Houston emphasizes communication but one of his main attacks on Piepho is that she interacts with other supervisors, particularly Democrat John Gioia of West County, with whom she serves on the county Finance Committee. Houston said he had hoped when he backed Piepho four years ago that she would align herself with the other Republicans. Piepho points out that the nonpartisan Board of Supervisors has five members with five different philosophies, and Republicans are in the minority; it was in working with Gioia that they began the policies that resulted in the county not spending more than it is taking in, a conservative philosophy.
Houston also says Piepho is slighting members who work in public safety jobs, citing a 40 percent cut in jobs with the Sheriff's Office. Piepho points out that these were unfilled positions and, as the spouse of a firefighter, she is aware of the need to take care of the public safety sector in the county. She lives in Discovery Bay and got her start in public service working for Assemblywoman Lynne Leach, then serving on the Los Medanos Community College Foundation Board. She was elected to the Byron Union School District Board of Trustees, where she served until she began her current position.
Piepho has said again and again that she serves the people. Some fear she serves developers, but both she and Houston have had such support. One of his recent mailers said he is not afraid to say no to developers; this is in response to Piepho voting to allow a study to see if the New Farm cluster housing proposal for Tassajara Valley would violate the urban limit line passed by voters in 2006. However Houston, now a resident of San Ramon, came onto the political scene as the mayor of Dublin from 1994-2001, growing the sleepy little crossroads into a bustling community with a theater and shopping complex as well as a state-of-the-art library and civic center, and increasing the population from 29,000 in 1998 to 47,000 today. From there he went to Sacramento as assemblyman for the 15th District. But when the Republican Party backed another candidate to run for the 11th Congressional seat, it left Houston with nowhere "higher" to go.
Houston is saying he never wanted to run for Congress but it does not make sense that he planned his career path to go from mayor to state legislator to county supervisor. He now says that although he encouraged Piepho to run four years ago, he has been so disappointed in her performance that he decided to run for supervisor himself. However, when he called to tell her he was running, he suggested she run for his assembly seat so he obviously did not find her too incompetent.
District 3 covers Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk/Tassajara, Diablo, San Ramon and Walnut Creek as well as Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay and Knightsen. Some residents of Alamo have been particularly critical of Piepho saying the county does not govern the unincorporated area well. But others give her credit for the progress made under her watch, in particular the improved left turn lanes onto Stone Valley Road, the flashing lights at Jackson Way and the lower speed limit.
A third contender, Danville resident Stevan Thomas, is running as a write-in candidate to give voters the choice of someone with a Democratic philosophy even though the seat is nonpartisan. If he is able to prevent either Houston or Piepho from getting 50 percent, the top two vote-getters will run against each other in November.
There is no reason to go through another contest in November. We say, vote on June 3 to give Mary Nejedly Piepho another four years as county supervisor.