Michele Ellson

Updated at 3:32 p.m. Wednesday, November 5 in BOLD

Updated and corrected in BOLD ITALIC at 11:56 a.m. Thursday, November 6

Voters issued a stunning rebuke to Alameda’s incumbents Tuesday, with the tally so far showing they intend to send City Councilman Stewart Chen, longtime school board trustee Mike McMahon and Mayor Marie Gilmore packing.

School board trustee Trish Spencer held a thin lead over Gilmore in the two-woman race for the mayor’s seat late Tuesday, with 50.9 percent of the vote to Gilmore’s 48.74 percent. As of early Wednesday, Spencer was winning the race by just under 300 of the roughly 13,000 votes tallied.

In the City Council race, former councilman Frank Matarrese appeared poised to return to the dais in December with 37 percent of the vote, to be joined by newcomer Jim Oddie, who brought in 33 percent of the vote. Stewart Chen, who has served on the council for two years, was on track to lose his seat, taking in just under 30 percent of the vote.

“I’m ready to work,” Matarrese said early Wednesday.

A pair of union-backed newcomers – Solana Henneberry and Gary Lym – appeared set to defeat Mike McMahon, who has served on the school board for a dozen years. Nearly 40 percent of voters who cast ballots in the school board election picked Henneberry, with 32 percent voting for Lym and 28 percent for McMahon.

"I am grateful to Alameda voter for choosing me to serve on the school board. I am looking forward to helping Alameda schools become an even better place to learn and work," Henneberry wrote Wednesday in response to a reporter's request for a comment on her victory.

Lym said he was grateful to friends and supporters who helped out on his campaign.

"Over the next four years, I am committed to listening, working and communicating with parents, teachers, staff, and the community to putting our students first in making this one of the best school districts," he said.

But Measure I, the bond deal McMahon was instrumental in engineering, was cruising to victory Tuesday, with more than 61 percent of voters saying yes to the $179.5 million school facilities bond measure.

The only incumbents that seemed set to keep their jobs at the end of Tuesday’s vote count were Alameda Health Care District Board members Tracy Jensen and Robert Deutsch. Incumbent Lynn Bratchett and newcomer Jim Meyers traded the third spot over the late evening and early morning counts, with Meyers leading by just 30 votes when Tuesday’s tallying was complete.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters still has ballots to count, including absentee ballots walked into polling stations and provisional votes cast by those who weren’t on the rolls. Registrar Tim Dupuis said Wednesday morning that his department still has about 130,000 ballots left to count - 18,000 mailed in just before and on Election Day, 82,000 absentee ballots walked into the polls on Election Day and another 24,000 provisionals. Updated results are slated to be released starting Thursday evening and will continue to be released until the final ballots are counted, a process Dupuis said will likely stretch into next week.

Dupuis didn't yet know Wednesday how many ballots are left to count in Alameda.

Voters who The Alamedan spoke with over the course of the campaign season expressed concerns about the potential impacts of planned development at Alameda Point and along the Northern Waterfront, which Spencer has all but promised to halt.

Many have also expressed dissatisfaction with the perceived influence of the Alameda Firefighters Association – which spent heavily and spoke loudly for Gilmore, Chen and Oddie – at City Hall. And some questioned whether Chen was fit for office after discovering he had long ago been convicted of insurance fraud charges.

Money appeared to play an indifferent role in the results as voters seemed inclined to clean house at City Hall.

School employee unions, conversely, sought to oust McMahon after he voted against new contracts that gave them their first raises in years, though they were rumored to have struggled to find someone willing to run against him.

“Well it was a good run for 12 years on the school board,” McMahon wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday night. “I appreciate everyone's support during the past 12 years. I will be back.”

School board incumbents have been more prone to lose their re-election bids over the past several years than their City Hall counterparts, with three other incumbents – Janet Gibson, David Forbes and Ron Mooney – losing their seats over the past several election cycles.

If Spencer becomes mayor, the school board will need to appoint someone or call an election to fill her seat.

