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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, pictured on Friday Sept. 7, 2012, is running again and is facing five challengers. Bates has held the position since 2002. (Doug Oakley/Staff)

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates appeared headed to another term as 56 percent of voters chose him over five challengers, late returns show.

Bates' closest competitor was councilman Kriss Worthington who had 20 percent of the vote. Bates' five challengers are Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, 36, an Oakland middle schoolteacher; Jacquelyn McCormick, 58, an interior designer; current Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington, 58; Bernt Wahl, 52, a UC Berkeley engineering professor; and Zachary RunningWolf, 49, a Native American elder.

Jacobs-Fantauzzi, McCormick and Worthington ran as a team against Bates in a ranked-choice voting contest where they urged supporters to consider one another as their first, second and third choices.

Their strategy, however, appeared to fail as Bates appeared destined to win a majority of votes on the first count.

This election was the first time ranked-choice voting was used in a Berkeley mayoral contest.

While campaigning Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who was in fifth place with 3 percent of the vote, said crime would be his No. 1 concern. McCormick, who was in third place with 11 percent of the vote, said she would focus on fiscal accountability and a solution to Berkeley's half-billion dollar debt for its employee retirement program. Worthington said he would revisit the plastic bag ban that begins Jan. 1, look at campaign finance reform, create a department of the environment and fix the permit process.

Bates said he wants to continue closing the achievement gap in schools, continue with his climate change plan and provide a hospitable business environment for local startups.

Wahl, who had 4 percent of the vote, said he would increase city resources to help people start businesses in Berkeley, which would bring more jobs.

RunningWolf said he would focus on environmental issues. He appeared headed for last place, gaining only 3 percent of the vote.