What to make of the returns? Me thinks that some bets are on hold. We have a low number of counted ballots as of this morning - about 40,500, or 31% of all registered voters. This is probably only two thirds the total ballots that will be counted. A low turnout of 45% to 50%, about 62,000 seems more likely, IMO, than the earlier thinking of 59% or 78,000 ballots. Either way, elections can easily adjust 1 or 2 percentage points. And could adjust more.
In order of which could change between now and next Monday when all ballots should be counted:
Kathy Kirshner and Satpal Sidhu are tied for County Council. Either can win.
Jail sales tax: This can go either way with 51% approval now. We may not know this for sure until next Monday.
Propositions 1 and 9 are both ahead with just 54%. These could reverse, but it is unlikely.
Todd Donovan has almost 55% for County Council and will probably win.
Bobby Briscoe has 55% for port commissioner. He will probably hold that for a win.
But all of the above could reverse. At least 17,000 more ballots will be counted, and it could be as high as 25,000 more. Ballots are slow coming in this year and the count is below earlier estimates by our auditor.
The sure win is Jack Louws with 71% over Joy Gilfilen. Jack will serve a second term of four years as our county executive.
Back to the charter propositions. Several have less than 53% and so they might reverse. But three propositions put on the ballot by the Charter Review Commission are easily passing, and they show a distrust of elected officials and a trust of citizens and direct participation in government.
Term limits of three terms will be law for the council and county executive with an overwhelming 70% support. And a technically minor but important increase in the number of descriptive words allowed for initiatives was passed with 84% approval. People do want to understand a ballot measure. And the number of signatures required for an initiative to amend the charter was lowered from 20% to 15% of voters. This brings the percentage in line with other initiative rules. All good moves towards citizen direct participation in government.
With the possible passage of charter propositions 2, 3 and 10, our council and courts will come into play as these are contradictory amendments. Not the place here to dive into them, but political junkies will have fun the next couple years. There is a modest chance one or more of these three will fail.
Basically, this was caused by the liberal County Council - under the direction of a small and semi secretive group of operatives - working to thwart the work of our Charter Review Commission. Well, they did it. Two poison pill amendments will probably pass - Propositions 9 and 10 - and the liberals will no doubt blame the Charter Review Commission. One, conservatives, worked in the open under the rules and the other, liberals, worked secretly and illegally.
A bit of disheartening trivia. As of this election, the only City Council member we have who was actually elected - actually chosen by us voters - is Pinky Vargas. All six other City Council members got into office by simply filing for office. They all ran unopposed, either this year or two years ago. Oh, we cast votes for them, but it did not matter as the candidates and their families could have elected them.
With that in mind I want to thank Joy Gilfilen for filing and running against Jack Louws. She brought to the public’s attention issues that we would not have heard without her. She knew from the beginning that she had little chance of winning but she felt the jail issue was important, as were some other issues. It is sad the Herald referred to her as a “gadfly,” and that reflects more on where the Herald has sunk to than on Gilfilen. Supposedly it was because the jail tax was her main issue. But then, Bruce Ayers was not called any names for making the jail his main issue. A double standard and, naturally, it insults the woman.
This evening, I attended a couple election gatherings, as I have every election night for many decades. But this year I saw something I’ve never seen before. A crowd of about 40 supporters of a losing candidate stayed an hour after the results confirmed their loss. And all were happy and congratulating Gilfilen. And she gave a speech during which she pointed out most individuals by name and thanked them for specific talents and accomplishments. There was camaraderie in that crowded banquet room. To this old political junkie, it was a clear signal that Joy Gilfilen can be a serious candidate next time, and may have a very real chance of winning if she runs again. Not a gadfly at all. She entered her first political contest and has emerged a more savvy citizen, ready to work with others toward needed changes.