Incumbent Kathy Narum finished well ahead in her bid for re-election to the Pleasanton City Council while slow-growth candidate Julie Testa won the second available council seat at the end of Election Night.
Narum stood solidly in first place early Wednesday morning to retain her seat on the council, marking her second and final full term on the dais where she has sat since winning a special mail-only election to fill a vacant seat in May 2013.
That essentially left three newcomers competing for the second council position up for grabs -- the seat currently held by Arne Olson, who opted not to run for re-election. And Testa, a vocal slow-growth advocate and 2016 mayoral candidate, finished comfortably in the No. 2 spot, better than 1,300 votes ahead of fellow challengers Joe Streng and Joseph Ledoux on Election Night.
"I am humbled by the vast support I have received," Testa told the Weekly. "After decades of working with and for our community, I look forward to having a seat at the table collaborating with fellow council members and city staff to bring the diverse voices of Pleasanton residents to council discussions which impact quality of life. I will add a different perspective to the council, one of slow/measured growth supported by the necessary infrastructure. Residents will come first in every decision I make."
"I am grateful for the support of Pleasanton citizens who elected me to a second term on the City Council and appreciate everyone who helped with my campaign," Narum said. "Thanks to the challengers for a good contest that allowed for discussion of key issues that impact our way of life in Pleasanton. We live in a wonderful community and I'm ready to continue conducting the people's business to ensure it stays that way."
There are still ballots left to count, namely provisionals and final-day vote-by-mail, but the Election Night results represent the bulk of ballots cast, the margins are too significant and both bottom finishers have conceded.
As of early Wednesday, Narum led the way with 32.75%, with Testa in second with 26.26%. They were followed by Streng, a former Parks and Recreation Commission member, with 20.59% and fourth-place Ledoux, a Berkeley police officer who lives in Pleasanton, with 20.05%.
Narum came into Election Night seen as a considerable favorite for re-election, a recognizable and well-liked councilwoman with years of city service experience between the council, Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission.
Testa will bring a second slow-growth voice to the dais, joining second-term Councilwoman Karla Brown -- who backed Testa's campaign. She also had prior city service experience, having sat on the Human Services Commission from 1995 to 2007.
Streng entered the election with strong endorsements too, including Olson and Councilman Jerry Pentin, along with more recent city service, stepping down from Parks and Recreation Commission last spring after completing two terms.
"Although we fell short, I'm incredibly proud of the campaign and grateful for the experience. Big thank you to everyone who supported me and congratulations to the top two finishers. I love my hometown!" Streng said Wednesday morning.
Ledoux was a lesser-known candidate, having no Pleasanton city service experience, but his background as a police officer contributed to key backing from the police and fire unions.
He also congratulated the two winners, and commended Streng for his campaign, on Wednesday.
"Most of all, I'd like to thank all Pleasanton residents for sharing their thoughts throughout the candidacy journey and for going out to vote. I'm truly honored and humbled by the residents that believed in my vision and voted for me," Ledoux said. "We have a wonderful town and I'm touched to see so many residents care so much about Pleasanton as my family and I do."
Election winners are typically sworn in during the first council meeting in December, once the final results are confirmed.
The unofficial election results include early vote-by-mail tallies and totals reported by the precincts on Election Night. The election figures will likely change in the coming days as final vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots and other qualifying ballots are processed, according to the California Secretary of State.
In other races
* Jerry Thorne confirmed his re-election as Pleasanton mayor -- more of a formality on Election Night since he was on the ballot unopposed. He finished with 94.65%, with write-in candidates receiving the other votes.
"It is an honor to be able to serve this great community for another two years. We have a lot to accomplish, and I am confident that this council will be very productive," Thorne said.
This will be Thorne's fourth and final two-year term as mayor, under the city's term limits. He has more than 23 years of city service experience under his belt, with time as mayor, City Council member and Parks and Recreation Commission member.
* Catharine Baker appears on track to retain a key seat for the Republicans in the State Assembly, with re-election to a third straight term representing Pleasanton and the rest of District 16.
In a tightly contested runoff between the only two candidates from June's primary, Dublin resident Baker finished Election Night with 51.2% of the vote compared to Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan at 48.8%.
Baker sounded cautiously optimistic when reached Wednesday, saying, "My family and I are so grateful for the great energy and support that have helped us get where we are, but many votes remain to be counted before anyone decides who has won. That vote counting process is important and will take time."
A political newcomer and attorney from Orinda, Bauer-Kahan did pick up ground during the general election campaign (she lost the primary by 13.2%), but Baker's incumbent campaign looks like it proved popular for District 16 voters.
* U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), seen as a young congressman who continues to rise within his party, controlled Election Night over challenger Rudy Peters, a Livermore Republican who owns a systems engineering firm geared toward the U.S. intelligence industry.
Swalwell, in his bid for a fourth consecutive term, earned 70% to Peters' 30%.
At his campaign headquarters in Dublin on Election Night, Swalwell thanked Peters for running.
"It's a huge sacrifice to run," Swalwell said. "It takes a lot of courage to put your name on the ballot, put your ideas out there, stand before the voters and I'm glad he did it."
He added that on a national level, he was excited to see the number of younger candidates in his party win their Congressional seats.
"Congress has been so gridlocked and functioned so incrementally," he said. "That bringing in young people, especially from a generation that's collaborative and inventive -- they'll bring bursts of new energy and new ideas and new confidence."
* Alameda County will have an outside voice as its new assessor, as Alameda city resident and real estate tax attorney Phong La (56.18%) finished ahead of Jim Johnson (42.89%), chief of the Assessor's Office Assessment Services Division.
La will replace retiring Assessor Ron Thomsen to lead the elected office charged with determining the taxable value of all land, improvements, and business and personal property in the county.
"I am extremely honored to have been elected as the next Alameda County Assessor. I'm so grateful to all of you especially to my wife Stephanie Sato and daughter Olivia "Livi" La for being so supportive and loving during this journey," La said. "I spent the entire day with Livi yesterday (she was sick) and it just reminded me how much we (candidates for public office) sacrifice to enter into public service."
La, who will be holding elected office for the first time, also thanked his campaign supporters for their help and his opponents -- in the general election and the primary -- for seeking public office.
"Our government only functions well when we all actively participate," he added. "I like to tell people that I was born in Vietnam but I am made in America, more specifically in Alameda County. Thank you Alameda County! I look forward to serving as your next Alameda County Assessor."
* Ayn Wieskamp ran away with another term as the Ward 5 representative for the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors, a seat she has held since 1999. The former Livermore City Council member finished with 81.47%, well ahead of lone challenger Dev Gandhi, a Fremont tech entrepreneur who ran no active campaign.