Election Coverage

November 2008 Election: Results and Reflections

By now, I expect everyone has already seen the election results elsewhere (apologies for the delay on this post — couldn’t carve enough time to get this up any sooner); but many people have run across this site doing Google searches looking for results, so I figured I might as well post an entry, although late, in the hope of highlighting some local measures that have been understandably lost in the shuffle. SF Gate also has a big feature discussing the results.

Onto the election results: mixed results, to be sure. Like so many others around California, I beamed at the passage of the $9.95 billion high-speed rail bond measure (Prop 1A), but then recoiled at the passage of Prop 8, which cast a lingering gloom on what was an otherwise unbelievable night. How sad and frustrating that a majority of Californians chose to value animal rights above human rights; we can only hope that the fierce commitment of equality advocates will yield positive results and a more coherent California Constitution. But like millions of others around the country — and the globe — my voice grew hoarse from cheering at Barack Obama’s historic acceptance speech. For a myriad of reasons, I could not be more thrilled at the change in vision that is imminent for our nation’s highest office; suffice it to say that “President Obama” rolls right off the tongue. But since this is largely a transit blog, I should at least mention how important it is that the United States has opted to skip over the candidate who hates trains, and instead chose to elect the candidate who understands that a thriving America in the future depends in large part on making present-day commitments to invest in sustainable transportation and rail networks.

November 4 was a pretty great day for transit all across the country. Despite defeats in Kansas City and St. Louis, there were many victories, including: Los Angeles (Measure R), Seattle (Prop 1), Milwaukee, West Sacramento, Honolulu, Albuquerque/Santa Fe, and, of course, California High-Speed Rail; click here for a tabulation of national results. As for the Bay Area, here are some election results, divided by region, with a focus on the candidates and ballot measures relevant to transportation, development, and open space:

East Bay

Candidates: Although it would have been preferable to have Terry Doran oversee densification of downtown Berkeley from the District 4 City Council seat, voters instead handed that position to Jesse Arreguin, aide to Kriss Worthington. Tom Bates was reelected Mayor of Berkeley, beating Shirley Dean. Meanwhile, Rebecca Kaplan, Vice President of the AC Transit Board, swept into the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council, convincingly defeating Kerry Hamill. For the AC Transit Board of Directors: Chris Peeples (at-large) and Greg Harper (Ward 2) both held onto their seats, although Peeples’s opponent Joyce Roy received a rather bafflingly high percentage of the vote (35%). Lynette Sweet had no problem reclaiming her seat on the BART Board of Directors in District 7.

Measures: In the greater East Bay, both Measure VV’s parcel tax to fund AC Transit operations and Measure WW’s extension of the East Bay Regional Park District bond passed with over 71% of the vote. In Berkeley, Measure KK (which would have stalled AC Transit’s BRT project by requiring a vote in Berkeley to reserve transit-only/HOV lanes) lost by a landslide 76.52%, helping to reestablish Berkeley’s progressive credentials — but the Measure LL referendum of the Berkeley Landmark Preservation Ordinance failed. In Oakland, Measure OO (the children services set-aside) passed, unfortunately. Finally, both Moraga and Pleasanton faced pairs of dueling open space protection measures. Moraga defeated both Measures J and K, while Pleasanton passed both Measures PP and QQ, with PP winning more votes.

North Bay

After the frustratingly narrow defeat in 2006, Marin/Sonoma’s Measure Q, which will institute a 1/4-percent sales tax to fund Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), passed with 68.4% of the vote in both counties (2/3 approval was required); trains will finally return to the North Bay in about five years, with a bicycle/pedestrian path built alongside the track. Both the track and the path will provide new auto-free travel options in the congested Highway 101 corridor that cuts through Sonoma and Marin Counties.

In Napa County, Measure P passed with 62.3% of the vote, extending the 1990 Measure J Agricultural Lands Preservation Initiative. 1990 Measure J, which required that the people vote on whether agricultural land would be redesignated as fit for development, has been the vehicle for protecting agricultural land in Napa County, and 2008 Measure P, which extends 1990 Measure J until 2058, will continue to do the same, but with a proviso to give the County flexibility in providing affordable housing. Meanwhile, Solano County’s Orderly Growth Initiative, which aims to focus residential development in cities to protect agricultural land, was extended until 2028 as Measure T, passing with 69.6% of the vote.

