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ELECTION UPDATE: About 5,000 vote-by-mail ballots remain uncounted in Orinda

About 5,000 uncounted v0te-by-mail ballots remain in Orinda, according to City Clerk Michele Olsen via county Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir.

And those ballots could represent as much as 60 percent of the total votes cast in both the city council and school board races. More on that later.

First, here’s how the numbers break down:

  • 6,975 vote-by-mail ballots were issued for Orinda
  • 1,953 were included in the Election Day count
  • Mandatory vote-by-mail ballots (people who live in areas for which there is no polling place) are counted as VBMs when they are issued but included in the Election Day total. Olsen said the number of mandatory VBMs in the city is small.

That means 5,022 uncounted VBMs remain, less the mandatory VBMs.

Now, here’s why it’s a big deal: Because each ballot can have as many as three votes each for city council and school board, there are as many as 15,000 votes uncounted for each race.

That, of course, assumes that everyone used all three of their votes. And that’s a big assumption.

But still, it means Sue Severson’s lead over Scott Zeller — 59 votes, or 0.6 percent — is that much slimmer.

We should be getting an update from the county on Friday, which means we may finally know then who’s on the council (and the school board).

Posted on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Under: election, Orinda | 2 Comments »

Lamorinda week in review

World Series Parade Basebal brian wilsonThe Giants won the freakin’ World Series!

But other than that:

Election Day has come and gone, but there are still several candidates wondering whether or not they’ve been elected.

Incumbents carried the day in Lafayette and Moraga. But the races for City Council and, to some extent, school board in Orinda are too close to call. Candidates will have to wait until at least Monday to find out if they’ve won or lost.

One council member who has likely lost is Orinda Mayor Tom McCormick, who late last week learned the state Fair Political Practices Commission will not investigate claims he violated conflict of interest laws (background articles here and here). McCormick, who lives near the downtown, has requested FPPC advice on whether he has a conflict of interest on downtown-related issues, but that will be a moot point if the election results hold.

In non-election news:

A Stanley Middle School teacher pleaded not guilty to molestation charges.

A Moraga couple is collecting used kids’ bikes for charity.

Heaven help us, the holiday shopping season has already begun.

Onward to college basketball season

Posted on Friday, November 5th, 2010
Under: election, Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools, Sports | No Comments »

ELECTION UPDATE: Nothing to see here

Looks like the county has counted another 22,000 ballots. Unfortunately, none of them appear to have been in Orinda, meaning it will be at least until Monday before there’s any more clarity in the council and school board races.

Posted on Friday, November 5th, 2010
Under: election, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

ELECTION UPDATE: Orinda too close to call, and what Lafayette and Moraga council candidates are saying after the election

The election night garbage bag o’ chips is still here in the newsroom, which means the election must not quite be done yet.

According to the county, there are still a little more than 100,000 vote by mail and provisional ballots remaining to be counted. Right now, they don’t have a breakdown by city.

For a good explanation of the vote by mail process and why so many ballots remain, check out this post from my colleague Lisa Vorderbrueggen. You can also read my election round-up, which will run in the Lamorinda Sun tomorrow morning, here.

With incumbents winning by wide margins in Lafayette and Moraga, there is very little chance the uncounted ballots will impact the results as they stand now. But the elections in Orinda are close enough that things could shift around before the vote is declared to be official.

In the Orinda council race, 120 votes separate second-place finisher Dean Orr and fourth-place finisher Scott Zeller. Incumbent Councilwoman Sue Severson has 59-vote edge over Zeller for the third open seat.

Over in the Orinda school board race (where there are three open seats), Julie Rossiter, Christopher Severson and Tyson Krumholz are currently the top vote-getters. The race is a bit wider than the council election, but still close. Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert is 120 votes out of third place and Sarah Butler is 361 votes out of third place (241 votes behind Van Voorhis-Gilbert).

I spoke with Van Voorhis-Gilbert yesterday afternoon and Butler earlier today. Butler did not want to make a statement on the election, saying she believes the results may shift as more ballots are counted. Van Voorhis-Gilbert was less certain. She said she was disappointed the campaign had taken a negative turn but accepted the results.

I’ve also spoken with Krumholz, who said he’s confident the results from Tuesday will hold he’ll still have a seat on the board after it all shakes out and that he believes his percentage of the vote may even increase as more ballots are counted.

