Every election, our sister blog San Leandro Talk publishes a voter guide with recommendations for what candidates progressives should vote for. We are migrating that guide and those recommendations to this blog. We are starting with the City of Alameda.
Mayor: Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
We recommended Trish Spencer when she first ran for Mayor, but we have been disappointed by the anti-progressive positions she has taken since elected. She has opposed rent control and is now supporting Measure K, a measure that gives landlords the right to increase rents and evict tenants without cause. She voted against raising the minimum wage in Alameda to $15 by 2020 – even though the cities surrounding Alameda, Oakland and San Leandro, have successfully implemented similar ordinances. She has voted in favor of mass surveillance in Alameda and did not support the sanctuary city resolution. Moreover, Spencer has been a disruptive presence in the Council, both fellow Councilmembers and city staff members report having problems working with her. Alameda is now looking to hire both a City Manager and a City Attorney, and it’s unlikely to attract strong talent with Spencer as a Mayor.
That leaves Councilmembers Frank Matarrese and Marilyn Ashcraft. Both of them have a more progressive record, oppose measure K, voted for sanctuary city and to raise the minimum wage but they both also support mass surveillance and oppose permitting recreational marijuana dispensaries in Alameda. Neither is a real progressive choice. Of the two, Matarrese was a late convert to rent-control, he is often wishy-washy and does not convey strong leadership qualities. Ashcraft, on the other hand, has been a strong champion for rent control and has firmly stood up to the landlords, while also being willing to stand up against the Firefighters Union, when they tried to force the City Manager to hire their chosen candidate as Fire Chief. In Alameda, having elected officials that are not easily intimidated is particularly important. We recommend Ashcraft as the lesser evil choice.
Jim Oddie has been a solid progressive vote in the City Council. He has been a big leader on rent control, raising the minimum wage and keeping ICE out of Alameda. He has also been supportive of putting restrictions on mass surveillance. He is accessible and reasonable.
John Knox White promises to be another progressive voice in the Council, supports rent control and limiting mass surveillance. He has a history of community activism and attending City Council meetings, so he should be able to hit the ground running.
None of their opponents are acceptable choices for progressives. Matz and Daysog are both conservatives who oppose rent control. Chen is simply corrupt: he has yet to take responsibility for committing insurance fraud, even though he pled guilty to such charges years ago and has used his position to advocate for businesses that are friendly to him.
School Board (vote for 2): Mialisa Bonta
Mia Bonta has strong progressive values and a lot of professional experience on bringing racial equity to public educational institutions. I think her experience and knowledge would bring a level of professionalism and viewpoint diversity that is needed on any board. While Mialisa is married to Rob Bonta, our Assemblymember, who can be at times problematic and is definitely trying to build a political machine behind him, I don’t think it’s fair to hold this against her.
Both Gary Lym and Anne McKereghan are parents of former AUSD students who are clearly and inspiringly committed to Alameda schools. They both voted in favor of the non-dress code and support restorative justice. They are also both nice people. McKereghan is more conservative in general, but not in a way that affects the schools. Lym is very close to School Board member Gray Davis, which may make it harder for him to vote independently of her. They both bring personal experiences that are important, Lym as an Asian-American adoptive single father and McKereghan as the mother of a special needs child. I think either is a good choice.
Dennis Popalardo was appointed to fill out this term, and I see no reason to replace him. He is a progressive who supported Bernie Sanders, and I recommended him when he ran for School Board in 2016.
Measure F – Sales Tax: No
Cities are very limited on their sources for taxation, but as a matter of course we oppose sales taxes as they are regressive measures which hurt the poor far more than the rich. We particularly decry taxes based on scaremongering tactics, such as this one which suggests that the money will go for “police response to violent crimes and burglaries.” In reality, most of the money is and probably should go to pay for rising pension costs – a fact that the City should be transparent about.
Measure K – Anti-Rent Control: No
Measure K is a charter amendment which will preclude the city of Alameda from passing strong rent control protections.