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Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema has died

Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema on March 13, 2012.

Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema died early this morning with her family by her side.  She had been battling ovarian cancer since mid-2010.

In her fourth term, the 73-year-old former Lafayette mayor has been absent from her seat behind the board dais in Martinez since December, when she suffered a bout of pneumonia she described as a complication of chemotherapy.

She had hoped to return to her customary full-time schedule this spring although she was planning to retire at the end of the year after serving 16 years.

What I will remember most about Gayle is how much she deep-down loved her job as a county supervisor. She will be missed.

A rosary will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday St. Perpetua Church at 3454 Hamlin Road in Lafayette. The funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, also at St. Perpetua.

Flowers should be sent to Hull’s, 1139 Saranap Ave., Walnut Creek, CA 94595.

Memorial donations may to sent to the American Cancer Society, 101 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek, CA 94596



Posted on Saturday, May 19th, 2012
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 6 Comments »

CoCo Supervisor Uilkema returns to public life after illness

Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema returned to the board chambers for the first time since she became ill with pneumonia in January.

The Lafayette lawmaker has been fighting cancer for the past year and the pneumonia was a complication of her treatment.

No one loves this job more than Gayle, who will retire this year after 15 years on the board.

“I really miss you guys, all of you,” she told me before the meeting started. (Yes, I think she even meant me!)

Gayle says she plans to ramp back up into public life using the slow lane, attending meetings for an hour or two until she works her way back up to a full schedule.



Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 1 Comment »

Stepper steps out of CoCo supervisor contest

Danville Town Councilwoman Karen Stepper will not run for Contra Costa County supervisor.

“I’ve been looking at it all week and making calls,” Stepper said. “But the timing and the need to have a strong candidate in the (San Ramon Valley) and not split up the vote contributed to my decision not to run.”

Stepper runs an accounting firm and she is headed into tax season.

Stepper will instead endorse colleague and Danville Mayor Candace Andersen, who announced her candidacy last week for District 2, the seat held by Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette. Uilkema is retiring at the end her term next year.

The other declared candidate is Contra Costa Community College Board President Tomi Van de Brooke.


Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 4 Comments »

Danville mayor will run for Contra Costa supervisor

Danville Mayor Candace Andersen

Danville Mayor Candace Andersen will run for Contra County supervisor in 2012.

She hopes to succeed retiring Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette, who opted to leave office after seven terms rather than seek re-election in a newly drawn District 2 that encompasses the San Ramon Valley and Lamorinda.

“We have reached a point in time where the county really needs some new leadership,” said Andersen, a 51-year-old attorney who has served on the Danville Town Council for eight years.

She’s interested in curbing escalating pension costs, protecting the integrity of the urban growth boundary, preserving core county services such as law enforcement and finding ways to help the county cope with declining state revenues.

Contra Costa Community College District Trustee Tomi Van de Brooke of Orinda has also declared her candidacy.

The open seat could draw a large field by the time the official filing period opens Feb. 13.

Other possible District 2 candidates include former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. He moved to Orinda after he lost his Oakland mayoral race last fall, but he’s been making exploratory phone calls assessing his support in Contra Costa County. (A poll in the area has also been linked to his possible candidacy; one of the questions was reportedly about whether the responder viewed Perata as a “carpetbagger.”)

Danville Town Councilwoman Karen Stepper has also been considering a run.

In other county supervisor elections, supervisors Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay and Federal Glover of Pittsburg are seeking re-election in 2012. Piepho has no declared opponents yet, while Martinez Councilman Mike Menesini has opened a supervisor campaign account and may challenge Glover.

A candidate in any of the three supervisor districts on the ballot who receives more than 50 percent of the vote on June 5 will win the seat outright, or the top two finishers will compete in a runoff in the November general election.

Posted on Friday, December 9th, 2011
Under: 2011 election, Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 22 Comments »

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



Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 16 Comments »

Uilkema to retire from Contra Costa supervisors

Contra Costa Supervisor Gayle Uilkema announced this morning she will not seek re-election to a fifth term in 2012 despite numerous statements to the contrary in the past year.

Uilkema has faced several major personal political battles in the past year. She has battled ovarian cancer and her colleagues substantially altered her supervisorial district boundaries under the once-a-decade redistricting process. District 2 now includes most of the San Ramon Valley but she no longer represents Martinez, Pinole and Crockett.

It’s undoubtedly welcome news for only declared challenger in the race, Contra Costa Community College Trustee Tomi Van de Brooke of Orinda. She will no longer face a veteran incumbent.

But an open seat usually attracts a bigger field.

