Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Piedmont Election Results In; Rood and Sewer Tax Out

by Nate Seltenrich
Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Did Piedmont voters have more on their mind than just Blair Park when casting their City Council votes on Tuesday? Or has opposition to the controversial new sports field died down, eroding support for challenger and outspoken project critic Tim Rood? Without exit polling it's hard to say, but from final results released in the last hour we know that Rood lost very narrowly to fellow challenger Bob McBain — an ardent supporter of the project who voted for it as a member of Piedmont's Recreation Commission — by a mere 26 votes, or 0.38 percent of the vote. Regardless of voters' motives, McBain's victory may mean a smoother road ahead for the embattled sports field, especially considering his candidacy was backed by project proponents Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization.

Incumbent Margaret Fujioka received 2,709 votes, or 39 percent of the vote. According to Patch.com, as of January 31 she spent $13,327 on her campaign and received $20,956 in donations, approximately double McBain's $7,079 in spending and $10,375 in donations. Rood, a relative newcomer and the least politically connected of the three, spent the most money on campaigning: $15,354. He received $18,054 in donations from 67 donors including existing councilmember Garrett Keating, who endorsed Rood and has also taken a stance against the Blair Park proposal.

Reached by phone earlier today, Rood commented that the closeness of the race, along with the defeat of Measure A, serves as "wake-up call for the traditional power structure of Piedmont." He noted that while the controversial soccer field wasn't the only issue on voters' minds, "the way that the city handled Blair Park is symptomatic of the way a lot of issues have been handled" — i.e., lacking proper financial responsibility and accountability to residents.

A total of 4,172 ballots were cast in the election, representing 51 percent of registered voters. Voters soundly defeated Measure A, a sewer tax that would've added hundreds of dollars to homeowners' tax bills for each of the next ten years. The tax was recommended by the city's Municipal Tax Review Committee, formed last year to help the city bridge a growing budget gap. Fifty-one percent voted yes and 49 percent no; the measure required a two-thirds vote to pass.

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