Election Day is just around the corner, though tens of thousands of Contra Costa County residents have already cast their votes by turning in their mail-in ballots to election officials early amid concerns about postal processing delays and packed polling places during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Contra Costa County Elections Division has dozens of secure dropbox locations across the county to collect vote-by-mail ballots between now and Tuesday, available to any registered voter in Contra Costa County including San Ramon, Danville and Alamo. That includes the prominent boxes at the Sycamore Park & Ride in Danville (near the intersection of Sycamore Valley Road and Camino Ramon) or at San Ramon City Hall (7000 Bollinger Canyon Road).
For Tri-Valley voters in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office has them covered too, with secure ballot dropboxes in their communities.
Both counties also have in-person early voting locations open this Friday through Monday, with physical distancing and other health protocols in effect. Regular polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 3) for Election Day for final in-person voting or vote-by-mail ballot submittal.
And there's plenty to decide in this general election.
Voters across the Tri-Valley face crowded candidate lists for their mayors, city/town councils, school boards and special districts.
There are notable runoffs after the March primary for positions like Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 1 and Alameda County Superior Court, as well as final decisions on regional representative seats at the state and federal levels.
Both counties have new half-cent sales tax measure proposals up for votes, plus localized ballot questions for certain Tri-Valley communities.
Statewide, voters are deciding 12 propositions on a range of topics including rideshare drivers' employment status, commercial property tax assessment rates, affirmative action, cash bail, rent control and consumer privacy rules -- to name a few.
Oh yeah, and there's that commander-in-chief showdown between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger, former vice president Joe Biden.
Here's a reminder of what is at stake locally for Danville, San Ramon and the rest of the Tri-Valley in this general election:
The local political landscape across the Tri-Valley could significantly change in this general election, with 50 candidates on mayor or Town/City Council ballots combined among San Ramon, Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore -- one of the deepest, most diverse fields ever for the region.
San Ramon has six candidates competing to succeed Mayor Bill Clarkson, who is terming out after nine years.
The list includes sixth-term Councilman Dave Hudson, first-term Councilwoman Sabina Zafar, chief medical officer Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, small business owner Aparna Madireddi, small business owner Susmita Nayak and businessman Sanat Sethy. The two-year mayoral term remains at-large.
In San Ramon's first election under district-based voting for City Council seats, four candidates are on the ballot for District 3 -- tech professional Varun Kaushal, professor Reza Majlesi, community organizer Sameera Rajwade and Parks and Community Services Commissioner Sridhar Verose. This is the position currently held by Phil O'Loane, who opted against seeking re-election.
For District 1, four-term Councilman Scott Perkins is running against public health professional Luz Gómez. San Ramon does not have term limits for its four-year City Council seats.
Danville voters are choosing from nine candidates for three at-large positions on the Town Council. At least one seat will change hands for sure, with Councilwoman Lisa Blackwell deciding not to run for a second term.
On the crowded ballot are 25-year incumbent Councilman Newell Arnerich, second-term Councilwoman Renee Morgan, business owner Mohamed Elsherbini, Senior Advisory Commissioner Dave Fong, tech engineer Nasser Mirzai, business consultant PJ Shelton, former parks commissioner Turner Stanton, businessman Allen Timmons and retired Oakland police officer Kevin Traylor.
Danville's council terms are four years long, with no term limits. The town does not directly elect its mayor.
Pleasanton has five residents on the ballot for mayor and seven others running for the two regular City Council positions, with all three seats guaranteed to change hands due to term limits.
With Mayor Jerry Thorne serving his eighth and final year, voters have two familiar elected officials and two political newcomers -- plus a fifth candidate who's on the ballot but bowed out of the campaign -- from which to choose as the city's new mayor for the two-year term ahead.
Sitting council members Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin are each seeking to remain on the dais as mayor, with both terming out from regular council seats this year after serving two consecutive terms.
In addition to each other, Pentin and Karla Brown are facing first-time candidates Monith Ilavarasan (a technology product manager and Amador Valley High School alumnus, class of 2010) and Tom Turpel (a digital marketing manager and Pleasanton native himself).
Fellow newcomer Druthi Ghanta, a Foothill High alumna who works as a health engineer and scientist, decided to step away from the mayor's race for personal reasons in the summer but only after she qualified for the final ballot.
For the pair of at-large regular council seats, four-year terms each, there are seven candidates with a range of personal, professional and public service experience.
The list features current planning commissioners Nancy Allen and Jack Balch, three-term Pleasanton school board Trustee Valerie Arkin, local real estate professional and current board chair for the Chamber of Commerce Randy Brown (no relation to Councilwoman Brown), attorney and Amador alum Jarod Buna, city Housing Commissioner Zarina Kiziloglu and former Economic Vitality Committee member Chiman Lee.
