District 4 City Council candidate Janani Ramachandran on election night at her home in Oakland. Credit: Azucena Rasilla

Janani Ramachandran became the first Oakland City Council candidate to declare victory in the Nov. 8 election, where she’s running to represent District 4.

“Ramachandran will be the youngest Councilmember to ever be elected in Oakland’s history—at age 30,” her campaign said in a press release Thursday morning. “She will also be the city’s first South Asian Councilmember, and the first queer woman of color to be elected to the City Council.”

The statement was issued before the county published a new round of results Thursday afternoon, which showed Ramachandran maintaining her strong lead in the race to represent neighborhoods in and around the Oakland hills.

Despite Ramachandran’s declaration, her opponent Nenna Joiner said Thursday afternoon that they weren’t ready to draw any definitive conclusions.

“The votes are still out and the race isn’t over as far as I’m concerned,” wrote Joiner on social media. “Folks asking how I’m doing…very well! I showed up as my BEST self and gave it everything I had!” 

Joiner informed their followers that they’re traveling in Vietnam, currently “in Sai Gon relaxing before heading to Ha Noi for Ha Long Bay to decompress.”

When asked what the most rewarding aspect of their campaign had been, Joiner told The Oaklandside in a text message received early Thursday morning that representing the city’s small business owners has been “a badge of honor.”

“Small business owners are the salt in Oakland,” wrote Joiner.  “We make the flavor everyone wants to taste.  We are the vibrancy in the city.”

The county’s latest release of voter data came just before 5 p.m. on Thursday. There are still tens of thousands of ballots to be counted, and the registrar’s next release won’t occur until Monday afternoon. 

Each of the leading candidates in the three City Council races continued to hold substantial advantages over their competitors.

In District 2, incumbent Nikki Fortunato Bas has kept her large lead, claiming just over 60% of the vote in the race to represent Chinatown, Eastlake, Grand Lake, San Antonio, and other neighborhoods around Lake Merritt. She has one challenger, Harold Lowe, who said yesterday that he hadn’t completely given up hope.

Reached just after the latest results were released, Bas said she wasn’t ready to declare victory.

“I am still very excited about how the votes are trending,” she said in a text message. “And I will continue to wait until more votes are counted before issuing a statement.”

Kevin Jenkins maintains his lead in the District 6 race with over 68% of the vote. 

Jenkins told The Oaklandside yesterday that he currently doesn’t plan on officially declaring victory until all the votes have been counted. 

The D6 race was the most crowded this year, as four candidates—Nancy Sidebotham, Yakpasua Zazaboi, Kenneth Session, and Jenkins—competed over the seat left vacant by mayoral hopeful Loren Taylor. 

If elected, Jenkins, an East Oakland native, would represent a district that encompasses a large portion of the East Oakland hills and flatlands, including the Coliseum area.

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.

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.

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.