Proponents of Measure I ran a quiet campaign that promoted the bond largely through lawn signs and mailers, foregoing the door-to-door campaigning and phone banking that had become typical for new school tax campaigns.

More to come.

With 45 of 45 precincts reporting


Marie Gilmore (i): 6,489/48.74%
Trish Spencer: 6,776/50.90


Stewart Chen (i): 5,778/29.62
Frank Matarrese: 7,198/36.91
Jim Oddie: 6,434/32.99


Solana Henneberry: 7,303/39.56
Gary Lym: 5,927/32.11
Mike McMahon (i): 5,159/27.95


Yes: 8,137/61.41
No: 5,113/38.59


Lynn Bratchett (i): 4,755/21.49
Robert Deutsch (i): 5,483/24.78
Tracy Jensen (i): 7,012/31.70
Jim Meyers: 4,785/21.63


Submitted by Karen Green (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

All I can say before my coffee is "yeah."

Submitted by WannaBeInAlameda (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Bravo, Citizens of Alameda! I live in Texas, and visit your lovely, lovely little Island regularly (my best friend and his family make Alameda their home). I has been with great interest that I have followed YOUR elections this time. Here, it's a hopeless situation: Austin/Travis County's officials are all squarely cozy in the pockets of developers, and have destroyed the city I used to love. THANK YOU for standing up and continuing to make y'all's voices HEARD! My friend has been telling me "Don't worry...Alameda won't stand for it...you'll see!" I am so thrilled to see that he was right. Again, BRAVO, Alamedans...be proud! I can only hope that some day I'll escape Austin and be able to bask in y'all's marvelous atmosphere of REAL COMMUNITY!

Submitted by WannaBeInAlameda (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Please excuse the typo in the second line. I-->It
Too excited to proofread!

Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

According to a FB post by Mike McMahon last night, there are probably 6,000 - 8,000 absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted and Gilmore could win if something like 54% of those were in her favor. That seems unlikely, but isn't a recall in order with a margin this slim?

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Alameda voters thanks for your decisive actions

Great turnout!

And suberb results for Alamedans not for Developers or

I am elated!!!

Now may our new Mayor and new Council address these most pressing issues.
1.) Budget for the Impending bankruptcy due to fire and police union excessive former influence
2.) Neutralize the out of control Developer influence at City Hall staff
3.) Initiate real direction and control of the City Manager or else remove him

Lots to do in the coming year

Congrats Trisch and Frank!!!!

Submitted by 10dB (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Not to be pedantic, but having just finished a 16-hour day as an election worker (6AM to 10PM by the time we set up and tear down the polls), I'd like to clarify "provisional voting." It just means "we need to check that your vote is legitimate." Yes, never-before-registered voters do vote provisionally. But the vast, vast majority of provisional votes are cast by people who are listed as Vote-by-Mail but then walk into the polling place. Their provisional vote just means that the Registry of Voters must check that they have not already voted by mail. In our polling place, thirty provisional votes were cast, probably 25 of them were Vote-by-Mails who wanted to vote in person, the others were people who had moved into the neighborhood but had not changed their address with the Registrar.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Hey 10dB: Not pedantic at all, really appreciate the info (and your service). And Jon: ROV told the Chron they've got 100k ballots left to count, so that 6-8k number could be accurate (I'm hoping to nail one down today).

Submitted by Mike McMahon on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

In prior elections Alameda runs about 5% to 7% of the total remaining ballots. For any change in the Mayor race, Marie would need above 52.3% to close the 280 vote gap. She was 50%-50% in the early VBM and lost at the ballot box 48%-52%.

Submitted by Sue Spiersch (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Thanks to Michele Ellison's articles here and in the Alameda Sun about the financial backing in this campaign Alameda voters were able to make intelligent and informed decisions when voting. It's amazing to me that anyone running for Alameda Mayor or City Council would need over $40,000 to get elected. I will always support our Alameda Firefighter and Police however I really don't like them trying to influence our election using dirty politics and huge contributions. Michele did a wonderful job of shining a bright light on this kind of politics.

