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Nikfar to win Tiburon council seat


Isaac Nikfar is set to become Tiburon’s newest councilmember.


Voters resoundingly backed the Parks, Open Space and Trails commissioner over his opponent, Stefanie Cho, in the Aug. 29 special election for the council’s interim seat. As of Sept. 1, Nikfar had received more than 74% of votes, or 1,517, while Cho, who has conceded, had received about 26%, or 520 votes.


There are 6,698 registered voters in Tiburon, according to the county website, putting turnout at nearly 31% so far, though the county continues to count mail-in ballots. Ballots postmarked Aug. 29 or earlier are still eligible to be processed, but they must arrive at Marin County’s election department by Sept. 5 to be counted, said Registrar of Voters Lynda Roberts.


Nikfar, 44, will take over the Town Council seat vacated by Noah Griffin, who resigned in January for personal reasons. He’ll serve the remainder of Griffin’s term through November 2024, and would be eligible to run for a full four-year term that month.


In a statement, Nikfar said he appreciated the support from voters and pointed to his efforts to connect directly with residents during the campaign, which included neighborhood walks and coffee sessions with residents at Caffe Acri.


“I’m very proud of the work we did in this campaign and look forward to the opportunity to serve Tiburon residents on the Town Council,” he said.


In a text message, Cho, 60, noted that “getting 26% of the vote isn’t bad for the ‘outsider,’ as I was branded, who campaigned for only two months.”


“Overall, I’m happy I ran, and I met wonderful people along the way,” said Cho, who moved to Tiburon in 2020 from Southern California and previously ran her own boutique tax-preparation firm.


Nikfar, who works in sales at Google and lives in the Del Mar neighborhood with his wife and their three children, is tentatively set to be sworn in at the Sept. 20 Town Council meeting, said Town Manager Greg Chanis. However, that’s dependent on Marin County certifying the election before then; the county has 30 days from the election date to certify the results, but Chanis said he expects it to come quickly as the Town Council race was the only one on the ballot.


Otherwise, Nikfar would take his seat at the council’s Oct. 4 meeting.


Should Nikfar join the council on Sept. 20, he’ll have the opportunity to weigh in on the town’s revised 2023-2031 housing element, which is scheduled to come for review and readoption that evening.


The housing plan, in which the state requires Tiburon to identify at least 639 units that can be built over the next eight years, has been the subject of controversy in part due to the inclusion of a property at 4576 Paradise Drive that the town says could be developed to accommodate 93 units. The proposed site has been met with criticism from nearby neighbors and a lawsuit from the Committee for Tiburon, which aims to block the property’s inclusion in the housing element altogether. Opponents state they’re against the proposed development because of safety, traffic and environmental concerns.


During his campaign, Nikfar called the Paradise site “not ideal” for development, citing concerns with its slope and adding that Sacramento lacks the nuanced understanding required when it comes to dealing with Tiburon’s housing woes.


On housing issues, Nikfar said sustainable growth would be “incredibly difficult in this town” given the need to have services attached to whatever high-density housing gets built. He encouraged finding ways to work with state officials to promote sustainable growth.


Among his other key issues were working to improve the town’s relationship with Caltrans to help find solutions to reduce traffic on Tiburon Boulevard and finding more ways to encourage family-friendly events around town.


Nikfar, who has served on the parks commission since 2017, also expressed his support for promoting the town’s parks and open spaces, including “looking at any and all avenues” to close the fundraising gap and complete the purchase of the 110-acre Martha property on the Tiburon ridge and preserve the land as open space. The property, currently owned by the Martha Co., is to be sold to nonprofit Trust for Public Land for $42.1 million. The nonprofit will then sell it to the county for $26.1 million.


The county’s share will come primarily from the proceeds of Measure M, a $335 annual parcel tax levied on residents of Belvedere and Tiburon south of Trestle Glen Boulevard. The Trust for Public Land plans to fundraise to close the gap, and Tiburon pledged a $1-million contribution toward that effort in November.


The Aug. 29 election was Nikfar’s second bid for a council seat; he failed to unseat any of the three incumbents — Alice Fredericks, Jon Welner and Jack Ryan — last November.


Ryan said he was excited to work with Nikfar.


“I know given his recent experience in running in the last couple of elections, his message really resonates with the voters,” he said. “I think he’ll be a great addition.”


Colleague Holli Thier, herself a parks commission alumna, also said she was excited to have Nikfar join the board.


“I strongly supported Isaac due to his proven experience, which will serve Tiburon well,” she said.


Reach Francisco Martinez at 415-944-4634.

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