News

Council race: How they won — and lost

While Cormack won broad support, Wolbach met his Waterloo in Crescent Park and Barron Park

Alison Cormack is greeted by supporters Julie Duffield, left, and Maria Daehler, center, as she celebrates a victory in her campaign for Palo Alto City Council on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by Veronica Weber.

For Alison Cormack, election night wasn't a particularly suspenseful affair.

When the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters released initial results just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, she was well ahead of all four of her competitors, having picked more than 26 percent of all votes cast. Incumbent City Councilmen Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth were in second and third, with a single vote separating them, each garnering about 23 percent each. Incumbent Cory Wolbach lagged further behind with about 17 percent.

At the home of Janet Dafoe, where candidates from various local races gathered to watch the election results come in, DuBois was asked just after 8 p.m. whether the preliminary results indicated that his election was in the bag. He was cautious about his own chances but alluded to Cormack's strong early results.

"For one candidate, it is," he said.

The percentages barely changed throughout the night, with the final, semi-official count showing Cormack winning 28 percent of all the votes cast and DuBois and Filseth finishing second and third, each with 23 percent. Wolbach finished fourth with 18 percent, while newcomer Pat Boone garnered 7 percent.

A look at the Santa Clara County votes-by-precinct map underscores Cormack's electoral dominance. The Midtown resident, whose last brush with local politics came a decade ago when she led the successful library-bond campaign, won all but six Palo Alto precincts — often by significant margins — and stayed competitive even in those that favored the slower-city-growth candidates DuBois and Filseth.

Wolbach's support was more uneven. Though he had solid showings in several neighborhoods, matching DuBois and Filseth, his success was more than offset by very poor results in others, where he finished a distant fourth.

Enthusiasm for Cormack's candidacy was particularly strong in Midtown and in some of Palo Alto's eastern neighborhoods. In precincts within the Palo Verde, St. Clare Gardens and Triple El neighborhoods, she received more than 30 percent of the votes. She also enjoyed healthy leads in Old Palo Alto and in precincts throughout downtown, many of which she won by more than 50 votes. She was particularly triumphant in the downtown precinct that includes the eastern half of University South. Voters here gave her 332 votes, while DuBois and Filseth received 265 and 250, respectively, and Wolbach received 202.

Wolbach was far more competitive in another downtown precinct, which includes the western half of University South and the western blocks Downtown North, as well as a portion of Professorville. Even here though, Cormack cruised to victory with 325 votes, while Filseth received 254, Wolbach got 246 and DuBois got 234.

Wolbach also had decent numbers in Ventura and College Terrace (in both cases, he was a close third, just ahead of Filseth), though his campaign for a second term was doomed by poor showings in neighborhoods farther to the north and east. He struggled to win over voters in Duveneck/St. Francis, large swaths of Crescent Park and — most significantly — in Barron Park, where "residentialist" sentiments run particularly strong. He received a mere 13.72 percent of the vote in the precinct that includes most of the northeastern Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood (162 total votes), while Cormack, DuBois and Filseth received 28.45 percent (336 votes), 26.86 percent (317 votes) and 25.57 percent (302 votes), respectively.

In the precinct that includes the bulk of Crescent Park, Cormack and Filseth led the field with 331 and 288 votes, respectively. DuBois was in third with 234 votes. Wolbach was far behind, with 176.

In the Barron Park precinct just northwest of the intersection of El Camino Real and Charleston Road, voters came out strong for Filseth and DuBois, who received 269 and 266 votes, respectively. Cormack finished third here with 238 votes, while Wolbach lagged behind with 138, which amounted to 13.83 percent of all votes cast.

Ultimately, Wolbach took first place in one small precinct, in the Monroe Park neighborhood, where he edged out Cormack by a single vote, 44 to 43.

Filseth and DuBois, by contrast, received solid support throughout the city. Each placed second or third in most precincts and each won a handful of precincts. Filseth took first place in the precinct that includes the eastern portion of University South and Professorville, picking up 148 votes (Cormack received 139, while DuBois and Wolbach had 129 and 123, respectively).

DuBois, meanwhile, took first place in the precinct that includes the western portion of Crescent Park. Here, the three top vote-getters ended up in a virtual dead heat, with DuBois picking up 282 votes, Cormack getting 278 and Filseth receiving 277. This tony precinct, as much as Barron Park and Duveneck-St. Francis, helped seal Wolbach's fate. He received just 149 votes here, finishing a distant fourth.

DuBois and Filseth, whose campaigns overlapped and who were both endorsed by the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Growth, generally finished near one another in most precincts. One exception was Charleston-Meadows, where DuBois' performance outshined that of Filseth. Though Cormack won this precinct with 269 votes, DuBois finished strong in second with 245 votes. Filseth and Wolbach trailed further behind, with 196 and 176 votes, respectively.

Boone, meanwhile, received between 5.5 percent and 8 percent of the votes in most precincts, though he saw some relative success in Ventura. About 10 percent of the votes in each of the two precincts that comprise Ventura were cast for the former TV reporter. He also did relatively well in Charleston Meadows, picking up 8.63 percent of the votes.

