News

Martha Barragan edges out Webster Lincoln in East Palo Alto City Council race

Incumbent Mayor Ruben Abrica easily wins reelection

The tense East Palo Alto City Council race, which was marked by a neck-in-neck battle for one of two open seats, came down to just 19 votes between second- and third-place contenders Martha Barragan and Webster Lincoln, respectively. In the end, it was Barragan who won.

Martha Barragan, left, Webster Lincoln took second and third places, respectively in the race for two open seats on the East Palo Alto City Council in the 2022 general election. Barragan photo by Magali Gauthier. Lincoln photo courtesy of the candidate.

Barragan, a teacher, was certified as the winner by San Mateo County on Thursday after gaining a late lead over data scientist Lincoln. She was initially in first place on election night, but she slipped to third after being surpassed by Lincoln and incumbent Mayor Ruben Abrica.

Lincoln held first place before Abrica gained the lead. The data scientist remained in a solid second place until more ballots were counted. At one point, just one vote separated the top two vote-getters.

But as the final mail-in ballots were counted, Barragan inched into second place, where she stayed.

Barragan said in an email that she is looking forward to serving her community in a new capacity.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"There are a number of issues that we all agree need to be addressed. Among these are safe streets, the opening of our parks, taking care of our seniors, and creating opportunities for small businesses and accessible housing for the residents.

"The election competition is behind us and it's time to focus on cooperation to keep our city on the move," she said.

For Lincoln, the loss was the second time that he was so narrowly defeated.In a similarly close vote in 2020, he finished just 69 votes behind Antonio Lopez, who won a seat that year.

Lincoln went to court after that election, challenging Lopez, who he believed engaged in electioneering by offering free tacos to voters on Election Day outside a polling place at Saint Francis of Assisi Church. The court didn't agree with him.

This time around, Lincoln said he wouldn't challenge the results.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

"Mathematically, the statistics are unlikely to change the results. Given that there were seven candidates on the ballot, the amount of vote splitting was too much of a deficit to overcome," he said.

East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica was elected to another City Council term in the 2022 general election. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The candidates had similar views on many of the issues, which he said also exacerbated the split vote.

The election also created some roller-coaster-like moments. Lincoln had already been receiving congratulatory messages for 10 days when the last 1,000 mail-in ballots that reversed his win were counted.

"It was frustrating to see a switch 10 days after Election Day. The state Legislature should do something to address that," he said, noting concerns about the amount of time it took to count the ballots, most of which were mailed in.

Still, Lincoln said he was satisfied with how he ran. "I think I ran a good campaign and focused on the issues," he said.

He attended all of the six council candidate forums this year, and he attends City Council meetings and knows the issues well, he said. But he couldn't help noting that his rival won without having made a similar commitment. Barragan, who didn't go to any of the community forums held in East Palo Alto, only took part in a virtual forum sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly. Lincoln said he also hasn't seen her at any council or committee meetings.

"I don't want it to sound like sour grapes, but it is concerning that we have people making decisions citywide" who haven't shown a commitment to the process.

As for his political future, Lincoln said it depends on where he's at when the time comes.

"If I have the opportunity to run again, I would," he said.

Abrica received 21.8% of the 4,077 votes cast by city voters with a 35.6% voter turnout. Barragan gained 19.7% of votes to Lincoln's 19.5%. Among the other four candidates, Mark Dinan received 17.2%, Jeffrey Austin had 8.6%; Q Smith received 7.2% and Gail Wilkerson attained 6%.

Abrica was not immediately available for comment on his win.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now
Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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

Stay informed on important city government news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

Martha Barragan edges out Webster Lincoln in East Palo Alto City Council race

Incumbent Mayor Ruben Abrica easily wins reelection

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 10:05 pm

The tense East Palo Alto City Council race, which was marked by a neck-in-neck battle for one of two open seats, came down to just 19 votes between second- and third-place contenders Martha Barragan and Webster Lincoln, respectively. In the end, it was Barragan who won.

Barragan, a teacher, was certified as the winner by San Mateo County on Thursday after gaining a late lead over data scientist Lincoln. She was initially in first place on election night, but she slipped to third after being surpassed by Lincoln and incumbent Mayor Ruben Abrica.

