These are the recommendations of the editorial team of San Leandro Talk for the June 2018 elections. They include state-wide and Alameda County offices. The team is composed of progressive citizens who value integrity, experience, progressive values and vision on candidates for elective office. Whenever possible, we try to recommend the most progressive, yet qualified, candidates and those who do not accept contributions from corporations or special interests. For candidates beyond Alameda County, please check out the list of progressive, corporate-free candidates running in California.
Please note: Even if you don’t vote for anyone else in this election, please vote for Pamela Price for District Attorney. See below for more.
California Governor: Delaine Eastin
Corporate Free candidate
Being the governor of a state that has the fifth largest economy in the world is not for amateurs. We need someone who has the experience and skills to do the job effectively, in addition the values to do it ethically. Delaine Eastin fits both qualifications. She has vast experience, having worked in the private sector as well as been a City Council member, a member of the California Legislature and California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. This means she has both legislative and executive experience in government as well as an understanding of how Sacramento works and how to get her agenda passed. While she was Superintendent, California passed a law to reduce the student to teacher ratio, for instance (later abolished during the financial crisis). Delaine has vision and the belief that government can actually undertake large social projects such as free preschool-college education, single payer health care and a climate change policy that includes banning fracking. Unlike her opponents, she is not taking corporate donations and she is not in debt to any special interests that will curtail what she can do in office. She is by far the best choice.
The lieutenant governor has two jobs: one is to seat in a myriad of commissions, from educational to environmental ones and the other is to be available to take the reigns of the state if the governor is unable to perform her duties. Gayle McLaughlin is by far the most qualified person to do this. Gayle has been both a city council member and Mayor of Richmond, a very diverse city in the Bay Area who saw both its crime rate and police brutality greatly reduced through policies that introduced community policing. She has a history of successfully fighting Chevron, which has a refinery in the town. She was previously endorsed by Bernie Sanders and was one of the earliest candidates to be endorsed by Our Revolution national.
There are no good candidates in this race. Incumbent Alex Padilla made a mockery of the office, one which requires integrity and a perception of neutrality, by openly campaigning for Hillary Clinton during the primary. Then, when thousands of voters throughout the state complained about voter irregularities, from having their party registration changed to having their names disappear altogether from the voter rolls, Padilla did nothing to investigate and fix whatever the problem was. He definitely needs to go. Unfortunately, all of the other candidates are problematic in their own ways. We are going with Ruben Major because he at least has the background to get up to speed with the complexity of voting systems, seems to have firm progressive values and has the support of many Berniecrats.
Incumbent Betty Yee made her reputation as a progressive but, after taking money from law enforcement interests, she has moved to the right, putting her support behind candidates who support mass incarceration. She has also advocated for regressive taxation, such as a “mechanics tax” that would mostly hurt people who cannot afford new cars and therefore have to have them repaired more frequently. Yee doesn’t face strong opposition and she will be surely the top vote-getter in the June primary. A vote for Mary Lou Finley, the Peace and Freedom candidate, is simply a protest vote against Yee’s anti-progressive positions.
Democrat Fiona Ma is the establishment candidate for this race, but she has taken large amounts of money from police interests and repaid them by putting her support behind candidates for local office who favor impunity for police brutality and mass incarceration. While these issues are not directly connected to the position of Treasurer, they reflect a willingness to participate in pay-to-play politics and put her political career ahead of the community. Kevin Akin, the Peace and Freedom candidate, is the only progressive on the race and therefore we recommend a protest vote in his favor.
Attorney General: Dave Jones (with reservations)
California is in deep need of criminal justice reform and we need an Attorney General who will make this a priority. We also need an AG that will put an end to impunity for police brutality and police killings and hold officers who commit human rights violations accountable. The appointed incumbent has proven himself unwilling to do either. Dave Jones is far more interested in doing it. He also opposes the death penalty and has a history of standing up against special interests: as insurance commissioner he backed an initiative to limit the cost of health insurance. However, recent information about potential conflicts of interests unearthed by the Green Party and
Ricardo Lara is the establishment candidate in this race. While he was one of the authors of the single payer bill introduced in the State Senate last year, he did little to make sure that the bill was actually passed. Beyond this, we cannot recommend him due to his seemingly corrupt past activities and his reliance on corporate donations. Asif Mahmood, the other Democrat running for Insurance Commissioner, is a medical doctor profoundly committed to enforcing the California laws that he claims insurance companies are circumventing to deny care to California patients, and to institute single-payer healthcare. A Pakistan-born Muslim, he is particularly concerned with empowering women and female education. Unfortunately, Dr. Mahmood does not have the experience to oversee one of the most important departments in the California government, though to his credit he recognizes this and says he’ll build a team of experts to help him in the job. Indeed, the only candidate that has the experience to actually do the job is Steve Poizner, a former Republican now running as No Party Preference, who was Insurance Commissioner from 2008-2012. Poizner quit the job to run for governor in a far-right platform that denounced immigration. He is now running on a platform of opposing single-payer healthcare. This leaves Mahmood as the only real choice for progressives.
