After weeks of discussions with local leaders and eyeballing poll results, former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has opted out of a 2012 Contra Costa County supervisor bid.

Perata sent a note to supporters that said, "Thank you for your interest in my ambition to run for county supervisor but upon further consideration, I've concluded that my health and my family would be better served if I remain a civilian."

That leaves two relieved women currently in the race to succeed retiring District 2 Supervisor Gayle Uilkema: Contra Costa Community College District Trustee Tomi Van de Brooke and Danville Mayor Candace Andersen.

Perata is a veteran campaigner and skilled fundraiser who would have been a formidable opponent.

Sources say Perata, who moved to Orinda after losing the Oakland mayor's race, was deeply interested in the supervisor seat. He saw it as a way to put his vast legislative experience to use in a county with major public policy challenges.

But Perata also feared his opponents would make the most of the now-closed FBI investigation into allegations that he participated in campaign kickbacks.

Poll results reportedly showed high negative voter reaction to Perata's tangle with the FBI, his recent election loss in Oakland and relocation to Orinda.

Any opposing campaign consultant worth even a fraction of her fee would clutch Perata's baggage like a prized football and run like heck toward the end zone.


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NEXT DOOR: BART Director Joel Keller is taking a serious look at challenging Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho in District 3.

A retired county probation officer who has served for nearly three decades in public office, Keller says folks are asking him to consider a run.

"There is interest in the community in having new ideas on the board about how to do business as we reduce the size of county government and still ensure that people in the county are safe and can rely on law enforcement," he said.

Challenging an incumbent is always difficult, but the 66-year-old Brentwood resident says the new district boundaries coupled with voter dissatisfaction may signal an opening.

The once-a-decade redistricting shifted District 3 out of Piepho strongholds in the San Ramon Valley and Walnut Creek and into Oakley and portions of Antioch.

Keller says he personally likes Piepho, and her late father, state Sen. John Nejedly, even endorsed him as a candidate for Antioch City Council and BART.

"But I am hearing some dissatisfaction with her and the board," Keller said. "I am still gathering information and trying to determine in my own mind if there is a need for change, and if there is a need, am I the right person?"

He'll have to decide soon.

Piepho launched her re-election campaign weeks ago with a fundraiser hosted by prominent movers and shakers such as former Supervisor Tom Powers, garbage magnate Sil Garaventa and rancher Jack Roddy.

GOT POLITICS? Read the Political Blotter at IBABuzz.com/politics.

The death penalty, community responses during disaster, and white privilege are among the topics of speakers scheduled for St. Mary's annual January speaker series. Find dates and details on the blog.

And, if you still have holiday shopping to do, listen up. The Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending has issued its 2011 holiday shopping guide, which lists companies that fail to tell the public much, if anything, about what they spend on politics. Fewer than one-third of major firms even guarantee that their boards exercise oversight for their executives' political spending, CAPS says.

AND FINALLY: It will take more than a stellar stump speech and deep-pocketed allies to become a successful supervisor in a county where the budget is shrinking faster than Congress' approval ratings.

Would-be supervisors might want to stock up on tools and learn how to use them.

Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, of Richmond, spent part of a recent Saturday stuffing joint compound into holes in his county office walls left after he replaced a broken television.

It saved his office budget more than a few bucks and, besides, Gioia says repairing stuff is a great way to reduce stress.

Well, that explains the caulking gun he keeps bringing to board meetings.

Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com, IBABuzz.com/politics or Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.

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