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ELECTION UPDATE: Orinda too close to call, and what Lafayette and Moraga council candidates are saying after the election

By Jonathan Morales
Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 3:00 pm in election, Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools.

The election night garbage bag o’ chips is still here in the newsroom, which means the election must not quite be done yet.

According to the county, there are still a little more than 100,000 vote by mail and provisional ballots remaining to be counted. Right now, they don’t have a breakdown by city.

For a good explanation of the vote by mail process and why so many ballots remain, check out this post from my colleague Lisa Vorderbrueggen. You can also read my election round-up, which will run in the Lamorinda Sun tomorrow morning, here.

With incumbents winning by wide margins in Lafayette and Moraga, there is very little chance the uncounted ballots will impact the results as they stand now. But the elections in Orinda are close enough that things could shift around before the vote is declared to be official.

In the Orinda council race, 120 votes separate second-place finisher Dean Orr and fourth-place finisher Scott Zeller. Incumbent Councilwoman Sue Severson has 59-vote edge over Zeller for the third open seat.

Over in the Orinda school board race (where there are three open seats), Julie Rossiter, Christopher Severson and Tyson Krumholz are currently the top vote-getters. The race is a bit wider than the council election, but still close. Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert is 120 votes out of third place and Sarah Butler is 361 votes out of third place (241 votes behind Van Voorhis-Gilbert).

I spoke with Van Voorhis-Gilbert yesterday afternoon and Butler earlier today. Butler did not want to make a statement on the election, saying she believes the results may shift as more ballots are counted. Van Voorhis-Gilbert was less certain. She said she was disappointed the campaign had taken a negative turn but accepted the results.

I’ve also spoken with Krumholz, who said he’s confident the results from Tuesday will hold he’ll still have a seat on the board after it all shakes out and that he believes his percentage of the vote may even increase as more ballots are counted.

The elections office does plan to post updated results online Friday afternoon, but right now it’s unclear if that update will include the Orinda races.

As I said, the results were much more clear-cut in Lafayette and Moraga. Here’s what the candidates were saying after the election:

Lafayette City Council

Don Tatzin: “I’m certainly pleased that (Brandt Andersson) was also elected and I think we and the rest of the council members all work well together, and I think we all have the best interests of Lafayette at heart and will continue to do so. Essentially we can just proceed as the farily well-functioning organization that we are and encourage people to turn out and give us their opinions.”

Brandt Andersson, noting he had a city budget meeting Wednesday morning: “It’s back to business as usual. Running is very time consuming so I’m glad that’s over and (I can) get back to the governing part which is frankly the part I like best. People recognized that Lafayette’s doing well and that incumbency and experience is actually a good thing — when things are going well.”

Traci Reilly: “I knew it was going to be tough. Unseating two incumbents is never easy but I’m really proud of the campaign that we ran. I think we ran a very professional, strong issue-based campaign, had a broad base of support and I’m just really proud of that and I think it elevated conversations that were long overdue.”

Moraga Town Council

Dave Trotter: “The re-election results represent a strong vote of confidence from the Moraga community, and I believe they demonstrate that the town is being well-managed and is on the right track.  There is much that needs to be done in the next four years to continue addressing the vital issues facing the town. … I’m looking forward to the next four years on the Town Council and the important work that lies ahead. ”

Ken Chew: “We have accomplished a lot the last four years as a council. (The) feedback I’ve been getting from the constituents all year long in the campaign indicates that … there wasn’t really anything we’ve done that would cause them to not give (Dave Trotter and I) another chance to serve them.”

Seth Freeman, thanking his supporters: “Your votes represent between 49 percent and 44 percent of the number of votes received by each incumbent, respectively, indicating a large percentage of Moragans are not satisfied and desire change.  I remain willing to volunteer to assist the current council in supporting our schools, addressing Moraga’s serious financial problems and reworking the (Moraga Center Specific Plan) that in its present form is irrelevant in light of the economy and the town’s more pressing priorities.”

Dennis Wanken: “The voters spoke. They want to continue with the current administration, if you want to call it that, and I hope that the council becomes more inclusive and tries to enocurage more participation in public policy decisions. I think (Eleni Wanken and I) got a message across.”

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