Related content: Click on this interactive map to see how Palo Altans voted by precinct for the more-growth candidates (Fine, Kniss, McDougall and Tanaka) versus the less-growth candidates (Carl, Keller, Kou and Stone).
In a heated City Council race largely centered on Palo Alto's growth policies, Liz Kniss, Greg Tanaka, Lydia Kou and Adrian Fine were the victorious candidates on Tuesday night, a result that tilts the council majority away from the slow-growth "residentialist" camp and toward those more amenable toward new developments.
Shortly after 11 p.m., with all 44 of Palo Alto's precincts reporting, Liz Kniss was enjoying a commanding lead over her 10 opponents, wining 9,714 votes, or 18.33 percent of the total vote. For Kniss, the sole incumbent in the race, the result marked her tenth successful election to public office.
Greg Tanaka, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission, finished second with 7,447 votes (14.11 percent), followed by planning commission Chair Adrian Fine (13.46 percent) and Lydia Kou (13.23 percent), the only member of the slow-growth residentialist slate who was victorious on Tuesday night.
Slightly trailing the pack was Arthur Keller, a former planning commissioner whose campaign was jointly coordinated with Kou's. As of 11 p.m., Keller had 6,210 votes, or 11.7 percent. He was 801 votes behind Kou.
For Kniss, the results carried little drama, with the earliest results showing her with a solid lead, which she maintained throughout the night. But for just about every candidate who celebrated victory in the local race Tuesday, the joy was subdued because of the results of the presidential election, which Donald Trump was on the verge of winning late Tuesday.
Seeing Clinton faltering Tuesday made her doubt her own level of support, Kniss said.
"I feel so relieved you can't imagine," Kniss said, while adding that she is also "heartbroken" about Clinton's unexpected defeat.
For the other three candidates who emerged victorious Tuesday, results weren't quite as certain as for Kniss until after 9 p.m., when results from 40 of the city's 44 precincts showed them maintaining their positions. Even with these results, however, remained cautious about declaring victory.
"It's hard to know how it's going to turn out," Tanaka said.
Fine was more ebullient, saying he was "honored" and "invigorated" by the election results before he thanked his family and other supporters who celebrated together at the Garden Court Hotel.
The mood was less cheerful at Palo Alto resident Janet Dafoe's house, where the slow-growth candidates and their supporters gathered to watch the results come in. For Kou, the election was once again a narrow-margin affair. She lost in 2014 by just 135 votes, a result that kept the slow-growth council members from obtaining a five-person majority.
Her celebration speech, like most in the heavily Democratic city, was laced with sadness about Trump's victory in the presidential race.
"It's a difficult night tonight," Kou told her supporters at the election party. "On the one hand, I'm really happy, but I can't help but feel sad about how the national election is going."
She also said she was confident that the new council, while still divided on the topic of growth, will be able to work together in the interests of residents.
"A campaign is one thing, but at the end of the day, I'll work with the other council members to do what's best for the city."
Keller was less thrilled about the way the results were declared, which he said he found puzzling. After early results from six precincts showed him trailing the top four vote-getters, he had discussions with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. He said he was told by the county that many of the ballots "had come in but had not come in through the scanner."
"There seems to be something confusing about how the results are being reported," Keller said.
He noted that Kou lost in 2014 only after results flipped several times (Cory Wolbach ultimately won) and said the final results won't be known for at least a few more days.
While Keller held out some hope, the other five members were trailing far behind in the polls.
Don McDougall, who ran alongside Kniss, Tanaka and Fine, was in sixth place, with 8.3 percent of the vote (4,397 votes). He was trailed by Greer Stone (7.65 percent, or 4,056 votes) and Stewart Carl (5.19 percent, or 2,752 votes), both of whom were affiliated with the residentialists. Danielle Martell, Leonard Ely, III, and John Fredrich trailed with 2.86 percent, 2.58 percent and 2.56 percent of the vote, respectively.
The results reflect a victory for three of the four candidates who had received an endorsement from the California Democratic Party and support from the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce. Kniss, Tanaka and Fine have all talked -- with varying degrees of specificity -- about the need to promote sociological diversity and come up with housing solutions. In many ways, these three candidates are ideologically aligned with Cory Wolbach and Vice Mayor Greg Scharff, both of whom attended the Garden Court party and cheered on the victorious candidates.
Wolbach, reflecting the prevalent mood, said the stakes were particularly high in Palo Alto's council race this year, with the city's vision on growth hanging in balance.
"Everybody knew this was a test for Palo Alto," Wolbach said. "It's a test of whether we want to be an inclusive, sustainable community that welcomes everybody. Despite what's happening at the national level, I'm proud to be a Palo Altan tonight."