Submitted by frank on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

@Jon Spangler Hopefully you mean 'Recount' not 'Recall'

Submitted by Tamara Nghishakenwa (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

I am so happy that the people of Alameda elected a new mayor. #TrishforMayor
I love when smart people turn out to vote. :)

Submitted by Modern World Hi... (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Yeah for the Electoral process!

Submitted by AL076 (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Personally, I liked Mayor Gilmore, but she was not listening to the citizens of Alameda so I voted for the other guy(girl in this case) Trish Spencer. I do not know much about Mrs. Spencer, but the only thing that I care about is that she sticks to her word on development. Alameda simply does not have the points of ingress and egress to support the current development plans. Further, allowing developers to build without sufficent offstreet parking is a slap in the face to all Alamedans. Especially since the current Alameda building code would require a tear down of any construction work which increases "living space" in an existing home without additional offstreet parking. I am elated that Mayor Gilmore and all the individuals that have allowed things to get to this point will be gone shortly. Their actions were out of touch, selfish, short sighted and filled with contradictions. I sincerely hope that wishes of the people of Alameda are heard and that development is kept in accordance with the existing points of ingress and egress, and that sufficient parking is required for all new building.

Submitted by Dan (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

I voted for Trish Spencer... in large part due to Mayor Gilmore's 'hang 'em high!' letter.

Submitted by Gail Howell (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

I am thrilled with the election of Trish Spencer. She will do Alameda proud. She cares about the quality of life for everyone living in this city. I only wished that the candidates who received all those funds from outside sources could have put them to better use such as our parks, swimming pools, schools, etc. Now it's just money down the drain for disgusting mailers etc that ended up in the recycle bin, right where they belong. I look forward to better times in Alameda.

Submitted by Just me (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

I also voted for Trish Spencer. Between the rush to develop, the lack of attention to parking issues pertaining to new developments, the drowning, the golf course, the "hang 'em high" letter, and the unwavering support for the police even in the face of a terrible arrest of an innocent man, I'm done. Done.

Submitted by David (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

The Alameda did not report on the large amounts of money given to the Yes on I campaign from organizations outside of Alameda that expect their share of the $179.5 million to be spent.

Submitted by Jsanders128 (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Good riddance! Go Trish Spencer!

Submitted by Darcy Morrison (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Yes, many thanks to Michele and to Dennis Evanosky for shining a light on the flood of campaign contributions and thanks as well to the voters smart enough to see through the crude campaign tactics that came with this money. Our city is not for sale. Alameda is nothing but a giant dollar sign for developers, and what their profiteering does to our daily lives is entirely irrelevant to them, and just as irrelevant to Mayor Gilmore and her pals. And I'm tired of photo ops featuring grinning politicians with an arm around a firefighter at a fundraiser. The city can't function this way -- we just can't afford it. At some point, the city government needs to start paying attention to citizens, taxpayers -- and voters -- or this is what happens, and rightfully so.

Submitted by Jim M (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Michele, thanks for your dedication and hard work. I really appreciate how you keep us informed.

Submitted by Kurt (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Thank goodness the wise people of Alameda took notice of the outside interests that have been buying our past elections and decided to vote in people who really care about the city. Hope the remaining members of the city council can read the message. Way to go Trish and Frank !

Submitted by New to the Island (not verified) on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

How much power will Trish have to actually stop some of these developments? Alameda Point, for example, seems to be well on it's way. The city has a plan and is in the process of selecting developer finalists. Is Trish planning on halting or delaying that in some way? Is she legally able to? Anyone know the specifics about how that would work?

For the Del Monte project, the big complaint I have heard is not enough parking. If more parking was added, would Trish be happy with proceeding with this development? Again, how much legal authority does she have to stop this development, which seems to be further along than Alameda Point?

