endorsements

Nov 012014
 
Matt Morrison

Matt Morrison

This is a quick write-up of my recommendations for Pleasanton offices. The are based on my knowledge of the candidates

Matt Morrison is a Democrat. He is an environmentalist.  He stands against development in the Pleasanton area.  Developers don’t like him.  Developers, including James Tong and the Lim family, have an undue level of influence in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) , mostly through campaign manager and Executive Committee member Angela Ramirez-Holmes.   So, in one of those ironies of politics, Matt Morrison was unable to get the Democratic endorsement because he is too environmentally conscious, too anti-development, too anti-making a few people rich.

Those are exactly the reasons why I support him.  He is fighting the good fight against very wealthy, very powerful interests who are willing to sell out the people of Pleasanton for money.  He has no money, he is unlikely to win the race, but I can only hope that the citizens of Pleasanton, of all political inclinations, will vote for him.

Olivia Sanwong

Olivia Sanwong

Olivia Sanwong serves with me in the ACDCC.  She had no problems getting the Democratic endorsement, and she does deserve it.  She is intelligent, well educated, committed to Pleasanton, and will bring to the City the perspective of a young professional.

I’ve spoken with Olivia about civil liberties issues, and she is concerned about the overreached of surveillance technologies used against private citizens. As this becomes a larger issue, I think her perspective will be useful in the Council.

Mark Miller

Mark Miller

The Pleasanton School Board is in disarray.  Parents are not being heard, at least once, not even allowed to speak.  Changes are made without adequate consultation with the community.  District staff has been leaving in droves. Parents are not happy. A change is needed.

Mark Miller is a dad.  Two of his kids have graduated from Pleasanton schools. One is still in middle school.  He is a smart guy, an IT professional, with an extensive history of being involved with youth.  The Pleasanton School Board needs change, Miller has stepped up to the plate and has my endorsement.

Oct 312014
 

jill_broadhurst_mailer_1City Council candidates in Oakland and San Leandro try to usurp the Sierra Club endorsement

The Sierra Club is not happy.  In particular, the Northern Alameda County Group of the Sierra Club seems quite angry.  Political candidates are usurping its good name and in return weakening its political power.

It started with Oakland City Council District 4 candidate Jill Broadhurst.  Broadhurst, the Executive Director of the East Bay Rental Housing Association did not get the Sierra Club endorsement.  Indeed, it was her opponent, Annie Campbell Washington, who got it.  Campbell is a pro-environment progressive. Broadhurst is not.

Jill_Broadhurst_mailer_twoIf you look at political candidate mailers, you will probably notice that many of them depict the logos of the organizations that have endorsed such candidate.  Indeed, on one of her mailers Broadhurst included the logo for the Oakland Chamber of Commerce PAC above the caption “Proudly endorsed by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.” Right next to it, she placed the Sierra Club logo.  The caption, written in smaller print, reads “Proud supporting member of the Sierra Club.”  Another mailer contained the phrase “For Jill”  in large print next to the logo of the Sierra Club. Again, the caption saying that she is a member was written in very small print.  The intent is pretty clear: to suggest to voters that Broadhurst has been endorsed by the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club was not amused.  It sent Broadhurst a cease and desist letter, stating that Broadhurst’s use of their logo infringed the Club’s trademark and that it falsely implied that she had been endorsed by them.  It threatened to sue her.

Broadhurst said she wouldn’t do it again but, of course, the damage had already been done.

greenmailerbig

Deborah Cox, who is running for San Leandro City Council District 1, was more brazen.  Rather than use the Sierra Club logo on her own literature, she spent $1,000 to buy space in the “Californians Vote Green” slate mailer and outright claimed that she had been “[e]ndorsed by Sierra Club.”

