It's Election Day in California's statewide primary with the focus especially on the State Assembly race as well as the direct election of Zone 7 board members and a new county superintendent of schools.
Even though Paul Mitchell of Political Data, Inc. estimates that half of all votes to be cast today already have been mailed in, it's the "other half" he said that will make the difference.
Even though the deadline for mailing in absentee ballots has passed,those ballots can still be dropped off at a voter's polling place to be counted.
For those voting in person polling places are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters' sample ballots contain polling place information or voters can call the Alameda County Registrar at (510) 383-1717 to find out where their polling place is located
Seeking re-election as Pleasanton's congressman is Eric Swalwell, a rising star in the Democratic Party and former Dublin councilman who is completing his first term in office. State Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), whose term in Sacramento expires this year, and GOP vice chairman Hugh Bussell are also seeking the nomination.
In the 16th State Assembly District race, which includes Pleasanton, there are four candidates vying for the two top spots in the primary to succeed Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo). Under California's open primary format, the two candidates who emerge from this field of four, regardless of political party affiliation, will move on to the Nov. 4 general election.
Here's a look at today's races:
Current officeholder U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) faces two challengers -- including one from within his own political party -- in the race to represent the 15th Congressional District, which includes Pleasanton as well as nearby cities such as Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon, Hayward, Union City and Fremont.
* Eric Swalwell
A 33-year-old former Dublin councilman, Swalwell is seeking his second term in Congress after defeating 20-term congressman and fellow Democrat Pete Stark in the redrawn 15th district in 2012.
Swalwell's quick political ascension began amid his seven-year career as a prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. He began serving on the Dublin Heritage & Cultural Arts Commission in 2006, was appointed to the Dublin Planning Commission in 2008 and was then elected to the Dublin City Council in 2010.
"I've worked to bring new energy and ideas to Congress, and to expand economic opportunity and equality here in the East Bay," he wrote on his campaign website. "My top priority is creating good-paying, local jobs."
Swalwell sits on the congressional Homeland Security and Science, Space and Technology committees.
* Ellen Corbett
Corbett, a Democrat representing the 10th State Senatorial District, is running to unseat Swalwell. Corbett, 59, is being termed out of the State Senate this year.
She has more than two decades of experience in elected office, first serving as a San Leandro City Council member in the 1990s (including as the city's first elected female mayor), followed by two terms in the State Assembly from 1998 to 2004 and then holding a State Senate seat since 2006.
Currently Senate majority leader, Corbett serves on a number of committees, including Judiciary, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review, Insurance, and Energy, Utilities and Communications.
On her campaign website, she said that if elected, "Specifically, I will fight each day to promote economic development, protect our natural resources and secure and bolster women's rights."
* Hugh Bussell
Bussell, a Livermore resident and technology manager/educator, is the sole Republican in the race. He is vice chair of the Alameda County Republican Party.
Bussell, 55, has experience teaching mathematics and science at high schools in Albany and Union City as well as time working as a sales engineer and manager in the technology industry, including his current position at Workday in Pleasanton. He lists his volunteer experience as including CrossWinds Church, Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Tri-Valley Athletics, and youth Cub and Scout programs.
"As a resident of this district for over 25 years, living in Hayward and Livermore, I've experienced first-hand the advantages and challenges of living here. I can represent your needs and concerns," Bussell said to district voters on his campaign website.
Clearly, it's the 16th State Assembly District race that's drawing the most excitement in today's primary, and for good reason.
Three of the candidates -- Democrats Tim Sbranti (Dublin), Newell Arnerich (Danville), Steve Glazer (Orinda) -- are experienced, dedicated and popular elected council members and sitting or former mayors in their local cities.
The fourth, Republican Catharine Baker, is a highly regarded Pleasanton attorney who lives in Dublin and is known for her legal work on behalf of local charities.
Cities and communities in the district are Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Blackhawk, Danville, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga.
* Catharine Baker
Baker is a mother of school-age twins and a parent leader at Dougherty Elementary School in Dublin. As a local counsel in Pleasanton, she helps small businesses and nonprofit organizations get started and succeed.
She has received the prestigious Wiley W. Manuel Certificate for Pro Bono Legal Services from the California State Bar Association for her commitment to providing legal representation to low-income families. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago, overcoming cancer her senior year to graduate Phi Beta Kappa with honors, and a law degree from UC Berkeley.
Sbranti has been on the faculty of Dublin High School for 15 years and on the Dublin City Council for the past 10 years, including the last eight as mayor.
On a regional level, Sbranti was nominated by his peers to be the president of the Alameda County Mayors' Conference, and previously served as president of the Tri-Valley Transportation Council and the Tri-Valley Community Television board of directors.
