endorsements

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

Oct 012014
 

I have already written about my endorsement of Dan Siegel for Mayor of Oakland.

I am making no endorsements in the Oakland City Council District 2 race. I was a strong supporter of Abel Guillen when he ran for State Assembly, and I still have a lot of respect for him. However, I am very concerned that he put political considerations before principle and did not speak out against the Domain Awareness Center. For that reason, I cannot endorse him.

I had a long and very productive conversation with Dana King. I found her to be an intelligent, prepared, caring woman who is running for City Council for all the right reasons. Friends who have dealt with her in her non-profit work hold a lot of respect for both her commitment to social justice and her ability to get stuff done. I think she will be a breath of fresh air in a very political and dysfunctional City Council, and I think her research skills and commitment for the truth will serve Oaklanders well. I am not endorsing her, however, because as I didn’t ask her to speak out against the DAC, I cannot be sure what her response would have been. Therefore I’m just staying out of this race.

Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell

City Council District 4: Annie Campbell Washington

Endorsing Annie Campbell Washington for Oakland City Council District 4 is a no brainer.  She is smart, competent, a good listener, friendly and has a good sense of humor.  She exudes humanity and lacks that airs of superiority so many politicians seem to have developed.  I’m confident that if she’s elected, she will listen to all her constituents, find the validity in all voices and weigh different interests to come up with a policy that makes sense for the community.

Politically, Campbell Washington is your typical Oakland progressive.  Her concerns include transit oriented development, developing a better system of bike lanes, supporting small businesses and trying to bring functionality to a deeply divided council.  She is also deeply committed to education and having the City support schools and working together.  She’s currently in the School Board and has two children who go to Oakland schools.

While I don’t believe we will always coincide, I can respect Campbell Washington’s thought process. Basically, she’s the sort of person whom I wish would run for Council here in San Leandro.

Her opponent is Jill Broadhurst,  the Executive Director of the East Bay Rental Housing Association, an organization that works against the rights of tenants. One of their major accomplishments is stopping legislation that would have made landlords pay interest on security deposits they hold for years/decades.

Desley Brooks

Desley Brooks

City Council District 6: Desley Brooks

I will be the first to admit that I have not followed the Oakland City Council’s doing that closely. Brooks has been in office for many years, and I don’t have a clear picture of all her decisions.  However, I did watch all the hearings that related to the Domain Awareness Center – a facility that would integrate mass surveillance throughout Oakland –, and I was very impressed with how Brooks performed in the final hearing.

She was prepared, she understood the issues, it was clear that she had spoken with the ACLU and other stakeholders and understood their concerns; she did not let staff, who had been less than candid with the Council about this project, get away with half-truths and misrepresentations and finally she advocated an intelligent compromise.  I was very impressed.

Brooks has definitely made enemies, but as far as I can see this is based on the fact that she has a strong personality, she stands up for what she believes and the people she represents and she doesn’t back down.  That’s exactly the type of leaders that I want to see elected.  And it’s also exactly the type of criticism that is freely given to strong women, in particular strong women of color, by those who are uncomfortable when they rock the boat.

I reached out to most candidates for Oakland City Council and invited them to meet/speak with me and/or respond to a candidate questionnaire.  I only endorse candidates who are strong liberals, are committed to accountability, transparency and fact-based legislating and who are intelligent, competent and knowledgeable.  

Other Oakland Endorsements: Dan Siegel for Mayor and Tony Thurmond for Assembly.

See Marga’s 2014 Voter Guide for recommendations on propositions and other local endorsements.

Oct 012014
 
Trish Spencer

Trish Spencer

Mayor: Trish Spencer

I met Trish when she ran for re-election to the Alameda School Board.  At the time, I spoke with her at length about her ideas on education and social justice, community building and political philosophy.  I even watched several Alameda School Board meetings to see her in action.  I was incredibly impressed.  Trish, a lawyer by training, is a careful thinker.  She has an analytical mind, is able to see the consequences of policies much more broadly than her colleagues, and is firmly committed to everyone in her community.  In addition, she is committed to civil liberties and the environment.  She is by far the most progressive candidate in this election – the incumbent Mayor has been pushing for the militarization of the Alameda Police Department -, but also the most competent one. I urge Alamedans to vote for Trish.

Jim OddieCity Council: Jim Oddie

I have served with Jim Oddie in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee for four years.  I think Jim is intelligent, caring, personally and profoundly committed to social justice, equality and education.  He is the dad of two beautiful young women and has lived in Alameda for many years.  While his relationship with Assemblymember Rob Bonta is a bit problematic – he is Bonta’s Chief of Staff and will have to recuse himself from voting on some matters -, he is still the best candidate of the three running.  That may not be saying much, when one of them, Stewart Chen, is an unapologetic insurance scammer and promoter of the genocidal Chinese government, but Jim Oddie would be a good choice even in a field of stellar candidates.

Though there are two open-seats in the Alameda City Council, I’d recommend that voters only vote for Jim Oddie.  Both of his opponents supported the raising of the Chinese flag.  A single vote for Oddie would increase his chances of being elected.

I reached out to all candidates for Alameda Mayor and City Council and invited them to meet/speak with me and/or respond to a candidate questionnaire.  I only endorse candidates who are strong liberals, are committed to accountability, transparency and fact-based legislating and who are intelligent, competent and knowledgeable.  

