The balance of power appears to have shifted at Sacramento City Hall.
Developer Allen Warren, a native son of Del Paso Heights, was headed for victory Tuesday in his quest to represent north Sacramento on the City Council. Warren's win over former Councilman Rob Kerth would represent a rare political victory for Mayor Kevin Johnson, who endorsed his longtime friend early in the campaign.
Meanwhile, Steve Hansen a biotech firm manager and downtown resident maintained his lead over architect Joe Yee in the campaign to represent the central city, Land Park and a slice of South Natomas. While neither candidate was ready to declare the race over Tuesday, both said they would be surprised if the result changed with the next update later this week.
If elected, Hansen would be the first openly gay council member in the city's history and the first representative living downtown in 30 years. At 33 years old, he would also be the youngest current member of the council.
Warren and Hansen faced opponents who had the backing of most of the city's Democratic Party interests and trade unions. Those groups have maintained a firm grip over city politics for years.
"These results are a big blow to the special interests and party bosses that have blocked progress in Sacramento," said Steve Maviglio, the mayor's campaign consultant. "Nobody expects the new council to be joined at the hip to the mayor, but this will certainly be a forward-looking council that will share that vision with him in many respects."
Warren would replace one of organized labor's most stout allies at City Hall, three-term Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, who has also served as the mayor's chief antagonist over the past four years.
Hansen and Yee both sought to replace Councilman Rob Fong, who is leaving City Hall after two terms. Fong has parted with the mayor on most of Johnson's personal initiatives, most notably his quest to increase his office's authority through various "strong mayor" plans.
Over his first term, Johnson struggled to build consensus on the City Council. But he has cultivated strong links with council members Angelique Ashby and Jay Schenirer since they joined the council two years ago. Warren gives him another key ally as he likely will seek to resurrect his strong-mayor plan.
Johnson did not support either Hansen or Yee in the race for Fong's seat, but he shares many of the same allies as Hansen, including the public safety unions and Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.
"I think it's a new day in the city of Sacramento," the mayor said. "This really represents a break from business as usual."
Warren's apparent victory closed out a contentious campaign that took elections officials three weeks to sort out.
His lead was 198 votes after 13,263 were counted. Roughly 16,000 provisional ballots those submitted by voters who did not show up on registration rolls remain to be counted throughout Sacramento County, but only a few hundred valid ballots are believed to remain in north Sacramento.
Phil Giarrizzo, who is Warren's campaign consultant, said the campaign was "in victory mode." "We are planning a celebration party for our volunteers," he said.
Kerth could not be reached for comment. He had not conceded to Warren as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Hansen's lead remained virtually unchanged in a district that saw some of the largest turnout rates in the city. He led Yee by 135 votes with 25,663 counted.
Both candidates said they would wait to close out the race at least until Friday, when Sacramento County elections officials expect to provide another update.
"After a lot of hard work, I feel very good about where we stand," Hansen said.
Hansen's campaign consultants said their analysis showed fewer than 600 votes left to count in the district most of them in midtown and downtown, where Hansen has maintained a lead over Yee over the past three weeks.
"The way it's been going, the differential is not being significantly changed," Yee said. "And it's unlikely to change significantly, based on what I'm seeing. I'm a realist. I'm not ready to come to a conclusion yet, but there is a trend."