GILMORE TAKES MAYOR’S RACE; BONTA, JOHNSON AND TAM APPEAR TO SECURE COUNCIL SEATS
Councilwoman Marie Gilmore took Alameda’s mayor’s race Wednesday morning, besting two fellow council members who also sought the job. With all the precincts counted, Gilmore had 36.45 percent of the votes cast for mayor. Councilman Frank Matarrese and Vice Mayor Doug deHaan each came in with less than 24 percent, while former councilman Tony Daysog earned half that.
Health Care District Board member Rob Bonta appeared set to take a seat on the dais, alongside incumbent Lena Tam and current mayor Beverly Johnson. Bonta led the council voting, earning just shy of 20 percent of the votes in the eight-candidate race, with Johnson and Tam in a close battle for second. The third-place finisher will fill out the remaining two years in Gilmore’s unexpired council term.
It was not immediately clear how many, if any, vote by mail ballots remained to be counted. Vote by mail ballots delivered to polling places on Election Day are typically counted after the rest of the results are in. The results offered early Wednesday aren’t yet official.
A representative with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters said Wednesday morning they didn’t yet know how many ballots remained to be counted or how long the count would take.
Gilmore, Bonta and Tam – who spent much of their campaign vigorously denying charges they’d bring former Alameda Point developer SunCal back to town if elected – said they believe their election shows that voters wanted positive leaders and that they were unwilling to bend to fears that the developer could return.
“I’m proud of my people for running a clean campaign. We were going to run on our record and what we were going to do, and that resonated with Alameda voters,” Gilmore said at a packed post-election party for herself and Tam at Otaez Mexican Restaurant on Tuesday. “We have an amazing city,” Gilmore said.
Bonta said he’s excited, humbled and honored to be joining the council.
“I think that the voters spoke, and they indicated that they want positive leadership,” Bonta said early Wednesday.
Johnson and other candidates said a vote for them represented a vote to keep SunCal off the Island. Johnson, Matarrese and deHaan in particular weathered withering attacks from a nonprofit group many believed to be backed by SunCal and eventually by the developer themselves. In the final days of the campaign, the developer filed campaign statements showing they had spent $50,000 to oppose Johnson, Matarrese, deHaan and council candidate Jean Sweeney, who came in fourth in that race.
“The important thing is that we have three members of the City Council who will not bring SunCal back in,” Johnson said late Tuesday night before all the polls were tallied. when asked if she believed others on the council would keep SunCal away, she said it was “too early to tell.”
The mayoral and council races – which many have labeled the dirtiest in Alameda’s history – were darkened by a proliferation of nasty attack mailers, television ads, e-mails and calls directed at Johnson, deHaan and Matarrese, all three of whom said they believed the attacks were retaliation for their failure to support SunCal’s efforts to work out a deal to develop Alameda Point. The attacks in turn prompted accusations that Gilmore, Tam and Bonta might bring former Alameda Point developer SunCal back to town if elected, a charge all three vehemently denied. They said the city had more important issues to focus on.
Among other things, the council will be considering the fate of Alameda Point, and will also have to deal with unfunded future employee pension and medical benefit liabilities.
Tam found herself the subject of a leaks investigation, with the city’s top officials claiming she had leaked confidential information to SunCal, the local firefighters union and local bloggers and reporters. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley declined to prosecute Tam citing a lack of evidence of wrongdoing, and Tam claimed the accusations were the result of tough questions she was asking about Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.
“I ran as positive a campaign as I could despite a lot of things that were happening beyond my control,” Tam said at Otaez on Tuesday. “I think it’s going to be very critical to work with the council members and the mayor to pull the community back together.”
While voters were only able to choose two candidates, Gilmore’s election as mayor opens a third seat, which Tam appears set to fill.
DeHaan has two years left in his council term, while Matarrese’s electoral loss will send him down from the dais.
Other candidates in the council race included Sweeney, who ran largely on her efforts to secure the former Alameda Belt Line property for the city; Planning Board president Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft; Board of Education trustee Tracy Jensen; former Alameda Journal editor Jeff Mitchell; and businessman Adam Gillitt.
“Congratulations to Rob, Beverly, Lena and Marie. I hope they lead Alameda well into the future and do what is best for us and our neighbors,” Gillitt said in a Twitter message early Wednesday morning.