The Campaign Column: The mayor's race heats up

The Campaign Column: The mayor's race heats up

Michele Ellson

Updated at 2:19 p.m. Wednesday, August 6

School board candidate Mike McMahon isn’t just a long-serving incumbent: He’s also a dyed-in-the-wool election junkie well known to followers of local politics for compiling an exhaustive catalogue of public information on local races on his website and for his running election night vote tallies.

McMahon’s floating some new numbers that show Alameda’s registered voters are skewing more Democratic than they did in 2012 – and that the number of voters taking vote by mail ballots is continuing to rise, making up close to two-thirds of Alamedans registered to vote in the 2012 race.

“Here is the reason the (election) really starts in October,” McMahon wrote.

According to his numbers – a data extract from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters – absentee ballots cast early (as in, not in election day) are a fair predictor of race results. In 2012, results for the mayor’s and City Council races stayed the same after absentee ballots were counted; only a pair of school board races shifted mid-flight, McMahon said, and those were races with less than a 100-vote difference between candidates after absentee ballots mailed in before Election Day were counted.

We took a look at the ROV’s numbers ourselves (and those reported to the California Secretary of State); breakdown in the chart below.


Speaking of the school board, let’s move on to the big political news of the week: Trustee Trish Herrera Spencer’s decision to pull candidacy papers to run for mayor.

“Guess who's running for Mayor of Alameda?” Spencer announced on her Facebook page, in a post that as of midday Tuesday had generated more than 50 supportive comments and 100-plus likes.

Spencer, who has clashed with school district leaders and her dais-mates in six years on the school board but who is also a popular and highly visible public figure, offers a strong contrast to low-key Mayor Marie Gilmore and the current City Council, who typically deliver a far more genteel discourse on the dais and unanimous votes.

Spencer scored a decisive win in the 2012 school board race, besting eight other candidates and beating out the second-place candidate by more than 2,500 votes.

Should be interesting.


Last week we wrote that the Alameda Firefighters Association had endorsed candidates for mayor and City Council, ahead of Thursday’s deadline for filing papers for candidacy. As it turns out, they’re not the only ones getting a head start on the endorsement process.

Alameda County’s Central Labor Council started its candidate endorsement interviews in late July, its website shows; interviews for Alameda’s mayoral and City Council candidates were scheduled for July 24, smack in the middle of the filing period for local candidates.

Jamie Queiroz, the labor council's political director, says it hasn't yet decided what Alameda candidates it will endorse.

"We have yet to complete our endorsement process for the Alameda seats," Queiroz said.

But council candidate Jim Oddie called us Wednesday afternoon to say that he had, indeed been told the council is endorsing him, along with incumbent Councilman Stewart Chen and Mayor Marie Gilmore.

The labor council’s leaders aren’t the only labor types getting a head start on the endorsement process. In addition to the firefighters, Oddie has earned the support of the local teachers union and officials with three other local labor unions, his website says, while Chen is backed by the firefighters and Teamsters Local 70 secretary-treasurer Marty Frates.

Endorsements are important in part because they can equal checks for cash-starved candidates. The firefighters union has distinguished itself as perhaps the biggest spender in local and regional races, spending more than $42,000 during the November 2012 election season, campaign finance records show.


Anyone interested in running for school board has a few more days to pull and file candidate papers. But one candidate has already both filed and withdrawn papers to run for a school board seat – Leland Traiman.

Traiman didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment. But a post on David Howard’s Action Alameda blog claimed Traiman had dropped his attempt to “run a shadow campaign to dog incumbent Mike McMahon” when the Registrar of Voters rejected his campaign statement attacking McMahon, an apparent no-no.

No word yet on whether Traiman will file the papers he pulled to run for mayor.


Anyone interested in running for mayor or City Council has until the end of day Thursday to file their papers with the City Clerk; for those running for school board, the Alameda Health Care District Board or a smattering of special district seats, the deadline is Friday, and papers have to go to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters in Oakland.

We’ll have full stories on the candidates once the deadlines have passed, but here’s a preview; incumbents’ names are in italics.


Marie Gilmore
Trish Spencer (papers pulled but filing not complete)
Leland Traiman (papers pulled but filing not complete)

Two seats

Stewart Chen
Frank Matarrese (papers pulled but filing not complete)
Jim Oddie

Two seats

Solana Henneberry
Gary Lym (papers pulled but filing not complete)
Mike McMahon
Leland Traiman (filing withdrawn)

Three four-year terms and one two-year term

Kathryn Saenz Duke (two-year term)

Lynn Bratchett
Robert Deutsch
Tracy Jensen (papers pulled but filing not complete)
Jim Meyers


Submitted by Mike McMahon on Wed, Aug 6, 2014

Here is the graph of absentee voting over the past 1o years:
Here is the breakdown of registered voters between 2012 and 2014 (not who voted):

Submitted by Keith Nealy (not verified) on Wed, Aug 6, 2014

I could use some clarification. Apparently the colors have no meaning. I wouldn't use different colors if they don't signify anything.

The title says "Voters by Party." Are the percentages meant to indicate the percentage of voters or the change in numbers from 2004-2012? It would help to provide the actual numbers in each category. Maybe the title should be "Change in voters by party."

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Wed, Aug 6, 2014

Hi Keith: Thanks for your comments. We use basic for these graphics so unfortunately I don't control these colors.

Submitted by Mike McMahon on Thu, Aug 7, 2014

It is official. Trish Spencer files for #Alameda Mayor. Leland Traiman does not file. So it will be a two person race for Mayor. Mayor Marie Gilmore vs. Trish Spencer.
Three candidates for City Council: Stewart Go Chen, Frank Matarrese and Jim Oddie.

Submitted by Keasha (not verified) on Fri, Aug 8, 2014

Very happy to hear Trish Spencer is running for Mayor. Go Trish!