Jensen wins open Council seat, Measure E passes.
Final Alameda election results have arrived after eleven days of counting. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters completed their tally and posted the unofficial final numbers to their website on Friday evening, November 18 at 7:55 p.m., although the numbers are not yet certified. Certification will not take place until December 18, 2022.
Ballot counting for this election went a lot more slowly than tallies did before the COVID pandemic necessitated a switch to voting by mail. This is due to the fact that very few votes were cast at polling places on Election Day, only 4% countywide. Those votes are counted as they are scanned at the polling place, and cartridges containing the votes are quickly processed by ROV computers after the polls close.
Mail-in ballots, on the other hand, require a person from the ROV to verify the voter’s signature before the ballot can be processed, first by one machine to open the envelope, and another to process the multi-page ballots. This process is considerably more time-consuming, leading to these longer wait times. The Oaklandside has additional details about how Alameda County processes ballots.
Overall countywide turnout was just under 53% for the mid-term election, while Alamedans voted at a higher rate, over 58% of 50,435 registered voters.
Alameda City results
Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft became the first incumbent to be reelected since Beverly Johnson in 2006. Ashcraft ran mostly on her record, touting accomplishments like providing affordable housing and increasing transit options. She held the lead from the beginning of the tally, finishing with more than 25% more of the vote than current Councilmember Trish Herrera Spencer.
In a statement she released, Ashcraft said, “Thank you, Alameda! I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to serve as your Mayor another four years. It was a pleasure to walk door-to-door in neighborhoods across the island during the campaign, hearing from residents about issues that concern them, but also about all the reasons they love living here. I look forward to working with the City Council and our community these next four years to improve the lives of all Alamedans.”
Although Spencer—Alameda’s mayor from 2014-18—had far more lawn signs visible around the city and a robust online promotional program, it did not give her a victory at the polls. She will return to City Council with two years left on her term. In a statement provided to the Alameda Post, Spencer wrote, “I’d like to congratulate the mayor and incoming vice mayor, Councilmember Daysog, on their reelection and welcome Tracy Jensen. I also want to thank all of the candidates for stepping up and adding their perspectives to the political dialogue of our city.”
Novel candidate Barack D. Obama Shaw did not translate early attention from his familiar name into votes and finished a distant third.
- Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft — 17,131 / 59.28%
- Trish Herrera Spencer — 10,023 / 34.68%
- Barack D. Obama Shaw — 1,744 / 6.04%
Alameda City Council
Initially, six people qualified to be on the ballot for City Council, but candidate Bill Pai withdrew early in the race. Of the remaining candidates, incumbent Tony Daysog drew the most votes, over 4,000 more than the closest competitor, and will return to Council for his fourth term. The new Vice Mayor is experienced as an urban planner, and a major part of his campaign was centered on his ideas for housing, especially his rejection of the Housing Element that was approved by City Council on November 15.
He issued a statement congratulating other winners, expressing appreciation for the other candidates, and thanking the voters: “Thank you, Alameda, for the trust you have placed in me, and I will make sure to work very hard in an open and fair manner on your behalf.”
Second-place finisher Tracy Jensen will also be seated, replacing John Knox White, who did not seek reelection after just one term on the Council. Perennial candidate Jensen has now completed a hat-trick of elected Alameda offices, having previously won elections to the Hospital and School Boards. She promoted her wide-ranging experience during the campaign, especially with hiring executives, and expressed her support for the Housing Element.
“I am proud and humbled that my grassroots City Council campaign was successful. Thank you Councilmember John Knox White, for your outstanding service to the residents of Alameda,” said Jensen in a statement sent to the Alameda Post. “In the coming months I will listen to my Alameda community to better understand the challenges and opportunities we face.”
The third-place finisher was housing advocate Hannah Groce, who made a strong showing in her first run for office. Former Councilmember Jim Oddie finished fourth and software engineer Paul Beusterien, also a first-time candidate, took fifth place. Pai remained on the ballot, despite suspending his campaign, and came in last place.
- Tony Daysog — 14,065 / 27.95%
- Tracy Jensen — 9,838 / 19.55%
- Hannah Groce — 9,203 / 18.29%
- Jim Oddie — 8,460 / 16.81%
- Paul Beusterien — 7,179 / 14.27%
- Bill Pai — 1,573 / 3.13%
Alameda Unified School District Board of Education
Incumbent Trustee, Gary Lym, and former PTA President, Ryan LaLonde, both cruised to victory each with more than double the votes that either challengers Maria Elena Moreno Van Maren or Leland Traiman received. Lym, about to start his third term on the Board of Education, told the Alameda Post, “I will continue to serve with a focus on what’s best for each and every student. As an Alamedan who has attended our public schools, I am so appreciative of our community for all the support you have given to AUSD.”
- Gary Lym – 17,683 / 39.58%
- Ryan LaLonde – 13,679 / 30.62%
- Maria Elena Moreno Van Maren – 6,707 / 15.01%
- Leland Traiman – 6,602 / 14.78%
Alameda City measures
Both Alameda city measures were approved by voters. Measure E permits City Council to increase their salaries without modifying the City Charter, while Measure F increases the Transient Occupancy Tax, commonly known as the hotel tax, by 40%, from 10 to 14%.