Related content:

Cormack, DuBois and Filseth win Palo Alto council seats

Weekly journalists discuss the election results on an episode of Behind the Headlines. Watch the show on YouTube or listen to the podcast version, available through Apple or Google Play.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

As a Gunn grad himself Cory might have carried Barron Park.


30 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:15 pm

Boone, hang around for awhile and we'll consider you next time. Moving here two years ago isn't enough experience. In fact, 2 years ago the traffic wasn't as bad as it is now, so you don't even have anything to compare it to.

Winners, please help our traffic situation. It's high time to install red light cameras; there are too many commuters running blatant red lights on Oregon and Embarcadero which makes it dangerous for us Palo Altans. Menlo Park has them!


2 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:20 pm

Correction: 7 years traffic wasn't as bad . . .


52 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2018 at 10:19 pm

@Mark Weiss, being graduates of Gunn High School or having excellent education in Palo Alto has never factored into any decision made by Cory Wolbach, Adrian Fine and the rest of the pro-developer council majority.

Wolbach and Fine says they are graduates to get buy in, not that they care about the nuances that contributes to a successful school district. Shame on Wolbach and Fine. You too Weiss.

As for Wolbach might have carried Barron Park, hogwash. Wolbach has voted numerous times to compromise residential neighborhood character, health, safety and tranquility.


4 people like this
Posted by Who?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2018 at 10:42 pm

Pat Boone must be 80. His daughter Debbie should have run instead. She once said that I light up her life. But maybe she was not singing to me specifically.


3 people like this
Posted by Who?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2018 at 10:47 pm

I just checked online. Pat Boone is 84, and Debbie is spelled "Debby."


50 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2018 at 11:18 pm

the article headline "Council race: How they won — and lost"

Cormack - amass a small fortune in campaign contributions from out of town contributors and put out repeat mailers, ads in the newspapers with Cormack's name and platitudes which doesn't take a stand on any issue. Have the Political Action Committees from organizations like the California Apartment Association spend lots of money sending out mailers as well.

Filseth & Dubois - Appeal to their base of supporters

Wolbach - amass a small fortune like Cormack, but unfortunately has a record from his Council actvities to lose on.


4 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2018 at 10:27 am

Curious if DuBois' very active online campaigning (Youtube ads, etc) made an impact?


12 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 8, 2018 at 10:54 am

Annette is a registered user.

Per the Registrar of Voters, turnout in Santa Clara County has inched up from the 34.5% reported yesterday to 36.65%. There are 885,764 registered voters in the county. 324,620 voted but 561,144 did not. That means only some of us with a vote are determining how we are taxed, how much debt we are willing to carry, prevailing policies on land use, housing, and finances, and who will sit on daises and make critical decisions on our behalf.

I don't know how many registered voters there are in Palo Alto, but I see that 14,139 votes were cast on the TOT, and 13,894 on Measure F, and the top vote getter in the CC race received 8,750 votes. Why were people with a ballot in hand so disinterested in the CC race? If someone on this forum can explain that, please do. I think the results suggest only that those who voted support the positions of those who were elected; it's unclear to me if those positions align with what the greater community supports.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2018 at 11:39 am

In response to Curious above, I believe that for a certain segment social media was very helpful to their campaigns and DuBois in particular. I definitely watched a couple of his video campaigns on Facebook. The ones I saw were not through "liking" his facebook page. However, I did "like" Pat Boone's facebook page and felt that he could have used it better to get his message across.

I happen to think that social media will become more and more important as time goes by in the election process. Not only can you watch a 20 second video but you can share it with all as well as ask a question or make a statement. Of course, in this age of hateful criticisms as well as positive comments, it would have to be very carefully monitored. But I do think that it is a force that will have to be reckoned with.


2 people like this
Posted by broad vs narrow support
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 8, 2018 at 12:49 pm

broad vs narrow support is a registered user.

Perhaps the apparent disinterest in city governance is because almost half the registered voters in Palo Alto are renters, which may imply that at least some voters consider our city as a way point rather than a long term commitment. Measure F, with nearly 14,000 voting, appealed to the emotions thus garnering interest from a broader number of people than just those who invest the time and effort to follow the impact of council make up. The TOT was written to appeal to the broadest number of people, so those with no interest in or confused by city politics found it easy to vote yes since no pain and easy money.


6 people like this
Posted by sm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2018 at 1:55 pm

I think the council numbers look lower than the measure numbers because there are more options. In measure E and F you get one vote, yes or no. In the council race you get three votes spread over five candidates. If you add the vote numbers for all candidates together it comes to 31,071 votes cast for cc members. If we assume everyone cast 3 votes that's 10,357 voters. If everyone who voted cast 2 votes it's 15,535 voters.

I think it says people voted, but there was a divide over who they voted for (vote for w&x, avoid y&z)... and there was no universal love for one candidate although Cormack probably pulled in votes from both clubs.

The results are certainly lower this year than they were in 2014. In 2014 Holman won with >11,000 votes and Kou lost with >8,000 votes. Now Cormack is the only one to break 8,000.


