Four years ago, Joel Engardio ran for District 7 Supervisor and placed fourth. Last night, he placed second.
Engardio’s watch party took place at the Squat and Gobble restaurant on West Portal Avenue with supporters and campaign employees who have been campaigning for him since the spring.
“When I actually sat down to talk to him he was just very surreal because he was just a genuine guy,” said Sean Brady, field director for Engardio. “And that is so hard to fake in politics, so as soon as I met him I knew I wanted to work with him.”
The second floor of the restaurant had about forty people standing, waiting and watching the television as results came in.
“We had a lot of promise leading up to November, it really comes down to second and third round votes.” Brady said.
Brady and a handful of college students from around the Bay Area put up fliers and went door to door supporting Engardio since the spring. Many of them do not live in District 7, but believed in the issues that Engardio was fighting for.
“I realized that the issues don’t really stop at the borders. So to really affect city hall you’ll have to look at the district.” Said Lowell High School senior, Ophir Cohen-Simayos, who had canvassed for Engardio since March.
Joel’s empathy for the homeless, is what drew these young campaigners to work for Engardio. Cohen-Simayos said that his positions on homelessness, transportation and housing were what convinced her to campaign for him.
Engardio was optimistic about the results, calling himself and his campaign “contenders” for coming in second.
In a speech to the watch party, Engardio expressed his appreciation to everyone who supported him.
“Thank you all for being here together,” Engardio said. “The one thing that means a lot to my campaign is how many people, all different generations and neighborhoods all came together, believing in this message and this campaign, and it means a lot.”
Bob Lee, an Engardio supporter, said that he’s been involved with local politics longer than other incumbents – since he ran four years ago.
“I think he’s really has his heart in it and that’s something I like to see in a candidate,” Lee said.
When asked at the end of the night about the the issues that inspired his younger voters and campaigners, he spoke about the homeless issue.
“About 30 percent of our homeless population has a mental illness and so I believe it is very important to treat this underlying condition, because if people are suffering on the street with a mental illness we need to treat that first and foremost, to move the needle on homelessness, and then they can benefit on the home and job programs,” Engardio said. “We neglected mentally ill people for too many decades and I want to focus on that.”
When asked about what made this campaign different from four years ago, Engardio took a long pause and reflected for a moment.
“The difference between four years is that I’m in a strong second place,” Engardio said. “Four years ago I was a first time candidate – unknown and I did well.”
Engardio did not say whether he will run again.