Lincoln held first place before Abrica gained the lead. The data scientist remained in a solid second place until more ballots were counted. At one point, just one vote separated the top two vote-getters.

But as the final mail-in ballots were counted, Barragan inched into second place, where she stayed.

Barragan said in an email that she is looking forward to serving her community in a new capacity.

"There are a number of issues that we all agree need to be addressed. Among these are safe streets, the opening of our parks, taking care of our seniors, and creating opportunities for small businesses and accessible housing for the residents.

"The election competition is behind us and it's time to focus on cooperation to keep our city on the move," she said.

For Lincoln, the loss was the second time that he was so narrowly defeated.In a similarly close vote in 2020, he finished just 69 votes behind Antonio Lopez, who won a seat that year.

Lincoln went to court after that election, challenging Lopez, who he believed engaged in electioneering by offering free tacos to voters on Election Day outside a polling place at Saint Francis of Assisi Church. The court didn't agree with him.

This time around, Lincoln said he wouldn't challenge the results.

"Mathematically, the statistics are unlikely to change the results. Given that there were seven candidates on the ballot, the amount of vote splitting was too much of a deficit to overcome," he said.

The candidates had similar views on many of the issues, which he said also exacerbated the split vote.

The election also created some roller-coaster-like moments. Lincoln had already been receiving congratulatory messages for 10 days when the last 1,000 mail-in ballots that reversed his win were counted.

"It was frustrating to see a switch 10 days after Election Day. The state Legislature should do something to address that," he said, noting concerns about the amount of time it took to count the ballots, most of which were mailed in.

Still, Lincoln said he was satisfied with how he ran. "I think I ran a good campaign and focused on the issues," he said.

He attended all of the six council candidate forums this year, and he attends City Council meetings and knows the issues well, he said. But he couldn't help noting that his rival won without having made a similar commitment. Barragan, who didn't go to any of the community forums held in East Palo Alto, only took part in a virtual forum sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly. Lincoln said he also hasn't seen her at any council or committee meetings.

"I don't want it to sound like sour grapes, but it is concerning that we have people making decisions citywide" who haven't shown a commitment to the process.

As for his political future, Lincoln said it depends on where he's at when the time comes.

"If I have the opportunity to run again, I would," he said.

Abrica received 21.8% of the 4,077 votes cast by city voters with a 35.6% voter turnout. Barragan gained 19.7% of votes to Lincoln's 19.5%. Among the other four candidates, Mark Dinan received 17.2%, Jeffrey Austin had 8.6%; Q Smith received 7.2% and Gail Wilkerson attained 6%.

Abrica was not immediately available for comment on his win.

Comments

Mark Dinan
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2022 at 10:28 am
Mark Dinan, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2022 at 10:28 am

Congratulations to Martha Barragan for her victory - and a reminder that "every vote counts!"

I am very happy that the work we did raising money, hanging signs & banners, having a 500 person Halloween campaign party, running ads on Youtube & Facebook, coffee in the park, ice-cream in the park, multiple ZOOM meetings with the community, and knocking on doors paid off with a narrow but decisive victory.

East Palo Alto is lucky to have a high integrity individual like Martha on Council, and her deep roots in the community combined with smarts and the experience of being a parent/teacher/homeowner will bring a level of common sense to EPA leadership that is much needed.


John Carter
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2022 at 12:49 pm
John Carter, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Some of those who supported Barragan in this election may have voted against their own personal interests, but only time will tell:

1) Mark Dinan recruited her to run for city council only a few days before the deadline.

2) Dinan and Barragan ran on a slate, and their campaign funds mostly came from outsiders.

3) Dinan has a reputation for knowingly spreading misinformation

4) During the only candidate forum she attended, she basically regurgitated Dinan’s talking points.

5) She’s inexperienced and unaware of the issues in the community and is basically just being used as a proxy for Dinan’s pro-gentrification agenda in my opinion.


