As opponent concedes, gay Alameda supe candidate Bauters heads to fall race

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday March 14, 2024
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Gay Emeryville City Councilmember John Bauters survived his primary race for an Alameda supervisor seat. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate<br>
Gay Emeryville City Councilmember John Bauters survived his primary race for an Alameda supervisor seat. Photo: Courtesy of the candidate

With his opponent conceding Thursday that he would not survive their primary race, gay Emeryville City Councilmember John Bauters is moving on to the November ballot to compete for the open District 5 supervisor seat in Alameda County. He will be in a tough race against Oakland City Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas.

While more votes are still to count, Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett conceded that he would not make up the deficit he is in to move up from third into second place in the race. Only the top two finishers in the March 5 contest advance to the fall runoff.

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter Bauters thanked Bartlett for running and expressed his gratitude to the voters who supported him in the primary.

"I'm deeply grateful to the voters across Alameda County's Fifth District for supporting our campaign and placing their faith in me to serve as our next County Supervisor," stated Bauters. "I want to sincerely thank the each of the other candidates who stepped up to run in the primary, and I congratulate each of them on a hard-fought campaign."

In a message with the subject heading "I'm Sorry to Say We Fell Short" that he emailed to his supporters March 14, Bartlett congratulated Bas and Bauters for their first and second place showing, respectively, in their contest to succeed Supervisor Keith Carson. Carson made the surprise decision to retire at the end of his current term, leading to the nine-way race on the primary ballot to succeed him.

"This is the email I hoped I wouldn't have to send. While votes remain to be counted, it is clear that we will fall a little short from advancing to the Top 2 in our campaign for Alameda County Supervisor. We are finishing a strong third," acknowledged Bartlett.

In addition to offering congratulations to Bas and Bauters on advancing to the general election, Bartlett pledged to work with the winner of the race going forward. And he highlighted several issues he hoped the next supervisor would address.

"I'm committed to working with whomever the next Supervisor from District 5 is to ensure that Berkeley is heard and that Black District 5 residents have a voice," said Bartlett, who is African American and whose term in his District 3 council seat is up this fall. "Specifically, I encourage them to embrace our vision of a new health economy with 15,000 new mental health beds, an end to childhood homelessness, and a fully integrated, professionalized mental health response in the 911 emergency call system countywide. I'm eager to work with them in any way I can to achieve these goals."

In his statement Bauters noted "the challenges" facing the East Bay communities he seeks to represent "are great" and range from "a public safety crisis, homelessness and a lack of affordable housing, rising costs of living, and growing threats to our region caused by the climate crisis."

He noted he would be spending the next eight months laying out his vision for tackling the myriad issues to voters throughout the district.

"I know that together, we can meet this moment and deliver real change, new leadership for Alameda County — a future founded on health, safety, and opportunity for everyone," stated Bauters. "That's why I decided to run, and it's why I'm so proud of the coalition we built who believe in that future — working families and small business owners, firefighters and first responders, civil rights and environmental advocates. Whether we earned your vote, your contribution, or your time volunteering, this victory is for all of us."

Alameda has yet to update its vote count in the race since Wednesday. As the B.A.R. had noted, Bauters' vote tally stood at 12,631 votes or 21% of the ballots counted to date. Bartlett was in third place with nearly 17% of the vote, with a ballot count of 10,114.

Maintaining her firm grasp of first place was Bas at 32.80% of the vote. Her total now stands at 19,726.

Due to the crowded field, no one was expected to receive more than 50% of the vote in the election on the March 5 primary ballot to clinch the contest. Should he win the seat, Bauters would be the first LGBTQ community member elected as a supervisor in Alameda County.

Fellow gay candidates running for Bay Area supervisor seats on the March 5 primary ballot, Jennifer Esteen and Michael Wilson, both lost their bids. Esteen, a registered nurse, fell far short in her bid to oust District 4 Supervisor Nate Miley from the office he first won in 2000.

Wilson, a former Vallejo city councilmember, lost his bid to succeed his boss, Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, and become the first LGBTQ person on the countywide governing body. Despite Hannigan endorsing Wilson in the race for her District 1 seat, voters elected Vallejo Housing and Community Development Commission Vice Chair Cassandra James.

Santa Cruz supe race headed to runoff

Like Bauters, Santa Cruz County supervisor candidate Monica Martinez looks to also be moving on to a runoff race on the November 5 ballot. The queer mom is aiming to become the first LGBTQ supervisor elected in her Central Coast jurisdiction.

She is seeking the District 5 seat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. The incumbent, Supervisor Bruce McPherson, opted not to run again and endorsed Martinez in December.

A nonprofit executive who grew up in Bakersfield, Martinez would also be the first woman to serve on the countywide body since 2012. She would also be the first woman elected to the District 5 seat, which includes the San Lorenzo Valley and its communities of Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, and Felton, where Martinez resides.

As of Thursday, Martinez was in first place with 46.43% of the vote. But it was short the 50% plus one vote she needed to clinch the seat outright this month.

She is expected to face off against Christopher Bradford, a local advocate on water issues. He currently holds second place with 21.45% of the vote.

In a note to her supporters March 12, Martinez noted she was unlikely to avoid going to the general election ballot. She had told the B.A.R. her hope was to avoid doing so in order to give her time to focus on transitioning out of her CEO role at Encompass Community Services and helping her nonprofit services agency find her replacement.

"While I'm committed to ensuring that every vote is counted, with the number of votes reported, I am confident that I will be on the ballot in November for a run-off against the second place vote-getter," wrote Martinez. "Together, we have built tremendous momentum, and I'm optimistic about winning in November!"

There are eight known LGBTQ county supervisors in California. Lesbian Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian of Visalia ran unopposed on the primary ballot.

District 3 San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, a Democrat who is nonbinary and pansexual, is fending off a challenge from Republican former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer on the fall ballot. Because they were the only ones to file, there was no need to hold a primary race to determine the two candidates moving on to November.

The other six supervisors are all gay men, none of whom are on the ballot this year. Martin Huberty serves in Calaveras County; Ken Carlson in Contra Costa County; Yxstian Gutierrez in Riverside County; and Rafael Mandelman, Matt Dorsey, and Joel Engardio all serve in San Francisco County.

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