November Elections: Ranked-Choice, EBMUD

Friday, October 3, 2014

Understanding Oakland's Ranked-Choice Voting
Are you ready for another Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) election? Oakland elects its Mayor, City Council members, City Attorney, City Auditor, and School Directors using ranked-choice voting. For all other races, you'll simply pick your single most preferred candidate, or vote yes or no on a ballot measure.

How RCV works: If a candidate receives a majority (50 percent+1) of the first-choice votes cast for that office, that candidate is elected. However, if no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes cast, then an elimination process begins. The candidate who receives the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and each vote cast for that candidate is transferred to the voter's next ranked choice among the remaining candidates. The elimination process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes and is deemed the winner.

RCV allows you to vote first for your preferred candidate, but also to choose a back-up in the event your preferred candidate doesn't get a majority of the total votes cast. It also avoids the administration (and cost) of a separate run-off election when no candidate wins by a majority, since this winnowing process replaces the run-off. (This voting method is also sometimes referred to as "instant-runoff" voting.)

Here are a few reminders when you are filling out your ballot:

  • RCV allows you to rank a first, second and third choice candidate for a single office. Your second choice will be counted only if your first choice candidate has been eliminated. Your third choice will be counted only if both your first and second choice candidates have been eliminated.
  • If you only have one or two candidates you would ever in a million years want for a particular seat, then only list those candidates. You do not have to select three candidates - you can select one, two, OR three.
  • Listing a candidate multiple times counts as one vote for that candidate; i.e., there is no benefit to doing this. (There is another voting system called "cumulative voting" that would give a voter multiple votes that could be spread among multiple candidates or all used on one, but we don't have that system in Oakland.)

For additional reading on RCV, check these sites:;

EBMUD Elections for Rockridge Ward
Most likely everyone in Rockridge is interested in the water coming out of our taps. In this era of drought and climate change, it is critical that we engage as consumers to help ensure the continuation of good water quality and the development of forward-thinking water management policies.

Our water utility, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), is governed by directors representing geographic wards in the service area. EBMUD has seven wards. A ward boundary between Ward 3 and Ward 4 bisects Rockridge, roughly along Highway 24. Ward 4 is north of highway 24 and Ward 3 is south.

For the EBMUD director elections this fall, directorship for the 4th Ward is uncontested. That seat is held by Andy Katz, board president. The seat in the 3rd Ward is held by board vice president Katy Foulkes. Foulkes has served on the board for 20 years. Marguerite Young is challenging the five-term incumbent for 3rd Ward seat.

Foulkes has a long history of political involvement in the East Bay. She has served two terms on the Piedmont City Council, including one as mayor, two terms as president of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont, and 16 years on the Alameda County Local Agency Formation Commission representing special districts. She represents EBMUD on joint powers agencies with the Sacramento area and the counties of Amador, Calaveras and Alpine.

Challenger Young has worked as director for Clean Water Action California and has led successful campaigns at the local, state and national level to improve water quality and protect drinking water sources from pollution. She has served on numerous state and federal advisory committees including the Cal Fed Bay Delta Program, the State Source Water Protection Committee, Water Reuse Task Force, and the EPA Advisory Committee on Drinking Water Disinfection By-Products. Young has been endorsed by the Democratic Party, the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and several labor unions including the AFSCME which represents most EBMUD employees.

The two candidates disagree on important issues. Young thinks that heavy water users should pay higher rates while historically low water users should get a break. Foulkes does not hold that position. Foulkes voted against Wild and Scenic status for the Mokolumne River (our water source). Young was an advocate of Wild and Scenic status for the Mokolumne River.

This will be an interesting race to watch. Stay tuned, do your research and get out and vote.