Community and Government Report, June 2010


Primary Election Roundup

It appears that California will continue to be represented by two women in the U.S. Senate in the coming years as business executive Carly Fiorina defeated Tom Campbell and Chuck deVore for the Republican nomination to face incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. Fiorina joins fellow Republican Meg Whitman in two of the most important races on the California ballot going into the November general election.

With the nomination of Fiorina and Whitman, the California GOP has for the first time nominated women for the high-level positions of governor and U.S. senator. If either of them wins, it would mark the first time that a California Republican woman would win a statewide race since Ivy Baker Priest was re-elected state treasurer in 1970. That year, 32-year-old Jerry Brown was elected to his first statewide office, secretary of state.

State Assemblyman Tom Torlakson will advance to the runoff for state superintendent of public instruction. If Torlakson defeats school administrator Larry Aceves, he would become the first Contra Costa politician ever elected to statewide office.

No matter who wins in November, Northern California will be represented in an unprecedented number of offices. Nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties come from north of Bakersfield, and the Bay Area is home to many of them. I'll write about this more in my July report.

Cal Grants Update

As noted in last month's column, the governor's May revise budget was released and it appears to fund the Cal Grant program for the upcoming fiscal year. As budget hearings get under way in Sacramento, many sources continue to believe Cal Grants may avoid deep cuts this year. I will continue to monitor this important issue.


Election Results

Several countywide officials retired this year, creating many openings for countywide offices.

Concord Police Chief David Livingston was elected sheriff, replacing Warren Rupf, who is retiring after 17 years as Contra Costa's top cop. (Rupf is a Gaels basketball fan and season ticket holder.)

Russell Watts was elected county treasurer, replacing Bill Pollacek.

Mark Peterson and Dan O'Malley will face each other in a November runoff election for district attorney.

Several incumbents were reelected, including Gus Kramer, assessor; Steve Weir, clerk recorder; and Joe Ovick, county superintendant of schools.

Pleasant Hill Mayor Karen Mitchoff was elected to the Board of Supervisors representing District IV, replacing Susan Bonilla. Bonilla is running to replace Torlakson in the state Assembly.

Rheem Theater Reopens

The iconic Rheem Theater, which has survived many near-death experiences, is now being operated by the California Independent Film Festival Association. The theater plans to champion blockbuster movies, independent film and other media arts in an effort to stimulate and enrich the culture of the Lamorinda community. The New Rheem Theater will open on June 25 with the opening release of "Grown Ups" starring Adam Sandler.