endorsements

Sep 302016
 
cullen

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.

cullenwar

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.

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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.

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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 182016
 

Update: Ramirez Holmes has contacted me to say that she had not endorsed Jerry Thorne.   That would mean that Jerry Thorne lied by listing her as an endorser.

Angela Ramirez Holmes, the Vice Chair for AD 16 of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee and a member of the Executive Committee, is listed as an endorser *of incumbent Pleasanton Mayoral candidate Jerry Thorne, a Republican.  Ramirez Holmes, who also serves in the Zone 7 Water District Board, owns Alliance Campaign Strategies, a campaign consultancy business, which represents developers and developer-backed candidates.

At the Democratic Party’s endorsement interviews which took place on Saturday, September 17th, Angela argued that the Democratic candidate for Mayor, Julie Testa, should not be given the Democratic endorsement because in the past she had endorsed Republican candidates for office.  Angela did not disclose that she had endorsed Thorne and was therefore backing a Republican against a Democratic candidate at that very moment.

At the same meeting Angela’s allies in the Committee also attacked ACDCC member and Fremont City Council member/candidate Vinnie Bacon for supporting Mayoral candidate Lily Mei, who is registered as no party preference, against Democratic candidate Bill Harrison. Bacon is running in a “clean money” platform, rejecting contributions from developers, as is Lily Mei.  Bill Harrison is also backed by housing developers.

Ramirez Holmes’ support of pro-developer candidates is not surprising, given that she is paid to lobby for developers’ interests.  However, Democratic party leaders are discouraged from openly embracing Republican candidates.

* After publication of this article, Ramirez Holmes’ name was removed from the list of Thorne’s endorsements. Link goes to the cached version.

Sep 102016
 
acdccendorsed

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. 1  Hon. Daniel Kalb
OAKLAND COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 7  Hon. Larry Reid (pulled, no second)
PIEDMONT COUNCILMEMBER (elect 2)  Hon. Jonathan Levine, Hon. Robert McBain
SAN LEANDRO COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 2  Bryan Azevedo
SAN LEANDRO COUNCILMEMBER DIST. 6  Pete Ballew (pulled, no second)
UNION CITY MAYOR  Hon. Carol Dutra-Vernaci (pulled, no second)
UNION CITY COUNCILMEMBER  Gary Singh
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)
OAKLAND USD DIRECTOR DIST. 7  Chris Jackson
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
A.C. TRANSIT DIRECTOR WARD 2  Hon. Greg Harper
ALAMEDA COUNTY WATER DIST. DIRECTOR (elect 3)  Hon. Marty Koller, Aziz Akbari (did not send questionnaire)
BART DIRECTOR DIST. 7  Lateefah Simon
EAST BAY REG. PARK DIST. DIRECTOR WARD 4  Ellen Corbett
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.

Sep 082016
 

Congresswoman Barbara Lee is not endorsing Oakland City Council At-Large candidate Peggy Moore.  And she wants to make sure everyone knows about that.

First, there was the e-mail sent to various Democratic mailing lists saying just that.  Then, there were the newspaper articles to that effect. And now, in case there was anyone left who didn’t know that Barbara Lee has not endorsed Peggy Moore, here is a press release wildly distributed to press and non-press.  So, in conclusion, Barbara Lee has not endorsed Peggy Moore.

leenonendorsement

Jan 242016
 

incumbentThe California Democratic Party has just become a little bit more undemocratic.  New rules quietly enacted by the Party give Democratic incumbents for state and federal office the automatic endorsement of the Party.   While in the past an incumbent would get the Party’s endorsement if he received just 70% of the votes at a pre-convention endorsement caucus or 50%+1 of the votes at the convention, incumbents will now be automatically endorsed unless 20% of all delegates from the district to file an objection.  This is harder than it sounds.  While delegates may punish a bad incumbent by voting for someone else, voting for no endorsement or not voting at all, filing an actual objection to the endorsement of someone who is already sitting in office, and who therefore enjoys a significant amount of political power, is not for the faint of heart.  It also means that in races where the incumbent doesn’t have a challenger to organize an objection signature drive, even unpopular incumbents will receive the party’s endorsement.

This year in Alameda county, all but one of the incumbents will be receiving the party’s automatic endorsement.  The exception is Congressman Mike Honda who is facing a tough re-election fight from former Obama administration official Ro Khanna.  Honda has been hurt by an ethics investigation and has lost the support of several prominent Democratic politicians.  Regardless of who wins the Party endorsement, it seems likely that Khanna will unseat Honda in the fall.

While it’s understandable that the Democratic party would want to solidify its support behind incumbents, a policy that benefits the establishment against what may be more popular challengers runs the risk of further damaging the party’s own standing before voters – and the weight of the party’s endorsement.   Indeed, while just two or three election cycles ago, the vast majority of candidates endorsed by the Alameda County Democratic party were elected, that number fell to about 50% in the 2014 election. Part of the reason, I believe, is that too many of the party’s endorsements are based on personal relations and politicking rather than on the personal qualifications and progressive ideology of the actual candidates.