The elections office does plan to post updated results online Friday afternoon, but right now it’s unclear if that update will include the Orinda races.

As I said, the results were much more clear-cut in Lafayette and Moraga. Here’s what the candidates were saying after the election:

Lafayette City Council

Don Tatzin: “I’m certainly pleased that (Brandt Andersson) was also elected and I think we and the rest of the council members all work well together, and I think we all have the best interests of Lafayette at heart and will continue to do so. Essentially we can just proceed as the farily well-functioning organization that we are and encourage people to turn out and give us their opinions.”

Brandt Andersson, noting he had a city budget meeting Wednesday morning: “It’s back to business as usual. Running is very time consuming so I’m glad that’s over and (I can) get back to the governing part which is frankly the part I like best. People recognized that Lafayette’s doing well and that incumbency and experience is actually a good thing — when things are going well.”

Traci Reilly: “I knew it was going to be tough. Unseating two incumbents is never easy but I’m really proud of the campaign that we ran. I think we ran a very professional, strong issue-based campaign, had a broad base of support and I’m just really proud of that and I think it elevated conversations that were long overdue.”

Moraga Town Council

Dave Trotter: “The re-election results represent a strong vote of confidence from the Moraga community, and I believe they demonstrate that the town is being well-managed and is on the right track.  There is much that needs to be done in the next four years to continue addressing the vital issues facing the town. … I’m looking forward to the next four years on the Town Council and the important work that lies ahead. ”

Ken Chew: “We have accomplished a lot the last four years as a council. (The) feedback I’ve been getting from the constituents all year long in the campaign indicates that … there wasn’t really anything we’ve done that would cause them to not give (Dave Trotter and I) another chance to serve them.”

Seth Freeman, thanking his supporters: “Your votes represent between 49 percent and 44 percent of the number of votes received by each incumbent, respectively, indicating a large percentage of Moragans are not satisfied and desire change.  I remain willing to volunteer to assist the current council in supporting our schools, addressing Moraga’s serious financial problems and reworking the (Moraga Center Specific Plan) that in its present form is irrelevant in light of the economy and the town’s more pressing priorities.”

Dennis Wanken: “The voters spoke. They want to continue with the current administration, if you want to call it that, and I hope that the council becomes more inclusive and tries to enocurage more participation in public policy decisions. I think (Eleni Wanken and I) got a message across.”

Posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010
Under: election, Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Election results from Lamorinda

12:38 a.m.: Nearly every precinct is reporting (the only hold-out is in the Lafayette school district, for some reason), and I’m surviving on a steady infusion of M&Ms.

Amy Worth was re-elected to the Orinda City Council. Dean Orr is also in. Tom McCormick is out. Sue Severson is clinging to a 59-vote lead over Scott Zeller for the third seat.

Don Tatzin and Brandt Andersson were re-elected to the Lafayette City Council. Dave Trotter and Ken Chew were re-elected to the Moraga Town Council.

I’m in no mental state to type everything out, so you can point the ol’ browser here to get all the numbers for all the races.

11:46 p.m.: With 30 of 33 precincts reporting, David Gerson appears set to join Teresa Gerringer and Art Kapoor on the Lafayette school board. Gerringer leads all candidates with 31 percent of the vote, followed by Kapoor with 29 percent, Gerson with 16 percent and Saveth Soun and Berch Parker with 12 percent each.

With 24 of 25 precincts reporting in a close race for the Orinda school board, Christopher Severson, Julie Rossiter and Tyson Krumholz are leading. Severson has 22 percent of the vote, and Rossiter and Krumholz have 21 percent each. Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert and Sarah Butler trail with 19 and 17 percent of the vote, respectively.

With all precincts reporting, John Wyro has been re-elected to the Moraga-Orinda Fire District Board of Directors, defeating challenger Bob Jungbluth 55 to 45 percent.

11:39 p.m.: With 15 of 16 precincts reporting, it looks like Dean Orr will join Amy Worth and Sue Severson on the Orinda City Council. Worth continues to lead with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Orr with 20 percent.

Severson has a narrow, 57-vote lead over challenger Scott Zeller. Incumbent Tom McCormick continues to trail with 16 percent of the vote.

