Hulan Barnett Challenging Longtime Incumbent John Gioia For County Supervisor

Contra Costa County District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff – also the chairperson of the board this year – is retiring at the end of the year, leaving some big shoes to fill.

Her seat, which includes parts of Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, and Clayton, seems to be very popular. Five local officials want the job, all of them well-credentialed and known in county circles.

Two members of the Concord City Council – Edi Birson and Carlyn Obringer – are running, as is Pleasant Hill councilmember Ken Carlson. BART board member Debora Allen threw her hat in, as did Roxane Carrillo Garza, who served as public health program manager for Contra Costa Health Services.


Garza currently serves as senior policy director of a non-profit, leading campaigns focused on health, economic justice, education equity and neighborhood improvements. She says her priorities will be protecting residents from COVID-19, improving how the county responds to metal health crises, and fiscal transparency.

Birson, elected in 2012, served as Concord’s mayor in 2018. He has experience running a small business and says he wants to be tough on crime. Other issues on which he wants to focus include homelessness, affordable housing, mental health, and environmental issues.

Obringer was elected to the Concord City Council in 2016 and served as mayor in 2019. She says, if elected, she wants to form an emergency task force of public health and safety to help people with mental health and addiction. She wats to work with local churches to find more housing for the homeless, champion the Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative, meant to create 18,000 local jobs by 2035, and provide strong financial leadership.

Allen, who was elected to the BART board in 2016, says on her campaign site she’s a “common-sense, no-nonsense candidate with a reputation for challenging the status quo” and a “fiscal hawk.” She has more than 30 years of experience in construction and real estate management, which she says will help her when it comes to job creation and tackling the housing crisis.

Carlson, whose grandfather James Moriarity was a county supervisor, was a Concord police officer for 29 years, doing everything from patrolling to working on the county’s forensic mental health team. Carlson has served as mayor and was Pleasant Hill’s first openly gay council member. He says he’ll focus on public safety, the housing crisis, economic recovery and fighting climate change.

Election day is June 7. Registered voters should receive a vote by mail ballot beginning the second week in May. After May 23, new voters need to register and vote in person at one of the early voting sites or on Election Day at a polling site.

If you haven’t received a ballot by May 20, contact the Contra Costa County Elections Office at 925-335-7800 or by emailing ballot@vote.cccounty.us.

The CDC and county health officer strongly encourage people to vote by mail. Ballots should be marked using blue or black ink and placed in the return envelope. No postage is required. The envelope must be signed and sealed and be postmarked on or before election day.

People can check voter registration status here: https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov. You can register at https://registertovote.ca.gov/. From voting drop box locations, go to https://bit.ly/3NcoceE.

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