Decision 2020

2 of 3 Incumbents Retain Walnut Creek Council Seats

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In Walnut Creek, where four of eight City Council candidates were drawn into the race in reaction to social justice issues, two of the three incumbents on the ballot will be re-elected, to be joined by a former city planning commissioner.

Late Tuesday night, incumbents Kevin Wilk (20.87 percent) and Loella Haskew (15.88 percent) won their second and third terms, respectively, while newcomer Cindy Darling finished second behind Wilk with 20.17 percent of the vote.

Darling will replace two-term incumbent Justin Wedel, who late Tuesday night was in fifth place among the eight council hopefuls.

Challengers Kurtis Reese, who finished just behind Haskew, along with Michael Samson, Hailey Ayres and Lauren Talbert, all said they entered the race spurred largely by two happenings.

The first was the July 2019 death of Miles Hall, a 23-year-old Black man suffering a mental episode, at the hands of local police and subsequent ongoing and insistent calls for social justice and/or police "defunding;" and the second was criticism of what some called an overbearing police response to the early June protests of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

All eight candidates had acknowledged another big problem facing Walnut Creek -- the economic devastation wrought to the city's substantial retail businesses and arts scene by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other Contra Costa County races, Gayle McLaughlin, a Richmond City Council member from 2005 until 2017, was elected once again Tuesday night to a Richmond council seat; and challenger Lamar Thorpe defeated incumbent Sean Wright for the Antioch mayor's post.

Longtime San Ramon City Councilman Dave Hudson was elected mayor in that city, succeeding Bill Clarkson; Teresa Onoda, who served on the Moraga Town Council from 2014 until 2018, was on Tuesday night elected to the council once again, along with incumbent Renata Sos.

In Martinez, longtime City Councilman Mark Ross was ahead by a 1,178-1,129 margin over challenger Danial Leahy, while incumbent Noralea Gipner was behind by a similarly small margin (1,384 to 1,334) to challenger Brianne Zorn.

The numbers as of early Wednesday are considered "semi-official election night final" totals that have not yet been certified.

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