Contra Costa supervisor districts see partisan shifts

The Contra Costa Elections Department is feverishly working on new digitized voting district maps that reflect the numerous boundary changes at the state and local level.

But at my request, the elections staff kindly provided me with a rough estimate of  party registration breakdowns for the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors’ five newly drawn districts.

Yes, supervisor seats are nonpartisan but party politics still play a role.

Parties view local nonpartisan seats as the “farm team,” the place where political novices of their respective philosophies cut their teeth, build a base and run for higher partisan political office. Partisan leaders from labor, business and traditional party organizations often provide campaign foot soldiers and money for the candidates of their choice.

In Contra Costa County, Democrats continue to outnumber Republicans in all five supervisor districts. Those who register as “no preferred party,” previously called “decline to state,” consistently comprise about a fifth of all voters in each district.

Among the shifts, districts 1, 4 and 5 largely retained their party registration breakdowns.

Democrats’ lead in District 2 declined as GOP registration grew from 27 percent to 36 percent of total registered voters. Likewise, Democrats’ presence declined nine points from 49 percent to 40 percent. The shift is due to the district’s move south into the San Ramon Valley and out of Martinez.

Republicans lost ground in District 3, dropping from 37.5 percent to 30 percent. Democrats boosted their numbers from 38.4 percent under the old boundaries to 48 percent in the new districts. The  new district lost most of the more conservative San Ramon Valley to neighboring District 2.

As an aside, you’ll see a significant spread between some of the districts when it comes to total registered voters. The law requires that new districts are redrawn to roughly equal populations but not everyone votes. In Contra Costa, District 2 has the highest number of registered voters by nearly twofold over District 1.

Here’s a more detailed breakout by district: (I didn’t include the third-party numbers, which make up about 4 percent of the voters.)

DISTRICT 1: Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, Democrat


  • Total registered voters: 84,805
  • Democrats: 55,789 or 65.8 percent
  • Republicans: 9,317 or 11 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 16,898 or 20 percent


  • Total registered voters: 77,025
  • Democrats: 51,408 or 66.7 percent
  • Republicans: 7,851 or 10.2 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 14,468 or 18.8 percent

DISTRICT 2: Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette, Republican, will not seek re-election in 2012. One candidate has filed for the seat, Contra Costa Community College District Trustee Tomi Van de Brooke of Orinda, a Democrat.


  • Total registered voters: 131,671
  • Democrats: 52,612 or 40 percent
  • Republicans: 48,872 or 35.6 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 28,031 or 21 percent


  • Total registered voters: 112,973
  • Democrats: 56,066 or 49.6 percent
  • Republicans: 30,171 or 26.7 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 21,928 or 19.4 percent

DISTRICT 3: Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay, a Republican, is seeking re-election. No opponents have filed yet.


  • Total registered voters: 95,689
  • Democrats: 45,871 or 48 percent
  • Republicans: 28,912 or 30 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 18,479 or 19 percent


  • Total registered voters: 139,386
  • Democrats: 53,471 or 38.4 percent
  • Republicans: 52,307 or 37.5 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 28,307 or 20.3 percent

DISTRICT 4: Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, Democrat


  • Total registered voters: 113,179
  • Democrats: 53,045 or 47 percent
  • Republicans: 33,463 or 30 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 24,770 or 22 percent


  • Total registered voters: 92,765
  • Democrats: 43,779 or 47.2 percent
  • Republicans: 25,594 or 27.6 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 18,854 or 20.3 percent

DISTRICT 5: Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, a Democrat, is seeking re-election. No challengers have filed yet.


  • Total registered voters: 89,582
  • Democrats: 50,317 or 56.2 percent
  • Republicans: 18,511 or 20.7 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 19,689 or 22 percent


  • Total registered voters: 88,588
  • Democrats: 50,125 or 56.6 percent
  • Republicans: 18,565 or 21 percent
  • No preferred party or decline to state: 16,207 or 18.3 percent



Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    So Gayle U is a Republican. That says a lot about the party ‘s decline in the Bay region. She stood for nothing in the realm of ideas.

  • John W

    First, Happy Thanksgiving

    Interesting data. On the surface, it would suggest that District 2 now has a somewhat better chance of electing somebody other than a Democrat, while Piepho will have more Democratic voters to deal with. However, this assumes that, even with full awareness of party affiliation in local nonpartisan elections, people who normally vote one party or the other for statewide and federal offices do so to the same degree in the local races. I know that’s not the case for me. I’ve never voted for any Republican for President, have voted only for one Republican for the U.S. House and one for U.S. Senator (in another state). But I’ve voted for a few Republican candidates for governor and other statewide offices and numerous times for Republicans in county and municipal races. I suspect I’m not alone. In District 2, I’m definitely hoping for somebody not owned by Contra Costa public employee unions, regardless of party affiliation.

  • John W

    Oops. Missed that part about Uilkema being Republican. A real Tea Partier, I’m sure. And I’m an astronaut.

