Every election produces new winners and losers.
It also triggers inevitable questions such as "What was the biggest surprise?" and "Who took the loudest flop?" Here's a look at some of Tuesday's East Bay superlatives:
Upset -- Veteran Democratic Congressman Pete Stark's verbal diarrhea and bizarro-world behavior of the past few months caught up with him and he lost to an upstart from his own party, Dublin Councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell. The state's new top-two primary system made the switch-up possible, giving Swalwell not one but two bites at Stark's seat.
Fizzle -- Richmond voters overwhelmingly nixed what would have been the nation's first anti-obesity tax on sugary drinks. Proponents blame the millions of dollars the national beverage industry dumped into the campaign. But frankly, the tax would have died under its own weight. No city wants to be singled out for the fat people's tax.
Yawner -- Republicans hailed 25-year-old Ricky Gill as the party's ticket to victory in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, which includes portions of eastern Contra Costa and a large chunk of San Joaquin County. But conventional wisdom and a double-digit Democratic Party registration advantage prevailed, and voters handily re-elected grown-up and Democrat Jerry McNerney. And for goodness' sake, Gill just graduated from law school in June.
Mirror, mirror -- Contra Costa and Alameda County matched the rest of the state on all but two of the 11 statewide ballot measures. East Bay voters would have repealed the death penalty and Alameda County wanted labeling on genetically modified foods.
Taxing -- While eight out of 10 tax and bond measures in California cities and schools passed, East Bay voters appear to have rejected 10 out of 23 tax-related measures. For example, Alameda County's road tax was losing by 2 points as of Friday. The Oakland Zoo tax was defeated by less that 4 percentage points. Angst over firefighter pensions torched a fire safety tax in Contra Costa's largest fire district, which will lead to station shutdowns. And the Contra Costa community college bond was failing.
Contrast -- Oakland and West Contra Costa school district voters, some of the poorest in the region, overwhelming approved local taxes. The school bond in the affluent San Ramon Valley, meanwhile, was holding on by six-tenths of a percentage point as of vote totals late Friday.
Tax, baby, tax -- Orinda, Moraga and Pinole voters voted 69, 70 and 78 percent respectively in favor of sales and utility tax hikes in their towns that will fund local services.
Weird -- Sitting is still legal in Berkeley. Voters rejected a measure that would have prohibited sitting on sidewalks, a move business leaders hoped would roust the homeless who occupy the walkable real estate in front of their establishments.
Even weirder -- If a dead person is elected to the Los Medanos Health Care District, would anyone notice? Apparently not. Darnell Turner, who died earlier this year, was the highest vote-getter with nearly 9,000 votes. (To be fair, a friend of Turner told my colleague Eve Mitchell that she and a few others voted for him to honor his memory.)
Goodbye -- Assemblywoman Mary "A Brain Tumor Made Me Do It" Hayashi came third in her nervy bid for Alameda County supervisor. You remember Hayashi. She said her medical condition and preoccupation with a cell phone call pushed completely out of her mind the leather pants she had stuffed into her bag at Neiman Marcus, leading to her arrest and no contest plea to shoplifting.
Rancorless -- Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates enthusiastically endorsed ranked-choice voting before the election. The question was whether he would still sing its praises after Tuesday. He will. His opponents were unsuccessful in their efforts to re-enact what happened when ranked-choice mathematics propelled Jean Quan to the winner's circle over heavy favorite and former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.
Regroup -- The Richmond Progressive Alliance not only lost the soda tax, none of their candidates won a seat on the council. Voters instead re-elected Nat Bates and Tom Butt, and put credit union CEO Gary Bell in the third open seat. The alliance had become emboldened after helping elect Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and council members Jovanka Beckles and Jeff Ritterman. But with Ritterman retiring, they now have just two rock solid votes.
And lastly, the biggest unknown is how Concord Councilman-elect Ed Birsan's political story will end. As every challenger learns, campaigning is one thing but governing is another.
Like many candidates do, Birsan lobbed repeated verbal grenades into the very public agency he has now been elected to run. As a result, many city employees and incumbent council members distrust him. The police union will not soon forget his vow to strip them of their political clout. City staff even installed a physical gate inside City Hall because Birsan too freely and presumptively wandered into workers' offices.
Birsan will do what a winning challenger does when he or she takes office: He'll either learn to play nice and count to three (the number of votes required to pass any legislation) or he'll fight and squabble for four years and voters will replace him as ineffective.
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