Time for the fun to officially begin. The candidacy nomination period for the June 7 statewide primary election opened earlier this month and continues until March 11.
Of course, we've all heard rumblings from local officials and regular residents in recent months about their potential interest or even intent to run for certain elected offices this spring, but now is when we find out if that was just talk or if they really have the goods.
And there are plenty of important positions up for election on the June ballot -- even though midterm elections have notoriously less participation than presidential years, with the primary election having even worse turnout rates, traditionally.
I hope to see that change in 2022, but I'm realistic based on years and years of voter participation data.
Still, I'll make my pitch here that people should start getting geared up for the 2022 election season now.
Our coverage strategies are already being carefully delegated among our staff behind the scenes. You won't see much from us on the statewide candidates on the June ballot, unless a local resident jumps into a race. Those nine seats include U.S. senator and California's governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer.
These are important elected offices, no doubt, but I feel like our readers really only look to us for Tri-Valley candidate coverage. Plus, we have to be realistic about our staffing levels and bandwidth to source statewide or national stories.
So we turn our full attention to the local U.S. House of Representatives and State Assembly seats, which will be on the ballot in the wake of redistricting. (The Tri-Valley was also majorly affected when the State Senate lines were redrawn, but those seats won't be on local ballots until 2024, although we'll watch for the outcome in the new neighboring District 10.)
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) has pulled papers to run for the new District 14, with potentially seven challengers at this point. It appears Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) has not yet taken out re-election papers to run in redrawn District 16, but she would have more than two weeks still left to go.
I also know the new Assembly District 20, which will include a portion of western Dublin and Pleasanton, will be heated. Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai, who works for Bauer-Kahan's office, has indicated his intent to run for that District 20 seat and has racked up public endorsements, but he hasn't qualified for the ballot yet, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office.
Six countywide positions will be on the ballot.
Particular attention will be paid to the district attorney's seat with Nancy O'Malley not seeking re-election, as well as Sheriff Gregory Ahern potentially facing multiple challengers, but you can trust we'll be covering county superintendent of schools, assessor, auditor-controller and treasurer-tax collector too.
It appears at least two Alameda County Superior Court judgeships could be contested as well.
Remember, a county candidate could win the position outright in the primary election if they earn more than 50% of the vote. If no one wins a majority in June, then the top two finishers would advance to a runoff to be held during the general election.
That's unlike the state and federal seats, which automatically advance to a top-two runoff in November regardless of whether someone garners 50%-plus in the primary.
In terms of hyper-local contests, it will be nothing like November when every city and school district will have seats on the ballot. That said, there is one important contest for the Tri-Valley now: Four positions on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors are up for grabs. That's a majority of the board to be decided in June, in a drought year.
The Tri-Valley will also vote for their regional representative on the Alameda County Board of Education, for Trustee Area 7.
For all of these contests, if an incumbent doesn't submit candidacy paperwork by March 11, the filing period will be extended five calendar days (March 16) and remain open only to non-incumbents. There is no extension period if the seat is currently vacant or opening up due to term limits.
I acknowledge too that voters in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District will vote on a parcel tax renewal on May 3. The renewal question, which asks to extend the existing $138 per parcel tax rate for seven more years, was quietly advanced for a special mail-only ballot with frankly little direct public communication from the district or any campaign. We'll see how that apparent strategy plays out.
I'll end with this (admittedly unsolicited) advice: Vote because you want to vote; that's why I engage that civic responsibility. Make sure you're correctly registered. Make sure to know which districts you live in. Make sure you educate yourself. Make sure you actually cast your ballot. Oh, and if you want to be a candidate in the primary, you better get a move on. The deadline fast approaches.
Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017.