“5-4-3-2-1!” At 7:59 p.m., volunteers at Bryan Parker’s mayoral campaign headquarters began counting down the seconds until the polls closed. On the stroke of 8 p.m., volunteers hugged as a DJ played Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” over the speakers.
As the polls closed, Oakland candidates and their supporters began gathering to celebrate their hard work on the campaign trail. At Bike East Bay in Jack London Square, volunteers sipped beer and reminisced about their campaign for Measure BB, which would, according to the text of the measure, expand and modernize BART in Alameda County, fix roads, increase bicycle and pedestrian safety, and reduce traffic congestion.
At mayoral candidate’s Libby Schaaf’s campaign party, about 100 people drank “Made in Oakland” beers while dancing to “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys on the wooden patio. As the Registrar of Voters early results placed Schaaf at the front of the pack in the very earliest of the ranked-choice first ballot results, the crowd cheered and chanted her name. “If things continue the way they are right now, we’re going to have a pretty good time tonight,” Schaaf said to the audience.
With a wine glass in his hand, Dan Siegel, at his campaign celebration, said, “You can go to all the seven parties tonight and you won’t find anything like this, with all the people drinking, eating and celebrating.”
“I’m not supposed to win,” Siegel said. “I’m exhausted and exhilarated. It has been challenging, but worthwhile regardless of win or lose.”
Later, Siegel’s son showed him that he ranked in fifth place with 9 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, at City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s mayoral campaign headquarters, volunteers arranged purple and green balloons as the smells of barbeque wafted through the air. Jason Overman, Kaplan’s campaign manager, said that she was on the campaign trail until 8:01 p.m. “We feel energized,” Overman said. “We feel optimistic, of course, cautiously.”
“We’re feeling good, I’m feeling awesome,” added Aimee Allison, political director of the Kaplan campaign.
At Bike East Bay, the campaigners were feeling enthusiastic about Measure BB’s passage. “I am feeling really positive,” said Rene Rivera, the executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group for bicyclists and bike infrastructure. The difference between Measure BB and B1, its predecessor that failed to pass two years ago, Rivera said, is Measure BB’s broad coalition of supporters, which includes laborers, city planners, business organizations and religious groups. This past weekend supporters of Measure BB in north Alameda County made 11,000 phone calls, Rivera said.
As people waited for results, they joked about catching up on sleep and spoke about low turnout during midterms. Within minutes of the polls closing, a volunteer opened a bottle of sparkling wine. “Here’s to no more phone banking,” he said. A nearby volunteer interrupted the toast. She had early results: “Yes by 68.5 percent, 20 percent (of precincts) reporting,” she said. The crowd drifted near a projector, hastily set up, showing the live results for Measure BB.
Former Oakland mayor and incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown is widely considered to have held his seat. According to the California Secretary of State’s website, he had received 57 percent of the votes by 9:17 p.m., when about 14 percent of the precincts had reported.
But the results of other races may not be known so quickly. Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis said he would be posting election results throughout the night, but would not apply the ranked-choice voting algorithm until the last precinct reported. An official mayoral winner will not be announced until Thursday at the earliest.
At Bike East Bay, Rivera recommended that people wait until the morning to see the results since the first results that are broadcast tend to reflect the mail-in ballots of absentee voters, who tend to vote more conservatively. “Sometimes you go to bed thinking that you’ve lost it, when turns out that you’ve won,” Rivera said.
Text by Nigel Manuel and Shaina Shealy. Photo slideshow compiled by Gabriela Arvizu. Additional reporting and photography by Josh Escobar, Chloe Shi Shang, James Pace-Cornsilk, Gina Pollack, Lakshmi Sarah, Melina Tupa, Nina Zou, Ted Anderson, Laura Klivans, Alicia Vargas and Alex Kekauoha.
Oakland North will continue to update this story throughout the night.