Cesar Zepeda wins Richmond City Council seat after name drawing out of gift bag

Here's a look at the moment when a political office was decided by drawing a name out of a gift bag.

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Here's how chance decided the Richmond City Council race after tie
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Cesar Zepeda has been elected to the Richmond City Council after his name was pulled out of a gift bag.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- On Tuesday, Cesar Zepeda won a Richmond City Council seat after a name drawing out of a gift bag in a tie-breaker held by the Contra Costa County clerk.

This comes after both Zepeda and his opponent for District 2, Andrew Butt, each received exactly 1,921 votes in the November election.

VIDEO: Moment when Cesar Zepeda's name was drawn out of a gift bag

It was a historic moment not only for representation in office, but how this tie was broken.

It started with the candidates writing down their own names in Sharpie, placing it into identical, unmarked envelopes, and then the moment when a political office was determined by drawing names out of a gift bag.

"I am the first openly gay man to serve on our council," Zepeda said.

Getting emotional at the thought of breathing a new generation of leadership to this city council, Zepeda was donning his own good luck charms, from a pocket square pin and "love is love" socks.

"I want to be able to lead the community with that mindset, that we could be different but if our goals are to make our community better, we can, whether you're a gay man, whether you're a straight person, we can do it together," he said.

RELATED: Richmond City Council race ends in tie; winner to be determined by name draw

His opponent, Butt, son of outgoing Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, wishes this could have been settled another way.

"Yeah, the one where I won!" Butt said with a chuckle.

Still he wishes Zepeda the best, although he hopes overall voter turnout and future ties will see improvement in the future.

"In a perfect world, there would be an opportunity to have another vote, you know have a runoff or something like that, but you know the reality is, that takes time and money and we're short on both, so I think, I don't know what else you do honestly," Butt said.

Both Zepeda and Butt said they would have rather seen this end in a runoff election or ranked-choice voting.

For background, the last time Contra Costa County had a tie like this was in 2018 for the Director of the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District. That tie was broken with a roll of the dice.

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