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Paul Cassidy, left, takes a family photo of his son Stephen Cassidy, right, along with his wife Amy and daughter Fiona during an election night party on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in San Leandro, Calif. Stephen Cassidy is running for mayor of San Leandro. (Aric Crabb/Staff)

SAN LEANDRO -- More than a week after Election Day, San Leandro finally knows who its new mayor will be: Stephen Cassidy.

Early Wednesday evening, Alameda County's Registrar of Voters Office released ¿its unofficial final ranked-choice voting results in the mayor's race, showing ex-school board trustee Cassidy with a razor-thin majority over incumbent Tony Santos.

Cassidy had 50.43 percent of the vote, or 10,119 votes, while Santos had 49.57 percent, or 9,947 votes, a difference of 172 votes.

"We believe we have completed our ballot count for Oakland and San Leandro, though it is possible that a very small number of ballots in those races remain to be counted," said Dave Macdonald, Alameda County's registrar of voters. "If there are any remaining ballots, I don't believe there are enough to alter the outcome of the races in Oakland and San Leandro.''

The Nov. 2 election was the first time ranked-choice voting had been used in the county, although San Leandro approved switching to the process in 2000.

Ranked-choice voting -- also known as instant-runoff voting -- allowed voters to rank their first-, second- and third-choice candidates for a single office. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote when ballots are tallied, the ranked-choice voting system kicks in.

The system starts eliminating candidates from the bottom up. When a voter's first choice is eliminated, their second choice is then counted. This process of elimination occurs until a candidate has 50 percent of the vote.

The system eliminates the need for a primary.

However, for the system to work, all votes must be verified before the process can begin -- thus necessitating the delay in knowing the winner of a race until Wednesday.

Before the ranked-choice voting result had been revealed, the unofficial final initial vote count for the mayor's race was close. Cassidy, with 36 percent of the vote, led Santos by a mere 66 votes. Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak was third with 24 percent. Rapper Sara Mestas and retired construction manager John Palau were significantly behind them.

Cassidy, 46, has been one of Santos' most vocal critics at City Council meetings and on the campaign trail, criticizing both the mayor and Starosciak over the city's budget deficits.

Cassidy is a consumer protection attorney who served on the school board from 2004 to 2008.

During the campaign, he said he hoped to create fiscal health and quality jobs for the city.

He also said he would be proactive on crime and build partnerships with the San Leandro Unified and San Lorenzo Unified school districts.

Santos, 77, has been a mainstay in San Leandro politics for years. He served on the City Council from 1984 to 1992, and again from 2001 to 2006. He has been the city's mayor since 2007.

His three main campaign issues were maintaining a balanced budget, completing the development of the San Leandro Marina and improving the city's streets and roads.

The results are not final until the registrar certifies the election results later this month. State law requires that counties certify results by Nov. 30.

Contact Chris Metinko at 510-293-2479.