OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Reelected Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff will have a couple of months to prepare for the beginning of her second term with a very different city council.
Three new council members were elected on Tuesday, including two candidates who defeated incumbents.
In the most stunning result, entrepreneur and management consultant Loren Taylor beat 16-year incumbent Desley Brooks in District 6 in East Oakland, which includes the Eastmont, Havenscourt, Maxwell Park and Millsmont neighborhoods.
After five rounds of balloting in the five-candidate race, Taylor finished first with 61.5 percent of the vote and Brooks finished second with 38.9 percent.
In District 2, which includes the Lake Merritt and Chinatown neighborhoods, community organizer Nikki Fortunato Bas got 51 percent of the vote to defeat incumbent Abel Guillen, who had 42.5 percent. Kenzie Smith finished third with 6.3 percent.
In District 4, where incumbent Annie Campbell Washington chose not to seek re-election, Sheng Thao, the former chief of staff for at-large Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, came out on top in the seven-candidate race after seven rounds of ranked choice tabulations by getting 54 percent.
Pamela Harris finished second with 46 percent of the vote.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who was re-elected to a second term with 56 percent of the vote endorsed Taylor but didn’t endorse Fortunato Bas or Thao.
At a news conference Wednesday, Schaaf said, “I backed other candidates in Districts 2 and 4, but I take no issue with any of the winners.”
She said Taylor, Thao and Fortunato Bas all “campaigned on the same ideals” that she did, which she said are being inclusionary, supporting diversity and believing in social justice and “fighting for what is right.”
The mayor said the new council members have “remarkable energy” and will provide “fresh perspectives” to the council.
Schaaf also said she hopes that the Brooks’ defeat will make it easier for council members to work together, as Brooks was a divisive figure who frequently clashed with her colleagues.
Taylor said in an interview Wednesday that he thinks that Brooks’ combative personality kept businesses from investing in District 6, which suffers from a lack of grocery stores and a shortage of banks and other businesses.
Taylor said working with other councilmembers is “critical,” even if they won’t agree all the time.
Taylor said his vision for District 6 is to “make sure we have a thriving economy and create sustainability so that we can live, work, play and shop in our neighborhoods and won’t be forced to travel outside the district to do those things.”
Taylor said he’s “glad” he won and the campaign is over but now comes the “hard work” of delivering on his promises to voters.
Fortunato Bas, the first Filipina woman to be elected to the City Council, said in her ballot statement that she will “champion housing for all, establish a community approach to public safety that protects residents, tackle illegal dumping and other threats to quality of life.”
Thao, the daughter of asylum seekers from Vietnam, said in her ballot statement, “I will use my knowledge of City Hall and community to build consensus, cut red tape and fund neighborhood improvements.”
Thao, who was endorsed by many labor organizations, said, “I have clear plans for strengthening public safety, addressing homelessness, cleaning streets, reducing fire danger and filling potholes.”
Change is what Oakland will get on a council with the three new faces, but whether voters have hope is a different story.
Voter turnout declined in Oakland this election, despite record-breaking turnout across the county.
Taylor worries it’s a sign some voters are losing faith in city government.
“Many District 6 residents have given up on voting, have given up on the city to solve their problems,” said Turner. “I’m excited District 6 has put their faith in me.”