There are serious problems with the two front runners in this race. Marshal Tuck is a charter school executive, seemingly aiming to privatize our educational system even more. Tony Thurmond seems more interested in political climbing that he is in on the well being of students. That leaves as choices two newcomers, Steve Ireland, a parent, and Lily Plosky, an educational administrator and instructor (and also parent). Of the two, Ploski is the better qualified for this position, with multiple degrees on education, including two Masters (one in Teaching and the other in Student Personnel Administration) and a Doctorate of Education. In addition, she has broad experience working in community colleges, including as an instructor and as a dean.
Board of Equalization District 2: Write In None of the Above**
It’s seldom that we recommend that you don’t vote for any of the candidates in the ballot, but none of the candidates for Board of Equalization, District 2, deserve anyone’s votes. Democratic State Senator Cathleen Galgiani gets a “D” grade from the Courage Campaign, which measures how legislators vote on progressive bills. San Francisco supervisor Malia Cohen, another Democrat, is a moderate, who has taken developer and AirBnb money and voted against measures that would maintain and increase affordable housing in SF. She is vehemently opposed by the Berniecrats in her district. Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang, another Democrat, was subject of a recall campaign due to his pay-to-play relationship with developers. The final candidate, Mark Burns, is a Republican who does not seem to be actually running a campaign. We recommend a writein vote of None of the Above.
US Senator: Pat Harris
Corporate Free candidate
There are a myriad of candidates for US Senate, including a few progressives. Of these, Pat Harris stands out as having the best combination of experience, progressive values and personal skills to be a successful senator that can truly represent California. As a very successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney with decades of experience, Harris understands how our system of justice is broken and what needs to be done to fix it. He’s even written a book about it. He is an old time progressive, who supports single payer healthcare, countrywide marijuana legalization, a pro-peace foreign policy and free college tuition, among other things. He is very intelligent, has a deep understanding of policy and of the corrupt influence of corporate money. While we are also impressed by David Hilderbrand and are not opposed to progressive voting for him, we believe that Harris’ far wider experience makes him the best choice for this office.
US Representative District 13: Barbara Lee
Congresswoman Barbara Lee continues to represent her district well, standing up against war and militarization and for progressive issues. This is a nobrainer vote.
US Representative District 15: Write in None of the Above**
Incumbent Eric Swalwell is more concerned with running for President in 2020 and attacking Trump that he is with representing his district. He usually votes as told by Nancy Pelosi, though he sometimes crosses the aisle to vote with Trump in anti-civil liberties/anti-progressive legislation such as Kate’s Law and the reauthorization of warrantless spying, as well as the gigantic defense budget. He does not hold progressive values and does not deserve progressive votes. Unfortunately, there are no other progressives in the race. We recommend a write in vote for None of the Above.
US Representative District 17: Ro Khanna
Corporate Free candidate.
In the two years since his first election, Ro Khanna has become the progressive voice in Congress, speaking truth to power. From calling on the DNC to eliminate superdelegates, to speaking out against war and a militaristic foreign policy, to embracing single payer health care and working across the aisle for jobs in middle America, Khanna is the ideal of a progressive statesman that other candidates can aspire to. A big thumbs up from our team.
California State Senator District 10: Write in None of the Above**
Incumbent Bob Wieckowski is what you can call an “establishment progressive”. He will introduce progressive legislation, but will tug closely to the party’s leadership and ultimately do as he’s told. For this reason, he ends up not fighting for the good bills he introduces and endorsing non-progressive candidates. We recommend a protest vote for None of the Above.
Assembly District 15: Jovanka Beckles
Corporate Free candidate. Also endorsed by Our Revolution
There are a myriad of candidates running for AD 15, and only one really bad – Buffy Wicks, a political consultant who worked for both Obama and Hillary Clinton and who is backed by the corporate establishment of the Democratic Party. Of the rest, Jovanka Beckles is by far the most experience, the most progressive, the most courageous and simply the best. This is one candidate that we can endorse without any hesitation.
