For Alameda County Assessor the Real Progressive Choice is Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson

The County Assessor’s job is a professional job – not a political position.  It requires knowledge and experience.  Jim Johnson has worked in this office for 26 years while his opponent, Phong La, has no experience whatsoever.   I have spoken with employees of the assessors’ office who are very worried that if Johnson is not elected, the assessor’s office will be in chaos.  Property owners should take this very seriously.  Johnson has the support of the current County Assessor, as well as the other employees in the office.  Indeed, you can hear them yourself at his Facebook page – in English and  Spanish.

It is definitely true that the Democratic and Green Party establishment have thrown their weight behind La – albeit for different reasons.  Early in the election cycle, the Green Party sent Johnson a questionnaire in which he expressed opposition to a splitting Prop 13 so as to increase taxes on commercial property while keeping the low taxes on homes.  He answered in this manner because he does not believe that the role of the assessor is to express policy views, including about the need to change current laws.  Rather, he sees the job of the assessor as implementing the law, whatever it is.   His political inexperience led him to do some other political mistakes early on, but it would be foolish to punish a professional simply because he doesn’t know how to play politics.

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, supports Phong La because he is a well known political operative and contributor to Democratic candidates.  Most concerning to progressives is that in addition to running his own firm,  La works for a  privately held real estate holding company and is a real estate investor himself.  Just as worrisome is the fact that La amassed multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions – an unheard of  amount for a county assessor’s race.   Several of these contributions have been in the five figures, and come from both individuals and corporations.  As money in politics is never free, we are concerned about how La plans to repay such generosity by his contributors.  Recent corruption scandals involving the Los Angeles County and Contra Costa County assessors  come to mind.

We don’t know why La is running for assessor, but we do believe that if he wants to do the job, he should first apply to a junior position with the assessor’s office, learn the ropes and then run.

Meanwhile, I urge voters to vote for Berniecrat Jim Johnson for Assessor. 

It’s Time for a Change (Mostly): Here is Who to Vote for Community College Board

It’s extremely difficult for voters to know whom to support for Community College Boards.  For this reason, incumbents are usually automatically re-elected, sometimes serving for decades – and not necessarily doing a good job.

Here are our recommendations for community college boards.

Chike Udemezue
Chike Udemezue

Chabot – Las Positas Community College District, Area 2: Chike Udemezue (with reservations)

The incumbent in this race is retiring, so the choices are between two newcomers to politics.  Chike Udemezue is a Nigerian-born accountant and active member of the San Leandro community.  He has children in the local schools and is a member of the San Leandro Democratic Party.   We are recommending him with reservations because his knowledge of the community college system and the problems at Chabot is very rudementary.  However, his opponent is very problematic.  We will be casting a vote for Udemezue in this race.

His opponent, Linda Granger, is the former principal of San Leandro High School.  She was a weak and inefficient principal, and under her tenure the school experienced quite a bit of  “white/middle class flight”.  She left with little notice at the start of the fall semester of 2013, when it was too late for the District to hire a new principal.  She had failed to train any of the vice-principal to do her job, which meant San Leandro High was left in total chaos for a whole academic year.  Fortunately, the district hired two very skilled co-principals who have turned the school around, but none of this was thanks to Ms Granger.  It is difficult for us to believe that she has the best interests of students at heart and she is likely to be a negative addition to the Board.

Chabot – Las Positas Community College District, Area 3: No recommendation

Genevieve Randolph, the appointed incumbent in this race, is a professional school administrator, currently working as the assistant superintendent of human resources and administrative services in Belmont-Redwood Shores School District.  She is a woman of color and I’ve been told that she has good working relationship with other members of the College Board and is an effective School Board member.  However, she has very moderate political views.  She did complete the questionnaire I sent her.

Harpal Mann, her challenger, is a Union City planning commissioner.  He is ery committed to technical education and creating opportunities for working class immigrants and their children.  He is full of energy and out-of-the-box thinking, and is committed to having inclusive community colleges.   He seems very progressive, but seems to be a fan of some not-very-progressive politicians such as Eric Swalwell.

At this point, we cannot recommend one over the other, though we will not that Randolph is more likely to be elected as she’s running as an incumbent.

Richard Watters
Richard Watters

Ohlone Community College District Trustee, Area 1 (vote for 2):  Richard Watters (with reservations)

None of the candidates returned our questionnaires. Incumbent Vivien Larsen is a Democrat, but she endorsed Rick Jones for re-election, a candidate who is running with an “All Live Matters” and “Blue Lives Matter” message and who won’t acknowledge that Black and Latino lives matter.  This makes us concerned about Larsen’s commitment to the African American and Latino students she’s supposed to serve.  Challenger Stacy Graham is a Republican.  That leaves us with Richard Watters as the only candidate that we could possibly vote for on this race.  A college administrator, Watters has a reputation for being extremely knowledgeable on all matters associated with the college and being willing to challenge the Ohlone administration rather than rubber stamp what’s put before him.  We recommend him with reservations as we didn’t speak with him.

 Lovedeep Jhamat
Lovedeep Jhamat

Ohlone Community College District Trustee, Area 2 (vote for 2): Lovedeep “Love” Jhamat

Lovedeep Jhamat is an Ohlone graduate with a passion for the community college.  He has the support of students and graduates and has the reputation for being an easy person to get along with.  He is on the moderate side or progressives – he supports the 2nd amendment, for example – but seems to be the best choice in this race.

Incumbent Jan Giovannini-Hill has been on the Board for 8 years.  She’s known as a rubber stamper for whoever the Superintendent is.  When asked what her greatest accomplishment as a Trustee has been, she mentions making sure the campus police is armed.  She was to increase policing in the schools. Unsurprisingly, she’s been endorsed by Nancy O’Malley.  You should definitely not vote for her.