The Deputy Sheriffs Association and District Attorney Mark Peterson say they are going to recruit a candidate, presumably one who will support higher funding for law enforcement.

Here’s Uilkema’s statement:

Supervisor Gayle B. Uilkema Announces Retirement

 MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA, (November 15, 2011)….

Supervisor Gayle B. Uilkema of Lafayette has announced that she will be retiring from the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors at the end of her current term of office in January, 2013. Supervisor Uilkema has served on the Board for the past 15 years and has the longest tenure of the current Board Members. Approximately fourteen months remain in her current term of office.

Prior to her election as a Supervisor, Gayle served for 19 years as a Lafayette Council Member and completed four terms as Mayor. She was first elected to the Lafayette City Council in March, 1978.

“I am extremely grateful for the public trust that has been placed in me for such a long time. I would like my constituents to know that they can expect the same diligent representation that my office always provides for the remaining months of my term of office as the Contra Costa Supervisor for District 2.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 14 Comments »

Contra Costa at impasse over district maps

Without the necessary three votes to make a final selection, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors this afternoon punted its decision over new political districts to the end of the month.

The five supervisors will take up the matter again on July 26 at 10:30 a.m. (Click here for Contra Costa’s redistricting web site and links to all the various maps and data.)

Frustration was evident as the supervisors each reiterated the merits of his or her preferred map but repeatedly failed to come up with that third and majority vote.  Each views the county through a different political and personal lens, and they have yet to find middle ground.

Supervisors Federal Glover and John Gioia agree. The other three supervisors (Gayle Uilkema, Mary Nejedly Piepho and Karen Mitchoff) dislike the men’s map but don’t support each other’s maps, either.

Four maps remain on the table for debate although any could change at any time.

Click here for Piepho’s preferred map (Proposal 15.)

Here’s the first map proposed by Glover and Gioia (Proposal 17.)

Here are the men’s second and revised map (Proposal 17D) they submitted earlier today.

And here is what Mitchoff has submitted (Proposal 16.)

Broadly speaking, Glover and Gioia want to create a map based on regional subdivisions and reverse the 2001 map under which East Contra Costa County was carved into two districts. They submitted two maps, (Proposal 17 and Proposal 17D) each slightly adjusted in an attempt to win a third vote. But one of their maps slices a small sliver of Concord into a second district, while both maps splits Pinole, Walnut Creek and Antioch and the percentage population spread among the districts is 7.95 to 8.76 points. The law requires the county to draw new districts of equal population or as near as possible to equal; deviations have withstood court challenges but must be justified.

Their map most closely matches the option drawn by a volunteer citizen’s task force, or Concept 6, as it was originally labeled. Much of the audience Tuesday endorsed this version, holding up signed and testifying in its favor.

Piepho’s submission appears designed to inspire compromise rather than survive outright adoption. It draws her out of Walnut Creek, her prime political support base, and instead shifts it entirely into Uilkema’s district. It splits no cities and has a 5.39 percentage point population spread. But it does split Bay Point and Pittsburg, communities with longstanding ties.

Mitchoff’s map shifts Glover’s district westward, as he wanted, and allows Piepho to keep portions of Walnut Creek. But it splits Antioch and Walnut Creek. It has a 6.86 percentage point population spread.

In the next two weeks, the pressure will be on these supervisors to cut a deal, end the political suspense and allow the 2012 election to official begin. Uilkema, Glover and Piepho are up for re-election and at least four possible challengers were in the audience Tuesday and testified.

The question is whether a majority of the board will simply ram a map down the throats of their colleagues and let the chips fall where they will … or will they unanimously choke down a compromise and avert open warfare.

My money is on the latter although the former would be a lot more fun to write about.

Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Under: redistricting | 13 Comments »

East Bay events round-up

Here’s a look at upcoming political events:


Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, is the first congressman to host a mobile video town hall.

On Tuesday, starting at 6:16 p.m., residents may sign up for the video conference through Visible Vote’s free application for Facebook and smartphones including iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Viewers may watch the congressman answer questions real-time posed from those who have signed up for video conference. Many elected officials already deploy the use of telephone town halls, which allow thousands of people to listen and ask questions via the telephone.

But this is the first opportunity for constituents to see Garamendi on their phones as he answers their questions.

Learn how to set up Visible Vote is available at php. A video on how Visible Vote works is available at


Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Gayle Uilkema will deliver the annual State of the County Address at a Feb. 10 luncheon sponsored by the Contra Costa Council.

The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 45 John Glenn Boulevard, Concord.

Tickets at $35 for council members and elected official and $45 for nonmembers.

The council is a nonpartisan public policy advocacy organization funded through membership of businesses and other local groups.

