Cullen Tiernan

Jan 052017

Democrat Donkey

ACDCC Passes Strong Resolution Urging No Collaboration between Local Law Enforcement and Trump Administration

Last night, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) swore in (ceremoniously, as it turned out) its new membership.  It wasn’t very different than its old one.  Six of our 33 elected members are new, but three of them had previously been alternate members.  In Assembly District 18, where we actually elected three new members, the three defeated incumbents will now be alternates.  The Committee’s Chair remains the same, as do the two secretaries.  The Vice Chair is now the Treasurer and the Treasurer has now been hired to be the professional accountant/treasurer.  We do have a new Vice Chair, who was elected after the outgoing Vice Chair made a surprise announcement at the meeting that he would not seek re-election.  Before members had a moment to digest these news, nominations for his position were closed and a vote had been called for the sole candidate.  Business as usual at the Democratic Party.

There were a few changes with respect to Assembly District Vice-Chairs.  The ACDCC is divided into five caucuses, one for each Assembly District that falls within Alameda County.  The vice chairs for AD 15, 20 and 25 remained the same, but AD 16 decided to replace the incumbent vice-chair, who had rarely been seen in the last three years, with her closest acolyte.  Neither were present at the meeting.  In AD 18, after a lot of behind-the-scenes drama and machinations, the incumbent Vice Chair was forced out, two activist members were sidelined and Assemblymember Rob Bonta‘s paid staffer and alternate member, was put in.  Once again, business as usual.

Less business as usual was the resolution we passed, unanimously, that urges local City Councils and the Board of Supervisors to declare “themselves to be Sanctuary Cities and refuse to honor any request by the Trump Administration to use any of their resources, including Police and Sheriff’s Deputies to participate in any arrests or internments mandated by the Trump Administration.”   This is a move that I wished we had done a long time before, given the Obama administration widespread use of local police power to make immigration-related arrests.  But I am thrilled that we passed this now.  Now, we need to work to make sure City Councils in Alameda County implement this resolution.

And while minor, there have been  changes.  Two of the new elected members, Guillermo Elenes and Pamela Price, are avowed civil rights activists that come to the Committee planning to push an agenda of progressive reform.  Newly elected Congressman Ro Khanna has named as his alternate former Marine and Bernie Sanders delegate Cullen Tiernan, who along with a few other alternates and associates are bringing the energy of the Bernie Sanders movement to the Committee.  Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who unsuccessfully ran for Assembly against the Republican incumbent in AD 16, has joined as an ex-officio member and her experience as an award winning Government teacher already proved useful in helping us shape the resolution described above.

Ultimately, it’s anyone’s guess whether the forces of change will defeat those of stagnation, a happy medium will be reached, or the whole thing will blow up.  I’m betting on the first.


Sep 302016

Cullen Tiernan

Incumbent Vinnie Bacon Recommended for Second Council Seat

No Recommendation for Mayor (yet?)

The November elections are almost upon us and it’s time for San Leandro Talk’s endorsements of candidates running for local office in Alameda County.  My endorsements and recommendations are based upon personal or phone interviews, questionnaires sent to the candidates and other research on them.  I only endorse candidates that I believe are truly progressive, support a clean government agenda, transparency and accountability.  My recommended candidates may not fulfill the same requirements, but they are still the best progressive choices in their respective races.

Cullen Tiernan is new to politics.  He spent most of his adult life in the Marine Corps, where he served as a combat correspondent in Iraq, Mozambique and other countries I had no idea the US military was involved in.  Yet he emerged from that experience as an optimist and a peace loving, community-first, problem-solving progressive that is ready to roll up his sleeves and work for a better America – and a better Fremont.


Cullen Tiernan at the Democratic National Convention

As the son of the editor of a political magazine, Cullen always understood the importance of politics, but he got his first taste of grassroots political activism when he joined the Bernie Sanders campaign.  “I share Bernie Sanders’ belief that ‘we are all in this together,'” Cullen told me “and I was impressed by Bernie’s willingness to speak out about the corrupting effect of money in politics.”  Cullen organized volunteers, knocked on doors, made phone calls, and put his communication skills to work.  Eventually, he was elected as a delegate to represent Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.  That is how we met and where I got to witness his courage in speaking truth to power and his kindness in showing respect for all points of views and treating everyone with dignity and consideration.  Those are exactly the qualities that will make him an effective City Councilmember.

Cullen is running for the Fremont City Council on a community-centered agenda.  He wants to tackle issues that directly affect the present-day quality of life of Fremont citizens, such as traffic and school overcrowding, without losing sight of the need to make development sustainable and take care of the environment.  “Fremont is actually a great place to live.” Cullen told me.  “I just want to make sure it stays that way and we push it forward in an environmentally friendly way. ”

In practical terms, Cullen wants to bring government to the community: reach out to all the different neighborhood and ethnic groups that live in the City and make sure their views are taken into account before the City Council moves forward with any proposals. Sounds simple, but in practice it seldom ever happens.  Cullen is already initiating hundreds of these conversations.   While some of Cullen’s plans are very ambitious – he wants to end homelessness for veterans (to begin with) in Fremont –  others are more concrete.   He supports helping multi-unit buildings to install charging stations for electric cars and wants to turn the Fremont animal shelter into a no-kill shelter.   Ultimately, it’s his overall vision of Fremont as a city that puts the community first and his willingness to watch out for the interests of citizens which really impress me.

