Following a four-candidate race for the Contra Costa County clerk recorder's seat, the top two candidates in the primary election -- Kristin Braun Connelly and Vicki Gordon -- are poised to be on the November ballot.
As of the most recent count, which was updated on Tuesday, Connelly came in at the top, with 33.97% of the vote, giving her a double-digit lead over Gordon's 23.48% of the vote.
Both candidates had maintained their leads over the other two contenders, Devin Murphy and Nick Spinner, who were at 22.12% and 20.43% of the vote respectively as of the latest count. However, no candidate was successful in garnering the 50% or more of the vote necessary to win the seat outright in the primary election.
"I'm so appreciative of the support of the voters in Contra Costa County," Connelly told DanvilleSanRamon. "I'm proud to be the first place vote-getter, and certainly want to continue my message of increasing access to voting and having ethics and integrity in all aspects of our office."
"I really think our message resonated with voters, and we plan to carry that into the fall," she added.
Connelly ran on a platform that highlighted a career in which accountability and oversight of elections has played a key role, going back to her time in law school during the contentious Bush vs. Gore election. She went on to train lawyers in election oversight, and oversee the 2008 election in Missouri.
Despite Connelly's substantial lead in the June 7 primary election, Gordon said that she was confident in her own success in the November general election.
"I think the voters realize I have the most experience and the best qualifications," Gordon told DanvilleSanRamon.
Throughout her campaign, Gordon highlighted her experience successfully campaigning for office in the county, having spent more than a decade on the Contra Costa Community College Governing Board, before being ousted by challenger Judy Walters in 2020. She most recently served on the independent redistricting committee for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
For her part however, Connelly said that she was optimistic in the wake of her strong showing in the primary, and additional support and endorsements she'd gained during her campaign.
"I feel really good," Connelly said. "I'm certainly not going to take anything for granted, but I picked up additional endorsements and donations, and I feel like we're in a strong position to rely on and continue to build the support we've built so far."
Despite results coming out in her favor in the most recent primary election, Connelly said she was concerned about low voter turnout throughout the state, and particularly at the county level. She noted that while turnout is usually higher during general elections, she would seek to increase turnout overall as a priority, if elected as clerk-recorder.
"We had a pretty significant undervote," Connelly said. "The difference between the number of people who voted for the offices. For example, (there were) a significant number of people who didn't vote in the clerk-recorder race where there was no incumbent."
"There's always been an incumbent in this race before," she added..
The county clerk-recorder's seat is set to be vacated by Deborah Cooper, who was appointed to the position by the Board of Supervisors for three years following the departure of Joe Canciamilla, who pled guilty to charges of grand theft and perjury that consisted of using election funds for personal expenses.
Connelly noted that while turnout is usually higher during general elections, she would seek to increase turnout overall as a priority, if elected as clerk-recorder, and to address disparities in voter engagement, such as those in races with no incumbent.
Amid the scandal in the office under Canciamilla, both Connelly and Gordon ran on platforms that emphasized ethics and integrity, with both pledging to restore those qualities to the office.
Both candidates set to be on the November candidates also expressed appreciation and admiration for the two other contenders.
"(I) just wanted to express my gratitude," Connelly said. "Both of them obviously had messages that resonated, and it was great to meet them both in person and virtually."
"I think Devin Murphy and Nick Spinner ran great campaigns, and really got to know them and admire both of them," Gordon said.
Regarding a report in the East Bay Times about Gordon having been allegedly caught taking an opponent's campaign yard sign, she said that it was a misunderstanding she and her campaign were working on "trying to clear up," and emphasized her respect for both Murphy and Spinner.
Connelly said her campaign would be looking at data from the most recent election and plotting a course for November accordingly, with Gordon's campaign in the midst of preliminary plans to resume in the fall.
"I'm thankful for the support from voters, and all my supporters," Gordon said. "It was a really grassroots kind of campaign, so I'm really grateful to everyone who came forward, and the voters, and I'm looking forward to carrying on to November."
Connelly said that her overall campaign message would remain steady, after a hiatus until closer to November.
"I just think that what has served me well has been to talk about the depth of my management experience, that throughout my career I've been someone in every organization that has been asked to make systems change," Connelly said.
Nonetheless, she noted that she wouldn't be getting complacent in her November run.
"I feel really good about this all, but I know that I need to continue to put the work in," Connelly said.