11:19 p.m.: It continues to be a close race for Orinda City Council with 68 percent of precincts reporting. Amy Worth leads all candidates with 24 percent of the vote, followed by Dean Orr with 20 percent. Sue Severson and Scott Zeller are fighting for the third seat, tied at 19 percent. Tom McCormick continues to trail with 17 percent of the vote.

11:03 p.m.: With 64 percent of precincts reporting, Don Tatzin and Brandt Andersson continue to lead the Lafayette City Council race. Tatzin leads all candidates with 33 percent of the vote, followed by Andersson with 29 percent. Traci Reilly is the closest challenger with 23 percent of the vote. Dino Riggio trails with 15 percent.

10:52 p.m.: Moraga council members Dave Trotter and Ken Chew appear headed for re-election. With 70 percent of precincts reporting, both have maintained their wide lead over Seth Freeman, Dennis Wanken and Eleni Wanken.

Trotter leads all vote-getters with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Chew with 34 percent, Freeman with 16 percent, Eleni Wanken with six percent and Dennis Wanken with 5 percent.

10:00 p.m.: A handful of precincts are starting to trickle in, with no significant changes from the early returns. Incumbents lead in the Lafayette and Moraga Council races. The council race in Orinda remains close.

8:40 p.m.: The absentee ballots have been counted, and incumbents are doing well in the early returns. Keep in mind these are just the mail-in ballots. I’ll update with any significant changes as results from ballots cast today.

For our visual learners, you can find all this information in chart-and-graph form here.

In the race for two seats on the Lafayette City Council, Don Tatzin is leading all candidates with 33 percent of the vote, followed by Brandt Andersson with 28 percent, Traci Reilly with 22 percent and Dino Riggio with 16 percent.

Incumbent Dave Trotter is the top vote-getter so far in the race for two seats on the Moraga Town Council with 37.5 percent of the vote, followed by incumbent Ken Chew with 34 percent, challenger Seth Freeman with 16 percent, and challengers Dennis and Eleni Wanken with 6 percent each.

The only incumbent not leading is in the Orinda council race, where Tom McCormick trails the other four candidates in a close contest. Incumbent Amy Worth leads all candidates with 24 percent of the vote, followed by challenger Dean Orr with 20 percent, incumbent Sue Severson with 19 percent, challenger Scott Zeller with 19 percent and McCormick with 17 percent. Three seats are open.

In the Lafayette school board race, incumbents Teresa Gerringer and Art Kapoor have opened a wide lead with 31 and 28 percent of the vote, respectively. With 17 percent of the vote, David Gerson has a slight lead over the other two challengers, Saveth Soun and Berch Parker, for the third open seat. Parker has 12 percent of the vote, Soun has 11 percent.

There’s also a close race for the Orinda school board. Christopher Severson leads all vote-getters with 23 percent of the vote followed by Julie Rossiter and Tyson Krumholz, both with 21 percent. Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert has 19 percent of the vote, and Sarah Butler has 16 percent. No incumbents are running for re-election. Three seats are open.

In the lone race in the Moraga-Orinda Fire District, incumbent John Wyro is leading challenger Bob Jungbluth, 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.

4:55 p.m.: In the office, double-checking my call list. Massive buckets of caffeinated beverages being prepared in the newsroom. I’ll be updating this post throughout the night and into the morning as election results from Lamorinda pour in, so check back frequently. You can also get updates by following me on Twitter @sosaysjonathan.

For results from Contra Costa County and throughout the state, go to You can also take part in a live chat about the election with political reporters Josh Richman and Lisa Vorgerbrueggen.

Posted on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
Under: election, Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | 1 Comment »

Lamorinda election information

With the election just days away, here’s pretty much everything I or someone else wrote in the past couple months on the elections in Lamorinda

Election round-ups


In case you’re not planning on writing in Cody Ross, Juan Uribe or Matt Cain onto your ballot, here’s a list of the Times’ recommendations (which I have no control over so please don’t call me):

You can find the Times’ endorsements for all Contra Costa County and statewide races here.

Finally, if you want to relive the magic that was the Contra Costa Times/League of Women Voters televised candidates’ forums, you can find them all here.

For election night updates and results, you can keep an eye on this space as well as follow me on Twitter, @sosaysjonathan. I’ll be posting as frequently as possible, as information will be coming quicker than a Brian Wilson fastball. Sounds delicious.