I’m particularly comforted that, true to his Bernie Sanders roots, Cullen is not taking money from developers or running with the support of the Police Union – two institutions that have traditionally manacled the Fremont City Council and forced them into bad decisions both in terms of development and of curtailing civil liberties.  Indeed, Cullen is in the “clean money” slate, which also includes Vinnie Bacon and Lily Mei, who is running for Mayor.


Vinnie Bacon

Vinnie Bacon

I am recommending Vinnie Bacon for the second City Council seat up for election this November.   Vinnie is the only incumbent running and I’ve had the pleasure of serving with him in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, so I know him well.  An environmentalist with a masters degree in Urban Planning, Vinnie is by far the most progressive Councilmember in Fremont today. He has also vowed to not take money from developers and and indeed, he has been often the single vote against badly planned developments.  I respect that he stood up to the very machine-driven Democratic Party, chose to no longer seek the Party’s endorsement, and has chosen to run in a “clean money” slate with Cullen Tiernan and Lily Mei.  This takes a lot of courage and integrity.

I’m recommending him, rather than endorsing him, because of a couple of votes that I find problematic.  He supported placing surveillance cameras in Fremont, despite ample academic work that shows surveillance cameras do not serve to reduce crime, and he voted to ban medical marijuana patients from growing marijuana in their backyards and from having it delivered from elsewhere.  As Fremont does not have a dispensary, this forces medical marijuana patients who are not healthy enough to travel outside Fremont, to suffer without access to the medicine they need.


At this time, I am NOT MAKING A RECOMMENDATION FOR MAYOR given that both candidates, incumbent Mayor Bill Harrison and Council Member Lily Mei have cast problematic votes (e.g. in favor of the marijuana ban) and neither has responded to my questionnaire or my invitation to meet.


Sep 102016

Of course, this post is not endorsed by the ACDCC – this is just a graphic 🙂

Every election, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) endorses candidates for non-partisan local offices in the County; only registered Democrats can apply for the endorsement.  Well over a hundred candidates were interviewed by the Executive Committee, and over 70 were put on the consent calendar to be automatically endorsed by the Party at the September 17th meeting, around 30 more candidates were nominated for the endorsement and will be interviewed by the full Committee on that date.  It takes two ACDCC members to either pull a candidate from the consent calendar or nominate them for endorsement – and this election most ACDCC members were very reluctant to do so: only four candidates were pulled from the consent calendar and only 8 candidates were nominated, I participated in all but one of these actions.

Below is a list of the candidates on the consent calendar, and those who have been nominated and will be interviewed on the 17th.  Links are to their questionnaires, when they’ve submitted one.  The comments are my own.

On Consent Calendar (will receive the Democratic Endorsement)

