FREMONT -- Now that a time-consuming ballot count has Bill Harrison maintaining his lead over four opponents, second-place finisher Steve Cho on Monday conceded the Fremont mayoral race.
"I would like to congratulate Bill for winning the election," Cho announced 13 days after Election Day. "The voters in Fremont have spoken and made their choice."
The morning after Election Day, Harrison led Cho by 35.25 percent to 31 percent of the vote. But Cho said then he would not concede until "at least 15,000" remaining Fremont vote-by-mail and provisional ballots -- among 140,000 countywide -- were counted.
Nearly two weeks later, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters says it has counted every ballot and lists Harrison as the winner with 34.02 percent of the vote. He finished with 22,121 votes -- 1,412 more than Cho, who had 31.85 percent.
Cho said Monday that he planned to call Harrison personally to congratulate him. "Even though the race was close, the results are what they are," said Cho, a Fremont councilman from 2000-2008. "I would also like to congratulate the other candidates for stepping up and wanting to make a better Fremont."
Pending the county registrar's certification of the results -- expected by next week at the latest -- officials say Harrison will be sworn in at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting.
Harrison said his first challenge will be to work with the City Council to appoint a council member -- and avoid a
"It'll be about coming together as a new council and finding a consensus candidate we can all work with," Harrison said.
The city's biggest issue involves "getting people back to work and improving the local economy so we can bring in more revenue and provide people with more resources," he said.
As mayor, he will serve on the council alongside Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan -- who finished third in the mayoral election; Councilman-elect Vinnie Bacon, who captured the council race's top spot with 25.35 percent of the vote; and Councilwoman Sue Chan, who retained her seat by finishing second behind Bacon with 23.18 percent.
Harrison will replace Gus Morrison, a former mayor appointed this year to serve on an interim basis after Mayor Bob Wasserman died in December. Harrison said it means a lot to hold the same position as Wasserman, his political mentor. Wasserman also was a close friend of the mayor-elect's late father, Herb Harrison, who got involved in local politics by serving as treasurer for his friends' campaigns.
They especially were on Harrison's mind on Election Day, when he visited his father's gravesite and emailed Wasserman's wife, Linda.
"I've been thinking a lot about Bob and my dad," he said. "They're probably together right now, playing cards, and looking down on us."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.