Tommy Bandy does not seem to be running a campaign, we couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for him and he did’t reply to our e-mail asking for an interview.  He appears to have been the Veteran Resouce Center Coordinator at Ohlone before taking a job with the Veteran’s administration.  Sue Chan is a former Fremont City Council member.  She was a moderate vote and did not advance or support any progressive legislation while in that office.  She also endorsed  Rick Jones

Tawney Warren
Tawney Warren

Ohlone Community College District Trustee, Area 2, Short Term: Tawney Warren 

There are two progressives in this race, Tawney Warren and Steven Worley.  They were both Bernie Sanders supported and are committed to giving students a quality education.  Worley is currently an instructor at Ohlone while Warren is a former student.  We are recommending Warren because she brings experience to the role: while at Ohlone, she was elected to be the Student Trustee so she has built-in understanding of the Board and its players as well as the issues the district faces.  Moreover, as a legally blind woman, Warren has an appreciation of the specific issues students with disabilities phase.

  Marty Froomin is a Republican. Tejinder Dhami is an establishment Democrat, someone more concerned about his political career than principles. He is a Rick Jones supporter for that reason.

Peralta Community College District Trustee, Area 3: Corean Todd (with reservations)

Incumbent Linda Handy has been in the Board for many years and she’s been a reliable rubber stamp for the Chancellor – a problem given Peralta’s issues financial issues at the moment and the lack of trust of professors in the colleges’ leadership.  There are also concerns about her ethics.

Challenger Corean Todd is an involved parents of younger students and a community member. She was recruited to run against Handy but when we heard her, in mid-September, she was painfully unprepared and seemed to know little about the issues concerning the district.  However, she has the support of the Peralta Federation of Teachers and the Oakland Education Association as well as the Green Party, and we believe she has the skills and intelligence to come up to speed and become a strong and independent voice.

Cindi Reiss
Cindi Reiss

Peralta Community College District Trustee, Area 5: Cindi Reiss

Cindi Reiss is the sort of candidate that you expect to see exciting crowds in a Presidential run, not one for Community  College Board.  She is dynamic, charismatic and brilliant.  An arts professor and a long-time active member of the State Academic Senate, Reiss was recruited by Peralta instructors to run for this seat a year ago – it took her six months to read through every report and document the District had generated and conclude that things were broken and she could figure out how to fix them.  Only then she accepted.   She has the strength to stand up to the college president and any administrator, and the charm to do so disarmingly.  I can only hope that after she fixes Peralta, she’ll run for higher office.

Her opponent, Bill Riley, is the exact opposite.  He’s been on the board for ages, rubber stamps what’s put before him, lacks new ideas and should have retired on his own.


Don’t Just Say Yes: How to Vote in California’s Judicial Races

The following recommendations (save for the one on Corrigan) come from progressive activist Carter Lavin.  We deeply appreciate his taking the time to research these judges.  

Carol Corrigan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: NO

Update: After consulting with other attorneys, we’ve found out that Corrigan is often a swing vote in the Court, sometimes siding with the liberals and sometimes with the conservatives.  California would be far better off is Newsom was able to appoint a more progressive justice.  We therefore recommend you vote against her.

Original write up: As a Supreme Court Justice, Corrigan  wrote two dissents to the Court’s finding that the California Constitution protected the right of gay people to marry.  However, Corrigan also seems to be the first lesbian to serve in the California Supreme Court.  She considers herself a moderate. We need to do more research on her record.

Leondra Kruger, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:  YES

Kruger worked for Obama, could go further but rules narrowly so as to not rock the boat

James Humes, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 1: YES

Ruled that a potential employer can be held to have violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act by deterring a pregnant woman from applying for a job through lying to her that there were no openings.

Sandra Marguiles, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 1   : NO

Ruled to allow the state to perform warrantless blood draws on motorists in a wider variety of circumstances.

James Richman, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 2: NO

Ruled against protecting public worker pensions

Marla Miller, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 2 : NO

Tried to protect the Governor’s office during the CPUC corruption issue.
Also ruled against tenant protections/Ellis Act reforms in SF

Peter John Siggins, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 3: YES

Siggins  was one of the justices who ruled that California’s prisons are overcrowded to the point of human rights violations

Alison Tucher, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 4: YES

When a lawyer did a ton of pro-bono work and got a person exonerated who was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Jon Steeter, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 4 : YES 

While in private practice sues the Federal Gov’t for holding immigrants without a chance of bail.

Barbara Jones, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 5: YES

Ruled in favor of the Raiders’ Cheerleaders in wage theft issue.

UPDATE: Here is another take on the judges’ races.

In San Leandro, Vote Shafer for Mayor and Arce & Aguilar for City Council

San Leandro, like many cities in the Bay Area, is in crisis.  About half of our community members are renters and skyrocketing rents are pushing them out of their homes, either displacing them out of the Bay Area or putting them on the streets.   This lack of community stability is affecting neighborhoods and schools, as the challenges of facing an ever-changing student population are significant.   Yet the City Council has done nothing to address this situation.   This is not surprising because the Rental Owners Association and landlords have poured money into the incumbents’ campaigns.

Lack of ethics and integrity is, indeed, a generalized problem in San Leandro city government.  The former City Manager, fearing that accusations of sexual harassment by the head of a local nonprofit would become public, sent out a rambling and utterly unprofessional letter to the press, in which he detailed how he’d have business meetings with his accuser in the front seat of her car and play ping-pong with a local lobbyist.  In the letter, he also discussed  the contents of private conversations with Council members.  Rather than fire him on the spot for unprofessional behavior, the Council put him on paid leave for months while he looked for a new job and and gave him  a $350K parting gift.

What San Leandro needs is progressive and ethical leadership, thus our recommendations below.  Note that San Leandro has ranked choice voting (RCV) for its Mayor and City Council races.

Jeromey Shafer

Mayor: #1 Jeromey Shafer, #2 Dan Dillman

Incumbent Pauline Cutter has been a disaster as Mayor of San Leandro.  She seems to have approached her job as a money-making scheme.  Early in her term, her daughter was hired by the City (with the approval of the City Manager) for a highly-paid position in the Parks and Recreation department – despite nepotism being explicitly forbidden by the Charter of the City of San Leandro.   Cutter would later defend the City Manager against sex harassment accusations, resist efforts to ask for his resignation after he wrote an unprofessional and incoherent public letter, and later vote to give him a $300K farewell gift on his way out.

