A raucous cheer went up in a corner of Oscar’s Playground on Cannery Row as the first results in the Monterey mayoral race were posted on Tuesday night.
Supporters of Tyller Williamson gathered there for pizza and news. And when the early tally favored the hopeful by a narrow 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent margin over Dan Albert for the seat vacated by Clyde Roberson, a change of guard seemed possible. Albert had been endorsed by the outgoing mayor.
Both candidates wore a “wait and see” face, although Williamson was clearly enthusiastic after the initial reports came in shortly after 8pm. “I have to pinch myself,” he says with a genuine smile, adding that “no matter how it goes, we’ve won.”
When 11pm numbers were reported, the margin remained much the same–2,883 voters in favor of Williamson, 2,693 for Albert, or 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent.
The general consensus among Monterey voters, even among supporters of Williamson, who serves alongside Albert on the City Council, is that the city would be well served either way.
“I like them both,” says David Anderson, wearing a Williamson pin. “I was attracted to Tyller’s energy. He’s fresh blood.”
Albert was elected to City Council in 2016. His father is a recognized figure in local politics, having served as mayor of Monterey for 20 years. Williamson is currently the youngest member of the council at 34, also the city’s first Black and first openly gay councilmember.
“I appreciate Dan,” Williamson says. “He comes from a long line of public service.”
The two candidates could not have had more different approaches to election evening. Williamson carried his excitement to a recently opened space on Cannery Row, to celebrate with a diverse gathering. Meanwhile, Albert spent a quiet evening at home with his wife, preparing lasagna and watching a movie. He recommends both. The lasagna earned high marks. And the movie—The Duke—“it’s good, you should watch it.”
Kim Barber, running unopposed for Monterey City Council District 1, attended Williamson’s event. “I think he has a great chance,” she says, noting that in running for mayor he gives up an important council seat. “It’s that important to him.”
Housing is one of the issues that defined the campaigns. Williamson notes that some two-thirds of Monterey residents are renters. This sets them adrift of their representatives on the City Council, all homeowners. Rental assistance programs represent one of his key goals. He has also championed zoning changes to allow more housing in commercial districts.
Albert voted against a proposed affordable housing project on Adams Street, bowing to objections from neighborhood residents and water supply challenges.
On Tuesday evening, both candidates expressed an understanding of the differences. “People just want to be heard,” Williamson says. “It’s about the future of Monterey.”
And on Tuesday night, that future could go either way.
“I knew it would be close,” Albert says. “We’ll have to see.”