Murdered Pleasanton man wins GOP central committee seat

Ernie Scherer of Pleasanton, who was found brutally murdered with his wife on March 14 in their home, has been elected posthumously to the Alameda County Republican Central Committee.

Scherer had received 4,758 votes as of Monday’s tally at the Alameda County election web site.

Voters were to choose six people among nine candidates and Scherer came in third place behind David Latour and Douglas Miller.

The Central Committee must now vote to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

In order of votes, the other candidates were: Brian Eschen, Deslar Patten, Christopher Kuhn, Daniel Byards, Andrew Latour and Gregg Byars.

The police still have no arrested any suspects in the Scherer murder case, according to a recent story in the Contra Costa Times.


East Bay unveils map-based election results

We were all preoccupied with the numbers on Election Night.

But on Tuesday, the Alameda County and Contra Costa County election departments also quietly unrolled a new feature on their voting results web pages: Mapped election results by precinct.They did it so quietly, in fact, that they didn’t tell anybody. They wanted to work out the kinks before the big whopper of an election coming in November.

It’s a pretty cool idea.

You can click on a race, then on the map and see how the results look visually throughout the county for a particular candidate or ballot measure. Election officials have combined digitized precinct maps and voting results with now commonly available geographic information system software. (Heck, it’s so easy that I have it here at the paper; it’s called ArcView.)

Alameda County’s map page was hard to find: You had to click on a box in the upper right-hand side of the page called “precinct maps.”

Not everyone knows what a precinct map is. (See explanation below.) Continue Reading


Wilson’s lead narrows to 135 votes: Could it flip?

UPDATE 6/10/08: As of 7 a.m., Abram’s lead dropped by one more vote to 134 on the Secretary of State’s web page. But one of my readers added up the totals on each of the four counties in Assembly District 15 and found that Abram had a bigger lead. Hmm. I’ll have to check that out. Lisa

As of 10 a.m., San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson’s lead over Livermore retired businessman Robert Rao in the sharply contested Assembly District 15 GOP primary race had narrowed to 135 votes. (Wilson is pictured to the right, Rao on bottom right.)

On Friday, it was about 450 votes.

Click here to read the latest results on the Secretary of State’s web site.

Could Rao win this thing?

It’s happened elsewhere. Close races can flip in the final days as the clerks add the provisional and mail-in ballots to the tally, although the 450-vote gap was viewed by almost everyone as too large for Rao to overcome.

Rao has closed his campaign office and Wilson is planning his general election strategy against Democratic nominee Joan Buchanan.

But if the numbers remain really close or they flip, either Rao or Wilson could ask for a recount although it’s not free. The candidate has to pay for the cost.

We won’t know the final outcome for a few days yet. All four counties in this district still have provisional and mail-in ballots to count although the stacks are dwindling. The counties have 30 days to issue their final election results.


Political central committees pick new faces

The elected central committees of Contra Costa County’s two major political parties will see some new and familiar faces after Tuesday’s election. (UPDATE: 6/6/08 10:04 a.m. See correction below on Republican District 3, where I incorrectly stated that six people won seats. It was eight. Thanks, Joe Rubay., for catching that mistake.)

In the Democratic Central Committee, potential rivals for the group’s leadership position, Brian Lawrence and Chuck Carpenter, appear to have both won their elections.

But Republicans failed to re-elect Greg Poulos, their new chairman. Poulos recently took on the job after Tom Del Beccaro resigned in order to devote more time to his work as the state party vice chairman. Treasurer Darcy Linn also lost her seat.

There are some mail-in and provisional ballots left to count and some of these races were very close and could change. But here are the results so far:

Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee

District 2 (vote for 5): Incumbents Rich Verrilli, Herman Blackmon and Diddo Clark were re-elected. Newly elected members include former Pinole councilwoman Maria Alegria and former Martinez mayor Michael Menesini. Unsuccessful challengers include John Hall, Robert Nolan, Craig Cataline, Kathy Klein, Robert Klein, Christine Kiernan and Linda Kilday.

District 3 (vote for 4): Incumbents Frank Quattro and Raymond link were re-elected. New members are Ellen Nelson and Barbara Rainwater. Unsuccessful challengers include Christine McGinnis, Rao Kaza and Penny Dennenberg.

District 4 (vote for four): Incumbents Marie McDonald, Carlyn Obringer, Brian Lawrence and Chuck Carpenter were re-elected. Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Barrett received 4,734 votes but it wasn’t quite enough to put her into the seat.

District 5 (vote for four): Incumbents George Van Hasselt, Greg Enholm and Angel Luevano win re-election. The newly elected member is Sharon Mossman, who beat her incumbent husband, Richard Mossman. Also unsuccessful was Rosa Argentina Davila-Luevano.

Contra Costa Rep. Central Committee

District 1: (vote for two) Incumbents Derek Daniels and Richard Hallock win re-election. Challenger Derek Daniels is unsuccessful.

District 2: (vote for six) Incumbents Steve Le Gardeur, Tom Del Beccaro and Tom Fryer win re-election. Newly elected members are Stephen Sonaty, Jonathan Del Arroz and Virginia Fuller. Incumbent Edward Gorzynski Jr. lost.