Cutter has spent much of her time traveling at tax-payer expense, but she can’t point to any concrete accomplishments from her tenure.  The promise of San Leandro becoming a high tech center based on our fiberloop never materialized, and instead our industrial area is filled with warehouses that pay low wages.  Moreover, Cutter has supported police militarization and despite her promise that the counter-attack armored vehicle she voted to buy for the police would not be used on demonstrations, it’s been deployed twice for such purposes.  Cutter is a supporter of mass surveillance, including sharing this data with ICE.

Her opponent City Council member Benny Lee has basically the same record and positions.  He demonstrated his lack of ethics by taking large campaign contributions from a garbage company that was bidding  for a contract with the City of Oakland, and lobbied the neighboring City to award that contract to his contributor.  The competitor was based on San Leandro, so his move could have cost San Leandro $2 million.  Lee’s major “contribution” to San Leandro has been to propose honoring the genocidal Chinese government by flying its flag over City Council.  As Tibetans burn themselves to bring attention to their plight and a million Ughyurs are imprisoned in China, Lee’s loyalty seems to be foremost with the Chinese government.

Fortunately, San Leandro has another choice: Jeromey Shafer.  The co-founder of San Leandro for Bernie and leader of Our Revoution San Leandro, Shafer is intelligent, hard working, thoughtful and  unapologetically progressive.  He is committed to human rights and social justice.  If elected, he will champion rent-control in San Leandro and will take an innovative approach to solving our other social ills.  He will stop the militarization of our police forces and actually make the police department accountable to the city, not the other way around as it seems to be now.  He is running a clean money campaign, rejecting all funds from corporations and developers and limiting contributions to $99.   Shafer will also restore transparency and accountability and a sense of ethics to the office.  Really, San Leandro can do no better than to support him.

Dan Dillman is our second choice because, whatever his faults, he cares about San Leandro.

Eva Arce
Eva Arce

City Council District 1: #1 Eva Arce, #2 Ken Pon

Incumbent Deborah Cox is another white-moderate who supports police militarization and mass surveillance and opposes rent-control. She drew controversy for not returning the financial contribution of a politician who used the “N” word in a public meeting.

Eva Arce, a newcomer to  politics, is a strong progressive who has seen her community fall apart by the Council’s regressive politics and wants to restore it.  She is a big supporter of rent control, police accountability and fixing potholes.  She is running a clean money campaign, rejecting all funds from corporations and developers and limiting contributions to $99.    She is an intelligent woman, who does her homework and will tackle issues with a fresh, yet progressive perspective.  She is just what we need in San Leandro.

Ken Pon is also a moderate, but to the left of Cox.  He opposes the militarization of police and favored marijuana dispensaries when Cox was ranting against them at City Council meetings.

Victor Aguilar

City Council District 3: Victor Aguilar

School Board member Victor Aguilar was a progressive back when people didn’t want to admit to being progressive (his opponent, incumbent Lee Thomas, has never claimed himself as one).  He supports rent control, police accountability, clean money (he is not taking any corporate or developer money), and free speech.  As a commissioner, he refused to agree to the City Council’s demand that he forgo his first amendment rights and agree to no disparage the City Manager.

Incumbent Lee Thomas takes money from landlords and opposes rent controls while supporting police militarization.

Maxine Oliver-Benson

City Council District 5: Maxine Oliver-Benson (with reservations)

Both candidates are problematic.  Incumbent Corina Lopez supports police militarization and has done painfully little to bring accountability to the police and remained a supporter of the City Manager even after he showed himself to lack professionalism, but at least she may vote in favor of rent control if someone else brings it up to the table. She also was the impetus behind the sanctuary city declaration, but would not go a step further and make it an ordinance with some teeth – this allowed the Police Department to continue sharing data with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which in turn shared it with ICE.  Moreover, Lopez can be difficult to work with, she easily gets offended and needs to have her ego massaged lest she retaliate over perceived slights.

Her opponent, Maxine Oliver-Benson, is an African American woman who has spent her life in East Oakland as an activist.  She is corporate free and has many strong progressive values – she favors rent control and police accountability, for example, and is rejecting all money from corporations, developers and other special interests (unlike Lopez).  However, she supports increasing mass surveillance in San Leandro – which Lopez says she does not.

In Hayward, vote for Aisha Wahab and Call It a Day (sort of)

The Hayward City Council is one of the most lethargic and unresponsive government bodies in the Bay Area.  Getting the Council to adopt new policies or look forward to the future is like pulling teeth.  And forget asking them to make innovations on their own.  As homelessness has skyrocketed in the City, they’ve come out with no solutions (a much touted new housing development that will serve the homeless is actually a project devised and funded by the County).  As rents have increased displacing residents, they have done little to either enforce the existing rent control or expand it.  They completely refuse to even look at increasing the minimum wage, which is now $2/hr lower than neighboring San Leandro’s.

The Council, moreover, has failed in their obligation to hold city staff accountable: after the Fire Chief was caught drinking and driving during work time, he was not fired. They continued paying the husband of the Chief of Police, even after the chief “retired” on the wake of media attention on a corruption investigation regarding the Chief.  The City of Hayward has also violated transparency laws in order to hide evidence of such corruption.

Right now, four of the do-little Hayward Councilmembers are up for election/re-election.  We believe Hayward would benefit from having a completely new Council.

write in
write in

Mayor:  Write-In

As discussed, both Mayor Barbara Halliday and Councilmember Mark Salinas have failed to do their duty as Mayor and Councilmember.  Mayor Halliday has proven to be a weak and unprofessional leader (see video below), supportive of corruption. Both candidates have received financial contributions from landlords opposed to rent-control.

City Council (Vote for 2): Aisha Wahab

 Aisha Wahab is a dynamic, energetic, strong and yes, Muslim, Afghani-American candidate.  I had wanted to think her religion and ethnicity wouldn’t matter, but that has not been the case in Hayward.  Recently, she was asked by a constituent at a candidate forum if her campaign was funded by ISIS and she’s had her car broken into and her campaign materials stolen, in addition to receiving personal insults while canvassing.  