- Yes – 15,210 / 53.93%
- No – 12,993 / 46.07%
- Yes – 16,869 / 59.26%
- No – 11,597 / 40.74%
Alameda County results
Alameda County Supervisor District Three
Alameda’s former Vice Mayor and City Councilmember Lena Tam won the battle for the County Supervisor seat for the Third District formerly held by Wilma Chan. Supervisor Chan died when she was struck by a car on Shoreline Drive in November, 2021 and was recently honored by the City renaming Constitution Way in her honor. Supported by strong calls for the seat to remain filled by a member of the Asian American community, Tam edged out Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan by a 4% margin.
- Lena Tam – 39,625 / 52.05%
- Rebecca Kaplan – 36,499 / 47.95%
Alameda County District Attorney
History was made with the election of Pamela Price over Terry Wiley as District Attorney. She will replace long-time DA and Alameda resident Nancy O’Malley, becoming the first African American to hold the office. Trailing early in the vote count, Price pulled ahead of Wiley in later tallies and finished with 7% more votes than Wiley, the current Assistant DA.
- Pamela Price – 227,438 / 53.11%
- Terry Wiley – 200,795 / 46.89%
The AC Transit board races were decisive. Newcomer Sarah Syed bested former Alameda City Councilmember Stewart Chen by more than a 2 to 1 margin to take the Ward 3 seat, while incumbent Joel Young stayed ahead of a strong challenge by transportation advocate Alfred Twu by 12% for the At-Large seat.
AC Transit Ward 3
- Sarah Syed – 50,037 / 69.99%
- Stewart Chen – 21,456 / 30.01%
AC Transit At-Large
- Joel Young – 174,068 / 55.92%
- Alfred Twu – 137,185 / 44.08%
US Congress and CA State Assembly results
Alameda’s two races for national and state-wide office were extremely lopsided, as was expected in this heavily Democratic-leaning area. Democrat Barbara Lee routed frequent Republican candidate Steven Slauson by a 9 to 1 margin to represent California’s 12th district in Congress. The district was recently created; Lee will shift over from the 13th District she currently represents. Incumbent Mia Bonta (D) defeated first-time candidate Mindy Pechenuk (R) by an equally one-sided manner in the race to represent District 18 in the State Assembly. The former AUSD Boardmember trounced the musician turned candidate by an 80-point margin.
U.S. House of Representatives District 12
- Barbara Lee (D) – 215,207 / 90.60%
- Stephen Slauson (R) – 22,441 / 9.40%
State Assembly District 18
- Mia Bonta (D) – 120,129 / 89.95%
- Mindy Pechenuk (R) – 13,421 / 10.05%
City of Alameda election takeaways
City Council will become more moderate than it currently is. Replacing John Knox White with Jensen shifts the overall makeup of City Council towards the center, with Councilmember Malia Vella now the only self-described progressive. The mayor and three out of four councilmembers will be women, a first for Alameda.
Many expected a closer race between the current and former mayors. Although she caused some controversy by initially rejecting the Grand Street bike plan and then reversing course, Ashcraft was returned to office with a decisive win. Spencer enjoys strong support from many parts of the community, but she also is the frequent target of scathing criticism in social media. Ashcraft does not engender the same level of passion and may have benefitted from a lower profile when voters made their choice. Obama Shaw offered no alternative to the two known candidates for mayor. His simplistic positions exhibited little knowledge of Alameda and did not affect the outcome of the race.
Candidate alliances did not fare well this year. A series of advertisements circulated through the city from a PAC pushing a slate of Spencer for Mayor and Daysog and Pai for Council, then substituting Beusterien when Pai quit the race. Oddie and Groce campaigned together and supported each other at campaign events. Neither of these alliances produced many results; of the two slates, only Daysog was elected.
Oddie has yet to win an election for City Council. As the runner-up in the 2018 City Council race, he was appointed to fill the seat vacated when Ashcraft was elected mayor. Although popular while serving on Council, the combination of violating the City Charter while in office and large donations from outside Alameda did him no favors among voters during his reelection campaign two years ago, nor again this election.
Alameda may not be quite ready for progressive candidates in major offices, but two notched wins in elections for AC Transit Ward 3 and the school board. Newly elected AUSD Board member LaLonde openly discussed being raising his children with his husband during his campaign and shared his pride in being the first openly-LGBTQ+ candidate elected to city office. In a statement provided to the Alameda Post, LaLonde wrote, “I know the weight and responsibility this brings with it, and I am proud if it inspires just one LGBTQ+ student, parent or community member to dream of possibilities.”
This was a cautious election. Alameda chose moderate, familiar candidates, with few exceptions. All incumbents were returned to office, and new officeholders each offered extensive experience in similar roles to which they were elected. Alameda’s voters preferred to continue along the same tried and true path, rather than embrace change. New housing, traffic, climate change, and crime were the topics of greatest concern again this year.
Updated 4:37 p.m. Monday Nov. 21 to add statement from Tracy Jensen.
Updated 9:26 p.m. Wed. Nov. 23 to add statement from Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.
Adam Gillitt is the Publisher of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected]. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Adam-Gillitt.