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 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.
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.
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.
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 Coordinatorat 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
School Board member Victor Aguilarwas 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 fightingon 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 Peixoto. We 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 Rawdon, Todd 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.
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
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:
We recommendedJulie 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 nikki4oakland.com and join our campaign!
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
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 disaster. We recommend a lesser-of-two-evils vote for Ruby.
Berkeley has the reputation of being the most progressive city in the US, but impressions are not always reality. Berkeley has particularly struggled with issues of homelessness and police militarization and brutality, which its City Council has not always been able to address adequately.
It’s a new election and a chance to install a fully progressive City Council. Here are the best progressive choices.
There are three progressives running on this race. They all support rent control, holding the police accountable and ending police militarization, humane solutions to homelessness and smart growth. I am ranking them in terms of their preparation for this office.
Igor Tregub is an engineer and long time community activist, currently in the Berkeley Rent Board. I’ve known him for many years, as he is also a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. He is a strong progressive, with the right values, who is committed to making Berkeley a better city. He can be a little timid at times, but will vote the right way. He has the #1 endorsement from Our Revolution East Bay.
Margo Schueler has impressed me with her “can do” attitude, her willingness to take on sexist establishments and her straightforwardness. However, her expertise seem more limited than Igor’s so I’m recommending her as a #2 choice, as has Our Revolution East Bay.
Mary Behm-Steinberg seems to mostly be a protest candidate, aiming to bring attention to disability issues. She has overall progressive values, so I’m recommending her as number 3.
Rashi Kesarwani, the fourth candidate, is your run-of-the-mill elitist candidate, running to make it easier for developers to build luxury housing and to keep the status quo.
My amazing partner Maritessa has been with me through every step of this journey – from the moment I announced my candidacy, to attending community meetings and house parties, to knocking on doors to listen to the concerns of our neighbors. We care so deeply about this district. This is our home. This is where we will start a family. There is no one else I trust to tell my story than her. This election, I ask you to vote Igor #1 for Berkeley City Council District 1.
Incumbent Kate Harrison is the epitome of a progressive politician, the sort we wish we could clone and put one of in every city council. She is firm in her convictions that a city must be run for its citizens, she supports human rights and social/racial/gender/environmental justice. She is well informed and has clear and intelligent solutions to the problems facing Berkeley. She is not easily intimidated and is not afraid to stand up to the Berkeley police. And she is a pleasant human being, without an ego and the ability to get along with everyone. She was endorsed by Our Revolution East Bay.
Her opponents are two pro-development guys in vanity campaigns. Neither is worth a second choice vote.
City Council District 7 was created as a student district – with the express purpose of having student representation in the Berkeley City Council. The current officeholder, Kriss Worthington. promised he’d step aside when a suitable student would step up to run for this seat. Rigel Robinson, who graduated last spring from Cal, took that challenge. Rigel is an extremely mature, intelligent and well spoken young man. At Cal, he participated in student government and was a leader in the campus campaign for Bernie Sanders. He has strong progressive values, including opposing the militarization of Berkeley police. He is overall very impressive and will add a needed young voice to the Council. Rigel has been endorsed by Our Revolution East Bay.
Aidan Hill, our second choice, is currently a student at UC Berkeley. A young gender non-binary person of color, he has struggled with discrimination and homelessness and is running to bring attention to those issues as well as push for an overall progressive agenda (one that seems less local than Rigel’s).
The last candidate in the race, Ces Rosales, is an older woman who seeks to represent the interests of the non-student residents and small businesses in the district. She’s ran for City Council before and while she supported the creation of a student district, she harbors a lot of resentment to supports of Bernie Sanders. She is also a supporter of police militarization. We cannot recommend her.
Alfred Twu is an artist and designer, with brilliant innovative ideas on how to solve the housing crisis. They are a passionate progressive, a volunteer for Bernie Sanders and many other progressive candidates and a key member of the progressive movement. They are intelligent, capable, willing to stand up for what they believe and would be an amazing addition to the Berkeley City Council. They have been endorsed by Our Revolution East Bay.
