Slightly more than half of Contra Costa County's 520,000 registered voters live in cities or other political districts with an election set for Nov. 3.

These voters include those who'll decide on a vacant congressional seat, and those who'll cast ballots in San Ramon, Walnut Creek and two school districts.

Voters in Newark, Emeryville and Albany also will participate in the typically small off-year election cycle.

Residents in these communities began receiving this week their vote-by-mail ballots, a voting method again expected to substantially eclipse the numbers of those who cast their votes at the polls.

The highest profile race is the runoff to replace former Rep. Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District. Two-thirds of the heavily Democratic district is in Contra Costa, with smaller segments in Alameda, Solano and Sacramento counties.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Tauscher in June as undersecretary for arms control and international security in the U.S. State Department.

Democrat and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi is the front-runner by virtue of his political party and high name identification. He faces GOP nominee and Dougherty Valley attorney David Harmer. The names of three minor-party candidates also will appear on the ballot.


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The congressional contest coupled with Walnut Creek's two school funding measures and its seemingly perennial battle over downtown development could easily drive up voter turnout there.

Walnut Creek voters will decide the fate of Measure I, a contentious initiative that would grant Broadway Plaza owner Macerich Co. permission to build a new store downtown intended for a Neiman Marcus.

Residents of the Acalanes and Walnut Creek school districts also will decide whether to extend indefinitely existing parcel taxes that help close the state funding gap. The measures require a difficult two-thirds vote threshold but there has been little organized opposition.

Reach Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773 or www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

VOTER INFORMATION
Find your polling place or answers to other election questions at the following locations:
  • Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters, 555 Escobar St., Martinez. Contact the office at 925-335-7800 or www.cocovote.us.
  • Alameda County Registrar of Voters, 1225 Fallon Street, G-1, Oakland. Contact the office at 510 267-8683 or www.acgov.org/rov.

    TO BE DECIDED NOV. 3
    Here's a full list of East Bay races and ballot measures:

    CONGRESS
  • 10th Congressional District -- John Garamendi, Dem.; David Harmer, Rep.; Mary McIlroy, Peace and Freedom; Jeremy Cloward, Green Party; and Jerry Denham, American Independent.

    CONTRA COSTA COUNTY
  • San Ramon City Council -- two seats -- Dave Hudson (i), Jim Livingstone (i), Doug Burr and Jim Brady.
  • San Ramon mayor -- Abram Wilson (i)
  • Measure G, Acalanes Union High School District -- Asks voters to extend indefinitely an existing $189 parcel tax to fund school programs. Two-thirds vote required.
  • Measure H, Walnut Creek School District -- Asks voters to extend indefinitely an existing $82 parcel tax to fund school programs. Two-thirds vote required.
  • Measure I, Walnut Creek -- Asks voters to approve a downtown Broadway Plaza commercial retail project that property owner Macerich has said will be a Neiman Marcus department store. Majority vote required.

    ALAMEDA COUNTY
  • Emery Unified School District, three seats -- Cheryl Webb (i), Brian Donahue, Miguel Dwin (i), Darice Bridges, Joshua Simon (i).
  • Emeryville City Council, two seats -- Jennifer West, Frank Flores, Kurt Brinkman.
  • Newark City Council -- two seats -- Ana Apodaca (i), Nadja Adolf and Alan Nagy (i).
  • Newark mayor -- David Smith (i)
  • Measure I, Albany Unified School District -- Asks voters to approve a five-year, $149 parcel tax to help backfill the loss of state funds. Two-thirds vote required.
  • Measure J, Albany Unified School District -- Asks voters to combine three existing special school taxes. No tax increase requested. Two-thirds vote required.
  • Measure K, Emeryville -- Asks voters to increase business license tax on card rooms from 9 percent to 10 percent of gross receipts or $1,000 per table, whichever is greater. Majority vote required.
  • Measure L, Newark -- Asks voters to establish a 3.9 percent utility users tax for six years to fund police, fire and other city services. Majority vote required.