I find deciding who to vote for agency boards to be particularly difficult. I don’t usually pay close attention to the issues on those boards, and its not always clear what set of skills candidates need to bring to the position. I have thus relied heavily on the Green Party’s recommendations for these transportation positions.
At-Large: Dollene Jones
Joel Young, the incumbent for this seat, should not be re-elected. Not only did he have a nasty domestic abuse scandal which derailed his campaign for Assembly two years ago, but he was caught taking confidential AC Transit information for use in his private practice as a lawyer. That’s the type of unethical behavior that we should not condone on our elected officials.
Alas, he’s been good to a segment of Labor and they are backing him. This support was enough to scare off strong potential challengers. Of the two left, Dollene Jones is the best choice.
To make this determination, I’m piggybacking on the Green Party, which issued a very valuable Voter Guide that spells out the reasons for their recommendations. Often they are much more thorough than mine. They recommend Jones because she is a retired bus driver who lives and breathes buses. She goes to meetings, she knows the system, and while her overall knowledge may be limited, it’s ampler than her opponent. She, the Green Party predicts, is the candidate least likely to do harm. I am not endorsing her, but I’m voting for her.
Ward 4: Murphy McCalley
For this recommendation I’m once again relying on the Green Party’s Voter Guide. They say that while the incumbent tries hard, he doesn’t have the background in transportation issues to make independent decisions, and thus he follows other members of the Council, who don’t necessarily know better. Murphy McCalley is a retired transportation professional with the expertise and passion for buses needed to professionalize the Board.
Ward 5: Jeff Davis
Here, I am relying completely on the judgement of the Green Party’s Voter Guide. They found his responses to their questionnaire to be the most succinct and knowledgeable.
District 4: No Recommendation
It have a hard time making a recommendation for this race as neither candidate has much to offer. Alas, District 4 covers part of San Leandro so I feel a responsibility to say something about it.
The incumbent, Robert Raburn, angered labor by supporting management’s sometimes outright dirty negotiation techniques that led to the BART strike last year. He has also shown very little interest in the San Leandro portion of his district. He did attend the Transportation forum a few weeks ago, but there he dismissed the very legitimate concerns of San Leandrans worried about the elimination of one of the parking lots by the downtown BART station. That’s not the type of representation one wants.
Lena Tam, meanwhile, has not been impressed by her performance at the Alameda City Council. She has sided with the Police on most issues, supported the acquisition of an armored vehicle and the retention of data from license plate scanners. Civil liberties violations have been a recurring problem at BART, and I fear Tam will not fall on the right side of that debate.
Her strong ties to the Democratic party establishment, and Rob Bonta in particular, makes me weary that she will put politics before policy. She has also failed to reach out to Leandro residents and did not attend the San Leandro Transportation forum a few weeks back.
Ultimately, I’m glad I don’t have to vote in that race.