By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Petaluma Vice Mayor Tiffany Renée isn’t conceding the election quite yet.
After mail-in ballots and precinct votes were counted early Wednesday morning, Renée, seeking reelection to one of three City Council seats on the Nov. 6 ballot, was in fourth place, behind newcomer Kathy Miller by 1,026 votes.
Renée, who owns a web design company, was seeking a second term on the seven-member council. The campaign was the first for Miller, a civil attorney and one-time planning commissioner.
Miller’s running mate and fellow attorney, Mike Healy, topped all six candidates, followed by incumbent Gabe Kearney and then Miller.
If the vote holds, it would oust Renée, although she said Friday she still holds out hope. She estimates about 5,000 late absentee votes haven’t been tallied.
Almost 65 percent of all potential Petaluma ballots have been counted, according to county registrar figures.
The gap between the top three and bottom three candidates changed by less than one percent throughout election night, which could suggest the final mail-in ballots — those received on Election Day — aren’t likely to change the outcome.
But Renée said Friday she shouldn’t be counted out.
“I’ve run different scenarios with the math and the more absentees there are, the better my chances are,” she said. She noted that as more results came in, her percentage rose and Miller’s dropped.
“Given the trend that was happening as the votes were coming in … I’m going to wait,” she said. “I know I’ll close the gap; it’s just whether it will be enough.”
Gloria Colter, assistant county registrar of voters, said elections officers on Friday were collecting and unloading the remaining approximately 35,000 ballots, which haven’t been broken out by city.
In another close race, newcomer candidates for Santa Rosa school board Jenni Klose and Brian Noble were separated by 1,055 votes, with Klose leading.
If the vote in Petaluma stands, it would tilt the council toward a more moderate direction in its approach to land-use, development and environmental issues.
Miller, Healy and Kearney likely will tend to align more closely with Council members Mike Harris and Chris Albertson than with Mayor David Glass and Councilwoman Teresa Barrett, who are backed by more liberal supporters and who are more closely tied to Renée.
Healy said he sees himself, Kearney and Miller becoming a center bloc on the council, sometimes voting with those on either side.
“There’s no excuse for gridlock,” he said Friday. “I take responsibility for that. I’ll certainly try.”
Miller raised the most money of all six Petaluma candidates through Nov. 1, according to campaign finance reports leading up to the final days before the vote.
She raised $16,484, followed by Healy with $15,989, Alicia Kae Herries, $15,734 and Kearney’s $11,350. Jason Davies raised $10,720 and Renée $9,924.
A final report will detail any final contributions made the week before the election.
Supporters of Measure X on Tuesday’s ballot raised $42,480 in their campaign to raise funds for new and renovated parks facilities in Petaluma. The parcel tax measure failed to win the necessary two-thirds support.
(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)