Alameda Mayor Concedes Race To An Improbable Winner

Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore concedes her race to school board member Trish Spencer during a press conference Wednesday morning in front of Alameda City Hall. PHOTO/Steven Tavares

ALAMEDA | MAYOR | Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore conceded her close race to school board member Trish Spencer Wednesday morning. With only few thousand provisional ballots yet to be counted in Alameda County, Spencer currently holds a 129-vote lead over the incumbent most believed was heading toward sure re-election.

During a press conference at the steps leading to Alameda City Hall, Gilmore congratulated Spencer and the two new members of the City Council for their victories. She also ruled out a recount of the slim tally. Gilmore, however, has not spoken with the mayor-elect to offer her congratulations, she said. “I haven’t had the opportunity. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and what is going to be in the best interests of the city. That’s why I didn’t ask for recount to end the process and move on.” In an interview, earlier this week, Spencer said she wasn’t expecting a call from Gilmore.

Alamedans have waited eight anxious days for a result to last week’s election. The outcome is likely the most improbable result of any race in the East Bay. Very few political observers saw this upset coming, although, concern over the city’s speed toward development, including Alameda Point, has been simmering for years. The issue may have also cost Councilmember Stewart Chen his seat last week. Former Councilmember Frank Matarrese, whose stance toward development closely mirrored Spencer’s, finished first in the council race for two seats. Jim Oddie, also the district director for Assemblymember Rob Bonta, won the other seat. He plans to maintain both positions.

During the somber press conference, Gilmore thanked supporters and volunteers, in addition, to members of the police and fire department in attendance, along with City Manager John Russo and Councilmembers Lena Tam and Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft. “Even though we came up short, I continue to be gratified by all the love and support shown by all of us. I have truly appreciated my opportunity to serve this community that I really love and I will continue to work with all of you to move Alameda forward as our new council tackles important issues like moving forward with Alameda Point and the issue of rising rents for many in our community.”

Gilmore, the city’s first African American mayor, told reporters her messaging could have been better during the campaign, but in an interview, she appeared flummoxed by the election’s result ending her time in the mayor’s office after just one term. “I can’t explain it, but it was an odd election not just in Alameda, but throughout the county,” Gilmore said of her defeat. “It was just a very weird election.” Low turnout may have also skewed the results, she added.qq

When asked if she had underestimated her opponent who spent under $10,000 during the campaign and hired no political consultants to win the race, Gilmore said she did not, but her supporters may have. “An early warning sign,” Gilmore said, was a prevalence of supporters who questioned why she was campaigning at their doorstep. “What are you doing here? You have it in the bag,” some voters told Gilmore. “I told them, ‘You can’t say that,’ but that seemed to be the feeling out there, but I never bought into it.”

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