Neither candidate for Contra Costa District Attorney has a needed majority, meaning the race may continue until November.
By 11:30 p.m., with 88 percent of the ballots in, retired Judge Diana Becton led senior deputy district attorney Paul Graves 48.9 percent to 42.6 percent. It is a comfortable lead, but well below what Becton needs to prevent a runoff in November.
Defense attorney Lawrence Strauss, who declared his candidacy late in the game, trails well behind Becton and Graves with roughly 8 percent of the vote. While he has been mathematically eliminated, Strauss may have secured enough votes to prevent his two opponents from declaring victory.
Elsewhere around the county, results were coming in for city ballot measures around Contra Costa, as well as a race for county superintendent and several uncontested seats.Neither Becton nor Graves immediately responded to requests for comment on the early results.
In the only Board of Supervisors race that was contested, District 4, incumbent Karen Mitchoff jumped off to a decisive lead over her opponent Harmesh Kumar, a psychologist. Kumar cited the board’s self-imposed 33 percent raise during the campaign.
In Martinez, voters were asked to choose from two competing measures that decide when a public vote is necessary to change land designated as public space. Measure F would require a vote on measures that would change public open space, while Measure I required a vote for public or private land.
By 11:30 p.m., Measure F had pulled ahead, securing nearly 100 votes more than Measure I. Both measures received a majority vote.
In the county school superintendent race, Lynn Mackey jumped off to an early lead, nearly doubling the vote totals of her opponents Ronald Leone and Cheryl Hansen.
The DA race goes back to last year, when Graves and Becton both sought appointment from the county Board of Supervisors, who last September voted 3-2 to appoint Becton as the replacement for former District Attorney Mark Peterson, even though she admitted copying and pasting sections of her application without attribution.
Peterson resigned almost exactly one year ago, the same day he was charged with 13 felonies — 12 counts of perjury and one count of grand theft — related to $66,000 in illegal campaign spending. He accepted a plea deal and received a probation sentence the same day he resigned.
Graves, who announced his candidacy before Peterson resigned, received widespread support from law enforcement and victims’ advocacy groups, as well as the local prosecutors union. He touted his 22 years as a prosecutor that included heading the DA’s homicide unit and, his current position, head of the sex assault unit.
Becton is both the first African-American and first woman to become district attorney in the agency’s nearly 170-year history.
“I’m a strong supporter of (Becton),” said freelance writer Janis Hashe, 64, outside a Richmond polling place. “I heard her speak at Indivisible East Bay and liked what she said. I think she’s been unfairly targeted by this plagiarism thing.”
Becton has voiced support for bail reform, and pledged to implement diversion and restorative justice programs for low-level crimes. She had the support of top California Democrats like Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Kamala Harris, as well as national liberal-leaning justice reform groups.
Pinole voters were asked to decide on a Measure P that would eliminate terms limits for elected officials there. With 93 percent of the ballots counted, results at 11:30 p.m. show voters were leaning heavily in the “no” column.
Orinda voters face a library funding measure that imposed a $30 parcel tax to raise $514,000 to pay for library maintenance costs. That passed by a comfortable margin.
The Lafayette ballot included a vote on a 44-home Deer Hill development project. By 11:30 p.m., officials announced that it had been voted down by a nearly 600-vote margin.