Sheriff race, East Palo Alto council elections remain tight | November 18, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 18, 2022

Sheriff race, East Palo Alto council elections remain tight

Some candidates still waiting to know if they will serve in office

by Sue Dremann

For some candidates in the Nov. 8 election, the wait for a decisive outcome continues.

The two contenders for Santa Clara County Sheriff continued to be locked in a tight race on Wednesday night with election returns showing former Palo Alto Police Chief Bob Jonsen ahead by less than 1.5 percentage points over retired Sheriff's captain Kevin Jensen.

Jonsen, who ran on a platform of being an outsider who would bring reform to the beleaguered sheriff's office, had 50.7% of the vote to Jensen's 49.3% with an estimated 91% of the total ballots cast counted as of Wednesday, according to the Registrar of Voters.

On Nov. 14, Jensen said that if he were way ahead or way behind, the right thing to do would be to either declare victory or concede the election, but the race is still too close to call.

"A lot of people's hopes are riding on this," he said. "The concerns that I raised are what keep me in this fight."

Jensen publicly called out the mismanagement of the Sheriff's Office over the past 12 years. The former sheriff's captain also claimed that Jonsen had support during the campaign from Laurie Smith, who recently resigned as sheriff shortly before being convicted on Nov. 3 in a civil trial for corruption and willful misconduct.

"Whatever the outcome is, I will still be a vocal proponent of justice for our agency and the community. I have to call out mismanagement, and a lack of transparency or ethics, especially in an agency that is this damaged," he said.

Jensen said the characterization of him as an "insider," including by the media, and the similarities in their last names, hurt his campaign. He doesn't have a problem if the "outsider" who runs the department will make real transformations and be truly transparent.

If Jonsen wins, Jensen said he will expect the former Palo Alto police chief to be transparent, and he wouldn't hold back on speaking out if Jonsen is not.

He also won't retreat to the shadows.

"It has to be the agency everyone deserves," he said.

Jonsen said in a Nov. 15 text message that he is optimistic about the returns.

"But there are still thousands of votes to be counted, so in fairness to the process we are content to let all the votes be counted before declaring victory.

"If the votes remain in my favor, I am ready to begin working with the amazing men and women of the Sheriff's Office to get the organization where it needs to be."

East Palo Alto council race

The East Palo Alto City Council election also remained tight on Wednesday, with the current mayor and a repeat candidate leading the pack of seven candidates.

Two seats are open. 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.

Ruben Abrica, the incumbent, had 21.5% of the ballots cast, as of Wednesday night. As he waits for the final results to come in, Abrica said he is grateful to the voters for their continuing support.

"I'm a longstanding public servant for the community hoping to be re-elected to keep on working to improve our beautiful City by the Bay," he said in a written statement on Wednesday.

Biotech scientist Webster Lincoln, who previously ran for council in 2020 and was edged out by Antonio Lopez by just 69 votes, is now firmly in second place with 20.3% of the vote.

"I'm hopeful that I will prevail once the final votes have been counted," he said in an email on Wednesday. "Given that there were seven candidates running for two seats, and based on previous experience and election data, I knew the margin of victory would be thin, so every vote would count.

"We really made a significant push in the last few weeks of the campaign to get out the vote," he said

Teacher Martha Barragan had garnered 19.3% of the vote and held fast to third place. She didn't respond to a request for comment by press time.

Public Works and Transportation Commissioner Mark Dinan remained in fourth place with 17.6%. He didn't respond to a request for comment, but on his Facebook campaign page on Nov. 9, he was hopeful for a turnaround when all of the votes were counted.

"Win or lose, Martha and I are proud of the campaign we have run. We ran on a message of positive change and succeeded in raising awareness on a variety of issues," he wrote.

Coach and preacher Jeff Austin had 8.1% of votes on Wednesday. He said he is glad the election is over.

"I am confident that our city will go forward and resolve the issues facing us. This election has been an introduction to the political arena for me. I learned a lot. I look forward to the next one," he said.

Planning Commissioner Q Smith had 7% of the vote. She also thanked everyone who supported her.

"Our home, our city, our lives, our future is working together for change because people past, people present and people's future are my life priorities to the last person who I have yet to meet that understands people are our responsibility," she said in an email.

Senior Advisory Council member Gail Wilkerson, who had 6.3% of the votes as of Wednesday, said her campaign went along exactly as she expected.

"I am cool with the results. I began late. I had to scurry around at the last minute to get credible signatures," she said. "The election was a new experience for me. It was to me, like a blur."

She plans to run in future elections, she said. Despite mudslinging among some candidates, Wilkerson said the election was an enjoyable experience.

"I breathed a sigh of relief that it was over," she said.

Email Staff Writer Sue Dremann at [email protected]


Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2022 at 10:53 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Congrats to Chief Jonsen

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