*Updated to include Tuesday night’s returns.
Alameda Councilmember Malia Vella won re-election to a second term, but the winner of the second seat on the Alameda City Council is too close to call, as of Tuesday night.
While Vella received the most votes in the at-large council race for two seats for a second straight election, while former Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer narrowly leads newcomer Amos White for the second open seat on the council.
Spencer had trailed White by just 41 votes on Sunday night and overtook him for second by just 44 votes. Spencer extended her lead on Tuesday night to 68 votes.
Vella received 22.60 percent of the vote, as of Tuesday’s update by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Spencer follows with 14,004 votes, or 20.13 percent, and White with 13,936, or 20.03 percent.
White’s slim advantage over Spencer, who spent one term as mayor before losing re-election in 2018, is reminiscent of the council race two years ago when Councilmember Jim Oddie and then-candidate Robert Matz traded leads for the third seat on the council.
But during an election season in Alameda in which voters appeared cautious about the leftward direction of the city in recent years amid uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, they denied Oddie a another four years on the council.
Oddie finished fourth in the five-person race with 18.55 percent. He conceded defeat on Sunday. Echoing Alameda’s progressives’ dissatisfaction with Spencer, Oddie said in a social media posting that he hopes White maintains his lead over the former mayor.
Gig Codiga, another candidate backed by Alameda moderates also fared well, despite finishing in fifth place. Codiga earned 18.37 percent of the vote, and 128 votes behind Oddie.
In addition, to voting Oddie out of office, Alameda voters summarily turned away Measure Z, a charter amendment that would have repealed 1970s era housing restrictions on the island. Sixty percent of Alameda voters did not support Measure Z, as of Tuesday night.
After several years of progressive wins on the Alameda City Council, the tide appears turning toward moderates. Two years ago, another moderate, Councilmember Tony Daysog, made a return to the council. Another moderate is now assured to be seated come December.
If White holds onto the second seat, it’s unclear what direction the next council will head. During the campaign, White expressed opposition to Measure Z, which angered Alameda progressives, but was also vocal about greater accountability at the police department.
Spencer, meanwhile, has a clear record over the years in support of slow-growth policies in Alameda. In addition, Spencer’s election could scramble Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft’s legislative agenda for the next years. In East Bay politics there are few rivalries more bitter than Ashcraft versus Spencer.