Planning Commissioners Judith Hasko and Craig Taylor, along with retired family physician Mary Hufty, are leading the race for the three seats on the Portola Valley Town Council, election night results show. Mayor Craig Hughes was slightly ahead of Hufty earlier in the night, but Hufty overtook him by the end of election night.
Hughes and Hufty are separated by just 21 votes. Hufty, who also ran for council in 2020, has 738 votes, or 17.8%. Hughes has 717 votes, or 17.3%. The Almanac has reached out to the county elections office to see how many ballots are outstanding in this race.
"I've congratulated Judith and Craig T., since their lead looks big enough it'd be hard for them to drop out of top 3," Hughes said in a statement on Wednesday morning. "It's neck-and-neck between Mary and me, and with lots of votes outstanding, I remain confident that I'll take the lead back and end up victorious…. but we'll see!"
Hasko is leading with 1,213 votes, or 29.3%. Taylor has 886 votes, or 22.4%.
"I'm very honored to be in the lead at this point and I look forward to seeing the final results when they're available," Hasko said shortly after 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
Emergency Preparedness Committee Chair Dale Pfau has 14.1%, with 584 votes.
Hughes said around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday that although he was neck-and-neck with Hufty, he expected his lead to hold.
Public discourse has been heated in recent months. Rebecca Flynn, who runs the town's online social network PVForum, said that a few people in town are on a moderated status "because they have shown themselves to be unable to post respectful messages." Pfau and Hughes sparred over the nature of Pfau's removal from the Wildfire Preparedness Committee and Pfau's tweets.
"I think being the incumbent helps and hurts; this was clearly a contentious election," he said. "Voters have clearly rejected Dale's message."
Initial election results include vote-by-mail ballots received in the mail as of Friday, Nov. 4, and vote-by-mail ballots returned at Vote Centers and Drop Boxes on or before Nov. 4. They also include all Vote Center ballots.
A Political Action Committee aimed at unseating current council members raised $40,000 and endorsed Hasko, Hufty and Pfau for council.
In August, the Town Council approved a settlement to resolve a lawsuit against the town claiming its committee members violated the Brown Act, calling the decision an unfortunate but necessary move to stave off expensive litigation.
Whomever is elected will play a part in shaping the town's housing element. The town is charged with planning for at least 253 units of new housing over the next eight years through the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). Portola Valley has approached planning for housing using multiple strategies, including growth in the number of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in town (making up a third of the plan); planning for housing at churches and adding housing at The Sequoias senior living facility; opt-in rezoning; and planning for housing on town-owned lands.
The town expects to receive feedback, via a letter, from the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Wednesday, Nov. 9, according to Town Manager Jeremy Dennis.
The county plans to release its latest vote tally before 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10.