No matter, if there is something that Aisha is, is strong and persistent (forget Elizabeth Warren, Aisha is the real deal here).  She is also unapologetically progressive.  Much of her campaign has been based on enforcing and expanding rent control in Hayward, addressing homelessness and bringing a living wage to Hayward.  And, indeed, she has been fighting on the ground for progressive issues as an activist for many years.  She has been endorsed by Our Revolution national (despite having been a Clinton supporter), the Democratic Party and the Green Party.  We recommend that you vote for her solely on this race, as it would make it more likely than she be elected.

Her main opponents are incumbents Sara Lamnin and Marvin PeixotoWe supported Sara in the past, believing that her experience as a homeless advocate would lead her to bring real solutions to the issue, however she has shown no initiative on this issue or any other. Peixoto is even worse.

We were very unimpressed by the non-incumbents in the race.

Tom Ferreira doesn’t seem to have much in-depth proposals and he seems to have been absent from the campaign field.  Mekia Fields, a newcomer to Hayward, seems intelligent and has potential, but she has many misconceptions about City government founded in a lack of experience.  She should probably spend some time attending Council meetings and perhaps serving in a commission before running again.  Didacus Ramos is seemingly unaware of the powers – and lack thereof – of the City Council.  Plus his enthusiasm for small communities led him to express support for the privatization of city streets.  Joe Ramos, meanwhile, is the sort of lovable character that is fun to watch but would be totally unsuitable for governing.  At a candidate forum he expressed opposition for Measure T simply because Peixoto was in favor of it.

School Board (Vote for 2): McGee, Davis or Oquenda

We started this endorsement process by attending the Hayward Democratic Club’s candidate forum where we listened to (almost) all the candidates for School Board.  Our conclusion was that incumbents Lisa Brunner and William McGee did not make the case for why they should be re-elected to a third four-year term, but neither did challengers Ken RawdonTodd Davis or April Oquenda made the case as to why they shouldn’t be.

Almost two months later and having spoken at length to most of the candidates, as well as listen to them in other fora, we are no closer to having a sold view on who should be elected.    We can easily discard non-Democrat Nicholas Harvey from consideration, as he is running for five different offices. We are less inclined to vote for Ken Rawdon, a retired music teacher, as he favors dress codes and police resource offices in schools.  Incumbent Lisa Brunner seems extremely dedicated and knowledgeable of the schools, but perhaps not as progressive as the rest.   But it’s hard to chose between  McGee, Davis and Oquenda .   The disagreements over the former Superintendent does not bring any clarity to the matter.  We therefore recommend you chose two of the three.

April Oquenda for Hayward School Board

I'm incredibly grateful for all the support we're getting in our campaign for Hayward School Board. We're out talking to voters and doing all we can to engage our community. Please help spread our message! Thanks to the Creative Lab at MIMA LLC and @Dillon Wall. #oquenda4opportunity

Posted by April Oquenda for Hayward School Board on Monday, September 3, 2018


Measure T – Transfer Tax: Yes

Cities have few ways of raising revenue, and transfer taxes are among the most progressive ones.  If Hayward is going to tackle social problems, including homelessness, it needs the revenues to do so.

Measure H – School Bonds: Yes

If we want good schools, we need to pay for them, and bonds are the only way for schools to raise the money to pay for repairs and remodeling.


Progressives Have Choices for Dublin and Pleasanton Elective Offices: Here They Are!

Dublin and Pleasanton are two of the most conservative cities in Alameda County, they both have Republican Mayors and are represented by rather conservative state officials.  Still, progressives in these cities can find good candidates to vote for.  Here are our recommendations:

Julie Testa
Julie Testa

Pleasanton City Council (vote for 2): Julie Testa

  We recommended Julie Testa when she ran for Mayor two years ago against the Republican incumbent, and are happy to recommend her again in her race for City Council.  Back then, Julie filled out our questionnaire, showing that she is an intelligent and thoughtful progressive. She is particularly concerned about smart growth,  making sure that Pleasanton remains a community able to provide services to its residents, and on providing services to the disabled.

None of her opponents deserve your vote.  Republican incumbent Kathy Narum asks good questions, but then proceeds to vote in whichever way city staff recommends – plus anyone who remains a Republican in this day and age is, by definition, not a progressive.  Joe Streng is the chamber of commerce candidate, more concerned about businesses than residents.  Finally, Joseph Ledoux, a newcomer to Pleasanton, is an active police officer, a problem in a city with a history of police brutality.

We recommend that you only vote for Julie Testa, which will increase her chances of winning a spot in the Council.

Image result for write-inDublin Mayor: Write In

Incumbent David Haubert is a pro-development Republican, who has drawn controversy by associating with far-right groups.

We supported challenger Arun Goel when he ran for City Council in 2016.  His smart growth platform made more sense in a city suffering for serious traffic problems, and where luxury housing has been built at the expense of affordable one.  Moreover, Goel claimed to be a progressive.  That facade is now gone that he is running for Mayor. He is using scaremongering tactics about crime and promises to increase police numbers.  We’re sorry to say, we were completely mistaken in believing he had any integrity.  We recommend you write in your favorite cartoon character.

Shawn Kumagai

Dublin City Council (vote for 2): Shawn Kumagai

Shawn Kumagai is a former naval intelligence officer and a gay man.  He holds solid progressive values and has been a leader in the (very unpopular) fight to make Dublin a sanctuary city.  He stands for smart development – recognizing that what Dublin needs is housing for working class families and for community building.  And he supports police accountability, somethign key in Dublin which doesn’t have its own police force. He has been endorsed by Our Revolution Tri-Valley.

Bobby Khullar is another smart growth progressive, who came to prominence in Dublin when he led the recall of a city council and a school board member over their support of high-density housing without addressing school overcrowding.  Khullar appears to be a common sense progressive but the group he led, Dubliners United, includes members who cross the line into racism-based NIMBYism.  Moreover, he is running in a slate with Jing Firmeza, a “law and order” Republican.  This concerns us enough to not recommend a vote for him.

