Mayor Lisa Gillmor stepped up her lead over Councilman Anthony Becker to the top position in Santa Clara on Friday as votes continued to roll in days after the election.
After the registry office released a further 6% of the vote on Friday night, Gillmor had 10,369 votes to 9,978 Becker, bringing her lead to 391 votes. On Thursday, she got up at 250.
The county said it would post more results by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The race between them was overshadowed by the millions in spending on the various San Francisco 49ers campaigns that play at Levi’s Stadium. Team owner Jed York has donated more than $ 4.5 million to this year’s city council races and dedicated more than $ 1.4 million to support Becker’s campaign. He has spent millions to counter Gillmore’s campaign and support the councils led by current Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy.
Chahal and Hardy, who ran for re-election in Districts 2 and 3, likely won thanks to their advantage over opponents Larry McColloch and Christian Pellecchia.
On Friday, Chahal was 816 votes ahead of McColloch, while Hardy was 882 votes ahead of Pellecchia. Neither have lost the race yet, although McColloch said Thursday he would consider it after counting 90% of the county’s votes. By Friday, the county had obtained 62% of the expected votes.
The presence of the 49ers has long hung over the city council and has sparked conflicts among members who have strong feelings about the team’s management of the stadium, a huge facility that opened in 2014.
On one side of the aisle, Becker and his council allies, including Chahal and Hardy, say the stadium will stay here and want the city to benefit from its existence. On the other hand, Gillmor and her supporters say the city has not received the financial returns promised by the 49ers and are skeptical about the team’s ability to deliver them eventually.
The conflict between the two factions has been the source of the most high-profile controversy over the city council in the last few months. In August, the council decided to settle the lawsuit with the team after a heated meeting in a closed session, after which Gillmor accused Becker of being offensive and making a rude gesture towards her. In October, a large civilian jury released a report accusing five council members – Becker, Chahal, Hardy, Vice Mayor Suds Jain, and Councilor Kevin Park – of unethically favoring 49ers in council houses. These council members quickly denounced the allegations and promised to discuss them at future public meetings.
The report prompted Santa Clara Police Chief Pat Nikolai to call on District Attorney Jeff Rosen to formally investigate the report’s allegations of potential violations of the law.
Despite the 49ers’ massive independent spending, Becker, Chahal and Hardy are adamant that the team’s support for their campaign doesn’t guarantee they have allies on the council. Chahal even went so far as to say that the expenses the team made in connection with the city council elections should be illegal, and if there is any way to prevent them, he will.
The 49ers have yet to respond to many requests for comment on the tough race of mayors. But team spokesman Rahul Chandok previously said the team has backed Becker, Chahal and Hardy because they want to promote a variety of candidates who would solve problems such as Santa Clara housing affordability.
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