OAKLAND — After one of the closest elections in the city’s recent memory, Sheng Thao has prevailed as the next mayor of Oakland, vaulting into the top political office of a city struggling to reduce crime and house its most vulnerable residents during the pandemic.
The 37-year-old one-term City Council member eked out by a narrow 0.5% victory over Councilman Loren Taylor, another relatively inexperienced politician who in early results had appeared on a path to edge out a crowded field of 10 candidates.
Thao, a UC Berkeley alum who has described struggling with poverty in her youth, will succeed outgoing Mayor Libby Schaaf after winning 50.3% of the ranked choice vote to Taylor’s 49.7%.
Her mighty financial backing from labor unions and support among progressive voters appear to have paid off, helping her overcome an endorsement of Taylor by outgoing Mayor Libby Schaaf, as well as alliances he had struck with other top candidates.
“I’m very excited to get to work as Mayor in January, but I’m also very humbled to be here,” Thao said in a statement after the final results were released. Fifteen years ago, she said, “I was living in my car with my baby. I’ve been through a lot to get to this moment, and have had so many people lift me up in order to get here.”
She also congratulated Taylor on a “strong campaign,” saying he and his family “have been making a difference for this city for generations and we owe him a real debt of gratitude.”
What will be the new mayor’s first priority? She promised to roll out a comprehensive public safety plan on day one of her term — one that involves doubling down on violence prevention programs and filling vacancies in the police force.
Thao also pledged to develop an “aggressive housing policy that protects renters, fights displacement, and treats our unhoused with the dignity they deserve.”
“And I’m a renter myself,” she added. “So our tenants should know that I’m going to be a Mayor who has their back.”
The final set of results Monday added 715 eligible ballots from Oakland voters, bringing to 125,410 the total cast in the election.
On Monday, the registrar’s office ran a full audit of the ballots, with workers manually counting 1% of the total votes cast to see if they matched what their machines reported.
Oakland’s ranked choice voting format, which election officials say did not contribute to the county’s slow rollout of results, did help shape the outcome of the race.
Mayoral candidate Loren Taylor helps load free turkeys and Thanksgiving food onto a truck at the Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Taylor won nearly 1,600 more first-place votes than Thao, making her the second mayor-elect after Jean Quan in 2010 not to secure a plurality of voter support in the first round.
And she received a huge helping hand from ACLU attorney Allyssa Victory — almost 60% of Victory’s voters picked Thao as their second choice.
“Our voters’ ranked choices were …read more
Source:: The Mercury News