Both Menlo Park City Council incumbents, Catherine Carlton and Ray Mueller, were re-elected Tuesday to serve another four years on the council.
With all precincts reporting, the vote count was 5,518 for Mr. Mueller and 5,094 for Ms. Carlton. They will fill the two open seats on the five-member council. Both were first elected in 2012.
Challenger Cecilia Taylor, who would have been the first council member from Belle Haven since 1986, was in a close third with 4,411 votes.
There are an unknown number of mail-in and provisional ballots to count, but with a 4.5 percentage point spread between Ms. Carlton and Ms. Taylor, the outcome is not expected to change.
At an election watch party Tuesday night at the Oasis pub in Menlo Park, Mr. Mueller said he is "grateful and appreciative" to be re-elected.
While knocking on doors during his campaign, he said he learned that each neighborhood has a different problem weighing on its residents. In the Willows, that problem is cut-through traffic, while for families who live near the railroad tracks, people worry about high-speed rail.
In Belle Haven, displacement of residents is a major concern, and near the city's busiest streets, people worry about their children having safe routes to school.
Mr. Mueller complimented the courteous campaigns run by his opponents: "We didn't follow the lowest common denominator demonstrated nationally," he said. "Nothing I'd say (was) disrespectful."
He added: "I'm looking forward to working with both of them to improve the city."
During Ms. Carlton's election party, held at Bradley's Fine Diner in Menlo Park, she said that one thing she learned during the campaign was that people seem to like the direction the city is going in, citing city projects such as developing safe routes to school, adding sidewalks and installing green striping to make bike lanes more visible.
She said knocking on doors gave her a chance to meet residents of the city beyond the "Menlo 100," a label she used to refer to people who follow council affairs closely.
"I'm deeply honored that people trust me with the responsibility of helping Menlo Park move forward in a positive way," she said.
At the event were council members Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki, who both endorsed Ms. Carlton and Mr. Mueller.
"I think she's done a great job on the council," Mr. Ohtaki said. "Cat has a strong sense of compassion that comes out. She takes a lot of personal time reaching out and working with folks."
Mike Doran, who lives on Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, said he appreciated Ms. Carlton's work on a project to install sidewalks along Santa Cruz Avenue, between the downtown area and Hillview Middle School. He said the sidewalks have been a "sticking point for years" and Ms. Carlton helped to "clear the logjam."
Looking forward to the next four years, Ms. Carlton said she is interested in seeing progress on the Greenheart "Station 1300" development at 1300 El Camino Real and the Stanford development at Middle Avenue, and pursuing ways to get a grocery store with a pharmacy and other services built in eastern Menlo Park.
While Ms. Taylor didn't win, she attracted 29 percent of the vote with a small campaign budget. She reported raising just $3,709, compared with Ms. Carlton's $17,077 and Mr. Mueller's $15,247.
"I didn't know what to expect," she said, expressing excitement, surprise and hope when she saw the initial counts released at 8:05 p.m.
At a campaign volunteer party held at her home in Belle Haven, several attendees said this was the first time they'd gotten involved in supporting a campaign.
Willy Beasley, who has lived in Belle Haven for 50 years, helped knock on doors and distribute literature and signs in support of Ms. Taylor because he believes the residents of his neighborhood need representation in the community, he said.
Belle Haven, he said, has for too long been considered a "thumb" sticking out of Menlo Park, that has been "never really included or fit in within the politics of the city." he said. "Now, it's a new day."
"To support her is to support myself," he said.
Julie Shanson, a Willows resident, was in attendance with her 12-year-old daughter, Leah. The pair had worked together to write and design campaign fliers.
She said she learned about Ms. Taylor's campaign at a Cafe Zoe event and was impressed with Ms. Taylor's passion, integrity and knowledge of the issues.
Sally Heath, a Belmont resident, got involved in politics for the first time when asked for help by Ms. Taylor's mother, Pam Jones. She helped organize an email database, prepared emails, and helped pitch stories. The effort inspired her to more thoroughly research her own ballot decisions as a voter, she said.
Ms. Taylor said she plans to continue to maintain the relationships of the people she's connected with during her campaign. While campaigning, she said, one thing that struck her was: "There are so many people in this city who feel the same way – unheard and voiceless."
In a written statement Wednesday morning, she said, "I am disappointed that after 30 years of waiting, Belle Haven must carry on without representation on the Council. ... Although I cannot yet formally provide that as a member of the Council, I can and will absolutely continue my work to advocate for those residents of this city that have been continually overlooked."
"My commitment is even stronger because of this loss. We have waited 30 years but the Chicago Cubs waited 108 years. With the increased participation and vocalization of our residents, we won’t have to wait that long.
"We will not carry on as we have for past 30 years, waiting for equality, waiting for justice. We will make our voice heard," she said. "I am grateful to the voters who believe, as I do, that it is time for Menlo Park to come together as many neighborhoods but one city."