Jean Josey is even more problematic.  She  has been endorsed by  Angela Ramirez-Holmes, which means she is likely to be a rubberstamp for developers.   Even worse, she proudly lists the endorsement of Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, an anti-immigrant Republican who works closely with ICE to deport immigrants.   Josey called out Mayor Haubert for attending an Oathkeepers meeting, which shows she recognizes that so publicly associating with racists and anti-immigrant folks implies an endorsement of their positions.  Finally,  Shawn Costello is a perennial candidate.

Dublin School Board, Area 2: Megan Rouse

Erin Herrera, who was challenging incumbent Megan Rouse, has withdrawn from the race.

Dublin School Board , Area 5: TBD

Republican incumbent Dan Cherrier is facing NPP challenger Dominick Piegaro.  We have not spoken with him yet.

Member, Board Of Directors, Dublin San Ramon Services District (vote for 2):  No Recommendation

The candidates are incumbent Democrat  Georgean Vonheeder-Leopold, Charles “Chuck” Haupt, Ann Marie Johnson, James Brady and Richard Jesse. We do not have the bandwidth or expertise to make a recommendation on this race.

There are Two Things You Can’t Avoid in Campaigns: Lawn Signs Disappearing and Disputes Over Endorsements

campaign signsIt’s election time in the US, so it’s time for candidates in towns throughout America to take to social media to complain about their campaign signs being stolen.  You can’t really blame them, in particular new candidates who haven’t experienced this phenomena before.   They drive around town and they see that some of the signs they put up are now gone, or they get a call from a supporter saying that the sign they put on their lawn is no longer there.   The first conclusion that comes to mind is that their opponent took them.  Indeed, perhaps the candidates themselves had been tempted to remove their opponent’s signs, but had exercised self control and not done so.  It’s easy to believe their opponents were weaker.

In reality, the disappearing of candidate lawn signs is so ubiquitous, it happens so often and in so many campaigns that you can’t just blame opponents for it – unless you believe everyone who runs for office is unethical and a would-be-thief.  Indeed, I’ve worked in the campaigns of candidates whose opponents complained their signs had been removed, and I know for a fact my candidates’ campaigns hadn’t taken them – so clearly it has to have been someone else.

Here are my theories as to what happens to the signs:

– If left in public spaces, they are often removed by Public Works or even by neighbors that find them offensive.

– If left in private commercial property, they may be removed by the owner or an employee – unaware of whether the candidate was given permission to put it up (many candidates don’t even ask).

– If placed in the actual lawn of a home:

  • The homeowners may actually have not  wanted the sign or they thought better of it and they removed it themselves, but don’t want to let the candidate know this.
  • Another member of the household may have removed it without letting the homeowner know (my own daughter has been doing this for the last couple of elections!).
  • Landscapers may have removed it to work on the lawn and not put it back
  • People passing by or neighbors who dislike the candidate or the sign itself may have removed it.
  • The sign may have been damaged by children or pets and quietly removed and thrown away by their keepers.
  • The sign may have been vandalized or stolen by the sort of people who vandalize public property.
  • And yes, occasionally it may be that a member of an opponent’s campaigns has taken them down.  Though in general, I would suspect a supporter of the opponent rather than someone actually working in the campaign.  It’s just too risky for the latter to be caught.

So if you are a candidate running and you are having your signs disappear (as you are likely to), please consider all of these possibilities before you start blaming your opponent and planning revenge!

Image result for endorsements
Election season means one other thing: endorsement drama.   There is always a candidate ready to cry foul over their opponent claiming an endorsement that they supposedly did not get.   I’m sure that this happens occasionally, but most of the time there is a better explanation:

  • The named endorser actually endorsed the candidate and forgot about it! (This happened to Congressman Mark DeSaulnier who denied he had endorsed Senator Ellen Corbett in her race to challenge Eric Swalwell, only to be presented by an endorsement slip he had signed a year before).
  • The named endorsers had endorsed the candidate but changed their mind and did not communicate this clearly to the candidate.
  • The named endorser had endorsed the candidate but were challenged on it, and are now pretending the endorsement never happened at all (this can be done with or without the agreement of the candidate).
  • The named endorsers had endorsed the candidate but withdrew their endorsement and the candidate failed to update their literature or website.
  • In cases where a name has been removed, the named endorsers had endorsed the candidate but withdrew their endorsement and the candidate does not want to draw attention to this fact
  • The named endorser communicated support for the candidate which the candidate incorrectly interpreted to be an endorsement.

So, again, before jumping to the conclusion that your opponent is making up endorsements, consider one of the more likely possibilities outlined above.

Progressive Voter Recommendations for Fremont, CA – 2018

The City of Fremont, California, has recently changed from electing four at-large members to the City Council, to dividing the city in six districts and electing one from each.  The districts were gerrymandered to make it easier for incumbents to get re-elected.  This year, four of these districts are having elections, two of them with an incumbent at the helm.

These are our recommendations for the most progressive and best prepared candidates for the job.

Jose Oropeza

City Council District 1: José Oropeza

José Oropeza is a young engineer married to a school teacher.  He is completely new to politics and does not have links to any of the different players in the Fremont political scene, which makes him a breath of fresh air.  He is progressive: voted for Bernie, supports a higher minimum wage, rent control, police accountability and smart growth.   He is not taking money from corporations and developers.  If elected, we believe he’ll be a free thinker and act with integrity rather than political calculation.  Oropeza was endorsed by the Fremont-Union City-Newark (FUN) Progressives, the local chapter of Our Revolution.

His opponents are far more problematic.  Neither seem particularly well informed or thoughtful about the issues facing Fremont.  Chandrakala Siramdas seems committed to turning Fremont into a police state, her platform is all about increasing mass surveillance and police activity in the city – rather worrisome given allegations that the Fremont Police Department has been targeting the Sikh temple in town.  Teresa Keng  was registered as a Republican until recently and her policies – to the degree she has any – reflect this. Like Siramdas, she opposes  rent control not just in Fremont but anywhere in the state and is likely to be a voice for the chamber of commerce.