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Nov 6, 2014

Hey David: We did actually report on the money Yes on I got, in one of our Campaign Column blog posts. And New, to answer your question: Trish would be one of five votes on the City Council, so the power she has to impact the direction of development here is largely contained in her vote (like anyone on the council, she'd need two other folks to agree with her to set a direction). The mayor also picks the folks who sit on boards and commissions - like the Planning Board, which has some legislative authority over development - and brings candidates to council for their sign-off, which is traditionally a rubber-stamp affair.

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Thu, Nov 6, 2014

I do hope that we elected the right mayor; I too, resent politicians who are corrupted by money and power and do not really work for the good of the people, but rather for themselves. I almost didn't vote, but am glad I did, because of how close the election was; it just points up the fact that your vote really does matter (sometimes).

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Thu, Nov 6, 2014

Still looking for answer to prior question about what Trish, if she is new mayor, can or will do to stop certain development projects in Alameda. Obviously, anyone who is caught up in the everyday traffic/gridlock here would believe that people who don't live here and just stand to make money in development simply don't care once the money is made and they just disappear.

Submitted by Alison Greene (not verified) on Thu, Nov 6, 2014

New to the Island: Many people are under the impression that the main objection that neighbors have to Del Monte is the parking. The real issue is the sheer size of the project (414 units). Almost every single person in the impacted neighborhood is excited to see a successful, complementary project come to the Del Monte building. It's just too big.

The reality is that most of us did not find out about the project until very late in the game (April of this year). Yes - there are people who will point out that there are public notices, community development projects are on the City website, etc. While this is all true, the legal notification requirements didn't work for Del Monte; not many people live within the narrow proximity to get the letter. We received a notice, in legalese, directing us to the city website where we could dig thru and try and find all the documents (which are technical plans, etc.) and hope that the "hearing" in 10 days (at Planning Board) was on a night that schedules could be re-arranged. One neighbor noticed the Historical Review Board meeting & was able to attend. They determined that the developer's planned physical alterations were allowable within the historical designation context, paving the way for the variance requests to the Planning Board.

The reason the neighbors even got involved when we did (and it was the 3rd "hearing") is that some of us made up our own flyer & canvassed the 'hood to let people know about the tour of Del Monte, less than a week away. By that time, the architectural plans were done, the parking scheme created, etc. At the Planning Board hearing, the developer was asked to make some "cosmetic" changes, but not decrease the number of units. PB President Burton did make some recommendations for the developer to add more parking, which was a start, but not nearly enough.

The original timeline was that Planning Board would have approved & recommended the Del Monte plan & it would have gone to City Council for final approval in June. The developer would have been getting their permits by now. We (the neighbors) formed a group (PLAN! Alameda) & began intervening where we could.

Parking may be what you hear about, yet it's much deeper than that. We've made some other small but significant differences, but what people really wanted (and want) is to reduce the size of the project. We want to see a successful project brought to life in that historic building. We don't all agree on every aspect (some people love the new design with the added stories, others hate it, some don't care about that level of detail). We all want to see Littlejohn Park remain accessible for the people who come from all over to attend family BBQs and kids' sport events. A decade ago, there was a Northern Waterfront planning committee which included several community members (disclosure: my wife was on that committee. I did not live here or know anyone in Alameda at that time). That community group spent a couple of years thoughtfully and deliberately developing a plan that was much smaller in scope. There were no height or parking variances (nor were they needed with a project of that size). I'm told that a number of factors (economy, the then-owner's finances) prevented the project from moving forward. The next anyone heard, it was the current 414-unit proposal that was well on the path to approval.

What do the majority of the immediate neighbors want? A smaller development in that beautiful space. Why do you hear about parking instead? Because that's what we've been able to influence (along with definitive plans and contingencies for building Clement through and land availability for affordable housing at little cost to taxpayers). We've been trying as hard as we can to minimize the negative impact on the immediate neighborhood. It's been a little over 6 months since we printed that first flyer.

