(From left): Nikki Fortunato Bas (D2), Janani Ramachandran (D4), and Kevin Jenkins (D6) were all leading by large margins in their respective City Council races as of Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022.

Editor’s note: The Alameda County Registrar of Voters posted more election results on Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. Read the latest updates in the City Council races. And see results for other Oakland races on our elections results page.

Clear leaders have emerged in each of the three City Council races in Oakland, but with tens of thousands of ballots likely still left to be tabulated, no candidates have declared victory.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Alameda County registrar had counted roughly 38,000 ballots for Oakland’s mayoral race. While we can’t say for sure exactly how many ballots are left to be counted, we do know that four years ago, over 158,000 Oaklanders voted for mayor—a good proxy for the total number of Oakland ballots cast in that election. This year’s total is likely to wind up somewhere close to that.

We checked in with many of the candidates running for council in districts 2, 4, and 6 since the county began releasing the election results last night, to get their reactions to the early returns. Here’s where each of the council races stands:

District 2: Nikki Fortunato Bas leading

In District 2, Nikki Fortunato Bas—the only incumbent in any council race this year—has maintained a significant lead over financial planner Harold Lowe.

Bas currently has 60.4% of the vote to Lowe’s 39.6% in the race to represent Chinatown, Eastlake, Grand Lake, Trestle Glen, and San Antonio.

“I’m feeling excited about how the results are trending,” said Bas late Tuesday night, at a watch party for her and mayoral candidate Sheng Thao’s campaigns. “I can exhale now,” she said, noting that she and her staff and volunteers had made tens of thousands of calls to voters in recent months. 

“I made a commitment to you when I ran, to listen and learn,” Bas said.

Issues of public safety dominated the conversation in D2 leading up to the election. Incidents of violence in the neighborhoods and a national rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans have left many residents in the district feeling fearful for their safety. On the campaign trail, Bas touted her record of working with community members, police, and alternative emergency responders to tailor public safety measures to the needs of neighborhoods like Chinatown and Little Saigon.

She told The Oaklandside on Tuesday that her focus in a likely second term on council will be on improving public safety “and making sure the policing part of the system is building more trust with the community and focusing on solving crimes.” She said she’s looking forward to continuing to develop MACRO, the non-police emergency response system set to expand throughout the city in the new year.

During the campaign, Lowe blamed Bas’ leadership, and that of other sitting city officials, for safety issues in D2. He said the lake area had become a “wild west,” and called for stricter rules around gathering and boosting the staffing of the Oakland Police Department to 900 officers, up from its current level of roughly 680.

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Lowe said he expects the vote margin to narrow or possibly even close entirely as more results are released.

“It is not mathematically impossible,” given how few ballots have been counted so far, he said. “The race wasn’t decided last night.” 

Yesterday, while campaigning, Lowe said he was startled to meet an older Black resident of his district who said he’d never voted before and had been incarcerated for decades for stealing a pair of pants. With Lowe’s encouragement, the man entered the nearby polling places and cast a ballot.

“Ultimately in Oakland, you have a group of people nobody is reaching,” Lowe said. “There’s no accountability. That was the most profound moment of the campaign, just saying, ‘I live around here and I want to help you.’”

District 4: Janani Ramachandran ahead

In District 4, which includes the neighborhoods of Panoramic Hill, Glen Highlands, Dimond, Oakmore, Lincoln Highlands, Glenview (previously in District 5), Laurel, Redwood Heights, Montclair, Crestmont, and Allendale, among others, Janani Ramachandran currently holds about 64.3% of the vote. Her opponent, business owner Nenna Joiner, has 35.7%.

In an email to The Oaklandside on Wednesday afternoon, Ramachandran said about the current preliminary results:

“I believe the results show that voters are ready for change. Ready to move away from status quo political systems and shift away from ‘business as usual’ where insiders control City Hall and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent. Voters have shown that they care deeply about the influence of money in politics—which is why I am proud to have been a corporate-money-free candidate. As we were the only candidate in this race not to have over $100K of financing from independent expenditures, we instead relied on grassroots contributions from everyday people and hundreds of volunteers to help us spread the word about our movement through direct voter contact.”

Last night, Joiner and their supporters held a campaign party at D.Monaghan’s On The Hill in Montclair. Among those who stopped by in the early evening, ahead of the initial results, were former Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington, Mayor Libby Schaaf, and mayoral candidate and current District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor.

During the event, Joiner praised their team and others who supported them throughout the campaign. “We did it in a clean way. We were kind to the community, and wanting to do the work. We want to tell the city that we can be different, and we can go about it [in a way that’s] not just politics as usual,” Joiner said. “And that people actually matter in our community, and we can have a clean way of doing things.” 

Joiner also emphasized their record as a business owner and community activist. “I know who I am. I know that I’ve been fighting for reproductive, reproductive rights, transgender rights, sex education, and boundary education. Also, for seniors in our community for years,” Joiner said. “This is the work that I’ve already been doing.”

District 6: Kevin Jenkins holds large lead

Kevin Jenkins, a Peralta Community College Trustee, currently holds about 80% of the ranked-choice vote as of Wednesday afternoon and is poised to represent a significant portion of the East Oakland hills and flatlands as the councilmember for District 6. 

Though likely to win, he is waiting until all the votes are counted. “Our message has resonated with the people of D6,” Jenkins told The Oaklandside on Wednesday. “The most rewarding part of this campaign has been getting to hear residents’ concerns and what’s good about this district.”

The seat, recently left vacant by mayoral hopeful Loren Taylor, was sought after by four candidates: Nancy Sidebotham, Yakpasua Zazaboi, Kenneth Session, and Jenkins. 

Unlike the council races in districts 2 and 4, which featured a fair amount of finger-pointing, the D6 candidates ran fairly quiet campaigns. “I’m glad we ran a clean race and let voters decide who they want to represent them,” Jenkins said. 

Candidate Yakpasua Zazaboi, the owner of Sydewayz Cafe, an IT company in East Oakland, expressed a similar sentiment when we spoke to him on election night. He received roughly 10% of the first-place votes but was dropped from the race after ranked-choice votes were tabulated.

“We’re feeling good. We ran a clean race and we checked all the boxes,” said Zazaboi. “No matter who wins, they still have to deal with me anyways.” 

The Oaklandside reached out to the two other D6 candidates, Nancy Sidebotham and Kenneth Session, but hadn’t heard back from them at the time of publication. Sidebotham currently holds about 19% of the ranked-choice votes for D6. Session, like Zazaboi, was dropped after ranked-choice tabulations.

Jenkins told The Oaklandside in a recent interview that he plans to focus first on the district’s cleanliness, addressing public safety issues, and housing and homelessness challenges. 

“We’re gonna make sure East Oakland is represented in an equitable way,” Jenkins said. 

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.

Natalie Orenstein covers housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously on staff at Berkeleyside, where her extensive reporting on the legacy of school desegregation received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal and the Education Writers Association. Natalie’s reporting has also appeared in The J Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, and she’s written about public policy for a number of research institutes and think tanks. Natalie lives in Oakland, grew up in Berkeley, and has only left her beloved East Bay once, to attend Pomona College.

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Oaklandside, he spent two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the local news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, is on The Oaklandside team through a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.