Cesar Zepeda wins District 2 election by three votes after recount

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Cesar Zepeda wins District 2 election by three votes after recount
Cesar Zepeda poses for a photo at the Diversity Month Celebration at Richmond City Hall in May 2019. (Photo credit: Mike Kinney)

A recount in the District 2 election resulted in a victory for Cesar Zepeda by three votes over Andrew Butt, according to the Contra Costa County Elections Division.

In the November election, Zepeda and Butt received the exact same number of votes: 1,921. Zepeda was later declared winner of the stalemate after his name, rather than Butt’s, was pulled from a bag by the city clerk, per city policy.

Butt’s campaign requested a recount, which was completed Friday. The recount had Zepeda winning the election with 1,921 votes, and Butt just behind with 1,918 votes.

The recount involved manual counts of paper ballots, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia stated in a post on social media. Gioia said one of the changes to the final result was the discounting of a vote from a resident living just outside district boundaries. Another case involved an “X drawn over the pencil mark bubble for the candidate indicating the voter didn’t want to vote for that candidate after first marking it,” Gioia said. “The machine would read it as a vote for that candidate.”

Following the result, Butt congratulated Zepeda on a hard-fought victory.

“This has been one for the books, that’s for sure,” Butt said. “I’ll continue to work to make Richmond a better place, it just won’t be from behind the dais.”

Zepeda said the recount provided compelling proof that every vote counts.

“Next election make sure to get out and vote,” he said. “One vote can make a difference.”

Zepeda said he was looking forward to working with his constituents, including Butt, on the issues facing his district and the city. The District 2 councilmember represents areas of the city including portions of Hilltop, North Richmond, Point Richmond and parts of Marina Bay.

A recount was also conducted in the Antioch City Council District 1 race. There was no change after the recount, with Tamisha Torres-Walker prevailing with 1,467 votes, Joy Motts following with 1,463 vottes and Diane Gibson-Gray with 1,338 votes.

Clerk-Recorder-Registrar Debi Cooper reiterated the importance of voting. She said recounts have been rare in her 33 years at the department, and lauded her elections team for performing “above and beyond.”

“These recounts confirmed the integrity of the elections through a transparent audit process,” Cooper said.

The final official report for this election is posted on the Contra Costa County Elections
website and can be found at www.contracostavote.gov.