We are still awaiting more information on the other two challenger before making our second and third choices. Incumbent Lori Droste, however, clearly does not represent Progressive values. She has voted in favor of police militarization and is lukewarm on rent control.
School Board (vote for 3): TBD
We are still working out this race. Please leave us your comments below.
Jenny Wong is a professional auditor who is running to take the place of the present one, who is retiring. She has the support of basically everyone in Berkeley City government for what should not be a political position. Her opponent seems both unqualified and unable to do the job – he would not even answer my questions. She was endorsed by Our Revolution East Bay.
Measure O: Yes
This is a $135 bond measure to fund affordable housing.
Measure P: Yes
This would race the property transfer tax from 1.5% to 2.5% for properties that sell for over $1.5 million, with the proceeds going to to help homeless people. It’s exactly the type of common-sense progressive taxation that we should get behind.
Measure Q: No
This measure was put in the ballot through the pressure of landlords who are afraid that if Prop 10 passes and Costa Hawkins is repealed, their units will fall under rent control. It exempts accessory dwelling units from both rent control and just cause – allowing landlords to not only raise the rent as high as they want, but evict tenants for any reason.
Measure R: Yes
This measure advises the Mayor in the development of a 30-year infrastructure plan for Berkeley. The Mayor supports it.
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.
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.
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.
Healthcare District Director, Short Term: Dennis Popalardo
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.
Welcome to the first post of my new political blog. For better or worse, we’re starting with a hyperlocal inside baseball post. The Alameda County Democratic Party has just announced their endorsements for races throughout the county and people are texting me and saying: “They endorsed him?!!! What were they thinking?!” in more than one race.
While I cannot read anyone’s mind, after 8 years in the Central Committee I can guess why most candidates were endorsed. In general, the Committee want to endorse candidates that are likely to win, so we endorse incumbents and clear front runners. We like candidates that bring us money, as a committee and as consultants, so we endorse those with ties to developers and big donors. We want to pretend we support labor, so we often endorse candidates that have labor support – though that alone is seldom enough. We like our friends, so we endorse candidates that hang out in Democratic party circles And we like to play politics – some of us are even in the business of making money from politics – so we horse trade. You’ll note that there is no “I” in “we,” not all of us play those games. But those of us who vote on endorsements based on the quality of the candidate or their values are a definite minority.
If you want to know how the endorsement process works, go to the bottom of this page. Meanwhile, here are the Democratic party’s endorsed candidates in Alameda County and my best guesses as to why we endorsed them. Note, in order to not betray anything I was told in confidence, I’m only guessing on those races in which, well, I have to guess 🙂
Alameda Mayor: No Endorsement
Assemblymember Rob Bonta has a lot of influence over the City of Alameda, both because he is an Assemblymember who lives there and because he’s the Committee’s greatest donor. If there is no endorsement on this race, it’s because Bonta doesn’t support any of the candidates. Indeed, none were nominated. Incumbent Trish Spencer incurred the wrath of the Party back in 2014 when she ran against then incumbent Mayor Marie Gilmore, which was supported by the Firefighters Union and Bonta. Her challengers, meanwhile, have fallen out of favor with Bonta. The result was that none of the candidates were nomianted. Establishment members didn’t nominate them out of respect to Bonta (or because they don’t want to get involved in Alameda politics) and progressives didn’t nominate them because all of the candidates endorsed Nancy O’Malley, and her record of supporting police brutality.
Jim Oddie, the only incumbent in the race, is Rob Bonta’s district directo and a member of the Central Committee’s executive board. John Knox White had Oddie’s support. Both were put on consent by the Executive Committee. They weren’t pulled by progressives because the candidates running against them are even less progressive.