Cullen Tiernan

City Council District 2: Cullen Tiernan

Cullen Tiernan is at the heart of the progressive movement in California.  After spending almost a decade in the Marine Corps, Tiernan became an anti-war activist and a volunteer and delegate for the Bernie Sanders campaign.  As the chair of the Veterans Caucus of the California Democratic Party, he has led missions to Mexico to assist deported veterans.  In Fremont, he serves as a member of the Human Services Commission.  His agenda is uncompromisingly progressive, he favors rent control, stopping the development of luxury housing which strains on Fremont’s streets, schools and infrastructure, increasing the minimum wage and holding the police accountable. He is running a corporate free/developer free campaign.  He has been endorsed by the FUN Progressives.

His opponent incumbent Rick Jones is a racist, right-wing former police officer who believes that the lives of African Americans and Latinos do not matter: when asked directly whether they did, his answer was “All Lives Matter”.  He also condoned the murder by Fremont police of an unarmed Latina teenager, and of other people of color.  In the Council, he has voted against civil liberties and opposes a higher minimum wage, rent control and anything that would make the lives of ordinary people better in Fremont.  He is also a big friend of developers.  Marshall Overlander, the other candidate on the ballot, seems MIA from the campaign trail.

Cullen Tiernan for Fremont City Council clean money pledge and campaign update.

Posted by Cullen Tiernan on Sunday, September 23, 2018

Jenny Kassan
Jenny Kassan

City Council District 3: Jenny Kassan

Jenny Kassan is another uncompromising progressive.  A lawyer who helps women starts socially responsible businesses, Kassan is a fierce advocate of rent control, police accountability, civil rights and liberties and environmental justice. She refuses developers money and firmly stands against allowing more luxury developments in Fremont.  She has been endorsed by the FUN Progressives.

Her opponent, incumbent David Bonaccorsi is an attorney who represents developers with business with Fremont City Hall.  Unlike other politicians, Bonaccorsi actually knows right from wrong – that’s clear in private conversations with him -, but he often lacks the backbone to do the right thing, opting instead for what is expedient.  For example, he understands the problems of allowing the Fremont Police to dictate City policy, yet he considers their endorsement so important that he will do practically everything they tell him.  Bonaccorsi has also stood against rent control and increasing the minimum wage to a paltry $15 in Fremont, even though teenage babysitters charge at least that much in this part of the Bay Area.

The third candidate on the ballot, Joseph Valenti, has also been MIA from the campaign trail.

City Council District 4: Robert Daulton or Debbie Watanuki

This race for an empty seat includes three progressives, a moderate and a right-wing homophobe, creating the very real risk of a split on the vote that will have the latter win.  Unfortunately, without polling, we have no way of knowing which progressive candidate is the most popular so we can only suggest that you vote for the most progressive candidate that is ready for the job.

Robert Daulton
Robert Daulton

Robert Daulton is a designer who has lived in Fremont for many years. He’s a father of a teenager attending  Fremont public schools.  As a community member, he organized his neighbors in opposition to environmentally-problematic developments, even to the point of hiring a lawyer to sue and stop one.  He frequently attends council and other community meetings.  He supports rent control, a police review board, clamping down on mass surveillance and is running a clean money campaign. He has been endorsed by the FUN Progressives.

League of Women Voters Forum 1

My closing statement at the League of Women Voters Forum.

Posted by Robert Daulton for Fremont City Council on Monday, October 8, 2018

Debbie Watanuki
Debbie Watanuki

Debbie Watanuki is a lawyer and long time resident of Fremont. She’s the former Chair of the Human Relations Commission and was on the board of the Fremont Education foundation in the past.  She is an intelligent, capable and compassionate person with strong progressive values and policies very similar to Robert Daulton’s.  Neither is an experienced politician and either would make a good City Councilmember.   There is no compelling reason to recommend one versus the other.

The third progressive, Justin Sha, is a millennial who has recently graduated from law school.  A Chinese-American gay man, Sha felt compelled to run to stand in opposition to Yang Shao’s conservative homophobic agenda.  He is a strong progressive and shows a lot of promise, but he lacks seasoning and presents too much of the arrogance of youth.  Still, his is an important voice and we hope to see him run again in the future.

At the other end of the political spectrum lies Yang Shao,  a member of the Fremont School Board most recently universally condemned for voting against allowing sex education to be taught in Fremont elementary schools.  Shao belongs to a popular Christian fundamentalist church on whose support he’s counting, and his opposition to gay marriage was even noted in the New  York Times.

Finally, there is Craig Steckler, a former police Chief, who fashions himself a progressive because he has a medical marijuana card.  He has remained silent in the multiple killings of people of color by Fremont police, however.

Dianne Jones

Fremont School Board (vote for 2): Dianne Jones and Fahria Khan

Dianne Jones is an intelligent and progressive woman, an involved parent of Fremont Unified District students.  She’s served in lots of volunteer capacities with the schools, from PTA to school committees and works as a substitute teacher, which gives her personal insight into the schools.  She has very progressive views on education and restorative justice at the school level.  And, of course, she supports sex ed starting in elementary school – as anyone who is aware that menarche can start as young as 9 or 10 would. She has been endorsed by the FUN Progressives.

Fahria Khan
Fahria Khan

Fahria Khan is also an involved parent, with five children who are either attending or have graduated from Fremont public schools.  She has also served in numerous PTAs and school committees, including the Fremont Education Foundation and two Alameda County commissions. Her work in the district’s equity commission has made her be particularly sensitive to issues of unconscious bias against students of color and she’s committed to creating more oversight over SROs at the schools.  Beyond that, she holds common-sense liberal positions on teaching sex education in schools and allowing teachers to choose their curriculum.  She will be a breath of fresh air in the Fremont School Board.  She has also been endorsed by the FUN Progressives.

Norman Howell, a former AP Biology teacher and teacher’s union representative, would also make an acceptable choice.  He has strong progressive values and he cares strongly about the schools.  However, without children in the schools, he has a less in-depth understanding of the issues facing them and less personal experience with issues of equity.

