Residents of Tracy chose to "vote purple" this year as Mayor Pro-Tem Nancy Young is currently projected to be Tracy's next mayor.
Young started the five-person race off strong with an early lead on Tuesday, taking in nearly 37% of votes when the first round of results were posted by the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters after 8 p.m. Fellow mayoral candidate Dan Arriola trailed closely at less than 5% behind Young, with Jass Sangha coming in at a distant third with about 18% of votes.
Young recalled her nerves as she waited for the results to appear online. At 8:28 p.m., the Registrar of Voters posted its first update.
"As I was scrolling through (the results), my heart was racing so fast," said Young. She felt confident going into the race but at the same time didn't discount the credibility of her opponents.
"I had to stay positive because I felt like I worked so hard. I've been on the council for eight years, the last two as mayor pro-tem. It's not always based on qualifications for many races. But I had really hoped and prayed that Tracy would vote for me with seeing, not only the love and passion I had for my community, but also my experience."
From there, the numbers kept coming in and the margin between her and Arriola kept slowly widening. As of Thursday morning, Young still holds the top slot in Tracy's mayoral race at 6,785 votes. She currently leads Arriola by nearly 900 votes.
This is Young's second run for Tracy Mayor, having lost her previous race in 2018 to incumbent Robert Rickman. With her second term as a city councilmember nearing its end, this win would grant Young an extension to her time serving as a city representative by at least two years, which she acknowledges is not a lot of time to implement all that she wants to get done.
"Two years is not a lot," said Young when outlining some of her priorities. "I'm a bit perturbed, because I fought really hard in 2016 to get Measure V passed so that we could get some amenities built, and the two main amenities that were supposed to be build have not broken ground. So I really want to see that happen, because we promised people that these were going to be built."
Young's projected win would also set a bookmark in Tracy's history, as she would be the city's first Black mayor in addition to already being Tracy's first appointed Black mayor pro-tem. Prior to that, the first Black councilmember to serve Tracy was Evelyn Tolbert in the 90s and early 2000s.
"When I ran for council in 2012, my whole thought was, you know, we need diversity of thought. There were five white males on the council when I was elected, so I was the only female and the only person of color on council then," said Young.
In contrast to Young's experience in 2012, Tracy's city council going into 2021 will have a diverse mix of male and female members from different ethnic backgrounds. Young sees this as the city's opportunity to promote equity throughout Tracy.
Although she is proud of this accomplishment and the overall diversity that is spreading in city administration, Young doesn't overlook her accomplishment of being the first mayor not originally "rooted" in Tracy, having moved to the city in 2006 while other mayors, she's observed, have been multigenerational Tracyites. She finds this achievement equally important.
Young recalls seeing political signs for mayoral campaigns when she first moved to Tracy using phrases like "home grown."
"I said, you know what? If I ever run for anything in this town, I'm going to be a 'fresh crop.' And so when I ran in 2010, my whole theme was about being a fresh voice, to be that fresh crop," said Young. "And so now, at this point that I'm transitioning from old Tracy to new Tracy, I really feel like my new crop is flourishing...So I decided that I am going to plant my roots here."
Arriola is not counting himself out of the race quite yet as many ballots are still yet to be counted in the county, meaning the chance for the election results to flip.
"At this time we remain optimistic. At this point we want to wait for all votes to be counted. I think it's important we let every voter's voice be hear," said Arriola, who celebrated election night on his 31st birthday.
Regardless of the results, Arriola looks forward to working together with Young in the future. Young even noted that the two texted each other well wishes on Tuesday.
If Arriola's run for mayor comes to a loss to Young this year, he still holds his seat on city council until the end of his term in 2022. Young looks forward to working with him and Councilwoman Veronica Vargas to mentor new councilmembers and use teamwork to fulfill promises the council has previously made to Tracy's residents, including addressing incomplete projects like Legacy Fields, an aquatics center and Tracy's planned homeless shelter.
Every ballot has not been counted per the Registrar of Voters — about 130,000 ballots from throughout the county still need to be recorded — but Young sees her early lead as a victory and the first step in transitioning to a newer Tracy. The Registrar of Voters plans to have its numbers finalized by early December.
• Contact Brianna Guillory at email@example.com or call 209-830-4229