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Thu, Nov 6, 2014

Re: Firemen/Firewomen of Alameda

I too grew tired of photo after photo of Alameda Firepersons hanging their arms over Gilmore, Chen, Tam and Daysog at BBQs and parties at various multiple functions in Alameda.

Thanks to those Alamedans who have good judgement to vote Chen out of office and not elect Tam to Bart BOD. Hopefully Gilmore will be gone after all ballots are counted.

As for the Fire Union as it now stands they have to give away many more pumpkins, flip many more pancakes and fire up many more BBQs than they usually do to garner themselves secured vote next contract negotiations. Not to mention how much more money they will raise to put out propaganda to self serve their retirements!!

BTW I do appreciate and support emergency responders who are properly paid and properly benefitted for the work they perform. I just don't support Alameda city paid excessive pay and benefits now bestowed on Fireperson and their managers with my taxes.

The fiscal crisis will be upon the city soon. Oh then will we see real fiscal 'fireworks' on how to stamp out bankruptcy possibilities for our fair city! It will be interesting to see how the Fire Union handles reductions in staff etc etc.

The next 24 months should be interesting for city hall watchers.

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Thu, Nov 6, 2014

I too grow tired of govt.workers padding their retirements and self-serving interests; It's unbelievable how much money some of these people get when they retire..(as reported in the news media from time to time)....City, State, and Federal governments going bankrupt, and owing billions of dollars to pension funding.....what is wrong with this picture?

Submitted by New to the Island (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

Thank you Michelle and Alison Greene for your response. Learning a lot of good stuff here. The Northern Waterfront site is a rather large development project at 11.5 acres. At 414 units, that amounts to 36 units per acre, which puts the development between a low and medium density multi-dwelling zone according to generally accepted urban, sustainable zoning best practices. Given that, I don't see that as being too big.

However, it will definitely make the neighborhood, which I own and live in a house not too far from, more dense and give it a small central commercial district. This will change the neighborhood for sure, but perhaps not as negatively as you might think. Yes, there will be more people living in the area, but the land area to accommodate those new people seems adequate. With the new Jean Sweeney park, the mix of older, historic homes around Del Monte and a new development, this could be the hot new neighborhood in Alameda. Or it might not work as planned. Either way, what I definitely don't want to see is the community and city debating for the next 5-10 years about what should be built there. Let's figure out a way to get something done there. And that is my concern with Trish: I have yet to hear a concrete plan about what her alternative is for this site.

Which leads me to this: If I wanted to get more involved in this and help with a solution, could either Michelle or Alison point me in the right direction? Alison - you mentioned a neighborhood group PLAN! Alameda. Do you meet regularly? Have a Facebook page or somewhere I could find out more info? Perhaps we could grab coffee sometime or put me in touch with someone who could give me more info?

Thanks again!

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

I'm not against progress or improvement to our neighborhoods; I just hope that our newly elected mayor and City council will consider and address the obvious traffic problems pertaining to any new project or development in Alameda's future; once you're sitting in that bottlenecked gridlock, it's too late. You won't be able to talk it away.

Submitted by WannaBeInAlameda (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

Aaaaand, right on schedule, here come the Pro-Development shills. Watched the same thing happen here in Austin. Stay wary, stay vigilant, stay united, Alamedans! It's too late for Austin. It's not too late for your lovely Island.

Golly, gosh, no, it doesn't seem "too big" to someone who has no connection to your city, no connection to its history, its legacy of civic pride, its small-town atmosphere. Especially when they're more than likely typing from their desk in the developer's office.

Time and time again, people who raised their voices against the developers were shouted down and ridiculed here. Austin bears no resemblence to the beautiful city it once was. Entire streets here have been altered irreparably. Entire neighborhoods that once enjoyed sunshine in their backyard gardens now have 20-story condos blocking out all light next door to their modest but tidy frame houses.

Austin has been ripped asunder. Do not let it happen to Alameda.

