City Council candidates cautiously optimistic as votes are tallied

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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Incumbent Councilmember Kriss Worthington of District 7 and George Beier of District 8 are leading the polls as of Thursday’s updated election results.

Write-in votes and absentee ballots are part of the 82,500 unprocessed votes that have yet to be counted in Alameda County, according to the Registrar of Voters. The next result update will be Friday at 5 p.m.

In District 7, Worthington leads with 55.82 percent, while challenger Sean Barry follows with 44.07 percent of the vote.

Although he is leading, Worthington is disappointed with the voter turnout this year.

“I think this is the lowest turnout I have ever seen in a district election,” Worthington said. “We’ve been told by negative ads to suppress the vote, and I guess those negative ads contributed to the low number.”

On Election Day, Worthington said that at every polling place he visited, he discovered that he was winning every precinct by a small margin. Worthington said he is currently “cautiously optimistic” about the results.

For challenger Barry, a recent UC Berkeley alumnus and former Daily Californian assistant news editor, the race does not look close in percentage terms, and the low number of initial voters indicates that the margin could change significantly as new votes are counted.

“I’m certainly eager to see how many votes are outstanding in District 7,” Barry said in an email. “I am optimistic about closing the gap, but it remains to be seen whether that will be sufficient to overcome the incumbent’s election day advantage.”

If Worthington is re-elected, he will start his term presiding over new district lines that bound a population of 86-percent student-aged residents. He has served 18 years on the council and has appointed a number of students to city commissions.

In District 8, after four rounds of ranked-choice voting tabulations, Beier leads with 50.49 percent, while candidate Lori Droste follows with 49.51 percent of the vote — only a 28-vote difference.

Both Beier and Droste are competing for District 8 incumbent Gordon Wozniak’s seat in light of his retirement.

Beier is unsure about how the mail-in votes will affect his chances.

“Half of my supporters called me and emailed, ‘I’m so sorry that you lost,’ and the other half said, ‘Congratulations on your victory,’ ” Beier said. “It’s too close to call.”

Droste said she is eager for the results, adding that she is excited to spend more time with her family during the multiday process.

She believes her supporters are as content as she is and said she is not worried about the upcoming results.

“I am honored by the confidence that the voters have placed in me, and I am just waiting for the absentee ballots,” Droste said. “I am proud of the clean and respectful campaign we ran.”

Beier is the president of the Willard Neighborhood Association. He says he hopes to revitalize the Telegraph Avenue area and push for affordable housing. Droste, who would be the first open lesbian to sit on the council, is currently the chair of the city’s Commission on the Status of Women. Neither candidate has sat on City Council before.

Contact Robert Tooke at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @robertono_t.