“Voting Invests Strength in Our Nation. We enrich our lives through Precision with Virtue and Pride. We are the Silent Support of this System.”
Born and raised in Pittsburg, Joe’s public service began at age 17 when he was elected to the Pittsburg Board of Education becoming the youngest elected official in the country.
Joe’s public service continued on the Pittsburg City Council, serving twice as Mayor. He was elected to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors in 1996 serving as Chair in 1997-98; he also represented the County on LAFCO, as a member of the Executive Board of the Calif. Assoc. of Counties, Delta Diablo Sanitation District, and the Contra Costa Transportation Agency. Joe was elected to the California State Assembly in 2000 representing the 11th District and served until terming out at the end of 2006.
As Supervisor Joe was a leader in changing the County Urban Limit Line that protected the 2700 acre Cowell Ranch, in creating advances in the County Industrial Safety Ordinance, revitalizing the closed Los Medanos Hospital into a thriving Community based Health Center, building new transitional housing for homeless families and in laying the foundation for a new county animal shelter.
As an Assemblyman Joe was able to obtain funding to complete the public purchase of and to gain State Park status for Cowell Ranch as well as help to fund many other land acquisitions around the county. As Chair of the Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife and Select Committees on Protection of Inland Waterways Joe was part of the team that successfully negotiated among the major So Cal water agencies the first major settlement agreement to protect the Colorado River. Along with Assemblyman Keith Richman ®-Northridge, Joe was a founding member of the Bi-Partisan Group which strove to bring members from both parties together in honest dialogue to find real solutions as well as serving as Co-convener of the Moderate Democratic Caucus.
Following his service in the Legislature Joe returned to the private sector as the second generation owner of Pittsburg Funeral Chapel and to his Law Firm which specializes in providing Strategic, Legal and Political planning advice to a wide variety of clients.
Joe has returned to public service as Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder-Registrar of Voters being appointed to fill the remaining term of Steve Weir. He will stand for election to the position in 2014.
Joe graduated from Pittsburg High School, earned his Bachelor’s from St. Mary’s College and J.D. from John F. Kennedy School of Law.
Joe is married to Dr. Laura Stephenson-Canciamilla, Ed.D. a career educator and current Education Consultant as well as a member of the Pittsburg Board of Education and Calif. School Boards Assoc. Board of Directors.
|Management||Name||Email & Phone Number|
|Assistant Registrar||Scott O. Konopasekfirstname.lastname@example.org
|Election Services Manager||Tomasita Ocasioemail@example.com
|Recruitment and Outreach
During elections, the lobby of the Elections Division becomes a polling place for any voter in the county. The building is accessible for persons with physical disabilities and is equipped with elevators.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
June 12, 2007 we moved to our current location
Contra Costa was one of the 18 original counties proposed during California’s first Constitutional Convention in 1849. Contra Costa was formally established on February 15, 1850 by an act of the first session of the California Legislature that subdivided the state into 27 counties. With the Town of Martinez selected as the county seat, Contra Costa County was originally comprised of three townships–New York (Antioch), Martinez, and San Antonio (Oakland)–with a total of 722 residents.
At the time of its incorporation, Contra Costa County was significantly larger than its present day size–its boarders extending further south and west along San Francisco Bay to include what are now the cities of Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro, and Hayward. But within a few years of its founding, conflict erupted between the townships over what community should be the county seat, resulting in the State Legislature carving out portions of Contra Costa in order to create Alameda County in 1853.
Mining Districts of California, 1851. The map shows the original boundaries of Contra Costa County before the creation of Alameda County. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
What’s in a Name
A report written to the State Senate in April 1850 by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo–a State Senator for the District of Sonoma–describes the origin of the county’s name. General Vallejo writes, “the name signifies ‘opposite coast’, and the county is so called for its situation opposite San Francisco, in an easterly direction.” Interestingly, the county was to originally be called Mt. Diablo, after the mountain that occupies a conspicuous and central place in the county, but after “warm debate,” the State Legislature decided on a less profane name.
The First Elections
On November 13, 1849, California held its first statewide election for the purpose of ratifying the State’s first Constitution. There were three election precincts for that election within what is now Contra Costa County—the Moraga Redwoods, Martinez, and San Antonio.
The following year, on April 1, 1850, the county held its first election under the new State Constitution for nine countywide offices, including County Judge, District Attorney, Clerk-Recorder, Sheriff, Treasurer-Tax Collector, Assessor, Coroner, Surveyor, and Justice of the Peace. In total, 266 votes were cast in four election precincts, which now included New York (Antioch), in addition to the three precincts from the previous year.
That year, Contra Costa County voters elected Thomas A. Brown as the first County Clerk-Recorder. The son of Elam Brown, the pioneering founder of Lafayette and member of the State Constitutional Convention, Thomas Brown was an engineer by trade, who surveyed the City of Martinez, laid out the City of Portland, and later became the first Superior Court Judge for the County. Other county officials elected at that first election include:
|County Judge||F. M. Warmcastle|
|District Attorney||J. F. Williams|
|Treasurer-Tax Collector||Daniel Hunsaker|
|Coroner||B. R. Holiday|
|Justice of the Peace||B. R. Holiday|
|Justice of the Peace||Edward Guest|
|Justice of the Peace||Samuel Tennent|
|Justice of the Peace||J. H. Beemer|
Martinez Adobe House. Located within the John Muir National Historic Site, the Martínez Adobe is a two-story ranch house typical of mid-19th century Spanish Colonial-Style California architecture. Photo Courtesy of jimbowen0306, Flickr’s Creative Commons
California State Association of Counties. California County History. 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2013
History of Contra Costa County, Including its Geography, Geology, Topography, Climate and Description. Martinez: Contra Costa County Historical Society, 2000. Print.
Journal of the History of the Senate of the State of California at their First Session. San José: J Winchester, State Printer, 1850. Web. 22 Aug. 2013
Martinez Historical Society. Cemetery Tour. n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2013
The Statutes of California: Passed at the First Session of the Legislature, Begun the 15th Day of Dec. 1849, and Ended the 22d Day of April 1850, at the City of Pueblo de San José. San José: J Winchester, State Printer, 1850. Web. 22 Aug. 2013