Beckles is a Panamanian immigrant, mental health worker and Chevron-fighting City Council member in Richmond. There, she has worked tirelessly to bring in community policing and rent control and to fight Chevron for poisoning the air and paying unfair wages. In response, Beckles has been subjected to intense harassment by homophobic community members and Council members and had Chevron spent millions trying to defeat her at the polls – it failed. We need people with her integrity, her passion and even-temperedness and her vision in the California Assembly. Beckles has been endorsed by Our Revolution National and was previously endorsed by Bernie Sanders himself.
Assembly District 16: Rebecca Bauer-Kahan
Bauer-Kahan is challenging incumbent Republican Catherine Baker, whose record of right-wing votes includes voting against overtime pay for farm workers. Bauer-Kahan is an environmental lawyer, with progressive views on both economic issues and civil liberties. She is intelligent and personable, and she may become a strong progressive voice in the Assembly.
Assembly District 18: Rob Bonta
Since a progressive slate for California Democratic Party were elected against his own slate, Rob Bonta has recognized that his district is far more progressive than he is and has moved to the left. He has introduced progressive legislation such as a measure to reform the bail system and has become a strong supporter of single payer healthcare. He deserves to be re-elected.
Assembly District 20: Write in None of the Above**
Bill Quirk is an inconsistent politician. He has been good on issue of surveillance, and less good on issues of social justice. He originally voted against mandating overtime pay for farm workers. He gets a “B” rating from the Courage campaign, which is almost an F given how progressive his district is. Moreover, despite his support of marijuana legalization, he has supported right-wing local candidates running against progressives.
Assembly District 25: Write in None of the Above**
Kansen Chu has been a completely generic Assembly member for his district. If he has any accomplishments, he hasn’t bothered to list them in specific terms. Moreover, he is part of the party machine and endorses right-wing candidates, including pro-mass incarceration Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley. There is another Democrat running but she has not bothered to even put up a webpage.
Superior Court Judge #11: Karen Katz
Katz is a retired Alameda County public defender and someone who has compassion as well as a strong sense of justice. We recommended her opponent, Tara Flannagan, a she first ran, but she has since been admonished by the state’s Commission on Judicial Performance for unethical behavior, after being caught trying to launder a campaign loan. Flannagan’s excuse was that she didn’t understand the law, which makes her particularly unsuitable for the position of judge.
County Board of Education Area 1: Joaquin Rivera (with reservations)
Rivera is a community college chemistry professor deeply involved in education, he served in the Berkeley School Board before serving in the County Board. His opponent does not seem to have a background on education nor has made a case for why he should be elected. We are recommending Rivera by default.
County Supervisor: Write in None of the Above**
None of our county supervisors have done enough to stop the Alameda County Sheriff from rounding up undocumented immigrants and turning them in to ICE, despite Alameda County being a sanctuary county. Moreover, they have all endorsed Nancy O’Malley and her refusal to bring charges against any police officer who kills unarmed citizens.
Assessor: John Weed
Corporate Free candidate
Four candidates are running for this race, but only one, John Weed, is a choice for progressives. James Johnson and Kevin Lopez both oppose modifying Prop 13 so that commercial properties can be assessed at their true market value. Prop 13’s loophole which protects commercial properties in the same manner as residential properties has resulted in major corporations having a competitive advantage over newer smaller ventures and has resulted in billions of dollars of property taxes not assessed against them. We are given pause by the large amount of financial contributions that Phong La has received, amounting to almost $200,000 – an immense amount for an 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. La, moreover, has endorsed Alameda DA Nancy O’Malley, thus telegraphing his lack of progressive principles. That leaves John Weed, a retired Air Forces reserves colonel, with engineering and law degrees, who currently serves in the Alameda County Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board, as well as the Alameda County Water District Board. He has support from progressives who know his long career and have served with him in the Water Board, he supports an overhaul of Prop 13 that would assess taxes on commercial properties and he has experience with the Alameda county assessor’s office through his work in the appeals board. He is not accepting money from corporations and seems the only progressive choice in this race.
