With Wednesday evening’s final — but unofficial — election results, Lori Droste won the District 8 City Council seat. If the election results are certified by the county, she will be the first open lesbian to sit on council.
Droste defeated opponent George Beier by a 0.38-point lead, or 16 votes, according to updated ranked-choice voting results from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. There were a total of 4,964 votes in the District 8 race.
The district encompasses the Clark Kerr Campus and is bounded by Telegraph Avenue to the west. It also includes a majority of the Elmwood area.
Droste, who is the city’s chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, hopes to address recent sexual assault allegations on campus. Additionally, she aims to focus on issues of affordable housing for students and families.
In an interview with The Daily Californian last month, Droste cited that the median age of current City Council members is 70 and said Berkeley citizens would appreciate someone with a young family on council.
Beier, who had run unsuccessfully three times for council in District 7 against incumbent Kriss Worthington, was in the lead Nov. 5 with 50.5 percent of votes and said before tabulations that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the results.
Beier’s platform concentrated on reviving the Telegraph Avenue area and keeping streets safe through community outreach programs. Beier is currently the president of the Willard Neighborhood Association and has worked with the Happy Neighbors Project to curb excessive drinking and drug use within the campus population.
Beginning Sunday, Droste gained a narrow lead over Beier with the additional counting of mail-in ballots. The race for the District 8 seat has been one of the closest in recent Berkeley history, with the two candidates neck and neck in terms of votes.
Two other District 8 candidates, Mike Alvarez Cohen and Jacquelyn McCormick, were eliminated earlier from the race due to ranked-choice voting, leaving Beier and Droste vying for the seat. Votes to Cohen and
McCormick with ordered preferences were redistributed to Droste and Beier, pushing Droste into the lead at the start of this week.
The final tally showed that 366,599 ballots were cast in Alameda County, bringing the voter turnout to slightly more than 45 percent. The numbers also showed that voting by mail is becoming more popular, with more than 62 percent of the county’s voters submitting mail-in ballots for the election.
Any voter or candidate may submit a written request for a manual recount, given that it is filed five days after the registrar certifies the results and that they can cover the cost of the recount, according to the county registrar. If the results are reversed because of the recount, the deposit is returned to the person who requested the recount.
More candidates ran for the District 8 seat than any other council race this year. The seat was left vacant by the retirement of incumbent Councilmember Gordon Wozniak.
The new council member will be sworn in before Wozniak leaves office Dec. 9.