He currently represents Dublin on the Alameda County Transportation Commission, East Bay Regional Communications System Authority, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Association of Bay Area Governments, Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority, Innovation Green Advanced Transportation Excellence and the Local Agency Formation Commission.
* Newell Arnerich
Arnerich is a five-time former mayor of Danville who has served 18 years on the Town Council. He is the founder, president and chief executive officer of AD Architects, Inc., an architectural planning firm with offices in Oakland and Los Angeles.
Because of his business experience, Arnerich was appointed by the League of California Cities to serve on the statewide committee on Housing, Community and Economic Development.
He is also a board member of Innovation Tri-Valley, a 20-year member of the Danville Chamber of Commerce, a member and past president of the Danville/Sycamore-Valley Rotary Club and a board member and past president of Leadership San Ramon Valley.
Glazer, an Orinda councilman, former mayor and at one time gubernatorial adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, has been an announced Assembly candidate for the longest and perhaps its most controversial one.
One high-profile example was his campaign to prohibit BART strikes on the argument that mass transit is an essential public service and a matter of health and safety.
In addition to operating his own consulting business since 1989, Glazer has worked on open space preservation measures in more than 25 states and has been recognized by The Trust For Public Land and Save The Bay for his conservation work.
Glazer was elected to the Orinda City Council in 2004 and first began his involvement in local politics after being shot in the neck by a high-powered pellet rifle while driving with his family in 2003. The .17-caliber projectile just missed his carotid artery and lodged next to his spine; the culprit was caught but never charged because pellet guns were classified as toys in the criminal code.
After recovering from his injury, Glazer worked with then-Sen. Tom Torlakson to author legislation establishing penalties for pellet-gun attacks. The bill was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Zone 7 board
Four incumbents and three challengers are vying for four seats on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors. Zone 7 provides water resources and flood control to the Livermore-Amador Valley, and sells treated potable water to Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and the Dougherty Valley area of San Ramon.
* Alfred A. Exner
Exner, a challenger in the election, has 37 years of financial management experience. His career began in the U.S. Air Force as a budget analyst in intelligence, which led to positions with more financial responsibilities from filing annual reports to putting in computer systems.
His campaign priorities include ensuring all water supply options are pursued for periods of drought, addressing water quality hardness and contamination issues, and protecting the environment while ensuring appropriate flood control.
* John James Greci Jr.
Currently Zone 7 board vice president, Greci has served on the Board of Directors since 1994. He taught at Livermore High School for 20 years and was groundwater cleanup manager at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Greci stated he has a strong interest in the quality of water and preventing contamination. He said he also understands the importance of managing water for quality and availability.
* AJ Machaevich
Machaevich, who seeks a second consecutive term on the board, has experience working as an information technology consultant.
On campaign signs, Machaevich says he is a "protector of water quality, public money and future needs."
* Jim McGrail
A private attorney with his own firm in Livermore, McGrail is seeking a first term on the Zone 7 board. He is a director on the Alameda County Fair board and the Livermore Rodeo Foundation. He worked for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office for 14 years and later served as a prosecutor for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
According to his campaign website, McGrail's priorities include having sustainable and quality water for future generations, making decisions in a transparent manner to the public and educating the community about the importance of preserving water.
* Matt Morrison
Morrison, a challenger in the election, is currently serving as member-at-large and treasurer of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter Executive Committee. He has also held other volunteer roles that focus on water issues.
Morrison said he plans to promote ongoing conservation strategies over increasing reliance on environmentally damaging Delta water diversions, support local projects to maintain infrastructure and preserve storage supplies, and strive to keep Zone 7 with Alameda County.
* Sarah Palmer
Palmer, a Zone 7 board director since 2006, has taught at the high school and university levels as well as worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Her priorities include looking at the quality and quantity of local water, which includes a sustainability program. In addition, she said she wants to work with the Valley's other water agencies and create programs that keep the public interests at the forefront.
* Bill Stevens
Stevens is the president of Zone 7 Board of Directors and has been on the board since 1998. He has also been a geotechnical engineering consultant.
He has said his top priorities, if elected, include passing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, creating additional and reliable water storage, and separating Zone 7 from Alameda County.
Five candidates will be running to succeed current Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan, who is retiring after 16 years in office.
* Jeff Bowser
Bowser has sat on the Pleasanton school board since being elected in 2010, including serving as board president for 2013. He has worked for more than 15 years as an education technology consultant.
Bowser received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from University of California, Davis and a master's degree in educational leadership from Cal State East Bay. In addition, he completed his administrative credential from the California School Leadership Academy.
