Contra Costa County voters went to the polls Tuesday and made their choices in a three-way supervisor contest and on a half-dozen local sales and parcel tax measures.
Danville Mayor Candace Andersen held a strong lead over Contra Costa Community College Board President Tomi Van de Brooke, of Orinda, in early returns. If the spread holds to a majority, Andersen could win the seat outright and avert a November runoff. Most of the precincts counted so far are in Andersen's stronghold of Danville and San Ramon.
In other early results, the annual $197 parcel tax to keep afloat the East Contra Costa Fire District was substantially behind the two-thirds approval it needs to pass.
Sales tax increases in Hercules, Pittsburg and San Pablo were winning by large margins.
School measures in Antioch and West Contra Costa districts were coming up short as was a recreation parcel tax hike in Crockett. Antioch residents also appear likely to keep the city's directly elected mayor and treasurer positions.
In the local contests, campaigning has been especially fierce in the District 2 supervisor race.
The victor will win the seat previously held by the late Gayle Uilkema. She intended to retire at the end of the year but died in mid-May after a two-year fight with cancer. The district includes Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Danville, Alamo, Rossmoor and San Ramon.
Each of the women hoped to win the seat outright Tuesday with a simple majority
But the final outcome may well hinge on how many votes went to the third candidate, who had little chance of finishing in the top two. Solar energy professor Sean White, of Lafayette, has refused to raise money on the grounds that it corrupts politicians and has done little campaigning.
Andersen expected to do well among the typically more conservative mail voters, and she did.
But Van de Brooke, along with labor and Democratic interests, put on the heat over the weekend and into Election Day in an effort to close the gap with precinct voters.
The debate has also heated up in the East Contra Costa Fire District, where leaders say they will be forced to cut service by half if residents reject the $197 annual parcel tax.
The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association opposed the tax, saying it won't solve the district's long-term financial problems, exceeds what a survey shows residents will support and adds unnecessary staff positions.
Hoping to stanch their financial woes after the statewide dissolution of redevelopment agencies, Hercules, San Pablo and Pittsburg asked voters for a five-year half-cent hike in their sales taxes.
Antioch sought voter approval of a $59.5 million bond program, while the West Contra Costa School District looked to extend an existing parcel tax. The Crockett Community Services District asked for a boost to its parcel tax for recreation.
In other measures, Antioch voters were set to decide whether to convert the city's directly elected mayor's post to a council post.
The new five-member council would select a rotating mayor from among its ranks.
If it passed, only four of the county's 19 cities will have directly elected mayors.
In another countywide trend, Antioch asked for voter approval to change its elected treasurer and city clerk positions to appointed posts.
As predicted, turnout appeared to be low. Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir said he expected an "anemic" turnout that could dip below 40 percent and set a record low for a presidential year primary.
He pointed to the lack of a contested presidential contest in California in either major party or a hot-button statewide ballot measure, which would have driven up voter interest.
It is also the first election of representatives in the post-census congressional and legislative districts drawn for the first time by an independent commission. Contra Costa and much of the Bay Area saw major shifts in district lines.