Thursday, June 5, 2008

Piepho's strong mail-in response helps beat former boss

In a county election with the lowest voter turnout in 30 years, Mary Nejedly Piepho's biggest contributor to her re-election as a county supervisor turned out to be the U.S. Postal Service.

Piepho, of Discovery Bay, won largely by getting her supporters to mail in their votes — about 13,000, compared with less than 10,000 from outgoing state Assemblyman Guy Houston. Her constituents weren't alone, as the county set a record for mail-in votes this primary, with more than 70 percent coming by mail, County Clerk-Recorder Stephen Weir said.

Houston (8,180) received more votes at the polls Tuesday than Piepho (8,078) for the Contra Costa County District 3 seat, but in an election with a record low turnout, it wasn't enough. At the most, only a third of the county's registered voters cast a ballot, Weir said.

In records dating back almost three decades, Tuesday's election marked the lowest turnout. Contra Costa wasn't alone, as the state voter turnout dipped into the 20s — approximately 28 percent — for the first time in a century, Weir said.

In the end, Piepho wound up with 53 percent of the vote, compared with Houston's 45 percent.

Piepho, formerly Houston's legislative aide, will serve her second term as supervisor. Houston, who is termed out of the state Assembly, will no longer hold public office.

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