The “Californians Vote Green” mailer is a commercial enterprise not associated to any environmental organizations.  However, it’s name and the fact that it lists candidates as endorsed by the Sierra Club, misleads voters into thinking it’s an actual Sierra Club endorsement list.  When Cox’s false claim came to the attention of the Sierra Club, it may have been the proverbial stroke that broke the camel’s back.

I don’t know if Cox got a letter from the Sierra Club admonishing her, but the Chair of the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County Group wrote a letter to the San Leandro Times clarifying that Pauline Cutter and Corina Lopez were the only endorsed candidates in San Leandro.  The Club can hope that voters who pay attention to slate mailers, also read the local newspaper. To make sure voters did get the message that Cox was not endorsed by the Sierra Club, the Club also sent out their own mailer with its logo and the heading “OFFICIAL VOTER GUIDE,” listing the candidates it actually endorsed.

This is an important matter for the Sierra Club.  It wants to make sure that its name is not associated with politicians that push anti-environmental policies, as this would tarnish their own reputation with the community.  But it also wants to reward with its endorsement candidates that commit to support sound environmental practice , thus encouraging more candidates to make such commitments.

The Sierra Club can only hope that Broadhust’s and Cox’s actions will not encourage candidates in future races to also rip off its name.  How successful Broadhurst and Cox are in the election, may very well determine how likely that is.

Oct 122014
 
Evelyn Gonzalez

Evelyn Gonzalez

The San Leandro School Board has two seats open this November.  The election is by plurality vote – whoever gets the most votes wins, even if they get under 50% of the total vote -, and all registered voters who live within the boundaries of the San Leandro School District can vote in both races.

The race for Area 4 is between three parents: Latrina Dumas, Chike Udemezue and Leo Sheridan.  Parents Evelyn Gonzalez and Monique Taste, retired New Haven teacher Jean Kinkella, and  Peter Oshinski, who runs Hayward Unified’s school lunch program, are contesting for the At-Large seat.

Among these candidates, Latrina Dumas and Evelyn Gonzalez are the clear choice: they have the most experience with our schools, a far better understanding of the challenges facing the School district and have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to improve not just specific schools, but the district as a whole.

There are great similarities between Dumas and Gonzalez and, indeed, they have worked together over the years.  They both have children that have made their way through San Leandro public schools from elementary onwards (Duma’s youngest daughter is in 5th grade).  They both have been extremely involved in their kids’ schools as class parents, PTA presidents, Site Council members and more.  They’ve even helped other schools with fundraising and other issues – when McKinley Elementary needed to get a computer lab, it was Gonzalez who lined up the donors and made the lab a reality.

As parents of a special needs child, they’ve both experienced the disfunctions of the special education department at the school district.  They understand how it needs to be reformed to serve what is a growing population.  And as parents of children of color, they’ve seen the challenges that minority children face in schools that have a mostly white faculty.

Serving in the School Board requires more than just knowing how a school works. You need to understand budgets, funding sources, state policies and the competing interests of different stakeholders.  Dumas and Gonzalez, alone among the candidates, have been attending School Board meetings for a decade, reading the materials, engaging with Board members and administrators, helping craft policy and advocating on specific issues.  If they are elected, they’ll be able to hit the ground running, rather than spend years trying to get up to speed.

Neither Gonzalez nor Dumas are very political, but they are both personally committed to social justice.  They both volunteer with different organizations helping those in need, and they stand up for the rights of the marginalized.  Finally, they are both caring and non-judgmental people.  They see the potential in children, what they can do, rather than what they can’t.  They believe in instilling personal responsibility, but also offering support to kids that are struggling.  They will bring a sense of humanity and compassion into the School Board that is, frankly, missing.

I know less about the other candidates, in part because they haven’t been as involved in the school district.  Udemezue, Sheridan and Tate are active parents in their children’s schools, but they’ve shown little interest in reaching out to the community as a whole and no desire to learn the actual mechanics of the district and the issues it faces.   I don’t think Kinkella and Oshinski have had any relationship with the schools or the district.  In any case, given the vast experience, knowledge and commitment that Gonzalez and Dumas have demonstrated, they are the obvious choice for School Board.

More info on Latrina Dumas: Smart Voter

More info on Evelyn Gonzalez: Voter’s Questionnaire, Candidate Statement, Smart Voter, Website, Facebook 

More info on Chike Udemezue: Smart Voter, Website

More info on Leo Sheridan: Candidate Statement, Smart VoterWebsite, Facebook, Twitter: @voteleosheridan

More info on Peter Oshinski: Candidate Statement, Smart VoterFacebook

More info on Monique Tate: Smart VoterWebsite,

More info on Jean Kinkella: Smart VoterWebsite,

Oct 102014
 
Mike Katz-Lacabe

Mike Katz-Lacabe

The race for City Council District 1 features four very different candidates with very diverse backgrounds.  Mike Katz-Lacabe, my husband, is an IT security professional, a twice elected member of the School Board and a human rights & privacy rights activist.   David Anderson is a retired sheet metal worker who moved to San Leandro a few years ago.  Ken Pon is a self-employed accountant, very active in the Downtown Business Association and other civic organizations.  Deborah Cox is a home maker and prodigious fundraiser, who has chaired several community organizations, mostly related to education.  They will be elected through ranked choice voting, which allows voter to rank up to three candidates in their order of preference.   In San Leandro, all voters are able to vote for all City Council and School Board seats.

My recommendations for this race are:

First Choice: Mike Katz-Lacabe
Second Choice: Ken Pon
Third Choice: David Anderson

FIRST CHOICE: MIKE KATZ-LACABE

It won’t surprise anyone that my first choice for this district is my husband, Mike Katz-Lacabe.  I could claim to be unbiased, but I can’t possibly be so.  I know him much more than any of the other candidates and I married the man, in part, because I appreciate his qualities.   Many of those qualities, though not all, will make him be a great city council member.  The best I can do for my readers  is to be as candid as possible about both his strengths and faults and let the voters decide.

Mike’s greatest strength on this race is that he’s the only candidate who knows what’s going on at City Hall.  Not only has he either attended or listened to every City Council meeting for the last four years, but he actually reads the background materials and does his own research.  That’s how he discovered that, unbeknownst to the City Council, the surveillance cameras they voted to approve would have hidden microphones.  He found out the San Leandro Police  Department would be getting an armored personnel carrier by looking through the minutes of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.  Simply said, there is nobody in San Leandro who knows more about what’s going on in town and who is most committed to finding out what’s left hidden.

Indeed, though Mike is an unapologetic liberal, it was his knowledge and understanding of the City’s financial situation which got him the endorsement of the Oakland Tribune.  “A school board trustee, Katz-Lacabe stood out for his comprehension of the debt the city faces.”

Mike is also uncommonly intelligent and competent.  While it’s the former that I cherish most as his wife, it’s the latter which made him succeed both in the School Board and in his career.  When push comes to shove, you want people in power who can both understand the big picture and come up with solutions to short and long term problems.  The flipside is that when you are competent, people come to rely on you and you end up being pulled in too many directions.

One of the qualities that drew me most to Mike was his intrinsic morality.  He knows right from wrong, and he strives to do the former.  This is a very rare quality in a human being, much less in a politician.  He is committed to human rights, social justice and to make people’s lives better.  If he wasn’t an atheist, he’d be a great Christian.

Finally, Mike’s social skills have served him very well in the School Board and I think they will continue to do so in the City Council.  Unlike me, Mike doesn’t make many enemies.  He treats everyone with respect and receives it in turn.  He believes in the need for collaboration and therefore he doesn’t burn bridges.

I am concerned, however, about Mike’s effectiveness as a legislator.  In the School Board, he was  unable to pass progressive policies such as banning the teaching of overtly religious songs to elementary school children, de-emphasizing standardized testing and passing a district-wide research-based homework policy.

In my opinion Mike’s greatest flaw as a Board member has been his unwillingness or inability to hold the Superintendent and staff accountable for significant gaffes.  For example, when then Superintendent Cindy Cathey attended a City Council meeting to speak against marijuana dispensaries, he did not publicly call her out on this.  Cathey did it at the request of the Chief of Police and without informing the Board, which constitutes an abuse of power that merited a censure.  I can only hope Mike will take a stronger attitude towards the City Manager, if he blindsides the Council in a similar manner.

More on Mike Katz-Lacabe: Candidate questionnaire, candidate statement, Smart Voter, Facebook, comments at Council meetings, news articles quoting Mike, SL Times’ candidate profile, tweeter: @slbytes

SECOND CHOICE: KEN PON

Ken Pon is not a particularly strong candidate.  Though he is an accountant, he has demonstrated a lack of knowledge about the City’s finances.  He has not been attending City Council meetings and his knowledge of what’s going on in the City seems sketchy. He would not answer the Nextdoor/SLT candidate questionnaire.  On the plus side, Ken Pon does have legislative experience – he served two terms in the School Board – and while he lost re-election after a financial scandal, he at least understands how a body of this type works.  City Council member Ursula Reed, who had neither held elected office nor attended Council meetings before being elected, famously said that it took her a whole term to learn the job.  Pon is likely to need less time.   Pon also seems less likely to be a pawn for the City Manager/Police Chief.  He is not blindly supporting measure HH and he is not as beholden to the police union as his opponents.

More on Kenneth Pon: Candidate Statement, Smart Voter, Website, Facebook page, APA Questionnaire, SL Times’ candidate profile

THIRD CHOICE: DAVID ANDERSON

I have decided to recommend David Anderson as my third choice vote after the last candidate forum, where the differences between Anderson and Deborah Cox became clear.  While they are both conservative and pro-law enforcement, Anderson is committed on hearing what the community has to say, while Cox is mostly interested in doing what the Police tells her.  When asked how they’d vote on the City acquiring an armored personnel carrier,  Anderson said he was personally against it but would hold community fora to hear what the citizens had to say. Cox was only interested in talking to the police about it.

David Anderson and Deborah Cox would both, however,  make terrible additions to the City Council.   Neither of them has been able to articulate any specific policy or plan they would pursue if elected, neither seems to have even the most basic understanding of how the City Council and City Hall work, neither attends City Council meetings, and Cox’ only policy contributions have been to advocate against medical marijuana dispensaries (a position she abandoned when she sought the Democratic Party’s endorsement) and for the closed sale of the city-owned former downtown Albertson’s property to developer David Irmer, one of her campaign contributors.  Moreover, neither was willing/able to return the SLT/Nextdoor candidate questionnaire and at the candidate fora both candidates said nothing but platitudes, and not particularly well articulated ones. Moreover, they are both supported by the Benny Lee camp. Anderson features several photos of himself with Benny Lee on his fliers while Lee’s close associates are advocating for Cox.

More on Deborah Cox: Candidate Statement, Smart Voter, Website, Facebook page, APA Questionnaire, SL Times’ candidate profile

More on David Anderson: Candidate Statement,  Smart VoterAPA Questionnaire, SL Times’ candidate profile

Oct 062014
 
Mia Ousley

Mia Ousley

The race for San Leandro City Council District 5 features three middle-age women with a lot of enthusiasm for the community and city politics.  Mia Ousley, the co-founder of the Coalition to Save San Leandro Hospital, will be facing San Leandro School Board trustee Corina Lopez and Durant Avenue Task Force co-leader Leah Hall. They will be elected through ranked choice voting.  In San Leandro, all voters are able to vote for all City Council and School Board seats.

These are my recommendations for Council District 5:

First Choice: Mia Ousley
Second Choice: Corina Lopez
Third Choice: Leah Hall

Mia Ousley is such a great City Council candidate that I would endorse her and voter for her first, even if she wasn’t my friend.  I have known her for many years now and we became friends after she joined the San Leandro Community Action Network (SLCAN), a local organization of progressive activists trying to make San Leandro a more equitable city.  Mia spearheaded SLCAN’s efforts to keep San Leandro Hospital’s emergency room open, and went on to co-found the Coalition to Save San Leandro Hospital.  While the feeling back then was that there was little we could do to keep the hospital open, Mia understood that you can’t win if you don’t fight.  Her organizing and lobbying efforts were finally successful and she’s dedicated to make sure that the emergency room stays open and saving lives.

I have yet to see either of Mia’s opponent show up for a City Council meeting, much less speak out at one.  Mia, however, regularly attends meetings and is therefore up to date about how the Council functions and what issues it’s dealing with.  She also makes her positions known, with well crafted an intelligent arguments on issues as diverse as medical marijuana dispensaries, red light cameras,  the housing plan, the oversight of surveillance data and the armored vehicle the SLPD wants to get.  Mia also helped spearhead the urban farming ordinance which was finally passed last year.  She walks her talk, and she is not afraid to make her views known.

In addition to having solid progressive values, Mia has the intelligence and education to make her succeed as a Council member.  She has a BA in Economics and works as a financial analyst.  She can read and understand budgets and contribute to create a long-term strategy to assure the city’s financial stability.  She is a researcher by nature, and already makes it a point to both read background materials on issues before the City Council, and research them on her own.  She listens and pays attention, and is responsive to the community.  As a leader in the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association and the editor of its newsletter, she has often acted a liaison between the community and the authorities.

Mia and her family have made San Leandro their home for the last 17 years and they’re here to stay.  Mia’s youngest daughter attends Roosevelt Elementary, while her oldest son bought a house in San Leandro after he married.

There is one specific quality about Mia that may not belong in an endorsement for an office, but that I want to acknowledge.  She is what we call in Spanish a pan de Dios, perhaps best translated as “the salt of the earth”.  She is not Christian, and yet she is the most Christian person I know.  She buys food for the hungry, gives clothing to the poor and, yes, visits young people in prison to offer them support.  She takes in homeless young people into her home, giving them a place to live and helping them find jobs so they can straighten up their lives.  If you ever need a favor, Mia will not say no.  She is kindness personified.

More on Mia Ousley: Nextdoor/SLT questionnaire, Candidate Statement, Smart Voter, Website, FB page, twitter @Mia4Council

Corina Lopez is my second choice because she is intelligent and often has the right principles.   She is currently on the San Leandro School Board, after running unopposed in 2012, so she just some experience in a legislative body.  Corina also serves in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee with me and I consider her a friend.  However, since getting the Police Union’s endorsement, Corina has been toeing the police line and she is likely to be a rubber stamp vote for the Police Chief.  At the last candidate forum, Corina objected to calling the Bearcat armored personnel carrier that the SLPD wants to acquire an “armored personnel carrier” and she said she’d vote in favor of acquiring it based alone on what the City Manager told her. Corina did not return the candidate questionnaire, which might suggest that she did not want to commit herself to any particular policy.  I’m recommending her for a second choice vote, however, because she is at least sane.

 More on Corina Lopez: Candidate Statement, Website

I’m placing Leah Hall as my third choice, only because there are three candidates.  If there were more, I wouldn’t even list her.   I have known Leah for four years, I have had many interactions with her, and I find her to be very difficult to communicate with, much less work with.  Her views seem to be random, and they do not follow any ideological principles as far as I can tell.  For example, she supports the legalization of marijuana but is against medical marijuana dispensaries.  She is very insular in her concerns, and she is extremely passive aggressive in the way she communicates with people.  I think it’d be a disaster to have her in the City Council, though it might be perversely fun to watch.  Leah did not return the candidate questionnaire.

More on Leah Hall: Candidate Statement, Website, Facebook page