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Smith re-elected to 15th term as mayor

Incumbent garnered more than 82 percent of vote

By Matthew Artz, Staff writer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

NEWARK VICE MAYOR Luis Freitas (left) and Mayor Dave Smith talk at Freitas election night party at the Newark Pavilion. —Photo by Anda Chu/MediaNews.

NEWARK—As widely expected, Dave Smith romped to a 15th term as Newark mayor Tuesday over challenger Vibert Greene.

With 75 percent of precincts reporting as of 11:15 p.m., Smith led with approximately 82 percent (3,065 votes) to 17 percent (648 votes).

"I feel great," said Smith, who was first elected mayor in 1978. "It makes you feel great about what you've been doing."

Greene, a mechanical engineer who has lost previous bids for governor and Newark City Council, said his campaign succeeded in restoring competitive elections for the mayor's office.

"It's not about winning or losing," he said. "Next time I hope there are more people who will challenge the incumbent."

Smith also was happy to see that his picks for City Council, Luis Freitas and Al Huezo, were leading in the race for two council seats.

"We've got some challenges, and we really need Luis and Al there to address them," he said.

One new priority, Smith said, will be to make the city more environmentally friendly.

This year's mayor's race—like most recent ones—was a low-key affair. Neither candidate raised much money. Smith, who raised nearly $6,000 for the contest, sent out two campaign mailers.

The city's financial slump, punctuated by a $2.5 million budget deficit, surfaced as the major campaign issue.

With sales tax dollars being siphoned away to newer shopping centers in Fremont and Union City and Sun Microsystems closing its Newark operations, Smith advocated for embracing biotech companies and pushing ahead with long-awaited renovations at NewPark Mall.

Greene countered that Newark needed to court smaller businesses as well as major retailers.

The contest was actually one of the more competitive mayoral elections in recent Newark history. Smith ran unopposed in 2005 and 2001. Newark canceled the 2003 election when no one challenged the incumbent. Smith last faced a challenger in 1999, when he won 73 percent of the vote.

Greene wouldn't commit to running for mayor again, but said he still plans to seek the governor's office in 2010. "Politics has been in my blood since I was 15," he said.

Staff writer Matthew Artz can be reached at 510-353-7002 or martz@bayareanewsgroup.com.

''I feel great. It makes you feel great about what you've been doing." Dave Smith, Newark mayor.

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