None of the other candidates responded to our requests to speak.  Silvia Wong is a parent who seems to be running to make sure to keep sex ed from being taught in schools.  Hua Li had two children graduate from Fremont schools but does not report having volunteered in schools or school organizations.  Hiu Ng is a retiree with a long history of involvement in the schools, who is running for the fifth time.  

Incumbent Larry Sweeney has a terrible record of voting for censorship in Fremont schools, he voted to ban books from being taught in AP English back in 2012, and opposes sex-ed being taught to pre-pubescent children. Definitely don’t vote for him.


Progressive in Oakland? These Are The Candidates You Should Support in 2018.

The City of Oakland has some of the most exciting races in Alameda County (and perhaps even in California) this election season – and here are our very progressive recommendations.  We have yet to decide on a couple of races, so please leave us your input.

 cat brooks
Cat Brooks

Mayor:  Cat Brooks & Pamela Price

 pamela price
Pamela Price

Incumbent Libby Schaaf has been a complete failure.  Under her lack of leadership, homelessness has exploded in Oakland to the point that it has even drawn the attention of the United Nations.    As homeless encampments spread in Oakland – there are over 100 already –  Schaaf’s main interest seems to be to hide the problem by clearing them out.  She has even refused to work with church groups that have been offering their help. Her expensive tuff shed proposition has proven unpopular with the homeless and has been panned by homeless advocacy groups.  Under Schaaf’s leadership, police officers not only prostituted a minor, but violated Oakland’s sanctuary city law to aid ICE in arresting immigrants and then lied about it.  In addition, Schaaf lobbied for a weaker police commission and has not given it the support required by voters.  Schaaf simply does not support progressive politics.

The two best alternatives to her are civil rights attorney Pamela Price and activist Cat Brooks.  Price ran for District Attorney in the spring, and while she lost in the white areas of the county, she comfortably won in Oakland.  She is brilliant, dedicated, and has lived in Oakland for decades – she knows the city inside and out.  She has a sound plan for dealing with homelessness, and the toughness to deal with a police department that has shown little respect to civilian authorities.    Cat Brooks shares Price’s progressive values, and has been an important figure in the anti-police brutality movement.  She is just as dedicated to deal with homelessness, and the problems that rapid gentrification are bringing to Oakland.  Brooks, moreover, is an exciting and inspiring candidate that promises to mobilize young and leftist citizens that often don’t bother to vote.  Either would be a great choice for Mayor, and ranked choice voting means voters don’t really have to chose between them.  Select whichever of the two excites you most as your #1 choice, and the other one as your #2.   Both have been endorsed by Our Revolution East Bay.

We have not been overly impressed by any of the other candidates challenging Schaaf, and as all of them will likely be eliminated before Price and Brooks are, we don’t offer a third choice.

Cat Brooks: I Love You Oakland

Cat Brooks is a non-profit executive director, an activist, a wife and a mother. She is running for Mayor of Oakland because we can do better.

Posted by Cat Brooks For Oakland on Saturday, October 6, 2018


Nikki Fortunato Bas
Nikki Fortunato Bas

City Council District 2: Nikki Fortunato Bas

Incumbent Abel Guillen has been a great disappointment.  He has engaged in outright unethical behavior, he has betrayed workers, helped developers who contributed to his campaign and stood against an independent police commission.  Whatever claim of being a progressive Guillen might have had, he has lost it.

The coalition of labor and social justice groups that backed Guillen when he first ran, turned around and recruited Nikki Fortunateo Bas to run against him.  Nikki is a social justice warrior, who has worked to empower and organize disenfranchised communities for decades.  She got her start by working with Sweatshop Watch and organizing workers in Oakland Chinatown to fight for unpaid wages.  In the years since, she has worked to raise the minimum wage in Oakland, to make sure that the Oakland base redevelopment instituted a local hire policy and to reduce diesel emissions on trucks coming from the Port of Oakland.  She has the right progressive values, a lot of experience working with Oakland city government and the right combination of even-temper and passion to get along with Council colleagues while advocating for sound and humane policies. Nikki has been endorsed by Our Revolution East Bay.

Kenzie Donte Smith, the third candidate in the race, was one of the African American people targeted by “BBQ Becky”.  He doesn’t seem to be running much of a campaign, we couldn’t even find a webpage for him.

Residents over developers & corporate interests

We need leaders who will fight for the Oakland we love. As a community organizer, I will prioritize the people of Oakland over developers and corporate interests. ✊🏾As I said Thursday at the Alameda County Dems forum, I will champion 100% affordable homes on city-owned public land. I support Prop 10 and I will champion rent control in Oakland. I will fight for fair cleanup services so that every neighborhood is clean, beautiful, and safe. And I will budget according to our values, so that safety means safety for everyone in Oakland, no matter what you look like or where you live. Read my full platform at and join our campaign!

Posted by Nikki Fortunato Bas 4 Oakland on Saturday, August 25, 2018

City Council District 4: 1) Matt Hummel, 2-3) Pam Harris, & Sheng Thao

Matt Hummel


 Matt Hummel has the prettiest lawn signs in town.  We don’t imagine they will be very effective – can you even read them while driving by? -, but they are cute and artistic and even feature a bee that sort of looks like Matt.   And why not? Matt is, per no lesser authority than the New Yorker, a “leading figure in the city’s artistic scene.”   Beyond that, Matt is a community activist working on issues as diverse as cannabis, rent control and creating safe conditions for artists living in warehouses (particularly on the wake of the Ghost Ship fire).  He is also an all around Bernie Sanders style progressive, only more so.  He supports civil liberties and social justice and he is part of the progressive movement.  Predictably, he is not taking any corporate money for his campaign.  We recommended Matt as our #1 choice when he ran for the at-large seat in 2016, and we do so again. You can read his answers to our 2016 questionnaire here.

We are not particular on the order in which you rank the next two candidates, but we recommend that you chose them as your remaining two choices.

