Incumbent Randy Royce lost his seat on the city council by a little less than 300 votes.
Royce had a laundry list of endorsements, from newspapers to state elected officials and local community leaders.
Examiner.com columnist Bruce Balshone predicted victory for Royce, writing; “Royce remains popular and will win reelection.”
So what happened? Only the voters really know.
When the Laurel Street Spy talked to Royce by phone, he sounded upbeat.
Royce was also philosophical about his loss, which he attributed to taking risks and making changes that not everyone liked, including outsourcing the police department and merging the city’s fire department with Redwood City.
“It’s bittersweet, but I’m very proud of the work the council has done,” he said, later adding: “Because of the heavy lifting we’ve done, we’ve created a financially sustainable government with better services at lower cost.”
The morning after the upset, Mayor Andy Klein said, “I’m disappointed that Randy will not be returning. I think he deserved a return trip to the council,” adding that Royce did exactly what he set out to do and, “stood up and did the right thing.”
Council member Matt Grocott said after studying the precinct maps, he knew it was going to be a close race. “Watching from afar I could see that (Ron) Collins and Royce were running a tandem campaign, while (Mark) Olbert ran independently,” he said, adding that a tandem campaign has its risks when a voter defects from either of the candidates running together. [See LSS analysis Campaign Buddies]
Carrie Du Bois – who won a seat on the Sequoia Union High School District and worked alongside Olbert on the SC School Board – said she thought some people may have underestimated Olbert. “I think he had advantages people didn’t realize,” she said, referring to widespread support of parents in town.
“It’s hard to know what happened,” council member Bob Grassilli said. “It’s not like the incumbent was wiped out.”
Grassilli echoes Du Bois when wondering if Olbert might have got a boost by the number of parents who turned out for the school board contest. “Whether they voted for him I have no idea and I don’t want to take anything away from Mark because I know he worked very hard and walked all the precincts.”
As for Mark Olbert, he said one could argue that this is a period of time when there’s a general lower level of support for incumbents. “But that’s an after- the-fact-discussion, so I guess I am surprised.”
Ron Collins, the other winner of the evening, said he was “only a little bit surprised,” calling Olbert a tireless and veteran campaigner.
“Mark and I had the luxury of no track record,” Collins said, adding that Royce had also been dealing with some serious health issues.
“Randy took some real shots for his stances on things, like redoing the police department…he was resolute about that,” Collins said. “Fire was worse, the backlash was worse, but he stood up and said we had to go through with it. We’ll see how this plays out with Andy (Klein) in two years when he comes up for reelection.”
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