Berkeley Councilmember – District 7: No Endorsement
No incumbent in the race. The Executive Committee had put Rigel Robinson on consent because District 7 was created as a student district, and Rigel is a recent Cal graduate with vast experience in student government, active on the campus Democratic club and very well prepared for this role. However, Ces Rosales, an older resident of the area, jumped into the race. Rosales has also been a long-time associate and alternate member of the Central Committee and she had enough friends in the Committee to block Rigel’s endorsement.
Berkeley Rent Board: James Chang, Paola Laverde-Levine, John Selawsky, Maria Poblet and Soli Alpert
Slate of incumbents plus one Democratic activist.
Dublin Mayor: No Endorsement/No Candidates Nominated
Republican incumbent. Arun Goel is the only Democrat running for this seat. However, the establishment does not support him because Arun is pro smart-growth rather than unfettered development, and he’s lost the support of progressives for his support of Nancy O’Malley. He was not nominated for the endorsement.
No incumbent in the race, 3 Democrats running. Kumagai got endorsed because he made the effort to show up at Committee meetings in the last two years and get to know the members. He is a delegate to the California Democratic Party and just a pleasant guy. I’m guessing Josey got endorsed because she is being propped up by Angela Ramirez Holmes, a “consultant” (she dislikes the word “lobbyist”) for developers in the Tri-Valley. Angela controls the tri-valley as far as the Democratic Party is concerned. Bobby Khullar, the third Democrat in the race, was not endorsed because he is running on a smart growth agenda and does not have the support of developers. Progressives were unable to pull Jean Josey from consent as the Party changed its rules to require that one of the members making the pull live in the Assembly district for the office in question.
Emeryville Councilmember (2 seats): Scott Donahue and Dianne Martinez
They are both incumbents, Dianne also serves in the Central Committee.
Fremont Councilmember – District 1: No Endorsement
Three candidates are running for this seat, all new to politics. The Party’s establishment is backing Chandrakala (Chandu) Siramdas, a candidate running on a Trumpian-sounding “Make Fremont Safe Again” platform and they put her on consent. Apparently, the establishment considered her the front runner because she raised the most money. Progressives were able to pull Siramdas from the consent calendar, however, and block her endorsement because even some of the more moderate members were put off by her extreme pro-police state ideology.
Fremont Councilmember – District 2: No Endorsement
The incumbent, Rick Jones, had the support of the establishment but his challenger, progressive Cullen Tiernan, represents Ro Khanna at the Central Committee and had forged personal relationships with Committee members. Jones also made the mistake of making his racism clear during the endorsement interviews, when he replied to the question of whether Black and Latino Lives Mattered with “All Lives Matter” . He still managed to get 16 votes from Party members, but not enough to win the endorsement.
Fremont Councilmember – District 4: No Endorsement
No incumbent. The front runner, Yang Shao, is a homophobic school board member who recently voted to oppose teaching sex education in Fremont elementary schools. A No Party Preference voter, Shao has four opponents, three of whom are Democrats. Committee members wanted to be able to rally behind one candidate so as to best help defeat Shao – but they weren’t able to agree on whether to support Craig Steckler or Debbie Watanuki. Ultimately, they split the vote and there was no endorsement.
There are two incumbents in the race but only one, Sara Lamnin, was endorsed. The other, Marvin Peixoto, has a very bad relationship with his local SEIU and that particular SEIU representative is a regular at Central Committee meetings. Five other Democrats are running for that seat, and of those Aisha Wahab was endorsed because she has the longest relationship with the Democratic party, being a regular at Party events and having served as a state party delegate.
The single incumbent running is an NPP. There are three Democrats in the race and these two are likely to be the two most pro-development, Munro has gotten the endorsement of the Building Trades union (which in the tri-valley signifies support for unfettered development) and Pann is an architect. The third Democrat, Rosmary Bartsch, has a history of speaking out against developments.
This one has a long and sordid history. Four years ago, when Courtney Ruby chose to run for Mayor rather than for re-election as Auditor, the Party endorsed Brenda Roberts, despite her becoming a Democrat the day she filed her papers to run. Sharon Ball, a (now former) member of the Party who worked in the Auditor’s office, was her strongest advocate. Alas, Brenda ended up being terrible, Sharon quit her job and spilled the beans to the East Bay Express.
