|An abstention can be a voter preference.|
The total number of ballots cast in CD7 was 21,874. That's the number of people who actually showed up (or pulled an absentee ballot) and either mailed in their AV ballot or dropped a ballot into the box. However, if you add up the total votes for candidates Nicole Chase, Felipe Fuentes, Krystee Clark and David Barron you get a total of 19,291 votes. That means that about 2,500 voters in CD7 voted/turned in a ballot BUT they did not mark a preference for the CD7 Council Member on their ballot.
By contrast, adding up the total of all of the votes for the Mayoral candidates in CD7, you get 21,082 votes. That means about 100 people chose not to/failed to mark a choice for Mayor. That makes sense because typically participation falls off as you go further down the ballot. Voters usually know who is running at the top of the ballot (President/Governor/Mayor) but as you go further down the list, they have no idea who these candidate are. Likely a fairly significant number of voters in CD7 (and remember, CD7 is big, not just ST) reached the City Council race on their ballot and went "Huh?"
Many of them, probably most of them picked the name they knew best - they got a mailer, a pot holder, saw a billboard, etc. if you asked them who they voted for or why, they may not honestly be able to tell you. A smaller group of the confused folks (in this case, a fairly significant number of about 10% of the CD voters) chose to not vote for ANY candidate. That could be for a number of reasons including a protest vote against ALL candidates but I'm going to posit the overwhelming bulk of those non-voters simply did not who the candidates were.
So, when you count the votes of those who actually indicated a preference for Council, a total of 19,921 votes, Fuentes' 9,912 votes represents 51.38% of the total vote (as shown on the final certified bulletin which I've attached the link below). Not a great showing for a candidate with his money, resources and experience but more than sufficient to be elected. Had Clark, Barron and Chase been able to pull any significant combination of those blank voters their way, there could very well likely have been a run-off, without even having had to flip a single Fuentes voters.
All points to how valuable decent get out the vote efforts are to a campaign that wants to win.