Pam Harris
Pam Harris

Pam Harris is a force to be reckoned with.   A former Fulbright fellow, and current financial guru for nonprofits, Harris is a brilliant thinker and a brilliant speaker.  She is moving and inspiring and will no doubt go far in politics – if that’s what she wants one day.  For the time being, as the mother of  two young children, what she wants is to make Oakland a place where her kids can grow up in a community they can still belong to once they grow up – something which is becoming rarer and rarer in this age of skyrocketing home prices and rents.

Pamela has the right progressive values, is committed to social justice and equity, and is absolutely fearless.  This is a woman who knows her mind and knows her worth and won’t let anyone walk all over her.  And yet she’s charming, disarming and friendly.  It remains to be seen whether District 4 residents can vote for an LGBTQ African American candidate, but progressives in the district definitely should.

Sheng Thao
Sheng Thao

Sheng Thao is a progressive powerhouse.  A daughter of persecuted Hmong immigrants and a single mom, Sheng has experienced homelessness and has yet to achieve the American dream of owning a home – so she understands the plight of Oakland’s poor and working families personally.  She is also committed to address it.  She is passionate about the need to curtail mass surveillance and clean up the Oakland Police Department and opposes its militarization.  She voted for Bernie Sanders and is now helping progressive darling and Our Revolution/Barbara Lee endorsed cadidate Jovanka Beckles be elected to the Assembly.  She is a woman who is not afraid to be loud and clear about her progressive values, even in a district that may not share them.

Thao works as the Chief of Staff for Oakland Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan.  This means she knows the workings of the city inside and out, so she’ll be able to hit the ground running.  While we were initially concerned that these relationship might  color Thao’s actions, after talking to her at length we are convinced she will be an independent voice and might even sway Kaplan to be more assertive in support of progressive police.

Please vote for Pam Harris and Sheng Thao in whichever order you prefer.

We are not recommending votes for the other candidates.  While Nayeli Maxson is a progressive Berniecrats who seems to have the right values, she endorsed Jovanka Beckles’ corporate opponent, which suggests that Maxson would compromise these values if she finds it politically expedient.   Charlie Michelson projects as an arrogant white male, and has definite moderate/pro-business/pro-police leanings.  He also has a lot of money.  Joseph Tanios is a fan of and has been endorsed by anti-immigrant, racist Sheriff Greg Ahern.  Joseph Simons, meanwhile, is a working pastor of a major Oakland church – which brings potential conflicts of interests and issues of separation of church state that we don’t need to deal with given the preponderance of better qualified candidates.

City Council District 6: 1) Mya Whittaker, 2) Desley Brooks, 3) Marlo Rodriguez

Mya Whitaker
Mya Whitaker

Mya Whittaker is a great political talent on the making.  And her greatness comes from her realness.  Born and raise in District 6, Mya is a girl from East Oakland, in touch with her community and a new generation of people growing up disillusioned by the political system.  She knows better.  You need to be in the inside to make write the policies that affect their lives.

There is no artifice to Mya. She is a progressive because she lives the consequence of non-progressive policies, she knows first hand that poverty and lack of opportunities breed crime  and that restorative justice is the way to lower it and to heal communities.  She has experienced and in effective and at times out of control police department, and has been lobbying to recruit more police officers from Oakland.  She opposes surveillance because she knows OPD cannot be trusted. As a member of the committee who hired the current police chief, she wants to hold her accountable.  A member of the former police commission, she understands that the problem is with the laws that shelter abusive cops and OPD’s policies.  And, of course, Mya is for rent control, increasing the minimum wage, bringing real solutions to homelessness, etc.  But she is mostly for engaging the community in finding solutions the problems that plague them.

You probably need to meet or hear Mya to see how exciting she is as a candidate, but if you can’t and live in the district trust me and give her your #1 vote.

Desley Brooks,
Desley Brooks

Desley Brooks has represented District 6 in Oakland for sixteen years.   She keeps getting re-elected because, in general, she has done well for her district.  She has also been a strong vote in favor of civil liberties, privacy and police accountability.  While her personality can be problematic – she is a very strong woman who doesn’t take anything from anyone and can appear rude at times -, her policies are sound.  She has been fighting and will continue to fight to make sure that Oakland continues to offer a home to people of color, the working class and the poor.  While the capitalist/gentrifying forces behind Libby Schaaf are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to unseat Desley, she maintains the support of the civil rights and civil liberties community.  Please give her your #2 vote.

Marlo Rodriguez
Marlo Rodriguez

Marlo Rodriguez is angry.  She is angry at Desley Brooks for what she perceives are failings in bringing a supermarket to Oakland and for for Brooks’ inability to get along and work with people.  A nurse and newcomer to politics, she has strong progressive views as far as rent control. homelessness, police accountability, mass surveillance and minimum wage goes.  Her values are our values.  But we recommend Rodriguez as the third choice because she has very little experience in the Oakland city government.  Some of her proposals go beyond what the Council is able to do and could be best achieve through community activism.  While we think she’d have a steep learning curve, she is a better choice than the remaining two candidates.

Loren Taylor and Natasha Middleton appear to be “puppet” candidates of different forces in Oakland politics, who simply want to get rid of Desley Brooks.  Taylor is backed by Libby Schaaf and given the general ignorance and apathy towards the issues he’s manifested in candidate fora, he’s likely to be her representative in the Council if elected.   Middleton is the candidate of  those who don’t think a man living in the hills can beat Desley Brooks. She is also supported by Schaaf and many of the same people who support Taylor and she also has sounded painfully ignorant and frazzled at candidate fora.  We believe that voters deserve Council members that are not mere puppets for other political actors.

Courtney Ruby
Courtney Ruby

Auditor: Courtney Ruby

Former Oakland auditor Courtney Ruby, who exited the job to run – unsuccessfully – for Mayor four years ago, is back on the running.  And while she wasn’t a stellar auditor when she had the job, she was certainly better than incumbent Brenda Roberts who has been an unmitigated disasterWe recommend a lesser-of-two-evils vote for Ruby.

Schoo Board District No. 4: TBD

Candidates are Clarissa Doutherd and Gary Yee, neither have yet responded to our e-mails.