Oakland Councilmember – District 4: No Endorsement
No incumbent in the race. Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan’s Chief of Staff, Sheng Thao, has been able to use her boss’ political capital and receive most of the endorsements out there. But Pamela Harris, an African American member of the California Democratic Party, was able to steal her thunder with far superior rhetorical gifts. Harris’ support from progressives and some African Americans, I suspect, was enough to block Sheng’s endorsement but not get it for herself.
Oakland Councilmember – District 6: No Endorsement
Incumbent Desley Brooks is not liked by many in the political establishment. A scuffle with former black panther Elaine Brown left the City of Oakland with a lawsuit it settled for around $2.2million. Her weakened position has brought her four challengers, none of whom was compelling enough to deserve the endorsement on their own.
No incumbent. Tejinder has been making the rounds of the Democratic Party for a while and he has the support of the local establishment. His opponent is well known for being a progressive Bernie supporter. Progressives weren’t able to find a fifth member willing to pull Tejinder.
This was probably the single race on which the endorsements were based on the actual merit of the candidates.
This was one of the most controversial races at the Central Committee. Instructors at Peralta community colleges are very dissatisfied with the Chancellor, whom they apparently believe is misusing money from a parcel tax. They’ve recruited a couple of candidates to run against the incumbents in the Board who, apparently, are rubber stamping whatever the Chancellor does. Labor is backing these candidates. Meanwhile, the papers have reported financial problems with the district that scream out “board negligence”. For this reason, I think the Committee members were willing to give the challengers a chance.
Corean Todd, the challenger in Area 3, seemed like a committed community member, but she came into the race late and she wasn’t able to answer those questions that required knowledge of the district. Linda Handy, the incumbent, did not come to the endorsement interviews. She sent the President of the Board of Trustees to speak for her, and while she did a very good job, she wasn’t Linda. A “no endorsement” decision on that race made the most sense and is what I voted.
In Area 5, however, Cynthia Reiss was dynamite. She spent many months reading and analyzing all the financial papers of the district and talking to different stakeholders before deciding she would run, so she was able to answer all questions expertly. She is also an exciting and engaging speaker. The incumbent did not have her breadth of knowledge and is a fairly poor communicator.
Mialisa Bonta is the wife of Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the aforementioned largest donor to the Alameda County Democratic Party, and she was the only candidate to be put on the consent calendar.
The competition for the other spot was between Gary Lym, an elected incumbent, and Anne McKereghan, an appointed one. As mentioned above, Rob Bonta controls the endorsements as far as Alameda goes. If Gary Lym got endorsed instead of McKereghan, it’s because that’s what Bonta wanted.
Albany School Board (3 seats) : Charles Blanchard, Brian Doss and Sara Hinkley
Ty Alper is the only incumbent running for re-election. Julie Sinai was a previous Berkeley School Board member and was endorsed by the party when she last ran in 2014. Ironically, she lost her seat to Alper. The two are now running in a slate with Ka’dijah Brown.
Dublin School Board- District 2: Megan Rouse
Dublin School Board- District 5: No Endorsement/No Candidates Nominated
No Democrats in the race
Emery School Board (3 seats): Brynnda Collins, Susan Donaldson and Sarah Nguyen
Four Democrats are running for these three. The one not endorsed is also running for Emeryville City Council and, therefore, is not considered a serious candidate.
The one incumbent running for re-election, Larry Sweeney, is a conservative who most recently voted against sex-ed in Fremont elementary schools. Of the other five Democrats running, Dianne Jones and Fahria Khan are the ones most involved with the party and the political power centers in Fremont.
Two incumbents were running, but of these only Bill McGee was endorsed, probably because he has the most developed relationships with members of the Central Committee. The rumor going around was that Todd Davis got the second spot because his mother is the head of the local NAACP chapter. Given how unusual it’s to not endorse an incumbent, that seems possible.
