The two top dogs on the South San Francisco city council won reelection by a wide margin Tuesday night.
With three candidates running for two open seats, incumbents Kevin Mullin, mayor, and Richard Garbarino, vice mayor, were favored to win. Mullin garnered 45 percent of the vote, and Garbarino got 42 percent, according to unofficial results provided by the San Mateo County Elections Office Tuesday night.
Challenger Johnny "Midnight" Rankins, a retired arborist and DJ, ended up with 12 percent of the vote. He did little traditional campaigning and raised and spent less than $1,000 during the campaign season.
"I wanted to get my feet wet to see how things are going," Rankins said.
Mullin and Garbarino declared victory shortly after 9 p.m., an hour after the polls closed, at a joint election night party at Dominic's Banquet Hall after early returns showed a significant lead.
"To Mark [Addiego] and to Pedro [Gonzalez] and to Karyl [Matsumoto]: you're stuck with us for the next four years," Garbarino said.
Garbarino, 68, is a retired San Francisco State University employee who has served on the council since 2002. Mullin, 41, owns a communications company and has served on the city council since 2007. Both were reelected to four-year terms.
The offices of mayor and vice mayor are rotated on an annual basis; in December, Mullin will complete his year as mayor and Garbarino will lead the council as mayor.
"I think the results are a general affirmation of the positive direction of the city," Mullin said, citing economic development, fiscal discipline and public safety as challenges that the city has faced head-on. "All five of these council members work very well together as a team, and that is not always the case as you look up and down the Peninsula."
Mullin said his father, Gene Mullin, a former South City mayor and state assemblyman, was his "number-one precinct walker" during the campaign.
"I think it was good that they had an election, even though it wasn't particularly competitive. It really makes a difference when you knock on doors and hear what people are thinking," Gene Mullin said. "I know he's [Kevin Mullin] extremely capable, well educated, excellent on the issues. His success is no surprise to me."
"There's nothing like experience and roots in the community, and Kevin and Richard have both," said Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), who dropped by the party as it was winding down (Mullin used to work as Speier's district director). "If ever there was a shoo-in, this set of races was a shoo-in."
"I feel validated for what I've done over the last four years," Garbarino said. "Unfortunately, we didn't have the opportunity to have a candidates forum. I looked forward to discussing the issues, but [Rankins] never ran a campaign. I applaud him for stepping up and wanting to serve."
Rankins threw an election party at , the bowling alley where he regularly deejays. Through the evening, a steady stream of guests came up to say hello to the gregarious candidate.
Rankins kept the party going with a steady stream of catchy songs, ranging from "Single Ladies" to "Love Train." He occasionally called out to the crowd from behind his turntable.
"Woo! To make the city great, they've got to bring back the Arts and Wine festival," Rankins told the crowd.
Rankins said that although he didn't campaign traditionally, he reached out to the community by donating to local organizations and helping individuals in need. He's particularly concerned that too many city contracts are awarded to businesses outside of South San Francisco.
"He's a listener, and when he finds out things that are unfair, he tries to make them better," said supporter Wendy Sinclair-Smith, a library assistant at the South San Francisco Public Library.
Rankins plans to enroll in college and run for office again in 2013.
"I'm just getting started," Rankins said.