It took two weeks of vote-counting, but Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao has eked out a razor-thin, 682-vote victory as of Monday night over fellow Councilmember Loren Taylor, and ranked-choice voting tabulations eventually handed her the victory.
It’s a pretty remarkable biography to go from a single mother living in a car with an infant son in the East Bay in 2007, to being elected Mayor of Oakland in 2022. But that is now officially the life arc of District 4 Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao, who declared victory in the Oakland mayoral race Monday night, per the Chronicle. And after a highly suspenseful two-week vote count in which her opponent Loren Taylor was initially ahead but then fell behind in the ranked choice voting, the District 6 Councilmember Taylor conceded Tuesday morning.
Thao becomes Oakland’s first Hmong-American mayor, the daughter of immigrants who fled a Laotian genocide, and a Stockton native who grew up in public housing.
It’s been a long journey, and I’m incredibly honored by the trust the voters have placed in me. This was a very close election and I am proud to be elected as Oakland’s next Mayor.🧵— Sheng Thao 盛桃 (@ShengForOakland) November 22, 2022
"I have never felt more hopeful about Oakland's future, or more determined to lead the fight for it,” Thao said in a statement picked up by KPIX. “I'm excited to get to work building the safer, more affordable, more just Oakland we know is possible in the months and years ahead.”
Thao is the seventh of ten children of those Laotian refugees, according to the Chronicle. After leaving home at age 17, she got a job at and enrolled at Merritt College, and eventually transferred to UC Berkeley where Thao got her degree in legal studies. She started as an intern for Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan in 2014, working her way up to Kaplan’s chief of staff, and being elected to District 4 councilmember in 2018.
Civil rights attorney and first-time political candidate Allyssa Victory was the rainmaker in the 2022 Oakland mayoral election. Her supporters' second-place votes for Sheng Thao were key in propelling Thao to victory over Loren Taylor.https://t.co/qidxZS2rNV— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) November 22, 2022
As KTVU reports, Thao’s current lead is just “682 votes over her opponent,” but only “Around 333 of [the remaining] ballots factored in to the mayoral race." Oaklandside crunches the numbers and notes that “Taylor led the field of 10 candidates with first-choice votes. And during the first ten days of the ballot counting process, he maintained his lead, even after the ranked-choice voting process was run." But it was ballots that came in later, particularly mail-ins and drop-offs on election day, that ultimately skewed things in Thao's favor, albeit by a slim margin.
Loren Taylor has called a press conference for tomorrow. Haven't seen a reaction yet from Thao.https://t.co/SzkJDfBF8m— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) November 22, 2022
Loren Taylor conceded the election in a 10 a.m. Tuesday morning press conference. “While it hurts to admit it, I do not see a viable path to making up the 682 votes needed to alter the outcome of this election,” Taylor said Tuesday morning. “The possibilities of getting a few votes in our direction are not going to tip the scale. I concede that Sheng Thao will be certified as Oakland’s next mayor.”
Image: @ShengForOakland via Twitter