For weeks, the two candidates have been in limbo, locked in a tight race for the last of three council seat up for election. Since election night, the two candidates have repeatedly traded places as the updated vote results trickled in from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
For observers (including the Voice) it was simply too close to call. But at this late stage, the result now appears to be clear. With 99 percent of the vote tallied as of Wednesday, Hicks appears to have an insurmountable lead with 11,128 votes. That gives her 98 votes over Showalter's 11,030 votes.
Taken altogether, the theme of the Nov. 6 election appears to be a mandate from voters for a change of leadership — albeit with the same priorities and principles as the old guard. Along with Hicks, Mountain View's newest City Council members will be Ellen Kamei, who received 11,916 votes, and Lucas Ramirez, with 11,396 votes.
Mayor Lenny Siegel, with 9,928 votes, fell well short of winning a second term. Former councilman John Inks came last with 7,318 votes.
Voter turnout in Mountain View last month was unusually high for a midterm election, with 77.1 percent of registered voters casting ballots, according to the Registrar of Voters. It's far higher than the 2014 midterm election, when the city's turnout fell just shy of 53.9 percent, and an increase over the 72.9 percent turnout in 2010.
To put that in perspective, the highest vote-getter in 2014, Showalter, received fewer votes than John Inks did last month, who took last place by a wide margin. Reports following the election found that 2014 had the lowest turnout of any U.S. general election dating back to World War II.
The council election sticks out from the rest for other reasons as well. Two of the incumbents failed to retain their seats, which rarely happens in Mountain View, and the election was a nail-biter for more than a week after Election Day. Records from the county Registrar of Voters show that the dividing line between winners and losers hasn't been this narrow since at least 1996.
As of Wednesday morning, Hicks was the presumed winner of the election over incumbent Showalter by only 98 votes, following a back-and-forth that put Showalter in the lead for days. For past races, that gap typically exceeds 600 votes. The only race that comes close was in 2004, when former Councilman Tom Means eked out a victory over Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga by 105 votes.
Turnout was highest among the single-family neighborhoods in the southern end of the city, particularly precincts in the Waverly Park, Cuesta Park and St. Francis Acres neighborhoods — each well exceeding 83 percent voter turnout. The apartment-heavy neighborhoods of Castro City and the Del Medio area west of the San Antonio shopping center had the lowest voter turnout in the city, according to county data.
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