Posted on Friday, October 29th, 2010
Under: election, Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Former Orinda councilman files ethics complaint against Mayor Tom McCormick

TOM MCCORMICKStory just posted online here.

You can see the entire 29-page complaint, filed by former councilman Gregg Wheatland, here: McCormick FPPC complaint

McCormick first heard about the complaint when I asked him about it this morning. In addition to his comments to me, he also sent out this statement later in the day:

I think it interesting that Mr. Wheatland would chose to send a copy of his complaint to all the newspapers just before the election without my leaving me any ability to respond or even consider the matter.  It appears that Mr. Wheatland believes in playing dirty politics, by using the press to disseminate nothing more than an unfound allegation, something we have all tried to stay away from in Orinda.  (Mr. Wheatland lost his bid for re-election to Steve Glazer in 2004).

I need to review the complaint in detail and wait for the FPPC opinion letter I request sometime ago before I can fully evaluate the matter.  For now I can say, I have been advised that my past actions are not prohibited by the FPPC rules.  The recommendations by the Planning Process Review Task Force (PPRTF) covered all of Orinda – If council members could not act on items that involve the entire city in which they serve, then no council could ever take any action.  Further, the Orinda City Council has not yet taken any action on the PPRTF recommendations; therefore, I have not broken any rules.  Some time ago, I was advised that my acting on the Planning Process Review Task Force was not a conflict since it was a committee making a recommendation.  Recently, I was advised that before the matter comes to the City Council, which it has not yet, I should seek an opinion from the FPPC of whether my living within 500 feet of the downtown requires me to not participate in council discussions and voting on the matter.  I have called the FPPC many times with regard to the issues and have asked for a written opinion from the FPPC – long before Mr. Wheatland filed his complaint and decided to try to impugn me.

Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Under: election, Orinda | No Comments »

Campaign updates from OUSD, Moraga

From Orinda Union School District:

Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert, who missed the Oct. 5 filing deadline for campaign finance statements, filed her paperwork on on Oct. 12. They show that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 she has raised $7,594, spent $7,418 and has $176 cash on hand.

Also, video from last week’s school board candidates’ forum has been posted to YouTube. The videos (lots of short ones rather than one long one) have been posted here.

And from the Moraga Town Council race:

Seth Freeman has not responded to an e-mail inquiry about why he missed the Oct. 5 campaign finance filing deadline, but Town Clerk Marty McInturf said she is meeting with Freeman today and that Freeman has told her he does not intend to fundraise during his campaign.

Posted on Monday, October 18th, 2010
Under: election, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Fundraising numbers for Moraga council race

Two candidates are fundraising. Two others, not so much. One didn’t file in time. Here’s how the campaign finance paperwork breaks down for the Moraga Town Council election:

  • Ken Chew (i): 5,004.25 in contributions, $1,646.14 in expenses and $3,358.12 cash on hand
  • Seth Freeman: Has not filed yet (deadline was Oct. 5). I have an e-mail out to Freeman and will post his response once I get it.
  • Dave Trotter (i): $7,659 in contributions, $2,294.80 in expenses and $5,718.96 cash on hand
  • Dennis Wanken: Filed short form saying he will both receive and spend less than $1,000
  • Eleni Wanken: Filed short form saying she will both receive and spend less than $1,000

Posted on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Under: election, Moraga | No Comments »

Campaign signs stolen, McCormick says

TOM MCCORMICKOrinda Mayor Tom McCormick, currently seeking re-election, says someone has been stealing his campaign signs.

For the last three nights, he said, someone has been driving through the city and taking the signs. One woman, he said, told him the sign was near her front door and she thought her house was being broken into. Another woman, he said, told him she had two different signs on her lawn and only McCormick’s was taken.

“It just annoys the heck out of me,” he said. “They’re just my signs being taken.”

In an e-mail, police Chief Jeff Jennings said if someone reports the stolen signs the department will report it as a petty theft, but no one as called the police yet.

“This is a common occurrence during election cycles,” he said. “Most of the time it is kids who just steal the signs to make someone upset but sometimes it is an adult with an agenda.”

The chances of recovering the signs is “remote at best,” he said.

“Campaigns are wrought with emotion and candidates rightfully get upset when their signs are stolen or vandalized and we feel for them but it is a part of the business of campaigning for public office,” Jennings said. “We will do what we can for anyone calling in a theft of property.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
Under: election, Orinda | No Comments »