The tentative mood at the Nov. 5 election-night party in the Hughes home in Portola Valley gave way to joy on Tuesday night as the results for the Town Council race came in.
With four candidates running for three open seats, results from the San Mateo County Elections Office show incumbents John Richards and Maryann Moise Derwin winning comfortably, challenger Craig Hughes running a close third and challenger Bud Eisberg coming in fourth.
Mr. Richards led with 665 votes, followed by Ms. Derwin aith 657, Mr. Hughes with 644 and Mr. Eisberg with 420, according to official counts.
"It's a great day in Portola Valley for history, the environment, an inclusive culture and community spirit," said Ms. Derwin after winning her third four-year term and giving the credit for the victory to her supporters at the party.
To Mayor John Richards, who will be starting his second term on the council, the contested election was a trial. Comments and analysis by voters, either online or in print, made for some uncomfortable reading, and then there was the competitive aspect. "I didn't like it," he said. "It naturally puts you in opposition to the other people you're running against."
But he said he heard from constituents who made a special trip to the polls just to vote for him. "That was the upside of it," he said. "People came out and gave you support whether you deserved it or not. Hopefully, we're deserving. ... I'm glad that people want me to keep going."
Mr. Hughes interpreted the election results as indicative of voters' preference for the town to continue on its current path: environmental sensitivity, active and efficient government, and a participant in regional affairs. "People made a decision on what they wanted for the town, not who they liked," Mr. Hughes said.
And his level of concern leading up to election day? "You never know. Nobody's running opinion polls in Portola Valley," he said, but added that he was fairly confident that the incumbents would be re-elected and that the contest would be between the challengers. "If anybody was going to lose, it was going to be one of us."
Mr. Hughes had prepared a printed mailer, but it was printed too late to make in into mailboxes by election day. "You couldn't just hit send," he said in an amused comparison to his working world of software development. His remedy: he and some colleagues walked around to the homes of likely voters and others, about 1,000 households, and hand-delivered the mailer.
Asked to comment on the election, Mr. Eisberg replied by email: "I ran a low-key, upfront, self-financed campaign and did not throw any darts at the others."