Political junkie alert: UC-Berkeley to air conference

This just in from UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies or IGS.

For those of you who missed the recent, two-day IGS Quadrennial Governors Conference, a webcast of all of the panels and speakers is now available either through the IGS website or directly through the UC-Berkeley webcast page.

This was a very interesting conference. I was able to attend only on Saturday, where the panelists were the campaign masterminds behind Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Democratic challenger, Phil Angelides.

One tidbit I found particularly interesting was confirmation from one of Schwarzenegger’s aides, Steve Schmidt, that the governor intentionally avoided campaigning for fellow Republican Richard Pombo, then an incumbent Tracy congressman who lost his seat to Democrat Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.

The governor made a campaign stop in Pleasanton but Pombo was clearly not invited.

As I recall, Schmidt referred during the conference to Pombo’s re-election bid as a train wreck they could see coming a mile away.


AD15 list expands. Again.

And then there were seven.

Granada High School Principal Chris Van Schaack of Livermore has filed to run as a Democrat in Assembly District 15 as the open seat in this politically competitive district continues to attract a plethora of candidates.

Incumbent Guy Houston, R-Livermore, will term out in 2008.

Van Schaack, 44, has been an educator for nearly 20 years but now says he’s ready to tackle education issues in Sacramento.

“I’ve had good success here at Granada and truly believe that I can be of great assistance to the legislative body in Sacramento,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Over the last month I’ve been meeting with teachers, nurses, police, fire, and real estate folks in order to better understand their perspective and gather their support.

“And fundraising, of course. Lots of fundraising.”

Van Schaack will join fellow Democrat Terry Coleman of Danville, who ran unsuccessfully in for the seat in 2006. Stevan Thomas, a former primary candidate in the congressional District 11 race, has also said he will run.

Republicans who have either filed or said they will run include San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, GOP activist Judy Biviano Lloyd of Dublin, eye doctor Scott Kamena of Livermore and retired CEO Robert Rao, also of Livermore.


Contra Costa tops state’s turn-out list, again

The final numbers won’t come in until Monday but it’s highly likely that Contra Costa County will once again top the state in voter turn-out among the 15 counties with 250,000 or more registered voters.

Here’s the turn-out as of the Secretary of State web site:
1. Contra Costa County: 61.5 percent
2. Alameda County: 61.2 percent
3. San Francisco: 60.5 percent
4. Santa Clara: 58.8 percent
5. Sacramento: 57.9 percent
6. San Diego: 57 percent
7. Ventura: 56.4 percent
8. San Mateo: 56.2 percent
9. Fresno: 54 percent
10. Kern: 51.9 percent
11. Los Angeles: 51.4 percent
12. Orange: 50.5 percent
13. San Joaquin: 50.1
14. Riverside: 49.4
15. San Bernardino: 45 percent

Contra Costa County party organizers on both sides of the political aisle will credit their get-out-the-vote efforts and that’s certainly a part of the picture.

Or perhaps, it was the Contra Costa Times’ excellent election section of Oct. 9 that motivated voters.

But Bay Area counties almost always top the state turn-out list. Political experts cite their residents’ relatively high incomes and education levels.

My question, though, is about Sonoma County, which logged the highest turn-out in the state at 75.5 percent. What was on the county’s ballot that drew such a crowd?


Richmond NAACP requests poll investigation

Ken Nelson, president-Elect and executive committee member of the NAACP Richmond branch, has requested an investigation into polling place problems in several Richmond neighborhoods where a high percentage of African-Americans live.

The matter has particular significance in Richmond where only 279 votes separate the apparent winner of the city’s mayor race, Gayle McLaughlin, and its African-American incumbent, Irma Anderson.

Here is the text of Nelson’s letter to Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir:

Dear Mr. Weir,

The Richmond Branch of the NAACP has received numerous complaints regarding Precincts 394, 388, and 387 at Wilson Elementary School in Richmond, California. We are concerned that misinformation provided by poll workers and an apparent lack of training and support for poll workers at this location resulted in voter disenfranchisement and prevented many residents from casting their votes. We are particularly concerned that this disenfranchisement occurred in precincts with high numbers of African-American voters.

We have received reports that poll workers at this location refused to provide voters with provisional ballots and improperly turned voters away from the polls. Furthermore, neither poll workers nor voters were able reach the county elections office when they sought information on voting procedures. We have also received complaints that poll workers at this location did not have adequate training and that this lack of training resulted in general mismanagement of the precincts and voter frustration, in some cases leaving voters with no alternative but to leave without casting their vote.

We request that you launch a formal investigation into this matter and meet with the Richmond NAACP to discuss the complaints our office has received. We also request that you provide the Richmond NAACP with a copy of all training materials provided to poll workers and specifically all information provided to poll workers at the Wilson Elementary School location.

We look forward to receiving your prompt response. You can reach me directly at 510-776-7518.


Ken Nelson
President-Elect and Executive Committee Member
NAACP Richmond Branch


Contra Costa/Alameda election results updated

The leaders in all the close Alameda and Contra County races remain ahead after election officials completed counting the bulk of the remaining absentee ballots this afternoon.

The counties have until Dec. 5 to certify and release the final vote results.

But the chance of a shift this late in tallying process has dropped substantially now that only a small percentage of ballots remain uncounted.

“Most of these races are no longer close,” Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir.

Races to watch Contra Costa include:

Antioch: Reggie Moore slightly widened his lead over Manny Soliz by 92 votes for the second slot on the City Council.

Concord: Incumbent Helen Allen slightly increased her lead over Ron Leone to 341 votes for the third opening on the City Council.

John Swett Unified School District: William Concannon widened his lead over Jim Delgadillo from 2 to 58 votes in the competition for the second of two open seats on the board.

Pinole: Mary Horton’s lead over Betty Boyle dropped to 53 votes in the battle for the third opening on the City Council.

Richmond mayor: Gayle McLaughlin’s lead over incumbent Irma Anderson widened to 279 votes.

Richmond: Myrna Lopez’s lead over Corky Booze widened substantially — 416 votes — in the competition for the third opening on the City Council.

West Contra Costa County Unified School Board: Incumbent Charles Ramsey’s lead over Antonio Medrano narrowed to 118 votes for the third seat on the board.

In Alameda County, the races to watch are:

AC Transit, Ward 3: Elsa Ortiz’ lead narrowed to 76 votes over Tony Daysog for a seat on the Board of Directors.

Albany: Joanne Wile holds a 226-vote lead over Caryl O’Keefe for the second opening on the City Council.

Pleasanton: Incumbent Mayor Jennifer Hosterman widened her lead to 175 votes over challenger Steve Brozosky.