District 3: (vote for eight) Incumbents Jo Anne Erickson, Eugene Kreps and Yvette Abreu win re-election. Newly elected members are Chuck Handwork, Ken Hambrick, Joe Rubay, Gretchen Medel and Becky Kolberg. Unsuccessful candidates include incumbents Terri Tonge and Greg Poulos. Unsuccessful challengers were Sean Ackley, Chris Becnel, Michael Caporusso, Larry Kaye and Matthew Del Carlo.

District 4 (vote for 4) Incumbents Elizabeth Hansen, Grace Ellis and Patty O’Day win re-election. The fourth-place finisher was Sean Brennan. Incumbent Darcy Linn, the party treasurer, was unsuccessful, along with challengers Karen Luethke, Phyllis Stout, Barry Cunningham, Jun Dam and Bill Gram-Reefer.


San Ramon mayor pay pull off surprise win

He didn’t have a web site. He didn’t raise as much money or campaign nearly as long.

But San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson (pictured on the right with Danville Councilwoman Karen Stepper) appears to have bested his three Republican challengers in the hard-fought Assembly District 15 primary race.

With all the precincts counted, Wilson had 31 percent of the vote and a 546-vote lead over his nearest competitor, Robert Rao of Livermore. Judy Lloyd of Danville followed with 23 percent and Scott Kamena came in fourth with 17 percent. (Click here to see the results.)

While there are mail-in and provisional ballots left to count, if the lead holds, it will be a surprising finish.

Rao put more than $500,000 of his own money into the race. Kamena has been campaigning and raising money to win this seat for more than two years. And Lloyd sold her house in order to run, moving to Danville after redistricting in 2001 left her Pleasanton home outside the district’s boundaries.

Wilson, on the other hand, got into the race late after vacillating for weeks. His father died shortly before the filing deadline and the San Ramon mayor almost didn’t run. Political leaders who really like Wilson have been grousing for weeks that he wasn’t living up to his potential or working hard enough to win.

In yet another testimony to the unreliability of conventional wisdom, most thought (including me) that he would post a poor performance tonight.

Wilson’s victory won’t offer much comfort to Democratic primary winner, Joan Buchanan, a San Ramon Valley Unified School District trustee.

Democrats would have preferred to run against Rao, a former automobile dealership owner who campaigned heavily on a conservative, anti-tax platform.

Wilson is a polished, articulate and moderate politician who may appeal to independent-minded voters of both parties. This district recently flipped to a small Democratic Party registration advantage but it remains very competitive. Unlike tonight’s dismally low turnout, the November election with its presidential ticket is expected to draw record numbers of voters.


Piepho keeps her seat; Houston concedes

With 100 percent of precincts counted, Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho beat back challenger Guy Houston, an outgoing Republican Assemblyman who had hoped to leverage his legislative resume to win a local job.

Piepho received 53 percent of the vote compared to 45 percent for Houston and held a comfortable 3,138-vote margin.

Houston called Piepho just after midnight and offered his congratulations.

From the beginning, it was a rough campaign. It fractured friendships and created hard feelings, particularly within Republican Party activists who had endorsed and campaigned for Piepho and Houston in prior races.

Emotions ran high between the candidates, too. Piepho once worked for Houston. He had encouraged and endorsed her 2004 supervisor candidacy and tried to persuade her to run for his Assembly seat.

But she declined to seek state office and Houston, who had dropped out of consideration for a congressional seat, set his sights on his former employee’s job. Several high-profile county officials who had clashed with Piepho in her first year in office, including Sheriff Warren Rupf, threw their support behind him.

On paper, Houston should have done better. Affable and well-spoken, he had strong name identification, ample campaign funds and plenty of potential campaign fodder.

The county faces steep budget woes bought on by retiree health care debt, a poor economy and state financial troubles. Piepho has angered constituents in some parts of the county with her moves to eliminate elected municipal advisory council positions, alter the zip code in Byron and establish a no-tow zone in a popular Delta slough. And some taxpayer groups say Piepho has been far too cooperative with employee unions and cozy with Democrats such as Sen. Tom Torlakson, who endorsed her candidacy.

But like glue that fails to harden, Houston’s campaign never quite stuck.

Republicans were divided and leading county Democrats generally preferred the less partisan Piepho over Houston. He had run three successful but hard-fought Assembly races and had operated for six years in a considerably more party-focused environment in Sacramento. The Board of Supervisors is nonpartisan although party politics do come into play.

Oil refineries, a real estate political action group and labor unions had spent more than $200,000 hitting Houston and promoting Piepho in glossy mailers. Houston survived the independent expenditure barrage in his Assembly races but the hits clearly took their toll on his supervisor candidacy.

The legislator also couldn’t shake from his record details of a civil lawsuit filed by several elderly investor who said he lost their money in bad business deals related to his father’s bankrupt company. Houston reached an undisclosed settlement last year.

Houston sent out negative mailers about Piepho but he came across as a mean-spirited cad rather than an experienced statesman. Supporters such as Sheriff Rupf tried in the last week to drum up votes with anti-Piepho mailers but they were too little and too late.

It’s a steep blow for Houston, who had never, until tonight, lost a campaign.