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

Wow; just read this morning on the Alamedan that the mayoral vote count difference is narrowing to less than 200 votes; regardless of who wins the mayoral race, there will be disgruntled people who sat at home and didn't vote..........I guess that's what is meant by the old phrase: "people (in a democracy) get the government they deserve".....
...they will also have no right to complain.......

Submitted by New to the Island (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

WannaBe: Wow, you sure are opinionated about a city you don't live in. You talk about someone who has no connection to their city as you type from Austin?! You don't see the irony there? I actually live here (6 blocks from the site), pay taxes here, and definitely don't work for the developer. I disagreed 100% with Tim Lewis and their proposed development at Crab Cove and donated money to and supported Friends of Crab Cove. I also disagreed with Mayor Gillmore and the city about how they handled that situation. But I don't feel the same way about the Del Monte development. I want to see it get developed. That doesn't make me a shill. The reason I am discussing it on this thread is that I have not heard from Trish Spencer what her recommended approach is for the Northern Waterfront. She says she does not support the current plan. But what would she change? All I want is details. What would she be satisfied with? What is her opinion as to how many units per acre would be appropriate? Alison/PLAN! - Do you have any info on that?

While you're name calling, I am trying to get more involved in the community I live in.

Submitted by frank on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

@New to the Island
I'm not sure if you are aware of the extent of proposed development along the Northern Waterfront. Most of us are not opposed to Del Monte per se but when you include these 414 Units along with Marina Cove2 (51 single family and 38 Duplexes), Encinal Terminals and the potential developments at Penzoil and the City Corporation Yard that is a lot for one small neighborhood to absorb. My main problem with Del Monte is that there is an assumption that these people will not have cars. What if they do. There is no Plan B. Along with the Northern Waterfront there are numerous developments in various stages along Clement which really is not that far away. So yes a stand alone Del Monte with shopping is a great idea but there is just so much more going on there. Michele keeps us up to date on developments and I'm not sure if you have seen her map.

Submitted by WannaBeInAlameda (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

@"New": Sorry if you feel I have no connection. I *do* have a connection. I visit the Island at least once a year, and stay for a couple of weeks at a time. My best friend and his young family live basically two blocks from where this "development" is supposed to be. I hope some day to be able to move to the Island as well, but it will be awhile before I'm able to. I don't want to see Alameda destroyed before I can get there.

My friends live in one of the old Victorians, and the "mother in law" apartment below them just rented for an amount that was nearly double what the people who just moved out paid. It's disgusting to see.

I write because I care about what happens in Alameda, and I don't want to see what happened here happen THERE. Right now, as I type, I have to listen to the minions of a "developer" ramming into trees (large, old-growth trees) and chewing them up with a hideous machine. He's denuding the hillside to my north to slap up three more awful apartment complexes, where once was nothing but greenery and wildlife.

Forgive me if you think my statement was "name calling," as I genuinely have seen the under-handed and dirty tactics these developers use, which included comments and letters to the editor from supposed citizens which basically ridiculed and "shouted down" the voices of the real citizens when they spoke out against the destruction.

I've also seen these developers stop at nothing to circumvent rules and regulations, and all they get is a "fine" which is pocket change to them. One completely destroyed an entire grove of old-growth (well over 100-year-old) Live Oak trees, and got nothing more than a slap on the wrist, and that was that.

I'm passionate about what goes on there, because I see the people of Alameda have a chance to stop the destruction and greed that has destroyed Austin.

Submitted by Laura (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

Hey @New to the Island…re: info on community group Alison explained above, go to Facebook and search for "PLAN! Alameda." And too bad you missed it but last night our mayor-elect did a public Q&A with Alameda Citizen's Task Force. Also helpful/informative right now are the neighborhood discussions happening at Nextdoor.com, a web/platform for community topics/dialog.

Submitted by 40 Year Alameden (not verified) on Fri, Nov 7, 2014

Voting was easy this time around. Any thing arriving in the mail that indicated the firefighters support for a particular candidate automatically helped me decide who not to vote for!