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Jane Brunner, Oakland city council member. (Karl Mondon/Staff File)

OAKLAND -- Veteran council members Ignacio De La Fuente and Jane Brunner weren't favored to win their bids for citywide office Tuesday. But nobody expected them to be losing by a combined 58 points with most of the votes counted.

Their drubbing punctuated an election that will reshape Oakland's fractious council and potentially ease the personal acrimony and invective that have plagued city politics.

"This is a new era. It's an opportunity to have a council that is civil and works together," said City Attorney Barbara Parker, Tuesday's biggest winner.

In her first campaign, Parker, who was appointed to the city attorney's post last year, won the job outright by trouncing Brunner, a four-term council incumbent, 68 percent to 32 percent.

De La Fuente, who gave up his safe seat of 20 years representing the Fruitvale district, fared little better in his bid to oust at-large Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan.

Kaplan triumphed 61 percent to 39 percent, according to the most recent ranked-choice voting tabulation.

Brunner and De La Fuente's decision not to seek re-election to their council seats, coupled with Councilmember Nancy Nadel's retirement, guaranteed three fresh faces on the eight-member council for the first time in 16 years.

Although 140,000 votes remain uncounted throughout Alameda County, the new council members appear likely to be school board member Noel Gallo in District 5; environmental policy director Dan Kalb in District 1, and nonprofit housing executive Lynette Gibson McElhaney in District 3.


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Councilman Larry Reid easily won a fifth term representing District 7 in East Oakland.

The results, if they hold, would be a blow to Oakland's powerful police union. Officers spent considerable sums backing De La Fuente and Brunner. Their preferred candidates also were poised to lose close races in Districts 1 and 3.

With crime on the rise, public safety dominated the campaigns. But candidates also decried the dysfunction on the current council, whose members often seem more interested in firing personal attacks than finding common ground.

De La Fuente had said he targeted Kaplan in part to shake up the council and potentially restore the type of cohesive majority he molded during a decade as council president.

Kaplan had replied that De La Fuente caused much of the ill-will by pushing counterproductive measures aimed at scoring political points against Mayor Jean Quan.

"I predict that the level of interpersonal dysfunction and nastiness on the council will go way down," Kaplan said.

De La Fuente and Brunner declined to comment on the race.

Late Tuesday, De La Fuente's post election party at a downtown restaurant included about a dozen supporters, including developer Phil Tagami, who poured over election returns.

A few blocks away at a Democratic Party celebration, hundreds of people watched President Barack Obama's victory speech. Kaplan and Parker later toasted their victories and posed together for photos.

"Grass-roots community has won out over a clique that had a stranglehold on Oakland politics for many years -- and now does not," Kaplan said.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is still counting provisional ballots and absentee ballots that were delivered to polling stations Tuesday. It's unclear whether any of the results might change when all of the votes are counted, and the final ranked-choice tabulations are completed.

So far, nearly 100,000 votes have been tallied citywide. Nearly 120,000 votes were cast in the 2010 mayor's race.

The ranked-choice system asks voters to choose their top three candidates. If no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the last-place candidates are eliminated, and their votes are redistributed among the remaining candidates until someone claims an absolute majority.

In District 3, nonprofit executive Sean Sullivan had the most first-place votes but fell behind McElhaney 54 percent to 46 percent when second- and third-place votes were tallied Wednesday afternoon.

Although McElhaney refused to declare victory, Sullivan conceded defeat, saying it appeared the votes were breaking in favor of McElhaney.

In District 1, Kalb held a 52 percent to 48 percent lead over Amy Lemley in the most recent ranked-choice results. Kalb also said he was waiting for more returns to filter in before declaring victory.

There is little doubt about who will succeed De La Fuente in District 5. Gallo led real estate broker Mario Juarez 55 percent to 45 percent in ranked-choice tabulations.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.