Contra Costa mail-in ballot results posted

Contra Costa County has posted the results of the mail-in ballots counted as of a few days ago.

Here’s quick run-down of the Contra Costa County results so far:

Contra Costa Supervisor, District 3: Incumbent Mary Nejedly Piepho leads with 56 percent of the vote or 13,030 votes. Challenger Guy Houston has 42 percent or 9,790 votes.

Contra Costa Supervisor, District 5: Incumbent Federal Glover has a narrow lead of 33.5 percent or 3,887 votes; Erik Nunn, 30.7 percent, 3,558 votes; Gary Agopian, 17.6 percent, 2,040 votes; Mary Rocha, 14.5 percent or 1,682 votes; and Don Parscal, 3.3 percent or 386 votes.

Measure C, Antioch Unified School District bond: PASSING. Yes, 63.5 percent; no, 36.4 percent. (Measure C: asks voters to authorize a $61.6 million bond measure for school renovation and modernization projects. Property owners would be taxed as rate of $28 per $100,000 of assessed value to repay the loan. 55 percent required to pass.)

Measure D, San Ramon Valley Unified School District parcel tax: FAILING. Yes, 58 percent; no, 42 percent. (Asks voters to extend and increase the parcel tax from $90 to $166 a year to fund class-size reductions, library operations, student laboratories and counseling services. Two-thirds vote required to pass.)

Measure E, Orinda parcel tax: PASSING. Yes, 71.7 percent; no, 28 percent. (Asks voters to increase parcel tax from $27 to $39 per year per parcel to fund Orinda library operations, replace books and materials. Two-thirds vote required to pass.)

I’m very curious as to see whether or not these early vote-by-mail results track through the evening.

Given the very low turnout, the success of these campaigns may will hinge on the effectiveness of the candidates’ push to get their supporters to the polls. I’m also wondering how much impact the high volume of last-minute negative mailers will have on the outcome given the fact that a lot of voters may have already made their decisions.


How is turnout going?

One of my colleagues says she voted at Asbury United Methodist Church of Livermore, the polling place for far eastern Alameda County. Her husband was voter No. 1 when the polls opened this morning. At 1:15 today, she was voter No. 16 although some folks had turned in absentee ballots.

Another caller says he was No. 17 at 8:45 a.m. in west Contra Costa County.

It doesn’t sound too promising.

Did you vote today at the polls and what was your experience?


Independent groups drop $300,000 in supervisor races

Who knew so many people cared about campaign finance reports?

I already had plans to write today a campaign finance story in the wake of Friday’s reporting deadline for Contra Costa County supervisor candidates. But given the demand for immediate details, I’ve posted the story here before it shows up in tomorrow’s newspaper.

Special interest groups and individuals have spent nearly $300,000 on campaign mailers, signs and other costs in an effort to influence the outcome of Contra Costa County’s two hotly contested supervisor races in Districts 3 and 5. Here’s a breakout of what has been spent to oppose and support each candidate:

Oppose Guy Houston $163,746
Support Mary Nejedly Piepho $46,654
Support Federal Glover $33,991
Oppose Erik Nunn $29,281
Oppose Mary Nejedly Piepho $13,810
Support Guy Houston $12,500
TOTAL: $299,982

Oil refineries, business and labor groups, coupled with several impassioned individuals, have spent nearly $300,000 — largely on last-minute negative mailers — in an effort to influence Tuesday’s outcome of Contra Costa County’s two hotly contested supervisor races.

Outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston, running to replace incumbent, one-term Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay, has been the biggest target with $163,746 spent opposing his candidacy.

Houston has come under fire from the California Association of Realtors, whose political committee spent $40,807 on negative mailers. Houston is a Realtor and a member but he angered the group when he failed to support their legislation.

The bulk of the anti-Houston money has come from a group called the East Bay Business Coalition, an umbrella organization formed expressly for the purposes of making independent campaign expenditures.

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Sheriff Rupf explains reasons for anti-Piepho mailer

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf spoke with me at length via telephone late this afternoon about his decision to put $12,500 of his own money into a mailer targeting incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. I also spoke with Piepho and asked for her response to the sheriff’s remarks. (Click here to see my earlier blog entry on the subject, which includes copies of the mailer.)

I’ve put some of this content in my column for Sunday but since there have been so many questions for Rupf about the mailer on among the comments and the election is so close, I decided to post a more lengthy version here than space will allow in the newspaper.

Rupf says he was inspired to write a big personal check on the cost of the mailer after he read the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association endorsement letter of Piepho, calling its representation of her record on public safety “180 degrees from reality.” He says the union is pandering to Piepho because it is currently in contract negotiations with the county and believes its support will translate into support at the bargaining table.

The sheriff is a vocal supporter of Piepho’s challenger, outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon.

“I feel even more strongly than the money,” Rupf said. “We are in a hole that is driven by a lack of leadership and a lack of support for public safety services … At the same time, I believe there is a concerted and calculated effort by the Piephos (Mary and her husband, Discovery Bay Community Services District member David Piepho) to blame the sheriff for a lack of staffing and service.”

Rupf’s mailer says the budget shortfall forced him to “lay off deputies while Mary Piepho gave herself a whopping 60 percent raise at the expense of your safety.”

It’s true. Piepho voted in 2006 with her colleagues for a pay raise from $59,000 to $95,000 a year.

But Rupf has not laid off any deputies. He cut 16 civilian positions this year, although he says budget shortfalls have left him with 70 vacant deputy positions over the past four budget cycles.

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Election chief predicts record low turnout Tuesday

Voting turnout in Tuesday’s election will reach record lows based on the anemic level of mail-in ballots returned so far, predicts Contra Costa County Registar of Voters Steve Weir.

Here’s what Weir, who is also president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, had to say in an e-mail a few minutes ago:


Turnout looks like it will be the lowest of any primary in the state’s history, and that’s against a very anemic decade of poor primary turnouts.

I’m still predicting a 37% for Contra Costa and a guestimate of 31% for the state.

We have received 87,666 against 231,893 issued or a return rate of 37.8%. So, I believe that we are still on track for a 50% return rate for vote-by-mail ballots. That would give us a 24% turn out.

If 25% of the remaining voters go to the polls, we’ll reach 37%. (That’s only 99 voters per poll site.)

Other registrars are indicating an even worse return rate.

So, I still expect Calif. to reach 31%, but I think my colleagues would question that fact.

Given that the June 7, 1994 Primary was 35.05%, June 2, 1998 was 42.49%, March 5, 2002 was 34.59%, and June 6, 2006 was 33.63%, one could easily argue that the turn out will be in the high 20’s.

I’m going to argue that because so many vote-by-mail ballots have been issued, and given that some members of the public vote out of a sense of patriotic duty, we’re plumbing the bottom of turnout at this election.



Deputy Sheriffs Association blasts sheriff for mailer

The Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association blasted their boss today in a letter calling Sheriff Warren Rupf’s latest campaign mailer part of a “personal vendetta” against incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. (Click here for the blog entry and a copy of the mailer.)

The association has endorsed Piepho, while Rupf is campaigning for her challenger, outgoing Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon.

Read on for the text of the letter dated today:

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