8 people like this
Posted by Election Aftermath
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 8, 2018 at 2:27 pm

> I did "like" Pat Boone's facebook page and felt that he could have used it better to get his message across.

Would it have made a difference? I voted for Mr. Boone and I suspect that he did not receive significant votes to the PACC due to limited campaign funding and exposure.

Another factor (and correct me if I am mistaken)...To my knowledge, there has never been an African-American elected to the PACC. From the standpoint of voters, the 'strength in numbers' is still a predominantly white electorate with the newer Chinese resident voters now having some impact on the election results.


11 people like this
Posted by PAaliquis
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 8, 2018 at 3:35 pm

To Election Aftermath of Ventura:

Hillary Freeman, the first black woman elected to the Palo Alto City Council, was elected in 2001, and served one term.

LaDoris Cordell was elected to the Palo Alto City Council in 2004, where she served until 2008.


7 people like this
Posted by efs
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 8, 2018 at 3:37 pm

efs is a registered user.

Re African-Americans on the PA city council, Roy Clay served in the 1970's.
See Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Election Aftermath says "Correct me if I am mistaken" and was corrected by PAaliquis and PAaliquis (thank you).

[Portion removed.] Boone lost because he just moved to Palo Alto only two years ago! City Council decisions require knowledge of Palo Alto's history. Plus, I didn't see any of his signs or mailings—no advertising. He is certainly approachable and has good energy and I hope he runs again; I'll vote for him again.


34 people like this
Posted by Afro-Voter
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 8, 2018 at 5:14 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2018 at 8:01 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Afro-Voter
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:11 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2018 at 9:43 am

I happened to like Boone and it was nothing to do with the color of his skin.

I cannot believe we are now talking about whether or not people are voting on the color of candidates now. Boone's race had nothing to do with his defeat.


5 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2018 at 10:20 am

Authors and editors should understand that paragraphs of text are a poor method for communicating numerical data such as election results. It would be far more informative to present this information using tables and/or graphics.


2 people like this
Posted by Keeping It in Perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2018 at 1:55 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2018 at 3:27 pm

[Portion removed.] This is about traffic, parking, pollution, loss of local services, increasing residential rents, etc. It is about policy. The developers have had their way, and, the results can be seen in traffic jams every single workday. Some people apparently think those traffic jams are "vibrancy", other people hear the noise.

However, I'm not saying Pat Boone would have won if he had adopted a more visible residentialist stance. Cormack had a lot of political pull and money behind her. I'm hoping that once she is on the hotseat with respect to traffic and parking, it will sink in how many city problems actually are being caused by office overdevelopment.


10 people like this
Posted by common sense first please
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 9, 2018 at 3:45 pm

[Portion removed.]

The most obvious difference of Pat Boone, the candidate, was his very limited experience in Palo Alto. He himself admitted that he was still getting up to speed on the history and complexity of many of the issues.

I hope he does choose to remain involved and committed. There are other opportunities to serve. He could join one of the citizen oversight committee, learn more, and run again with some experience under his belt, if he wishes.


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Veering off into a discussion of race is typical of the type of distractions used to derail real substantive discussions here.


7 people like this
Posted by common sense first please
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 9, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Also, it should be obvious that THREE candidates were going to win. It had to happen.

Two incumbents were re-elected. One newcomer with a demonstrated commitment to the community was also elected.

One incumbent was NOT re-elected, a message of needed change.
One very new newcomer with limited experience in town was not elected.

This seems like a straight-forward, no conspiracies needed, result.


12 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2018 at 6:41 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Re Wolbach- the more voters got to know him, the less the considered him an adult. Four years ago he managed to get elected as a Kniss cub by using platitudes, the most famous was the 'Let's be civil', while refusing to reveal his actual views. Cormack has used the same strategy this year, managed to hide her positions, flooding the population with sleek election material that revealed nothing about her actually views.

It would have been great if Boone had been elected instead of Cormack, because I am certain she would be another agent for the RE industry, but his odds were incredibly slim to begin with.


6 people like this
Posted by Just Say NO
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 10, 2018 at 2:11 pm

> I am certain she would be another agent for the RE industry,

Why should RE agents dictate the future of Palo Alto housing? Most of them are are opportunistic parasites.


5 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 10, 2018 at 3:57 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Quaote: Why should RE agents dictate the future of Palo Alto housing? Most of them are opportunistic parasites.

They shouldn't of course, and they are parasites, but they have been, especially with Liz Kniss shepherding her cubs into the CC. Unless Kniss, Fine and Tanaka, at the minimum, are voted out of the CC in future elections, it's not going to happen.


4 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2018 at 5:01 pm

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: Why should RE agents dictate the future of Palo Alto housing? Most of them are are opportunistic parasites.
QUOTE: They shouldn't of course, and they are parasites,

In light of all the 3rd Class flyers from local RE agents that seem to be permeating my residential mailbox as of late, I would add 'bottom-feeder' as well.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Post-election reflections -- and sponges
By Diana Diamond | 12 comments | 1,386 views

Couples: Philosophy of Love
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,048 views

El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?
By Douglas Moran | 3 comments | 364 views