Auditor-Controller / Clerk-Recorder: Irella Blackwood
Write up to follow.
|District Attorney: Pamela Price
Corporate Free candidate. Also endorsed by Our RevolutionFor residents of Alameda County, this is the most important race on the ballot. Nowhere can you make more of a difference than by electing civil rights attorney Pamela Price as District Attorney.A county’s district attorney has literally life and death power over people in the county. Not only can she chose to seek the death penalty in particular cases (which the incumbent has done), but by her policies she can encourage or discourage police brutality and killings. The incumbent has chosen to NEVER charge a law enforcement officer who has killed a community member with a crime, even in cases where the victims were shot in the back or were killed while they were on the ground or restrained. Indeed, over a hundred community members were killed while in custody while she has been DA, and she has excused all of their murders. In return, O’Malley has received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from police unions. Recently, she accepted $10,000 from the Fremont police union while she investigated the killing of a pregnant teenager by Fremont police. Needless to say, she found this killing justified, like all others. Pamela Price is committed to prosecuting police brutality and not giving a murderer a pass simply because he is wearing a badge and fills her pockets.The incumbent has shown her commitment to mass incarceration, specially against people of color. Currently, over 90% of people arrested by police in Alameda County are prosecuted, despite the fact that several Alameda County police departments are well known for racist and homophobic behavior that target members of oppressed communities. Here in San Leandro, Nancy O’Malley charged two men victims of a homophobic police sting of planning to have sex in a public bathroom, while the charges were dismissed and the City of San Leandro was faced to pay damages, the men were humiliated and traumatized by O’Malley’s illegal behavior.O’Malley, moreover, has a history of charging children, particularly children of color, as adults and denying them a second chance. Until Price challenged her, she opposed bail reform and has supported ridiculously high bails, which have led to poor people having to stay in prison and often lose their jobs and even homes because they cannot afford to pay them.O’Malley has made her reputation on fighting sex trafficking, but she has looked away as Oakland police officers had sex and prostituted a teenager. When the scandal forced her to charge them, she still managed to make sure they were mildly punished, at most, for their crimes.Pamela Price, meanwhile, has a life-long history of fighting for human rights. A brilliant lawyer, with degrees from Yale and UC Berkeley law, she is one of the very few black women to successfully argue a case before the US Supreme Court. After working as a defense attorney, she went on to represent victims of gender and race discrimination as well as police violence. She has a comprehensive plan to turn around the Alameda County District Attorney’s office so it serves as an institution of justice, not of racism.Even if you don’t vote for anyone else this election, please come out and vote for Pamela Price.Pamela Price has been endorsed by Our Revolution national.
Sheriff/Coroner: Write in None of the Above**
Alameda County has one of the most right-wing, racist and xenophobic sheriffs in the nation. Not only is he a strong supporter of Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration. Not only is he a racist that considers all Latinos potential criminals and is pround of turning them all into ICE, but he encourages police brutality and police militarization. Ahern, moreover, is engaged in dirty dealings, including getting contributions from vendors to his police foundation and having the foundation hire his wife. Everyone is too afraid to run against him, but no person of conscience can vote for him.
Prop. 68 – Water/Parks Protection YES
Prop. 69 – Restriction on Motor Vehicles Taxes/Fees YES
Prop. 70 – Greenhouse Gas Reduction Reserve Fund NO
Prop. 71 – Ballot Measure Effective Date YES
Prop. 72 – Property Tax Exclusion for Rainwater Capture Systems YES
There seems to be pretty wide consensus among moderates and progressives about how to vote on these measures. Rather than analyze them individually, we refer you to the Green Party Voting Guide that thoroughly discusses them.
Measure RM3 – Regional Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan NO
This measure will increase tolls on Bay Area bridges to $8 by 2025 to build transportation improvements. Our concern is that tolls are regressive measures, as they are disproportionately hard on those with lower incomes. With rising BART and bus fares, regional travel is becoming unaffordable for families and low-income workers, and it is unfair to burden them with the cost of transportation to the same level than those with far higher incomes.
Measure A – Alameda County Childcare and Early Education Sales Tax NO
The cause is good and the money is necessary. However, a sales tax is a regressive instrument which forces the poor to contribute a disproportionately higher percentage of their income than the rich. We simply cannot keep putting the weight of our social programs on the poor themselves.
(*Note: Members of the California Democratic Party cannot publicly support non-Democratic candidates or recommend that voters vote against the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Party for state or national office, under threat of being removed from the CDP’s Central Committee Therefore, neither the recommendation to vote for non-Democrats nor the recommendation to vote against endorsed Democrats in this guide should be understood as being supported by Margarita Lacabe nor any other CDP member in the SLT editorial team).
** Note 2: While a write-in vote of None of the Above won’t officially count, some registrars, including Alameda County, count all the write-in votes and compute them into the percentage of votes that a candidate receives. Thus, write-in votes serve as unofficial protest votes and a way of expressing displeasure with all the choices. You can write in whatever you want, but do cast a write-in vote (in the line following the listing of the candidates on the ballot).