See Marga’s 2014 Voter Guide for recommendations on propositions and other local endorsements.

Oct 012014
 

This election season the quality of candidates for Oakland School Board is so high, that there is a lot of room for hope that things in the school district will turn around.  We could only wish that we had such great people in the San Leandro School Board.

Aimee Eng

Aimee Eng

DISTRICT 2: AIMEE ENG

Aimee Eng is a very impressive candidate.  She has an M.A. in education from Stanford and works for a foundation that gives grants to educational projects in the Bay Area.  I had a very long conversation with her, and later heard from her at the Democratic party endorsement interview, and it’s clear that this is a woman who knows education, understands the needs of children, in particular those from under-privileged backgrounds, and who understands Oakland.  Her knowledge of educational policy is much more complex than mine, but I was impressed she had to say and her views very much matched mine vis a vis respecting the whole child as a basis for educating her.

Karl Debro

Karl Debro

DISTRICT 4: KARL DEBRO

Karl Debro is a pretty much all you want in a School Board candidate.  A Philosophy major at UC Berkeley, he went on to teach English at Bancrot Middle School and San Leandro High School for 20 years. He later earned a Masters and a Doctorate in Education and currently directs a program that allows high school dropouts to earn their HS degrees while taking college classes.

But it’s Karl Debro’s courage and willingness to stand up for what’s right that makes me confident he will be an amazing School Board member.  At San Leandro High, Debro co-founded the straight-gay alliance in the late 90’s.  When a lesbian student couple experienced harassment at the school, he and other teachers conducted class discussions on discrimination and harassment against LGBT students. Homophobic parents complained, and Debro, the only African American among the teachers that had engaged in those class discussions, was disciplined.  Rather than accept it meekly, Debro sued the district on free speech and racial discrimination grounds.  He ended up winning and as the result of his lawsuit, the San Leandro school district implemented an anti-bullying program that has been very effective in creating an attitude of inclusiveness and non-discrimination among district students.

I think that Debro’s commitment to issues of equality and social justice, coupled with his educational achievements and extensive classroom experience, will make him an ideal School Board member.  I fully endorse him.

Shanthi Gonzales

Shanthi Gonzales

DISTRICT 6: SHANTHI GONZALES

I had a long conversation with Shanthi Gonzales, and her knowledge of educational policy and the needs of children, in particular children of color in the Oakland school district, is incredibly vast. I was surprised to learn, when I looked at her biography, that she is not an education professional.  Instead, she’s a social justice activist and lawyer.   Her heart is definitely in the right place, but so is her mind.   She is intelligent, definitely knowledgeable, has a no-nonsense approach to public policy and would undoubtedly increase the professionalism on the board.

I reached out to all candidates for Oakland School Board and invited them to meet/speak with me and/or respond to a candidate questionnaire. I only endorse candidates who are strong liberals, are committed to accountability, transparency and fact-based legislating and who are intelligent, competent and knowledgeable.

Here are my endorsements for: Oakland Mayor, Oakland City Council, Assembly District 15.

See Marga’s 2014 Voter Guide for recommendations on propositions and other local endorsements.

Oct 012014
 

davidbonnacorsiDavid Bonaccorsi is, to put it simply, the most progressive candidate running for City Council in Fremont this year. A lawyer, he understands the importance of due process, presumption of innocence and the need to preserve constitutional rights; concepts that often escape his will-be-colleagues.  He also understands the need for fact-based policy making and for the use of common sense in making policy.  For example, as a member of the planning commission he voted against banning medical marijuana patients from growing cannabis plants in their backyards. Fremont does not have a medical marijuana dispensary and the alternative of growing marijuana inside a home can be dangerous because of the electricity and humidity needs for such endeavor.   The Council, however, decided to address complaints about cannabis plants getting too tall not by imposing a height limit on such plants, but by banning them altogether.

Competence and common sense, coupled with the willingness to do your own research and stand up on your own two feet, are among the most important qualities for a Council member.  It’s for these reasons that I endorse David Bonaccorsi for Fremont City Council.

Raj Salwan

Raj Salwan

I have known Raj Salwan for several years, since he has been an alternate in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. He is truly one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is pleasant, caring, polite, and completely and absolutely non-conniving. In other words, he is the antithesis of a politician. What he’s doing in politics, I will never know.

But it’s exactly these human qualities that make Raj, who is running as an appointed incumbent, such a pleasure to endorse for the Fremont City Council.  He brings a degree of humanity, of conviviality – in the literal sense of the word – and of calmness, that I think is needed in every legislative body.  Raj listens and he gets down to the basics, how will this affect the community?

I neglected to include him when I first posted by Fremont endorsement because for me he’s such an obvious choice, that I saw it as a given that he’d get elected. I hope he will.

I reached out to all candidates for City Council in Fremont and invited them to meet/speak with me and/or respond to a candidate questionnaire.  I only endorse candidates who are strong liberals, are committed to accountability, transparency and fact-based legislating and who are intelligent, competent and knowledgeable.  

See also Dax Choksi: Common Sense Choice for Fremont School Board

See Marga’s 2014 Voter Guide for recommendations on propositions and other local endorsements.