ALBANY -- Peter Maass spent his Wednesday going around town cleaning up his signs. The current member of the Planning and Zoning Commission was elected to the City Council on Tuesday, finishing second out of seven candidates. However, his wasn't a national campaign with thousands of volunteers ready to take care of the cleanup.
To the victor go the spoils.
"The well-funded political operation is mostly me walking around," Maass said with a laugh. "Fortunately, in Albany, that kind of works."
Maass joined incumbent Peggy Thomsen and former school board member Michael Barnes at the top of the results after all 13 Albany precincts were counted. Mail-in ballots are still being counted countywide. However, it appears likely that most absentee ballots from Albany were included in the initial totals.
As of Wednesday morning, City Clerk Nicole Almaguer said the Alameda County Registrar of Voters could not tell her where the absentee ballots had come from.
Thomsen led the way with 2,791 votes -- 22 percent of the total. Maass was next with 2,154 votes (17 percent) and Barnes was third with 2,014 (16 percent). Maass held an 89-vote lead over current fourth-place finisher Nick Pilch, close enough that a surge of absentee ballots could still change the result.
Most candidates agreed that Thomsen, a popular incumbent, was heavily favored to lead the pack, leaving the remaining candidates fighting for two spots on the council.
Barnes said the controversies over cell tower placement and the proposed mixed-use project at University Village probably played a role in the outcome. Thomsen and Maass had each voted in favor of the University Village project at various points and Barnes supported the project.
"I never expected over the last few years that (cell towers) would become a pivotal issue but many people in town are really angry about it," Barnes said. "The lack of cell reception is a symbolic issue, symbolic of people's frustration with the lack of progress on issues like the UC mixed-use project, that Albany is a town where things can't get done."
Pilch didn't have to wait too long to find out the results, picking them up in town before the county put them on its website.
"I think everyone was pretty clear from the get go that Peggy Thomsen was going to win," Pilch said. "Her years of service really stand out to the community. The voters of Albany really appreciate candidates with a lot of service. Michael Barnes has school board service, Peter Maass has Planning and Zoning experience."
Pilch said he felt he had experience as well, however, he had never served in an elected position. He said he felt positive about his fourth-place showing and would definitely consider running again.