According to the Public Policy Institute of California, voter turnout in the June primaries hit an all-time low in non-presidential primary year of 2014. Lack of interest and time constraints were the top two reasons given by registered voters who said they do not always vote.
Absentee balloting makes the lack of time excuse a non-starter. Lack of interest? Not being interested in who is representing your interests in the federal, state, county or local board is flat-out negligence.
Every eligible voter should be engaged and understand the offices and the candidates they're voting for; that includes the local lower-visibility offices like, for example, the state Board of Equalization.
The filing period is underway for the June 5 statewide primary election, which could involve many races for Alameda County representatives.
U.S. Congressional District 15, which includes Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and San Ramon in the Tri-Valley, is currently represented by Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), who will seek re-election. Swalwell was first elected in 2012 when he defeated incumbent Pete Stark.
The term for state Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) is also ending and she is running for third straight term. At least two Democrats have already declared their intent to unseat Baker.
Of course there are high-visibility state offices on the ballot, too, such as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer and Attorney General. These will get a lot of attention from media and residents.
Local elections, though -- like those on the county level and offices with less visibility -- are just as important, if not more. It's these positions that have an impact on everyday life.
The terms for four of the seven members on the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors end in June. Zone 7 is responsible supplying water and providing flood control to Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin. That's a pretty important factor in our day-to-day existence.
Currently only three candidates have filed paperwork to run in this election: Dennis Gambs and incumbents Sarah Palmer and Bill Stevens.
On the county level, the Alameda County District Attorney race will be competitive. Current County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, who has had the job for eight years, will have to compete in the June 5 primary to defend her seat against challengers Pamela Price and Frederick Remer. If O'Malley (or a challenger) receives more than 50% of the vote in the June primary, they will win the seat outright in June. Otherwise a runoff between the top two vote-getting candidates will take place in November.
The terms of several other high-level county officials are also ending including: Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Karen Monroe, Sheriff-Coroner Gregory J. Ahern, Assessor Ron Thomsen, Auditor-Controller/Clerk-Recorder Steve Manning and Treasurer-Tax Collector Henry C. Levy.
County Supervisor Nate Miley, who represents Pleasanton, is not up for election this year, but two of his board colleagues are.
The term for Pleasanton's representative on the Alameda County Board of Education is up, too. Trustee Yvonee Cerrato is currently the trustee for District 7, which includes Pleasanton, Livermore and the eastern portion of Dublin.
The term for Alameda County's representative on the California Board of Equalization is also ending. While this post is a lesser-known state office, it is nonetheless an important one. Many people are unaware of this board, which is comprised of five members. Four members represent districts of approximately 9.5 million people; the fifth member is the State Controller, who is elected statewide. These are the people responsible for ensuring county assessors are in compliance with property tax laws, regulations, and assessment issues.
Be honest: Did you know the county superintendent of schools is elected? Did you know how many members there are on the Zone 7 board?
Please fulfill your civic responsibility by being educated, engaged and by voting in the primary and the general elections.
Or become a candidate. The nomination period ends at 5 p.m. March 9, with an extension to March 14 for any seat for which an incumbent officeholder does not file.