After accounting for ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to list their second- and third-choice preferences, George Beier led in District 8 with 50.5 percent of the votes as of 2 a.m. Wednesday, possibly securing the open seat in the district left empty by the retirement of incumbent Councilmember Gordon Wozniak.
As of press time, with all precincts reporting, District 8 candidate Lori Droste was in the lead with approximately 28 percent of the votes in the race. Tabulations for ranked-choice voting, which redistribute second- and third-choice votes, are done in rounds. By the third round Droste had been leading by about 2 percent over Beier.
But in the last and final round, Droste was defeated by Beier, as votes from Mike Alvarez Cohen —chair of the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board— were redistributed. Jacquelyn McCormick, head of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, came in fourth before ranked-choice tabulations with 18.9 percent of the vote.
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank up to three voters in order of preference and eliminates the need for run-off elections. Because a council member must earn a majority of votes, the race was still up in the air as of press time.
Beier said before tabulations that he was “cautiously optimistic,” noting that “results could go either way.”
At a public result-viewing party, McCormick said to supporters that she was grateful for the people of Berkeley, who are the “heart and soul that keep the community alive.”
“I think the results will change a lot,” McCormick said. “It doesn’t look good for me, but I can live with that. I’ve always said that I could live with that.
Beier, who is currently president of the Willard Neighborhood Association, had previously run for the District 7 seat three times against incumbent Kriss Worthington but ran under District 8 after city redistricting. This is his first time sitting on City Council.
Beier hopes to revitalize the Telegraph Avenue area by instituting a blight tax on empty buildings as well as pushing for more affordable, multi-floor housing for students and campus employees. By increasing the density on Telegraph Avenue, Beier aims to attract new businesses and housing developers into the city.
Additionally on his platform, Beier outlines plans to improve city infrastructures, such as restoring Willard Pool and People’s Park.
Beier was endorsed by the Sierra Club and the Berkeley Democratic Club, as well as Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin, Darryl Moore and Susan Wengraf.
The district encompasses the Clark Kerr campus and is bounded by Telegraph Avenue to the west. It includes a majority of the Elmwood area.
Twelve-year incumbent Wozniak retired and oversaw numerous projects, such as the Residential Preferential Parking reform and the increase of waste collection fees, over the course of his time on council. Wozniak’s last day in office will be before Dec. 9, when the new council members are sworn in.
Wozniak said that being a council member shouldn’t be a “lifetime occupation” and that having turnover on the council will add “fresh blood to rein in new perspectives.”