Murali Srinivasan wins tiebreaker for Sunnyvale City Council
Murali Srinivasan and Justin Wang speak at Sunnyvale City Hall on Jan. 3, 2023. Srinivasan will be the next District 3 councilmember following a tiebreaker. Photo by Joseph Geha.

    Nearly two months after election day, a winner has finally been named in the Sunnyvale District 3 City Council race.

    Until Tuesday morning, the race was locked in a tie between Murali Srinivasan and Justin Wang, following the election and two recounts.

    In a brief but tense public event on Tuesday, both candidates wrote their names on pieces of paper in the Sunnyvale City Council chambers and put them in white envelopes provided by City Clerk David Carnahan.

    The envelopes were sealed and placed into a large blue fabric bag, shaken by each candidate. Carnahan drew out a single envelope.

    “So the Councilmember-elect for District 3 is Murali Srinivasan,” Carnahan announced.

    Srinivasan’s family and supporters erupted with applause and cheers, and he hugged his wife and kids.

    Soon after, Wang and Srinivasan exchanged handshakes and smiles near the podium in the center of the room.

    “I’m really happy for District 3 voters in Sunnyvale, because the uncertainty and anxiety of not knowing who their representative is was a bad thing,” Srinivasan told San José Spotlight. “It’s a good closure. Now the city can move on, District 3 can move on.”

    Wang is in good spirits despite the loss.

    “Obviously I would have loved to have had my name pulled out of the hat, but that’s not what happened,” he told San José Spotlight. “No hard feelings whatsoever.”

    While initial election results and a manual recount initiated by county elections officials showed Srinivasan, 65, holding a one-vote lead, Wang, 26, called for another review of the ballots.

    The review by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters in late December, observed by supporters for each candidate, validated three previously discounted ballots—swinging the race to a stalemate. Wang was required to front the cost of the recount and review. However, Wang said it’s still unclear if the county will ultimately bear the cost, because the outcome of the race changed as a result of the review.

    Wang said he’s proud of the recount process and is happy it helped count the voices of three more voters, even if the ultimate outcome wasn’t in his favor.

    “We ended up with a tie, and because we had a tie we had to have a tiebreaker. At that point it’s out of our hands,” Wang said. “It’s in the city clerk’s hands, frankly.”

    Carnahan, as the clerk, was charged with putting an end to the dramatic race. He and his team settled on drawing names from a bag, similar to how Richmond settled a tie in a city council election there late last year.

    “It’s like anything else in the clerk’s office. This was a simple process, but the implication of the result is important,” Carnahan told San José Spotlight.

    Mayor Larry Klein said the race highlights the importance of each vote.

    “From my standpoint, either of them would have served that community and district well,” Klein told San José Spotlight shortly after the name drawing.

    The swearing in ceremony for new councilmembers, including Srinivasan, will happen tonight at a 7 p.m. meeting.

    “What we’ll have tonight is the most diverse council that Sunnyvale has ever had,” Klein said. “So I am proud of the process and I’m proud of the process of moving to district elections over the last several years.”

    Srinivasan, who was technically held up as the winner of the race for nearly three weeks before the latest ballot review, said he’s happy to have the process over with.

    “But the actual work starts now,” Srinivasan said. “Democracy in my opinion is not just about elections, it’s about people participating in the government and city policies. That’s what I will be working on.”

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter. 

    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.