Peninsula & South Bay

Santa Clara County’s Measure B, which would institute a 1/8-percent sales tax to pay for BART to San Jose operating costs, seems poised for defeat — it had 66.27% of the vote early Wednesday morning and later inched up to 66.3%, falling just a hair short of the required 2/3 approval, but with some absentee ballots still not counted. Meanwhile, voters willingly sacrificed their minimal oversight of VTA’s planning efforts — they passed Measure C, approving VTA’s countywide transportation plan for 2035 before seeing its exact details, and they passed Measure D, which removes the right to vote on future countywide transportation plans.

Had it passed, Measure H would have allowed residential control exemptions for five hundred allotments, in order to incentivize residential development in downtown Morgan Hill; but this relatively modest attempt at smart growth was narrowly defeated, missing the mark by just a couple hundred votes. Meanwhile, confusion and contention reigned in Redwood City between Measures V and W, debating what the response should be to the bayshore Cargill salt flats development, which I wrote about briefly last year. In the end, both measures failed. Unsurprisingly, Measure W’s more stringent charter amendment (requiring a two-thirds vote to approve development on land designated as open space) lost by a more considerable margin than Measure V (requiring only a majority of voters to approve development on Cargill land), which was more narrowly tailored to address the Cargill development.

San Francisco

Board of Supervisors: Modulo changes to vote tabulations due to ranked-choice voting, a new generation of progressives swept through the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night, dealing a swift blow to Gavin Newsom. Eric Mar beat Sue Lee by a considerable margin in District 1; David Chiu won in District 3, beating Joe Alioto, Jr. by over fifteen points in a race that was supposedly neck-in-neck; David Campos captured District 9; and John Avalos beat Ahsha Safai by about five points in District 11. Ross Mirkarimi won by a landslide, keeping his District 5 seat. On the other hand, Chu and Elsbernd have also both held onto their seats in Districts 4 and 7, with Chu earning just over half of votes, and Elsbernd winning over two-thirds of votes.

Other Candidates: As expected, Mark Leno claimed the State Senate seat in District 3, Fiona Ma kept her Assembly seat in District 12, and Tom Ammiano replaced Mark Leno in Assembly District 13. Incumbent BART directors Lynette Sweet (District 7) and Tom Radulovich (District 9) held onto their seats by a landslide.

Propositions: Prop B’s affordable housing set-aside lost very narrowly, while Prop H (municipal utility) and Prop K (decriminalizing prostitution) both lost quite convincingly. Several other key propositions passed: Prop A’s earthquake safety bonds for San Francisco General Hospital, Prop D’s Pier 70 plan, Prop N’s real property transfer tax rate increase, and Prop J, which will create a Commission with full authority to declare landmarks (replacing the current Landmarks Board, whose decrees are merely advisory). Prop P failed, leaving the San Francisco County Transportation Authority intact. Click here to see the results for all the other San Francisco propositions.

And that about wraps it up. Thanks to everyone who donated their time, money, and energy to important causes, and also to those who braved the long lines and made their voices heard at the polls.



9 thoughts on “November 2008 Election: Results and Reflections

  1. Thanks for turning off right-justify in your posts. It used make reading really hard.

    Hope you will return to blogging soon.

    Posted by Eugene | 6 November 2008, 8:43 am
  2. Eugene, I think the right-justify only seems to kick in when there’s an image? This post had no image, so no right-justify. It’s been something I’ve meaning to correct, since the lines will look odd depending on what browser you’re using. (EDIT: Fixed! Partially at least, will update more later. Hopefully it looks better now.)

    Posted by Eric | 6 November 2008, 8:48 am
  3. Hope you’re back at writing before long. I enjoy the read.

    Posted by Adron | 6 November 2008, 9:56 am
  4. I’m not gonna lie, yours is the first blog I check every day. Hope you find time for the occasional update soon enough!

    Posted by Josh | 6 November 2008, 12:45 pm
  5. Ideally, there will be occasion to do at least a bit of posting, but it’s hard to tell just right now, so it seemed best to just call it a hiatus. Thanks again for reading.

    Posted by Eric | 6 November 2008, 7:54 pm
  6. First the Capricious Commuter leaves the country, now this? How am I going to get my Bay Area transit blog fix?

    Thanks for doing what you do.

    Posted by Brian | 6 November 2008, 10:33 pm
  7. HSR passing was the only good thing that made my overall depressing day (form news that Prop 8 passed) a little more tolerable.

    Posted by tbamsenman | 7 November 2008, 10:39 am
  8. I was glad so much rail passed, and definitely thought of this blog when discussing issues and results with people! :D

    Posted by Alexandra V. | 13 November 2008, 10:50 pm


  1. Pingback: San Jose Diridon: Grand Central or Bust « Transbay Blog - 24 November 2008

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