Mar 042012

Abel Guillen

Meet the two political candidates that give me hope we can actually turn around our country, from the bottom up.

Last night I had a small get together to introduce California Assembly candidate Abel Guillen to some of my friends.  It was great to hear his analysis of the state’s financial problems, his proposed solutions and overall vision, as well as his experiences at Peralta Community college.   One thing that really impressed me is that he lead the Peralta Board to divest their $100+M budget from big banks and move their money to small credit unions.  But he’s also done things that directly benefit the student community, like negotiate a $31 a semester AC Transit pass for students (normally, these are $80 a month).  Mike and I will be throwing a reception/fundraiser for Abel at Zocalo on March 23rd at 7 PM, and I hope all of you will come and have a chance to meet him.

Phil Ladew and his wife Victoria

One of my other guests last night was Phil Ladew who is running for re-election to the Alameda County Board of Education. Phil is an amazing man, and you know I’m not easily impressed by people. He grew up in the foster care system, experiencing all the hardships of that life, but was able to overcome those difficulties and be a better person for it. He  went to college and law school (my alma mater, U.C. Hastings).  He became a child welfare attorney, representing disadvantaged and foster children in court, and now heads an organization that advocates for abused and neglected children. The County Board of Education is responsible for the education of incarcerated children and provides services to foster children, pregnant teens, homeless students and students that have been expelled from other schools. I cannot imagine someone better suited for that Board than Phil.  I hope to host a coffee or some other event for Phil, and I’ll invite you all to meet him.  Phil, BTW, is a San Leandro resident married to a San Leandro native.

I’ve been involved in local politics for the last six years, I’ve worked on several campaigns – all of which have been successful – but I had overall become disenchanted with politics.  It’s so easy for politicians to be co-opted the moment they get into office.  They become afraid of making waves, push for change and alienate future financial backers.   But few people step up to run for any office, so it becomes a matter of choosing the most acceptable candidate: the one that seems smarter, more competent, hopefully more ethical.  But when I look at Abel and at Phil, I get excited.  I actually believe in them in a way that I haven’t believed in a politician in years – if ever.  I think Abel has the perfect combination of commitment to the community, financial acumen and understanding of how politics works.  More importantly, however, he has the passion to organize us into standing up against corporations and create a society more fair for all.  As for Phil, I am in awe of the work he does and his commitment to children, but also extremely impressed by his intelligence and work ethic.

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