Election 2014 Wrap Up: Droste Wins District 8 Council Seat By 16 Votes; Record Low Turnout in Berkeley

Rob Wrenn
Wednesday November 12, 2014 - 07:18:00 PM

With all the absentee and provisional ballots now counted in Alameda County, Lori Droste finished ahead of George Beier by just 16 votes, 2072 votes to 2056 votes, or 50.19% to 49.81%.16 votes is a large enough margin that there is little chance that a recount would change the outcome.
Since she fell short of 50%, ranked choice voting determined the outcome. Beier was more popular than Droste among those who gave their first choice vote to Alvarez Cohen, but not by enough to overcome her lead in first choice votes.

Alameda County has until December 2 to certify the results of the election.


Turnout in Berkeley was the lowest of the last 35 years. Only 39,092 ballots were cast this year, compared to 60,559 in 2012 and 49,099 in 2010. The previous low was 41,363 in 2002, and the voting age population has certainly grown in the last dozen years. 


Countywide, ballots cast amounted to 45.04% of registered voters. In Berkeley, only about 50% of registered voters cast ballots. In every previous election since Berkeley local elections were moved from April of odd-numbered years and consolidated with November elections, at least 55% of registered voters had cast ballots. 

You have to go back to 1979, when Gus Newport was elected mayor, to find an election with a smaller number of votes cast. 

Turnout in Districts 4 and 7 was particularly low. In District 7 only 1786 votes were cast, though the number of votes counted after Election Day was more than double those reported election night; in District 4 3652 votes were cast. 

The population of District 7 south of the UC campus, is about 86% student-aged residents. District 4, which includes downtown and the neighborhoods to the north and east, is a majority tenant district with a significant student population. Student voters stayed away from the polls in droves. In two precincts east of Piedmont Ave. between Dwight Way and International House only 33 votes total were cast at the polls on election day. 

Turnout was also down in District 1 compared to 2010 and 2006 but not as drastically as in Districts 4 and 7. In District 8, 4964 votes were cast, the smallest number in at least the last 20 years, despite the fact that higher turnout precincts were added to District 8 and low turnout student precincts were removed as part of the redistricting process. 

District 8 

Lori Droste, chair of Berkeley's Commission on the Status of Women and a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, was endorsed by (among others) Assembly member Nancy Skinner and by Councilmembers Maio, Capitelli and Moore. George Beier was endorsed by Councilmembers Moore (dual), Wengraf and Arreguin, and also by the Berkeley Democratic Club and Assembly member Nancy Skinner (dual). Mike Alvarez Cohen was endorsed by outgoing council member Wozniak, by Mayor Tom Bates, and by Councilmembers Wengraf and Capitelli (dual). Jacquelyn McCormick was endorsed by Council member Arreguin (dual) and Anderson. 

Droste received more campaign contributions than any of the other candidates in District 8. She had raised about $35,000 compared to about $21,600 for Beier and $28,000 for Alvarez Cohen who came in third. 

Other Races 

As previously reported, 18-year incumbent Kriss Worthington has retained his District 7 seat despite the changes to District 7 boundaries resulting from redistricting. Worthington was outspent by Barry, who was endorsed by Mayor Bates and his allies on the City Council. 

Incumbent Julie Sinai lost her seat on the School Board, while incumbents Josh Daniels and Karen Hemphill were re-elected. Newcomer Ty Alper was the top vote getter. Sinai was appointed to the board last year to fill the seat of Leah Wilson, who resigned. 

In District 1, 22-year incumbent Linda Maio won re-election by a comfortable margin.The final count gives her 54.5% to 40.6% for Alejandro Soto-Vigil, a Rent Board commissioner, who has also worked as an aide to councilmember Kriss Worthington. This is the first time since the 1994 election that Maio has received less than 60% of the vote. Soto-Vigil won two of twelve precincts, one of them west of San Pablo. 

Unofficial Berkeley Final Results 

Note: undervotes (aka blank votes) are people who cast ballots but did not vote in the election in question. 

City Council District 1 

Linda Maio 3038 54.6% 

Alejandro Soto-Vigil 2270 40.8% 

Merrillee Mitchell 256 4.6% 

undervotes 530 


City Council District 4 

Jesse Arreguin 2473 100% 

undervotes 1175 


City Council District 7 

Kriss Worthington 833 55.4% 

Sean Barry 670 44.6% 

undervotes 281 


City Council District 8 First Choice votes 

Lori Droste 1318 29.2% 

George Beier 1198 26.5% 

Mike Alvarez Cohen 1165 25.8% 

undervotes 429 


School Board 

Ty Alper 20,379 

Josh Daniels 19,340 

Karen Hemphill 16,731 

Julie Sinai 16,207 

Norman Harrison 3,6779 


Measure D Soda Tax 

Yes 29,540 76.2% 

No 9243 23.8% 


Measure F Parcel Tax for Parks 

(two-thirds vote required for passage) 

Yes 27,573 75.0% 

No 9151 24.9% 


Measure P Corporations are not persons 

Yes 30,703 84.7% 

No 5,559 15.33% 


Measure Q Right to Request Part Time Work - Advisory 

Yes 27,347 78.8% 

No 7,363 21.2 


Measure R Downtown zoning 

Yes 9,345 25.9% 

No 26,726 74.1% 


Measure S Redistricting 

Yes 21,240 63.8% 

No 12,048 36.2% 


Note: With a little help from our friends, a number of typos in this hastily published piece have now been corrected. We are very grateful to Rob Wrenn for leaping into the breach so that readers could get the election results as early as possible, and for sticking with the lengthy count.,