Livermore Valley School Board (2 seats): Craig Bueno and David Vonheeder
The only two Democrats in the race.
New Haven School Board (2 seats): Linda Canlas and Sarabjit Kaur Cheema
I am guessing Caskey was the only candidate that applied for the endorsement. Candidates from Piedmont seldom do.
A.C. Transit District Director – At Large: No Endorsement//No Candidates Nominated
Incumbent Joel Young still has not recovered from domestic violence charges that came out during a 2012 Assembly election. He has also not yet apologized. His opponent, a former bus driver, is a perennial candidate who has been unimpressive in previous elections.
A.C. Transit District Director – Ward 4: Mark Williams
Incumbent & sole Democrat running.
A.C. Transit District Director – Ward 5: No Endorsement
No incumbent is running in this race.
Kewal Singh has the support of Labor because he, literally, represents labor. He works for BART as a team leader and has represented workers in strike negotiations. He also has the support of the Fremont political establishment. For this reason, he was put on the consent calendar.
However, progressives pulled him and nominated Diana Shaw, who is far more knowledgeable about all aspects of AC Transit’s operations as she worked for the San Mateo County Transit District until retiring. She was supported by a former AC Transit Director that is a member of the Committee and Singh has very troublesome pro-surveillance tendencies. In all, Shaw was able to block the endorsement.
Anu has a long history of involvement with the Democratic Party and is a former Fremont City Councilmember.
City of Alameda Healthcare District Director (short term): Dennis Popalardo
Dublin San Ramon CSD Director (2 seats) : Georgeann Vonheeder and Ann Marie Johnson
Vonheeder is the only incumbent running. I don’t have a guess as to why Johnson was endorsed (put on consent) vs the other Democrat running.
East Bay MUD Director – Ward 7: Frank Mellon
Incumbent & sole Democrat running.
East Bay Reg. Park District Director – Ward 3: Dennis Waespi
Incumbent & sole Democrat running.
East Bay Reg. Park District Director – Ward 5: Ayn Wieskamp
Incumbent & sole Democrat running.
Eden Township Hospital District Director : Roxann Lewis, Mariellen Faria and Felix Martinez
They endorsed all the Democrats that are not former San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, whom the Chair and other Committee members hate with a passion.
Fairview Fire Protection District Director: Michael Justice
Incumbent & sole Democrat running.
Oro Loma Sanitary District Director (3 seats): Shelia Young, Rita Duncan and Frederick Simon, Jr.
Only Democrats running
Washington Township Health Care District Director (3 seats): Jacob Eapen, Hon. Michael J. Wallace and Hon. Bernard L. Stewart
The Democratic Party’s endorsementsare made by the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, an organization that consists of around 46 members, 32 elected and 14 ex-officios. Most of the members of the Committee are moderates/establishment politicians. There are a total of six actual progressive members, with a handful more that are progressive in some issues and not in others.
There is a new requirement that candidates must be registered as Democrats by the first day of the filing period to be eligible for the endorsement – this requirement made Oakland Mayoral candidate Cat Brooks ineligible for the endorsement as she registered too late (not that there was any chance anyone but the incumbent would get it).
Candidates are first interviewed by the Executive Committee, which is formed by the most establishment members of the Party. A candidate needs 2/3 of the votes of the Executive Committee to be put on consent. The aim of the Committee is to put as many candidates on consent as possible, so as to make the Committee-wide interviews as short as possible.
Until this year, it took two members of the Committee to either nominate a candidate or pull them from the consent calendar. As more progressives entered the Party, the establishment decided to make it harder to pull candidates by requiring five members to do the pulling, one of whom would have to live in the same Assembly district as the office being pulled. That meant that progressives weren’t able to pull some incumbents in districts where no members were willing to risk the ire of the incumbent.
What do you think? Did I get something wrong? Comment below!