Livermore voters will be electing a new mayor citywide, as well as deciding two regular council seats under the city's first-ever election with district-based voting.
Competing to succeed Mayor John Marchand, who is terming out, are real estate professional and former Livermore police officer Mony Nop, a first-time city candidate, and second-term City Councilman Bob Woerner. Livermore's mayoral term remains two years at-large.
Vying to represent southeastern Livermore as part of City Council District 3 are two political newcomers: community organizer and photography business owner Brittni Kiick and medical account manager and Livermore native Pete Patterson. This is the position currently held by Councilman Bob Coomber, who opted not to seek re-election this year for health reasons.
Incumbent Councilman Bob Carling is running unopposed on the southwestern District 4 ballot, seeking a second straight term on the council.
Dublin residents are electing a new mayor from three candidates and two regular council members from among nine candidates this fall.
Current council members Arun Goel and Melissa Hernandez -- who each decided to run for mayor instead of a second council term -- are squaring off against each other along with local political newcomer Regina Pangelinan. The mayoral seat is opening up with third-term Mayor David Haubert running for Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 3.
Hoping to succeed Hernandez and Goel on the City Council is a long list of candidates: Human Services Commissioner Shawn Costello, insurance broker Lucrecia Deleon, businessman Razi Hasni, engineer and educator Sherry Hu, Human Services Commission alternate member Michael McCorriston, technology investor Sri Muppidi, Planning Commission alternate Dawn Plants, scientist and cloud architect Kashef Qaadri and former planning commissioner Samir Qureshi.
All city of Dublin positions are at-large: mayor as a two-year term and council at four years.
With hotly contested ballots down the line, each of the four Tri-Valley local school boards is guaranteed to see at least one seat turn over this November.
In all, nine positions (each four-year terms) are on ballots across the Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon Valley and Livermore Valley Joint unified school districts.
San Ramon Valley Unified School District voters are participating in their first by-trustee-area election for school board seats.
In Trustee Area 2, five-term incumbent and current Board President Greg Marvel is running against local business owner and former SRVUSD committee member Shelley Clark and local parent Priscilla Graft.
Competing in Trustee Area 3 are community volunteer Laura Bratt, project manager Kumar Nallusamy and San Ramon Valley Education Foundation board member Scott Roberts. This is the position currently held by Mark Jewett, who opted not to seek re-election.
Pleasanton Unified has three at-large positions on the Board of Trustees on the ballot, including the seat currently held by Arkin who is running for City Council instead.
The candidate list features incumbents Jamie Yee (three terms) and Steve Maher (one term) and three newcomers -- retired Alisal Elementary teacher Mary Jo Carreon, e-learning education professional Kelly Mokashi and IT consultant and parent volunteer Chong Wang.
The LVJUSD election has five candidates for two at-large board positions, with incumbent Chris Wenzel opting not to seek re-election.
The candidates are incumbent Chuck Rogge seeking a fourth term and challengers Yanira Guzmán (career coach/former educator), Kandiss Hewing (human resources specialist), Asa Strout (business analyst) and Kristie Wang (public policy advocate).
Dublin Unified has two contested elections for school board under by-trustee-area voting.
Running for Trustee Area 1 are physician Dr. Dawn Nwamuo and Kristin Pelham, an SRVUSD special education teacher who lives in Dublin. This is the seat held by Trustee Amy Miller, who did not seek re-election.
In Trustee Area 4, incumbent Gabi Blackman is competing against parent volunteer Michael Utsumi.
DUSD Area 3 incumbent Catherine Kuo was unchallenged.
* Perhaps the most contentious race in the Tri-Valley is the runoff election between Haubert and Fremont City Councilman Vinnie Bacon for Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 1.
The two experienced elected officials are vying to succeed retiring Supervisor Scott Haggerty representing District 1, which includes the cities of Livermore and Dublin, most of Fremont and portions of unincorporated Sunol and Livermore and Amador valleys.
* Trial attorney Elena Condes and civil rights attorney Mark Fickes are facing off for the Alameda County Superior Court Department 2 position opening up with the retirement of Judge Carol Brosnahan. They were the top two finishers in the three-candidate primary election in March.
* District 16 Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) is running for a second term against real estate appraiser Joe Rubay (R-Alamo).
* State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), who seeks a second full term for District 7, faces political newcomer Julie Mobley (R-Danville), whose professional background is in engineering but who listed mother as her ballot designation.
* U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) is competing for a fifth consecutive term against special education teacher Alison Hayden (R-Hayward). Congressional District 15 includes Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and a portion of Danville.
In Congressional District 11, which includes Alamo, Blackhawk, Diablo and most of Danville, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) is bidding for a fourth term against real estate professional Nisha Sharma (R-Danville).
