While it was no big surprise, the passage of Measure E nevertheless sent a wave of relief over campaign volunteers who gathered on election night.
"We expected to win -- we weren't expecting such a landslide," said former Palo Alto mayor and campaign leader Peter Drekmeier after viewing the large absentee ballot results. The measure has since passed with 64.38 percent of the vote.
The measure, which caused a great deal of hubbub and was known for having environmentalists on both sides, will allocate ten of Byxbee Park's 126 acres for the purpose of building an organic waste processing facility. The remaining 116 dedicated parkland acres continue to be used for recreational purposes.
Several key members of the $30,000 campaign were recognized at the election night party -- which took place at a Palo Alto couple's home -- including Walt Hays, who single-handedly raised thousands of dollars and headed a vast letter-writing campaign.
"I really honestly believe that climate change is the biggest threat that humanity's ever faced," Hays said. "I feel like the federal government is doing nothing about it, so if anything's going to be done, it's going to have to be done starting with the local level... We don't want to have 450,000 truck miles a year hauling our stuff down to Gilroy when we can actually convert it to something minimizing waste."
Volunteers for the grassroots campaign spent countless hours talking to people about the issue. "They all took it as a personal mission to talk to everyone they knew," Drekmeier said. "We were knocking on doors, which is very unusual for a campaign like this."
They went through all 58 walkable precincts, leaving literature and knocking on doors, said another campaign leader, Carolyn Curtis. Most of the volunteers campaigned in the same precincts they lived in, a strategy she called "unbeatable."
"Even if you don't know the person, all you have to say is I’m your neighbor," she said. "It's better than getting something in the mail or something on TV. A real person. That's the kind of campaign it's always been."