We Are The People
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Dec 10, 2022 at 1:22 am
We Are The People, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2022 at 1:22 am

I echo what "John Carter" has said.
And Add.... Martha should step down, before she steps up. Save the city heartache.
1. Mark Dinan recruited her and also filled out all of her Election papers. Except the 1st one that looks like one of her Students prepared them. Then She has NO other Forms.?
Why is that? Did she plan NOT in raising over $2,000?
She benefitted from all those signs with her name on them and the ICE CREAM and Halloween Party. This should have been reported. This purported SLATE requires She report ALL "Dark Money" and those from Corporations. Which aren't allowed. I call for Martha to Step down, before this goes any further.
2. Dinan & Barragan ran off of an alleged SLATE?
Only can come to being close, that is if filed the appropriate Forms. The Election Folks know nothing about their (slate)? The election people don't know what a slate is? Who reports all the funds being reported from a Slate?

3. Mark made excuses after accuse for her NOT showing up. Babysitting issues. She had to grade School papers. The times she did show up. She always had to look at Mark and he'd finish the responses.
4. The Only Forum that she did attend was with Palo Alto Weekly. She was like dead air. Her response was off subject and sounded like Mark Dinan. Right down to the "Feral Cats and Bathrooms".
5. I cringe when I think about Dinan feeding her orders. Mark is a well known racist. Yes of course he has his Minorities that he takes pictures with and Hug up with. His background is working for Developers. I wonder if Martha will be driving the TMZ Bus Tour for all of those Real Estate Investors that donated to her campaign. But none of the donors were on her Form 460, 470 nor did she submit a 510?

This Election furthers the Clown Show for East Palo Alto.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2022 at 11:12 am
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2022 at 11:12 am

For once I agree with We on some points. Given the recent exposé on Dinan, it’s good he wasn’t elected. How effective Barragan will be is unknown. We know little about her abilities to study up on issues that come before the council. Residents will have to keep an eye on her to measure Dinan’s influence.


John Carter
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2022 at 3:26 pm
John Carter, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2022 at 3:26 pm

I believe most of the vote splitting occurred between a few candidates at the bottom of the pack:

1) Jeff Austin. He's a nice guy, but was never a viable candidate to begin with, yet Ruben Abrica supporter's campaigned for him. He was also endorsed by council member Antonio Lopez and Lisa Gauthier and the San Mateo County Democrats. He aligned himself with Mark Dinan, Court Skinner, the developers and other questionable figures in East Palo Alto including Shannon Pekary, according to his website. His only involvement in the community is coaching football, and being on the senior advisory committee. Beyond that, he is not well-known in the community, and hasn't shown himself to be a good decision-maker on some community issues. His campaign wasn't managed, presented or executed well. Mark Dinan received twice as many votes than Jeff.

2) Q Smith. She should have never ran. [Portion removed.] She was endorsed by Regina Wallace-Jones. When questioned about community issues, her response to everything was "People, People, People." Beyond that, we didn't know what her plan was for East Palo Alto and she waited until the last week of the election to start advertising her campaign, which, of course, is too late.

3) Gail Wilkerson... She claimed to be the only candidate with a real estate background, but she didn't really put in much effort into advertising her campaign and thus, should have stayed out. She rambled on at the candidate forums, and didn't provided concise responses to questions.


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 12, 2022 at 5:06 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 12, 2022 at 5:06 pm
We Are The People
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2022 at 8:36 pm
We Are The People, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Dec 12, 2022 at 8:36 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2022 at 6:04 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 6:04 pm
John Carter
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2022 at 8:55 pm
John Carter, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 8:55 pm

Barragan didn't show up to her first council meeting, not surprised. I'm not sure how long she will last once meetings go back to in-person.

[Portion removed.]


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2022 at 10:29 pm
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 10:29 pm

It’s a relief we are rid of the dead wood that Regina Wallace Jones has been. She’s done less than anyone on council in recent memory. But what will be memorable is her lack of leadership during the pandemic. I just watched the meeting video. Why didn’t she exit the dais when she should’ve? She stayed up there like she was still on the council. It’ll be interesting to see how much Barragan is Dinan’s creature, or if she can free herself from his influence. Noticed she didn’t mention Dinan at all in her acknowledgments.


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

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.