  • Publius

    John W,

    If you want a politician that is not owned by the unions then you will have to cross the aisle. Welcome aboard!

  • rew

    Federal Glover really got a nice district, he should be able to get re-elected easily in this district. Piepho, a board conservative, has now got a district that’s heavily Democratic, got to think labor leaders will put up a candidate when she runs. One thing I’ve noticed though it’s tough, very tough to dislodge an incumbent Supervisor – voters don’t see to pay much attention to, or care all that much who the Supervisor is. So while Piepho may have a tougher district to run in any challenger will have problems beating her, I think. I recall she beat a termed out Assemblyman, pretty easily, so I don’t see anybody sitting Supervisor getting kicked out of office because of these new districts.

  • raul

    One candidate you can’t count out in a possible run for Supervisor is Don Perata. The guy was termed out of the Senate – he is a professional politician without an office – so you’ve got to believe he is going through serious withdrawls. The guys whole life has consisted of non-stop political fund raisers, constant power lunches, constant deal cutting, you’ve got to think he’s a very unahppy camper out of office. His name isn’t getting in the paper anymore! I’m sure he’s eying that District 2 Supervisor seat. While the job’s not much, if Perata was to get it suddenly Supervisors will have staff of 10 and they will be making $200,000 a year. Geez, we’ve got to keep Perata from running for Supervisor, I don’t think I can take another decade of reading about this gasbag.

  • Elwood

    Amen, Raul!

    Perata is a lying, self-aggrandizing piece of crap.

  • Common Tater

    We neither need nor want Perata’s brand of “politics” in our county. We already have too many thugs waiting in the wings to “influence” elections.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    We need a shift to “Trickle Up Economics” in the USA.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    What we need was stated decades ago in a Country song : “We Need A Whole Lot More of Jesus (And a Lot Less Rock ‘n’Roll) Listen to Linda Ronstadt’s version.

  • John W

    Re: #4

    Publius, I have no problem voting “across the aisle,” in the aisle, or wherever when it comes to local offices. But, when it comes to dealing with fiscal responsibility in dealing with public employee contract issues, party affiliation is not necessarily a predictor of what the person will do. Piepho, a Republican, has been a disappointment in that regard. Mayor Wilson gave away the store on the city manager contract in San Ramon. If Mark Peterson, a Republican, makes good on his promise to find a candidate who will stand up for law enforcement in establishing budget priorities, I wouldn’t bet my life that that person, presumably a fellow Republican, would be a hawk on public employee contract issues. There are no hawks on the board now, but I think that Gioia, a Democrat, at least has the best intellectual grasp of the situation.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Republicans in this region are tolerated as a sort of oddity, like a two-headed calf.

  • Elwood

    Democracy is not two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.

  • Dee W.

    Well, we already know that one candidate is owned by the labor unions. Tomi Vandebrooke has already shown her colors on that issue very early in the election process in her actions recently on the Contra Costa Community College District. So far, we get to choose between her and Don Perata. What a choice! Why vote?

  • Reality Checker

    Re: #12

    John W,

    You think Piepho has been a disappointment? Really? So you don’t like the fact of reigning in the county’s OPEB Liability, a liability which she did not create (which was $2.6 billion when she got on the board)? In 2006 Piepho and the rest of the BOS set out to fully fund the liability over 30 years, cuttingt the liability to LESS than $1 billion, along with pre-funding an OPEB Trust Fund. What part of that is a disappointment?

    Maybe you are disappointed that the BOS froze the county’s contribution to health care premium increases in 2010 so the majority of the county’s employees are now paying ALL of any increase in their health care premiums? Or is it maybe that you are unaware of the second retirement tier that was negotiated with the Deputy Sheriff’s Association? It appears not only to reduce costs to the county, but also to address recruitment and retention issues so there will be more law enforcement officers in the field. Still disappointed?

    Maybe you don’t like the fact that with Piepho on the Board of Sups the county now has a Reserve Fund, with a Reserve Policy? (Let’s not forget that with over a $1 billion budget the county had only 45 million in reserves when Piepho got on the board…her colleagues and predecessors were spending it down on ongoing expenses like wages and benefits). However during Piepho’s tenure, a policy was adopted and implemented and now the reserves are exceeding $150 million. Still disappointed?

    Maybe you don’t like that with Piepho’s input the BOS is reducing the county general fund support to the County Hospital system in order adjust priorities and better support law enforcement?

    Maybe John, you need to take a closer look. Pretty conservative philosophies and ideals that have been implemented over the 7 years and the only newcomer that I can see (that was the driver to them) is Piepho. Why do I say this? Because all but the District 4 Supervisor were there making the “spend, spend, spend like there is no tomorrow” policies! The only thing that changed was Supervisor Piepho coming onto the board. Oh, and don’t say the economy drove these actions… remember the down-turn did not take place until 2008. Piepho was there in January, 2005. Look at the record and see who the catalyst of change is.

    I find it disappointing that these accomplishments are so easily overlooked.