OAKLAND -- It appears Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan soundly defeated Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, forcing him from power for the first time in two decades.
Kaplan bested De La Fuente 61 percent to 39 percent in ranked-choice voting tabulations for the council seat that represents the entire city. The Alameda County Registrar's Office said Wednesday morning that it was still counting late mail-in ballots that aren't reflected in the totals.
"I think this is a very good sign for Oakland because it show that the politics of negativity do not have to win the day," Kaplan said after her victory party.
De La Fuente, who held his campaign event a few blocks away, declined to comment Tuesday.
In other council races, school board member Noel Gallo won De La Fuetne's soon-to-be former seat representing the Fruitvale district. He led real estate broker Mario Juarez 55 percent to 45 percent in ranked-choice tabulations. District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid won re-election in East Oakland. He bested his closest challenger, Sheryl Walton, 59 percent to 31 percent.
In District 1, where incumbent Jane Brunner opted not to run for re-election, Dan Kalb won over Amy Lemley 52 percent to 48 percent in ranked-choice tabulations.
In District 3, Lynette McElhaney bested candidate Sean Sullivan 54 percent to 46 percent.
The winners of the close council races likely won't be known until later this week when county officials complete
The election was guaranteed to produce three new faces on Oakland's eight-member council for the first time in 16 years -- spurring hope that elected leaders can move past the bickering and interpersonal animosities that characterized the current council.
District 3 Councilwoman Nancy Nadel retired, and Brunner and De La Fuente chose not to run for re-election in the council seats they have held since the 1990s.
The most publicized battle pitted the two incumbents: Kaplan and De La Fuente, who opted not to run for re-election in the district that sent him to the council for five terms.
De La Fuente, with help from the police union, sent out mailers accusing Kaplan of focusing on frivolities like ending a ban on marathon dance events rather than addressing the city's rising crime.
Kaplan fired back in interviews and candidate forums that De La Fuente had spearheaded the council's vote two years ago to lay off 80 police officers, which she opposed. Kaplan also said that De La Fuente was merely posturing to run for mayor in two years, and that if the councilman won, he would spend the next two years seeking only to make trouble for Mayor Jean Quan.
If there was any bright side for De La Fuente, who has been on the council since 1993, it's that Gallo will represent his former district. De La Fuente had endorsed the school board member against Juarez, who ran against De La Fuente four years ago.
Larry Reid had the easiest path to victory of any incumbent council member. The East Oakland representative faced two challengers, the best funded being Walton, who was affiliated with Quan's Block-by-Block network.
Seven candidates vied to replace Brunner in District 1, which spans North Oakland, Rockridge and Temescal. The favorites included Lemley, who had the backing of the chamber of commerce, three council members and public safety unions; Kalb, who had the Democratic Party's endorsement; and Richard Raya, who had De La Fuente's support.
Also in the running were Green Party member Don Macleay, community policing pioneer Don Link, attorney Craig Brant and budget hawk accountant Len Raphael.
In District 3, which includes West Oakland and downtown, five candidates raised significant campaign funds and split most of the major endorsements. Assemblyman SandrÃ¨ Swanson gave his blessing to all of them.
Sullivan raised the most money and had the backing of council members Pat Kernighan and De La Fuente. Other challengers included Alex Miller-Cole, Nyeisha DeWitt and Derrick Muhammad.