From Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, biotech scientist Webster Lincoln leapt to the top from fourth place to first with 20.8% of the vote. Incumbent Ruben Abrica stayed solidly in second place with 20.7%, with just one vote separating them. The top two vote-getters would win the two seats up for grabs.
Teacher Martha Barragan slid from first to third overnight with 19.7% of the vote.
Mark Dinan has dropped from third to fourth place with 17.8%. Jeff Austin currently has 7.5% and Q Smith and Gail Wilkerson are at 6.8% and 6.7% of the vote respectively.
As of early Wednesday, 1,764 ballots had been counted, or 15.4% of registered voters.
The council is facing major challenges in the next four years, including growing gentrification, affordable housing and how to rebuild the city's aging water and sewer infrastructure and roads.
A hot issue among candidates during the campaign was Measure L, which would increase a business tax on residential landlords from 1.5% to 2.5% of gross earnings.
Voters seemed to approve East Palo Alto's business tax on residential landlords by a wide margin, with a 69.1% approval rate of the ballots counted.
Measure L would raise the tax on gross receipts and would make the tax applicable to all residential landlords regardless of the number of units they own.
The tax would mostly, although not exclusively, be used to build affordable housing, offer housing assistance to those who are being displaced and fund other programs to help people stay in the community.
Proponents have said the measure is particularly needed amid skyrocketing housing prices and the influx of more tech workers and investors who increase housing demand. Detractors claim it won't help limit gentrification and doesn't explicitly earmark the funding for housing and homelessness programs.
Mayor Ruben Abrica said in a text message on Tuesday night that the measure received broad-based community support to help tenants and vulnerable homeowners against displacement.
"Also a very dedicated group of campaigners including many young people made a big, positive impact," he wrote.
City Council member Carlos Romero also was pleased by the preliminary results.
"The early returns and initial overwhelming support for Measure L are a testament to EPA's deep understanding and empathy for those among us who struggle and protect their families. I think, as a community, we have spoken clearly that we value social and economic justice," he said in a text message.
In the race for Ravenswood City School District Board of Education, three candidates who banded together to form a slate are the top vote-getters, semiofficial results showed on Wednesday. Board President Mele Latu, Vice President Tamara Sobomehin and Laura Nunez are beating out Manuel Lopez thus far, with Nunez leading the pack.
Nunez has 1,587 votes, or 32.3%; Latu has 1,233 votes, or 25.1%; Sobomehin has 1,224 votes, or 24.9%; and Lopez trails with 868 votes, or 17.7%.
"The early results do tell me that I could have done a bigger effort in campaigning," Lopez said in a statement Wednesday morning. "Based on feedback from voters, academic excellence is a high priority for them and it was refreshing for them to hear reasonable proposals on the topic. I am grateful for the support I received despite not having placed signs in the streets or knocked door to door."