He said his top priorities, if elected, include public trust throughout the county, transparency, building connections, making a difference and helping students find a passion in education, according to a candidate survey by Great Oakland Public Surveys.
* Naomi Eason
Eason is the executive director for Building Educated Leaders for Life, a nonprofit that delivers after-school and summer programs to K-8 students. She previously worked for the county Office of Education as coordinator of new teacher projects and assistant superintendent. She also held different roles in the Emery and Oakland school districts.
Eason received a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Mills College, a master's degree in educational leadership and administration from Cal State East Bay, and a doctorate in educational leadership and administration from University of the Pacific.
Her goals, as stated on her campaign website, include reducing recidivism rates of incarcerated youth, providing a focus on fiscal accountability, and working with district administrators, teachers, staff and parents to improve education throughout the county.
Foster, who is serving her third term on the San Lorenzo Unified school board, works as the director of human resources for the Hayward Unified School District. She has worked as a teacher in preschool through high school, as a faculty member at community college and university levels, and as a principal in elementary and middle schools.
She has bachelor's degrees in chemistry as well as speech and drama, a master's degree in environmental engineering from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a master's and doctoral degree in educational leadership from St. Mary's College.
According to Foster's campaign website, her priorities include reducing healthcare costs and increasing options for all local public school employees, providing support for Common Core State Standards training, implementation and assessments, and developing economies-of-scale for the benefit of all county public schools.
* Karen Monroe
Monroe, associate county superintendent, is the only current Alameda County Office of Education employee in the race. In addition, she worked as director for student programs and services at ACOE, director of academics at Seneca Center, and in several roles at the school and district level at Oakland Unified School District.
She has a bachelor's degree in public administration from University of Southern California and a master's degree in educational leadership from Cal State East Bay.
If elected, Monroe plans to provide training for teachers to implement Common Core and performance-based assessments, expand the reaches of high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction in schools and after-school programs, and support schools and districts in restoring arts into the curriculum, according to her campaign website.
A San Leandro City Council member, Reed has more than 25 years of experience in education, including administrative positions in the Hayward school district and other roles in the Oakland school district.
She has a bachelor's degree in communications disorders from Hampton University and a master's degree in speech pathology and audiology from San Jose State University.
Reed states on her campaign website that her priorities are to ensure all school districts are improving performance and managing resources wisely and transparently, fight for funding from Washington, D.C. and Sacramento to support local schools, and provide teachers and staff with the training and support necessary to offer local students a 21st-century education.
Other county races
* Pleasanton and Alameda County voters also will decide today the fate of Measure AA, a countywide measure that would extend a half-cent sales tax that provides funds to help the county's public health system and for community medical services for low-income and uninsured residents.
Voters initially approved the tax in 2004 and it won't expire until 2019, but supporters want to extend it to 2034 because they say it will help keep local hospitals open as well as clinics serving more than 100,000 low-income children and families.
However, critics say that serious problems with the way the money is being used must be addressed before the tax is extended.
A report by a tax oversight committee said 75% of the tax, which raises about $125 million annually, goes to the Alameda Health System, a public hospital consortium, but the rest is distributed to other health providers. The oversight committee said it is hard to monitor the funds because recipients often fail to provide data to prove that their programs are beneficial.
In addition, each of the county's five supervisors can direct the spending of $150,000 annually, a feature that critics allege amounts to a slush fund.
Measure AA needs a two-thirds majority to win.
* Another measure of interest today to Pleasanton voters, although they won't have a say in the outcome, is Livermore's Measure G parcel tax proposal. The results could serve as a bellwether if a similar parcel tax goes to voters in Pleasanton, as some are suggesting.
The Livermore measure would extend a tax of $138 per parcel annually for seven years to provide nearly $4 million in annual funding for Livermore schools, a tax that was first approved in 2004 and was re-authorized in 2008.
* The race to become Alameda County's first new auditor-controller/clerk-recorder since 1986 has been the source of significant controversy.
Businesswoman Kathleen Knox -- one of two people to file papers in a bid to replace retiring officeholder Patrick O'Connell -- dropped out of the contest about two weeks ago after being charged with six felonies for allegedly lying about where she lived by claiming to be a San Leandro resident when actually living in Danville in Contra Costa County.
That leaves Steve Manning, chief deputy auditor for Alameda County, as the only candidate still campaigning for the post -- although Knox's name still appears on the ballot because the removal deadline already passed.
*Meanwhile, all other incumbents in countywide offices are running unopposed in their bids for another term. They include Sheriff-Coroner Gregory J. Ahern, District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley, Treasurer-Tax Collector Donald R. White and Assessor Ron Thomsen.