June 2, 2012 - Contra Costa voter turnout predicted to be 'anemic' set to make tax and candidate decisions Tuesday
Paper: Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA)
Title: Contra Costa voter turnout predicted to be 'anemic' set to make tax and candidate decisions Tuesday
Date: June 2, 2012
Author: Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Contra Costa Times
Contra Costa County voters go to the polls Tuesday and make their voices heard in a three-way county supervisor contest and on a half-dozen local sales and parcel tax measures.
In addition, voters in the new Assembly District 11 -- Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, portions of Pittsburg and a large portion of Solano County -- will select their top two picks from among six challengers. The victors advance to the November general election.
Overall, though, Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir predicts an "anemic" turnout that could dip below 40 percent.
He points to the lack of a presidential primary contest in California in either major party or a hot-button statewide ballot measure, which would have driven up voter interest.
Few voters or many, it will be a historic election.
It is the state's first election under the new top-two rules in which candidates in partisan races who finish No. 1 and No. 2 will advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
It is also the first election of representatives in the post-census congressional and legislative districts drawn for the first time by an independent commission. Contra Costa and much of the Bay Area saw major shifts in district lines.
In the local contests, campaigning is fierce in the supervisor race between Contra Costa Community College board President Tomi Van de Brooke, of Orinda, and Danville Mayor Candace Andersen.
One of the women could win the seat outright Tuesday with a simple majority vote, or 50 percent plus 1 vote.
But it may well hinge on how many votes go to the third candidate, who has little chance of finishing in the top two. Solar energy professor Sean White of Lafayette has refused to raise money on the grounds that it corrupts politicians and has done little campaigning.
The victor will represent District 2, a seat previously held by the late Gayle Uilkema. She intended to retire at the end of the year but died in mid-May after a two-year fight with cancer. The district includes Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Danville, Alamo, Rossmoor and San Ramon.
In the new 11th Assembly District, six people are vying for a chance to run in November for the open seat, including Democrats Jim Frazier, an Oakley councilman; professional negotiator Patricia Hernandez, of Rio Vista; retired fire Chief Gene Gantt, of Benicia; programmer and artist Charles Kingeter, of Suisun City; independent Len Augustine, a former Vacaville mayor; and Republican Suisun City Councilman Mike Hudson.
The district includes Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley and portions of Pittsburg, although slightly more than half of its voters live in Solano County.
The debate has also heated up in the East Contra Costa Fire District, where leaders say they will be forced to cut service by half unless residents pass a $197 annual parcel tax.
The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association opposes the tax, saying it won't solve the district's long-term financial problems, exceeds what a survey shows residents will support and adds unnecessary staff.
Hoping to staunch their financial woes in the wake of the statewide dissolution of redevelopment agencies, Hercules, San Pablo and Pittsburg are asking voters for a five-year half-cent hike in their sales taxes.
Antioch seeks voter approval of a $59.5 million bond program, while the West Contra Costa School District is looking to extend an existing parcel tax. The Crockett Community Services District is asking for a boost to its parcel tax for recreation.
In other measures, Antioch voters will decide whether to convert the city's directly elected mayor's post to a council post. The new five-member council would select a rotating mayor from among its ranks.
If it passes, only four of the county's 19 cities would have directly elected mayors.
In another countywide trend, Antioch is asking voter approval to change its elected treasurer and city clerk positions to appointed posts.
Martinez and Pinole still elect a treasurer and city clerk. San Pablo voters choose a city clerk. Walnut Creek and Concord each have an elected treasurer.
Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773 or at Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.
Find your polling place or find the answers to other election questions at the following locations:
Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters: 555 Escobar St. in Martinez. Contact the office at 925-335-7800 or www.cocovote.us.
Alameda County Registrar of Voters: 1225 Fallon Street G-1 in Oakland. Contact the office at 510 267-8683 or www.acgov.org/rov.
Solano County Registrar of Voters: 675 Texas St. in Fairfield. Contact the office at 707-784-6675 or www.co.solano.ca.us/depts/rov
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Record Number: 20769909
Copyright (c) 2012 Contra Costa Times.