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Sheng Thao, Oakland’s next mayor, rounds out victory in final results

OAKLAND — The latest, and final, results in the city’s November election confirmed Monday what many had already concluded: Sheng Thao is the next mayor of Oakland.

The 37-year-old UC Berkeley grad and one-term city council member will succeed outgoing Mayor Libby Schaaf, winning 50.3% of the ranked choice vote to narrowly edge out Councilman Loren Taylor, who received 49.7%.

Thao’s mighty financial support from labor unions and support among progressives appear to have paid off against Taylor, another one-term council member who received Schaaf’s endorsement.

The final set of results Monday added 715 eligible ballots from Oakland voters, bringing to 125,410 the total cast in the election and completing the full count after the Alameda County Registrar of Voters last Friday fell short of the finish line.

On Monday, the registrar’s office ran a full audit of the ballots, with workers manually counting 1% of the total votes cast to see if they matched what their machines have reported.

Oakland’s ranked choice voting format, which election officials say did not contribute to the county’s slow rollout of results, did help shape the outcome of the race.

Taylor won just under 1,600 more first-place votes than Thao, making her the second mayor-elect after Jean Quan in 2010 not to secure a plurality of voter support.

And she received a huge helping hand from ACLU attorney Allyssa Victory — almost 60% of Victory’s voters picked Thao as their second choice.

“Our voters’ ranked choices were decisive in the ultimate outcome of this race,” Victory’s campaign said in a statement after the final results. “We are most proud of each person we enfranchised to vote, new partnerships and coalitions, and the strengthened vision of an Oakland for all.”

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Neither Thao nor Taylor declared themselves winners or losers after results on Friday indicated Thao was in the lead. But with so few ballots left to process countywide — only a fraction of which were likely to have been cast by Oakland voters — the outcome was already more than apparent.

Earlier on Monday before the final results were released, Taylor helped load turkeys onto trucks at the city’s Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center, part of a pre-Thanksgiving drive.

Mayoral candidate Loren Taylor helps load free turkeys and Thanksgiving food onto a truck at the Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

Taylor, who could not immediately be reached for an interview, represents District 6, which spans from the Coliseum to Merritt College and across to the Eastmont Hills neighborhood. Political newcomer Kevin Jenkins’ election to the seat, however, means Taylor is now out of an immediate job in city politics.

Meanwhile, the council seat held by Thao in District 4, which includes the Montclair, Diamond, Laurel and Redwood Heights neighborhoods, will also have a new face in civil-rights attorney Janani Ramachandran.

Thao, meanwhile, is the new leader of a city headed toward a post-pandemic future. Her campaign, hesitant to declare victory until more official voices call the race, did not immediately provide comment.

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