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.


Alameda County: Demystifying the Democratic Party’s Endorsements

Oakland City Council District 2 candidate Nikki Bas speaks at at the Central Committee endorsement interviews. The incumbent in her race received the endorsement.

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.

Alameda Councilmember (2 seats): Jim Oddie and John Knox White

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.

Albany Councilmember (2 seats): Rochelle Nason and Margaret McQuaid

Both are incumbents and only two Democrats in the race.

Berkeley Auditor : Jenny Wong

No incumbent in the race, Jenny is the only Democrat running.

Berkeley Councilmember – District 1:  Igor Tregub

No incumbent in the race. Igor has been a long-time activist in the Democratic Party.

Berkeley Councilmember – District 4: Kate Harrison


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 Councilmember – District 8: Lori Droste


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.

Dublin Councilmember (2 seats): Jean Josey and Shawn Kumagai

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

No incumbent.

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 3: David Bonaccorsi

Appointed incumbent.

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.

Hayward Mayor: Barbara Halliday


Hayward Councilmember (2 seats): Sara Lamnin and Aisha Wahab

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.

Livermore Mayor: John Marchand


Livermore Councilmember (2 seats): Trish Munro and Neal Pann

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.

Newark Mayor: Alan Nagy


Newark Councilmember (2 seats): Mike Bucci

Incumbent, member of the Committee and the other candidate is a Republican.

Oakland Mayor: Libby Schaaf


Oakland Auditor: Courtney Ruby

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 2: Abel Guillen


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.

Piedmont Councilmember (3 seats): Teddy Gray King, Tim Rood, Betsy Smegal


Pleasanton Mayor: No Endorsement/No Candidates Nominated

The Republican incumbent is unchallenged

Pleasanton Council Members (2 seats): No Endorsement/No Candidates Nominated

Neither Democrat sought the Party’s endorsement

San Leandro Mayor: Pauline Russo Cutter


San Leandro Councilmember – District 1: Deborah Cox


San Leandro Councilmember – District District 3: Lee Thomas


San Leandro Councilmember – District 5: Corina Lopez

Incumbent and Central Committee member

Union City Councilmember (3 seats): Emily Duncan, Pat  Gacoscos and Harris Mojadedi

Duncan and Gacoscos are incumbents (the third incumbent is not a Democrat).  Mojadedi, meanwhile, has made alliances with the Party establishment in southern Alameda County.

Chabot-Las Positas CCD Trustee – Area 2: Linda Granger

No incumbent.  Linda Granger has the stronger campaign and more experience for the job.

Chabot-Las Positas CCD Trustee – Area 3 (short term): No Endorsement

Both the appointed incumbent and the challenger had their own areas of support within the Committee and neither could get the necessary votes to get the endorsement.

Ohlone CCD Trustee – Area 1 (2 seats): Vivien Larsen and Richard Watters


Ohlone CCD Trustee – Area 2 (2 seats):  Suzanne Chan and Lovedeep Jhamat

The single incumbent in this race was not endorsed, and the reasons for this were discussed in confidence so I cannot share them. Both Chan and Jhamat seem to have solid bases of support in Fremont.

Ohlone CCD Trustee – Area 2 (short term):  Tejinder Dhami

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.

Peralta CCD Trustee – Area 3: No Endorsement

see below

Peralta CCD Trustee – Area 5:  Cynthia Reiss

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.

Alameda School Board (2 seats): Gary Lym and Mialisa Bonta

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

They are the only three Democrats in the race.

Berkeley School Board (3 seats) : Ty Alper, Ka’dijah Brown and Julie Sinai

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.

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

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.

Hayward USD Director (2 seats) William  McGee and Todd Davis

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


Newark School Board (2 seats):  Nancy Thomas and Elisa Martinez

Nancy Thomas is the only incumbent running for this seat.  She is also a member of the Central Committee. I’m guessing Martinez was endorsed because she has Thomas’ support.

Oakland School Board  District 2:  Aimee Eng

Incumbent and running unopposed.

Oakland School Board District 4:  Clarissa Doutherd

I have heard from several members that she is an amazing candidate.  Her opponent, Gary Yee, is a former School Board member-turned Superintendent who seems to lack credibility among many.

Oakland School Board District 6:  Shanthi Gonzales

Incumbent and running unopposed.

Piedmont School Board (2 seats):  Julie Caskey

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.

BART Director – District 4:  Robert Raburn

Incumbent & sole Democrat running.

BART Director District 6: Anu Natarajan

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

Appointed Incumbent

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!