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Editorial: Don't tune out; turn out for the June 5 primary

Congress, State Assembly, Governor, county seats, Zone 7 among races

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, voter turnout in the June primaries hit an all-time low in non-presidential primary year of 2014. Lack of interest and time constraints were the top two reasons given by registered voters who said they do not always vote.

Absentee balloting makes the lack of time excuse a non-starter. Lack of interest? Not being interested in who is representing your interests in the federal, state, county or local board is flat-out negligence.

Every eligible voter should be engaged and understand the offices and the candidates they're voting for; that includes the local lower-visibility offices like, for example, the state Board of Equalization.

The filing period is underway for the June 5 statewide primary election, which could involve many races for Alameda County representatives.

U.S Congressional District 11, which includes Danville and Alamo, is currently represented by Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), who will seek re-election. Two candidates have filed to run against DeSaulnier, Dennis Lytton and Chris Wood.

San Ramon is part of U.S. Congressional District 15, which is currently represented by Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), who will seek re-election. Swalwell was first elected in 2012 when he defeated incumbent Pete Stark. Two candidates have filed to opposed Swalwell, Rudy Peters and Brendan St. John.

The term for state Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) is also ending and she is running for third straight term. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Thomas Tarantino have filed as challengers.

Of course there are high-visibility state offices on the ballot, too, such as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer and Attorney General. These will get a lot of attention from media and residents.

Local elections, though -- like those on the county level and offices with less visibility -- are just as important, if not more. It's these positions that have an impact on everyday life.

The terms for four of the seven members on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors end in June. Zone 7 is the wholesale water retailer for the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD), which serves a portion of San Ramon and the Doughtery Valley. The decisions the agency's board makes affects water costs and access to state water. Water is a pretty important factor in our day-to-day existence.

Currently four candidates have filed paperwork to run in this election: Dennis Gambs and incumbents John Greci, Sarah Palmer and Bill Stevens. (Note: San Ramon residents can't vote for Zone 7 -- even though the agency serves DSRSD -- because Zone 7 is an Alameda County agency.)

On the county level, the Contra Costa County District Attorney race will be competitive. Current County District Attorney Diana Becton, who was appointed to the position in September 2017, will have to compete in the June 5 primary to defend her seat against challengers Lawrence Strauss, Victor Segovia and Paul Graves. If Becton (or a challenger) receives more than 50% of the vote in the June primary, they will win the seat outright in June. Otherwise a runoff between the top two vote-getting candidates will take place in November.

The terms of several other high-level county officials are also ending including: Assessor Gus Kramer; Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston; Auditor-Controller Robert Campbell; Clerk-Recorder Joseph E. Canciamilla; and Tax Collector Russell Watts.

County Supervisor Candace Andersen, who represents San Ramon, Danville and Alamo, is not up for election this year, but two of her board colleagues are.

Currently Contra Costa Superintendent of Schools, Karen Sakata, who was elected in June 2014, will not run for a second term. Candidates who have filed to run for this seat are Lynn Mackey, Ronald Leone and Cheryl Hansen.

The term for Contra Costa County's representative on the California Board of Equalization is also ending. While this post is a lesser-known state office, it is nonetheless an important one. Many people are unaware of this board, which is comprised of five members. Four members represent districts of approximately 9.5 million people; the fifth member is the State Controller, who is elected statewide. These are the people responsible for ensuring county assessors are in compliance with property tax laws, regulations, and assessment issues.

Be honest: Did you know the county superintendent of schools is elected? Did you know how many members there are the Board of Equalization?

Please fulfill your civic responsibility by being educated, engaged and by voting in the primary and the general elections.

Or become a candidate. The nomination period ends at 5 p.m. March 9, with an extension to March 14 for any seat for which an incumbent officeholder does not file.

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