Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Harpham takes third Moraga council seat

On election night, Howard Harpham was expecting closure. He didn't get it; he led Janice Kolbe for the third seat on Moraga's Town Council by only seven votes with thousands left uncounted.

It took nearly a month for his victory over Kolbe to be official. He received 32 more votes than she did, out of more than 19,000 votes cast. Each voter could vote for three candidates.

"It's anti-climactic," Harpham said Tuesday, when the election results were certified. "You stagger across the finish line and everyone in the stadium's gone home ... it's kind of a lonely victory lap."

In the final tally, Karen Mendonca received one more vote than incumbent Michael Metcalf, making Mendonca the top vote-getter at 4,589. Harpham beat Kolbe 3,444 to 3,412.

"It's been a long month, just waiting," Kolbe said. "I want to wish Howard the best, as well as Mike and Karen ... I know they've got a lot on their plates the next four years."

Kolbe said she needs to "take a breather" before figuring out what she will she will tackle next. But she hopes the election will lead people to be more aware of Moraga politics.

"The citizens of the Town of Moraga need to pay a little closer attention to what's going on," Kolbe said.

The wait for the final tally came as county officials counted tens of thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots; a count that did not finish until Tuesday when Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Steve Weir certified the Advertisementelection results.

Many Moraga voters who cast ballots on the open space ballot initiatives either voted for fewer than three candidates, or did not vote in the Town Council election. There were 9,001 votes either for or against Measure K; if all of those voters had selected three Town Council candidates, there would have been almost 8,000 more votes tallied in the council election.

Harpham said he had been having conversations with his fellow council members and learning about California's open meetings laws.

And he is looking forward to taking on the exciting challenges the town faces, he said, such as the budget.

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