With all the suspense ahead of Election Day, it's tempting to sit down with a steaming cup of tea leaves and put a new coat of shine on the crystal ball.

Alas, political soothsaying is like running with sharp scissors -- trip and you might hit a major artery.

Speculation remains relatively safe, though. Here's a look at some of the questions local voters will answer Tuesday.

  • Will one of the three Contra Costa District 2 supervisor candidates win the seat outright with at least 50 percent plus one vote or will there be a top-two runoff?

    Mathematically, a runoff is logical.

    Contra Costa Community College College board President Tomi Van de Brooke and Danville Mayor Candace Andersen are well matched and running solid, well-funded campaigns.

    But if solar energy professor Sean White pulls 4 or 5 percent of the vote -- he refuses to raise money and has run only a nominal campaign -- it will make it more difficult for one of the women to garner a majority.

    A Tuesday victory isn't out of the question.

    Privately, some of the county's political insiders say Andersen could win outright Tuesday despite labor and abortion-rights activists' best efforts to inform voters of the Mormon mayor's conservative leanings.

    Among the factors they cite, Andersen's ballot occupation of mayor, attorney and former prosecutor may resonate louder among average voters than Van de Brooke, who is listed as a businesswoman and college trustee.

    Plus, the San Ramon Valley is highly motivated to elect one of its own.


    Advertisement

    The valley's last elected supervisor was Gayle Bishop, who was convicted in 1997 of misusing her public office.

    On the other hand, the politicos admit their prognostications are based on gut impressions rather than hard numbers. There's been chatter about a poll, but the candidates say it wasn't theirs and no one else has fessed up.

  • Will Democratic Oakley Councilman Jim Frazier make the top two finishers in the new Assembly District 11?

    Probably. He has the most money and the major endorsements.

    But his supporters are taking nothing for granted, if the extraordinary volume of campaign mail is any indication.

    It's all about the math.

    Five of the six primary candidates are from Solano County, where 57 percent of the district's voters reside. And based on party registration, the sole Republican on the ticket, Mike Hudson, will likely receive up to a third of the vote.

    Frazier needs a strong Contra Costa turnout plus a decent showing in Solano if he hopes to emerge at the top of the Democratic pile.

  • What will happen with all the local tax measures?

    This could be answered a dozen ways.

    Voters in 12 East Bay cities, school and special districts will decide the fate of bonds, parcel and sales taxes. Statewide, CalTax lists 84 local tax measures on the June ballot.

    Typically, voters are more willing to pay higher taxes when they know the money will be spent close to home.

    Whether this will hold true on Tuesday is unclear.

    A nominal $22 clean water parcel fee flopped in 18 of 19 Contra Costa cities a few months ago. And in Moraga, an affluent and pro-education town, voters recently nixed a $225-a-year school parcel tax.

    If an anti-tax sentiment engulfs local interests, local government leaders fear it will cast a shadow over cities, schools and special districts desperate to replace dollars lost to the lagging economy.

    In particular, it could hit Contra Costa Fire District's planned November parcel tax.

    And then there's the expected fall blitz over tax measures intended to help fill California's seemingly bottomless budget deficits.

    So, stay tuned for Tuesday when all your questions will be answered and replaced with a whole set of new ones.

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

    See all the latest campaign mailers in the Contra Costa supervisor race.

    AND FINALLY: The Walnut Creek caller was insistent.

    His congressman is John Garamendi. It says so right on the district map on Garamendi's website. So, why isn't Garamendi's name on his ballot, he asked?

    Like this caller, many residents are opening their vote by mail ballots and learning for the first time they have new lawmakers.

    I will refrain from pointing to the news stories about last summer's post-census redrawing of political districts. OK, I didn't refrain.

    As for Garamendi's outdated map, lawmakers haven't updated their sites because technically, they don't represent the new districts unless and until they are elected to them.

    To confirm your district, enter your home address at www.wedrawthelines.org.

    Don't use the Internet? Learn. As we are discovering in my industry, no dog is too old to learn new tricks.

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