ALAMEDA COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Hon. Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Malia Vella (pulled both, no second – Vella is an ACDCC associate member)
ALAMEDA AUDITOR  Mike McMahon (McMahon replied satisfactorily to my question as to why he was running against the Libertarian incumbent)
ALBANY COUNCILMEMBER (elect 3)  Hon. Peter Maass, Hon. Nick Pilch, Erik Giesen-Fields (challengers are registered as No Party Preference)
BERKELEY COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 2  Hon. Darryl Moore (pulled, no second)
BERKELEY COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 3  Ben Bartlett (pulled, no second)
BERKELEY RENT STAB. BD. COMM. (elect 4)  Hon. Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Christina Murphy, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Igor Tregub (did not send questionnaire for this race, Tregub is an ACDCC associate)
DUBLIN COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Mona Lisa Ballesteros, Melissa Hernandez-Strah (pulled both, no second)
EMERYVILLE COUNCILMEMBER (elect 3)  John Bauters, Ally Medina, Hon. Christian Patz (pulled Bauters & Medina and nominated John T. Van Geffen, no second)
FREMONT MAYOR  Hon. Bill Harrison (no Democratic opponent, Harrison is an ACDCC alternate member)
FREMONT COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Raj Salwan (nominated Cullen Tiernan, no second – Salwan is an ACDCC alternate member)
LIVERMORE COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Hon. Stewart Gary
NEWARK MAYOR  Hon. Alan L. Nagy (no opponent)
NEWARK COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Hon. Maria “Sucy” Collazo, Hon. Luis L. Freitas (no opponents)
OAKLAND CITY ATTORNEY  Hon. Barbara Parker (no opponent)
OAKLAND COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 7  Hon. Larry Reid (pulled, no second)
PIEDMONT COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Hon. Jonathan Levine, Hon. Robert McBain
SAN LEANDRO COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 6  Pete Ballew (pulled, no second)
UNION CITY MAYOR  Hon. Carol Dutra-Vernaci (pulled, no second)
CHABOT-LAS POSITAS CCD TRUSTEE AREA 7  Hon. William Macedo (no Democratic opponent)
ALAMEDA USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Gray Harris, Matt Hettich, Jennifer Williams (pulled Hettich & Williams, nominated Dennis Popalardo & Anne McKereghan, no second)
BERKELEY USD DIRECTOR (elect 2)  Hon. Beatriz Levya-Cutler, Hon. Judy Appel
CASTRO VALLEY USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Jo A. S. Loss (pulled & nominated Tojo Thomas, no second)
DUBLIN USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Amy Miller
DUBLIN USD DIRECTOR (short term)  Hon. Sameer Hakim
EMERY USD DIRECTOR (elect 2)  Barbara Inch, Cruz Vargas
FREMONT USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Ann Crosbie (Crosbie is an ACDCC associate member)
HAYWARD USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Annette Walker, Todd Davis (pulled Walker, no second)
NEW HAVEN USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Michael Ritchie, Sharan Kaur, Lance Nishihira (no Democratic opponents)
OAKLAND USD DIRECTOR DIST. 1  Hon. Jody London (pulled, no second)
PLEASANTON USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Valerie Arkin, Stephen Maher (drama about pulling Maher to be discussed later, Arkin is an ACDCC alternate member)
SAN LORENZO USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Penny Peck, Kyla Sinegal, Marilyn Stewart
A.C. TRANSIT DIRECTOR AT-LARGE  Hon. H. E. Christian Peeples
ALAMEDA COUNTY WATER DIST. DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Marty Koller, Aziz Akbari (did not send questionnaire)
BART DIRECTOR DIST. 7  Lateefah Simon
ORO LOMA SANITARY DIST. DIRECTOR (short term)  Hon. Rita Duncan (pulled & nominated Chike Udemezue, no second)
WASHINGTON TWP. HEALTH CARE DIST. DIR. (elect 2)  Hon. Pat Danielson, Chitra Ramanathan (did not send questionnaire, no Democratic opponents – Danielson is an ACDCC elected member)

NOMINATED (need 60% of vote to receive Democratic endorsement)

BERKELEY MAYOR  Hon. Jesse Arreguin, Hon. Laurie Capitelli (Arreguin is an ACDCC elected member, he has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders)
BERKELEY COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 5  Sophie Hahn, Stephen Murphy
BERKELEY COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 6  Hon. Susan Wengraf, Fred Dodsworth (I pulled Wengraf and nominated Dodsworth, was seconded by Pam Drake)
FREMONT COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Hon. Vinnie Bacon, Laurie Manuel (Bacon is an ACDCC elected member, not seeking Democratic endorsement)
OAKLAND COUNCILMEMBER AT-LARGE  Hon. Rebecca Kaplan, Margaret “Peggy” Moore, Bruce Quan (I nominated Bruce Quan, was seconded by Pam Drake)
OAKLAND COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 3  Hon. Lynette V. Gibson-McElhaney, Noni Session (I pulled Gibson-McElhaney and nominated Session, was seconded by Pam Drake)
OAKLAND COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 5  Hon. Noel Gallo, Viola Gonzalez
PLEASANTON MAYOR  Julie Testa (no Democratic opponent, I nominated Testa, was seconded by Jeff Nibert)
PERALTA CCD TRUSTEE AREA 6  Nick Resnick, Karen Weinstein (Weinstein is an ACDCC associate member)
ALBANY USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Kim Trutane (no Democratic opponents, I nominated Trutane, was seconded by Jesse Arreguin)
CASTRO VALLEY USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Monica Lee, Lavender Whitaker (both nominated by J. Smith/Trullinger)
FREMONT USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Michele Berke, Hon. Desrie Campbell, Dax Choksi
HAYWARD USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. John Taylor (pulled Taylor from consent, seconded by Corina Lopez and Rocky Fernandez; nominated David Goldstein, no second)
OAKLAND USD DIRECTOR DIST. 3  Benjamin Lang, Kharyshi Wiginton
OAKLAND USD DIRECTOR DIST. 5  Hon. Roseann Torres, Mike Hutchinson (I pulled Torres and nominated Hutchinson, was seconded by Diana Prola)
PLEASANTON USD DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Jamie Hintzke
BART DIRECTOR DIST. 3  Hon. Rebecca Saltzman (Saltzman is an ACDCC alternate member)
BART DIRECTOR DIST. 5  Hon. John McPartland, Jennifer Hosterman
CASTRO VALLEY SANITARY DIST. DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Daniel M. Akagi, Hon. Timothy McGowan, Hon. David Sadoff, John Maher (did not send questionnaire)
EAST BAY REG. PARK DIST. DIRECTOR WARD 2  Audrey V. Jones-Taylor, Dionisio “Dee” Rosario

I also nominated Hari Titan for Piedmont School Board, but was unable to find a second. No other candidates for this race were nominated or put on consent.