For more information, visit, e-mail or call 925-246-1880.

Pleasant Hill

UC-Berkeley Statewide Database Director Karin MacDonald is the keynote speaker at the inaugural Feb. 22 lunch meeting of Community Connections, a lecture series sponsored by Contra Costa Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

MacDonald leads the research center that will process Census 2010 data and geographic information system mapping for use in the state’s redrawing of its congressional and state legislative boundaries.

For the first time, an independent commission of residents will draw the boundaries after voters stripped legislators of the job.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. at Contra Costa Country Club, 801 Golf Club Road in Pleasant Hill.

A lunch ticket costs $35. Prices for tickets to the full series vary from $1,000 to $100, depending on the type of membership. Proceeds benefit Mitchoff’s officeholder account, a non-campaign fund managed by elected officials.

San Francisco

Experts will discuss California’s unsustainable public pension system at a March 9 forum sponsored by the Bay Area Council.

The event, entitled, “Is California Headed for a Super Storm of Unfunded Pension Liabilities,” will feature San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster; California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility President Marcia Fritz, and Stanford professor and former state Assemblyman Joe Nation.

The forum will be held from 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. at the offices of SNR Denton, 525 Market Street, 26th Floor, in San Francisco.

“California’s public pension system has been described by some as a ‘time bomb’ or a ‘tsunami’ and by others as an over blown hoax,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council. “This forum is a chance to get down to the facts and see how much we actually owe, and to examine how to make reforms to get the state back on track.”

For more information, contact or call 415-946-8710.

Posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011
Under: Political calendar, Political events | 1 Comment »

Contra Costa candidates report cash

Campaign finance reports were due this week. I have already reported on the high profile results on this blog a few days ago, but here is a round-up of a the other interesting tidbits as of the end of the reporting period on June 30:

CONTRA COSTA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mark Peterson and Dan O’Malley emerged in June as the top two vote-getters and will compete in run-off on Nov. 2.

Peterson raised $121,841; spent $156,597; had $3,748 in the bank; and debts of $10,000.

O’Malley raised $143,717; sp0ent $184,980; had $16,128 in the bank; and debts of $9,014.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SHERIFF: David Livingston won the seat, beating Brian Kalinowski in June.

Livingston raised $147,325; spent $193,601; had $16,548 in the bank; and debts of $22,000. He loaned his campaign $22,000.

Kalinowski raised $$135,679; spent $105,341; had $4,153 in bank; and debts of $58,115. He loaned his campaign $44,067.

CONTRA COSTA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS’ OFFICEHOLDER ACCOUNTS: State law allows officeholders to raise and spend money on a variety of non-election activities.

Gayle Uilkema: Raised 5,335; spent $2,440; cash in the bank of $27,701. No debts.

Susan Bonilla: Raised $2,315; spent $6,015; cash in the bank of $1,918. No debts.

Federal Glover: Raised $8,400; spent $12,378; cash in the bank of $45,748. No debts.

Mary Piepho: Raised $16,734; spent $20,690; had $15,235 in the bank. No debts.

CONTRA COSTA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Karen Mitchoff prevailed in the June primary contest against Mike McGill for the seat left open by Susan Bonilla, who is running for Assembly.

Mitchoff: Raised $74,148; spent $75,570; had cash on hand of $5,446. No debts.

McGill: Raised $108,265; spenty $109,105; had cash on hand of $1,702. Debts of $51,800. Loaned his campaign $51,800.

MAJOR DONORS: There must be gold in them thar jelly bean jars. The Jelly Belly Candy Co. contributed $90,252 in the first six months of the year to candidates including Contra Costa sheriff candidate David Livingston, GOP Assembly candidate Abram Wilson and $21,000 to the California Republican Party.

Posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, campaign finance, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Menesini won’t run for Contra Costa supervisor

Martinez Councilman Mike Menesini will not challenge incumbent Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema in June.

“It was hard for me to say no,” Menesini said this morning. “And I hate to the race go uncontested. But this is just not the right time for me.”

Labor groups were pushing Menesini to run against Uilkema in the hopes of putting a more union-friendly vote on the board. As of last night, Uilkema had no challengers and the filing deadline is 5 p.m. today.

But Menesini, a well-known local politician who has been the mayor of Martinez, is an assistant district attorney in San Francisco with several murder cases on his plate. He also has two young children at home.

“My wife was pretty dubious about it,” he said.

Folks who know Menesini have been saying for the past week or so that he would run, and probably show up at the county elections office at the last minute.

Not this time, he says.

“I’m a lot less impetuous than I used to be,” he said.

Posted on Friday, March 7th, 2008
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »