together like no one I have ever seen. I’m just glad he was reelected.”
At Geoffrey’s Inner Circle on 14th Street, both incumbent City Attorney Barbara Parker and a group called Africans for Obama held election-viewing parties. The crowd in Geoffrey’s jeered and shouted, “Goodbye!” as Romney conceded the race.
“This is so huge,” said Oakland resident and Obama campaign volunteer Diane Lewis. Lewis wore a shirt that featured President Obama’s face rendered in sequins, and she cheered with the rest of the crowd as the president delivered his speech.
Oakland North is continuing to add to and update this story as more information becomes available. All Alameda County and Oakland city results are from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters website and reflected accumulated ranked-choice voting results updated at 12:40 am November 7. The Registrar of Voters has 28 days to certify the election and finalize the results. State ballot measure results are from the California Secretary of State’s ballot measure returns website which was updated at 8:03 am November 7 with all precincts reporting.
Mark Anderson, Sam Rolens, Nausheen Husain, Lauren Kawana, Charles Berkowitz and Samantha Masunaga contributed to this report.