Recounts Put an End to Questions Surrounding Antioch, Richmond City Council Races

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Two incredibly close city council races in Contra Costa County have now been decided following a recount.

It turns out a tiebreaker in Richmond was not necessary.

"The first thing is there is a Santa Clause as we get ready for Christmas," Richmond City Councilmember-elect Cesar Zepeda said.

Zepeda has plenty to celebrate this Christmas after a manual recount of Richmond's District 2 city council race determined it was not a tie after all.

The recount put Zepeda ahead by three votes over his opponent Andrew Butt.

Butt's campaign paid over $20,000 for the ballots to be recounted after the race initially ended in a tie and the city determined the winner by drawing a name from a paper bag.

"I'm excited that now this is not a question," Zepeda said. "I'm excited we can continue getting started."

The county also recounted the close Antioch District 1 city council race.

Tamisha Torres-Walker won by just three votes the first time. The hand count gave her one more vote to confirm her win.

"I'm so excited," Torres-Walker said. "I'm excited, I'm happy this has come to a close and that everyone feels confident about our elections process."

The city of Richmond has a new councilmember-elect Tuesday but he didn’t win by the votes tallied from the ballot box. He won because his name was drawn out of a paper bag. NBC Bay Area’s Jodi Hernandez shows us the bizarre tie breaker that ultimately decided the election.

This is the first time in more than 20 years the county has held a recount. Each candidate and their attorneys closely watched the process and had an opportunity to challenge the board's interpretation of each vote.

"Every board has a little different interpretation when you have people looking at ballots," Contra Costa County Registrar Debi Cooper said. "Machines tend to count balance the same very single time."

While disappointed, the losing candidates said they will accept the recount results. And though they do not think they should have had to shoulder the cost, they do believe recounts were warranted.

"It was I think the responsible thing to do to make sure there was accuracy in the election," Antioch city council candidate Joy Motts said of the need for a recount.

Zepeda said it is a process he will never forget, especially with the tiebreaker drawing national attention.

"That was a lot of fun," Zepeda said. "That was a conversation starter."

With the recount now complete, Zepeda will be sworn in on Jan. 10. Antioch's Torres-Walker already took her oath of office.

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