* For BART Board of Directors District 1, which includes the San Ramon Valley, first-term incumbent Director Debora Allen is facing two challengers from Walnut Creek: health care marketing manager Jamie Salcido, who also sits on her city's Transportation Commission, and preschool director and linguist Emmy Akin.
In BART District 5 (which includes Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore), third-term incumbent John McPartland faces two newcomers with Livermore ties -- Livermore resident Steven Dunbar, who works for local bus manufacturer Gillig and has experience on his city's Community Asset Management Plan Outreach Committee, and Castro Valley resident Mike Wallace, who works as a financial analyst for the Zone 7 Water Agency.
* The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Board of Directors has three seats on the ballot, including the position held by Director Dominique Yancey, who opted not to seek re-election. The four candidates are incumbent H. Jay Kerr and Matt Stamey and newcomers Thomas Gallinatti and Michelle Lee.
* The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (Central San) Board of Directors, which includes much of the San Ramon Valley, has six candidates vying for three at-large seats on the sewer board: incumbents Paul Causey, Jim Nejedly and Tad Pilecki and challengers Barbara Hockett, Nathan Jaquez and Mariah Lauritzen.
* For Contra Costa Community College District Ward 2, which includes parts of Alamo, incumbent Vicki Gordon is running against two challengers: former Diablo Valley College president Judy Walters and former DVC student John Michaelson.
* The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District Board of Directors has two at-large seats being contested in the general election, including the position held by Director Beth Wilson who isn't running. The five candidates are incumbent Jan Palajac and challengers James E. Boswell, Mike Ralph, Stacey A. Swanson and Richard Tarbell.
* For its first election year under by-division voting, Dublin San Ramon Services District had unchallenged races for Division 1 (only newcomer Marisol Rubio filed) and Division 3 (only incumbent Rich Halket). No one submitted candidacy paperwork for Division 5, so that seat is awaiting future appointment by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
* Also uncontested were the two Tri-Valley seats on the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Board of Trustees, with only incumbents Ed Maduli (Area 7) and Tim Sbranti (Area 5) filing for the election.
There are three local measures on Tri-Valley ballots in Alameda County, and two others for those living in the Contra Costa County portion of the Valley.
Most prominent in Alameda County is Measure W, a proposal put on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors to institute a new half-cent sales tax countywide "to provide essential county services, including housing and services for those experiencing homelessness, mental health services, job training, social safety net and other general fund services," according to the ballot question.
This new tax, which would be in place for 10 years and generate an estimated $150 million per year, requires a simple majority to pass, according to County Counsel Donna R. Ziegler.
Measure V is also on ballots countywide, though it only applies to unincorporated areas such as Sunol, Castro Valley, Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview and San Lorenzo.
This proposal asks voters to extend the existing 6.5% tax rate through June 2033 for the "utility users tax" collected for specified services in the unincorporated communities that provides an estimated $12 million per year that could fund county services for those communities such as sheriff, library, planning and code enforcement, according to the ballot question.
Measure V would retain the current exemptions and exclusions, including exemptions for low-income and lifeline utility users. The tax would expire next June if not approved by a majority of voters Nov. 3.
The Alameda County Fire Department is again asking voters in unincorporated Alameda County (except Fairview) -- for the second election in a row -- to authorize issuing $90 million in bonds to fund fire facility projects in the unincorporated communities, including parts of Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore outside of those cities' jurisdictions.
On the ballot as Measure X, the fire safety bond would implement a new property tax of $16 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in ACFD's unincorporated service area to repay the bond debt. The measure requires approval from two-thirds of voters in order to pass.
That supermajority threshold proved pivotal when ACFD proposed the same bond measure in the March primary. On the ballot that time as Measure D, the proposal fell 95 votes short of passing -- with 66.37% of voters in favor, just below the two-thirds level required.
Over in Contra Costa County, San Ramon Valley voters will help decide that county's Measure X -- a proposed half-cent sales tax countywide that aims to raise an estimated $81 million annually for 20 years to fund county hospital operations and community health centers, fire and other emergency responses, and social safety-net services.
The new sales tax would pass with support from over 50% of voters in the general election.
And in Alamo, residents are voting on Measure W, which seeks to raise the county's financial appropriations limit for Alamo Parks and Recreation to $1.75 million (with subsequent cost-of-living adjustments) without raising taxes. This measure also requires a simple majority to pass.
Polls will be open across the Tri-Valley from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 3); that is also the final day to submit your vote-by-mail ballot.
DanvilleSanRamon.com has in-depth coverage of Tri-Valley contests available via our "Election Guide 2020." There you'll find individual profiles about city and school candidates, videos and coverage of our eight candidate forums, group election profiles about special district and regional elections, and more.
We will also be your go-to destination for coverage of Tri-Valley election results, from early returns on Election Night to tally updates in the days and weeks afterward all the way through to final certification expected in late November.