List of Candidates I’ve Pulled and Nominated for the Alameda Democratic party endorsement
(Updated with Results)
As a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, I have the privilege of voting for the party’s endorsement in local, non-partisan races. All registered Democrats running for office in Alameda county are eligible for the party endorsement. Those who apply are interviewed by the Executive Committee, which can put candidates in the consent calendar. Two members acting together can pull a candidate from the consent calendar and/or nominate a candidate for the endorsement. All candidates nominated and pulled are then interviewed by the whole Committee (or whichever members show up to the endorsement meeting). All members then vote on which candidate they want to get the endorsement. The endorsement meeting for 2014 will be on Saturday, Sept. 13th.
The Committee has 49 members who are eligible to vote, including 16 ex-officio members. These are Democrats who either represent a part of Alameda county in Congress or the Legislature, owho hold statewide office and live in Alameda county, or who serve as regional directors for the party and represent parts of Alameda county.
To get the endorsement a candidate needs to get 60% of the cast votes. Not all members vote, and most members don’t vote in most races. So while my single vote may seem paltry, in some races it can really make a difference.
I take the whole nominating and voting process very seriously. I was elected to the ACDCC by the people, and I feel I’m accountable to them. Moreover, I believe that every right, and in particular those rights that are not universal, carries with it the responsibility of exercising it conscientiously.
For this reason, I make a solid effort to learn about all the Democratic candidates for office in Alameda county and nominate those whom I think hold the liberal principles I want the Democratic party to stand for. As nominating a candidate often necessitates pulling others, I also pull perfectly acceptable candidates.
Now, this screening of candidates should be the job of the Executive Committee. Unfortunately, the decisions of the Executive Committee are not always based on who is the best candidate. Politics, petty rivalries and even profit (some members of the Executive Committee are paid campaign consultants/treasurers for candidates up for the endorsement) come into play. So I feel it’s my responsibility to look at all candidates independently.
To judge which candidates I want to nominate and/or pull, I look at candidates’ websites, search for news about them and, in the case of Mayor/Council and School Board candidates, I send them a questionnaire. I meet and speak on the phone with any candidate that is interested in doing so. I won’t necessarily vote for the candidates that I nominate, in some cases where all candidates are equally good or bad I may vote “no endorsement”, but in all cases I think they are good Democrats that deserve to appear before the whole Committee. That said, there are many Committee members who would be happier if they had to listen to fewer candidates, either because they trust the Executive Committee, they don’t believe they should vote in races outside their district, or vote for a candidate for reasons other than merit.
For this election, I pulled 9 candidates in 5 races, nominated 10 and would have pulled/nominated a number of others if I could have found someone to seconded me.
Candidates that I pulled and nominated
Berkeley City Council District 1: Pulled Linda Maio, nominated Alejandro Soto-Vigil
Reason: Alejandro’s political views and social justice values are very aligned with mine. He is smart, committed and I think he has the passion to become a progressive leader at a time when we are in desperate need of them. I had a great conversation with him. I was unable to find a non-city address for incumbent Linda Maio. Result: Linda Maio got the endorsement. She won re-election
Reason: I met with Lori and was extremely impressed with her. I pulled her, however, because Angela Ramirez-Holmes is her campaign manager. That made me doubt the integrity of Lori’s placement in the consent calendar. Lori had been unaware of Angela’s influence in the Committee and had the integrity to agree to being pulled. I nominated Jacquelyn and George because both of them responded to the questionnaire I sent and their political views also seem to reflect mine. Result: Lori Droste got the endorsement. She won the election.
Reason: A father of kids who attend BUSD, Alper has an impressive resume as a social justice lawyer and now director of the death penalty clinic at Boalt. He has been endorsed by liberal hero Robert Reich. I think that he deserves a chance to make his case. To nominate him I had to pull at least one person from consent, and it seemed most fair to pull them all. Result: the incumbents got the endorsement. Ty Alper was elected to the School Board, along with incumbents Daniels and Hemphill.
Oakland City Council District 6: nominated Desley Brooks
Reason: There were no candidates on consent for this race. Brooks was the main voice at the Oakland City Council advocating that the Domain Awareness Center – a facility that would integrate mass surveillance throughout Oakland – be restricted to operating in the Port of Oakland. She took the comments from the ACLU seriously. Without her incisive questioning of staff, I think the vote would have been different and the DAC would include all of Oakland. Result: no endorsement was made on this race. Brooks won re-election.
Oakland School Board District 2: nominated Aimee Eng
Reason: Neither candidate had been nominated for the endorsement. Eng responded to me when I reached out to her with my questionnaire, while her opponent didn’t. I’d like to hear her make a case for the endorsement. Result: Eng got the endorsement and won the election.
Oakland School Board District 4: nominated Karl Debro
Reason: Debro was a teacher at San Leandro High and co-founded a gay-straight alliance on campus. When a lesbian student couple was harassed, Debro and other teachers spoke about it to their classes. While the white teachers weren’t disciplined for this, Debro, an African American, was. He sued the district, settled for $1M, and as a result of his suit the district implemented a pretty successful pro-diversity/anti-bullying curriculum. I respect his experience and his stands. Result: Debro got the endorsement. Debro lost the election.
Pleasanton Mayor: nominated Matt Morrison
Reason: I was impressed with Matt Morrison when we interviewed him last June, and I was also impressed by his answers to my questionnaire. He is the only Democrat running in that race against a Republican incumbent. Result: no endorsement was made on this race. Morrison lost the election.
Reason: Miller reached out to me. I was impressed by his qualifications, platform and commitment to transparency. This contrasts with Jeff Bowser whom, as Board president, prevented parents to speak at a School Board meeting, in violation of the Brown act. I don’t know Laursen well, but it seemed fair to pull both of them. Result: the incumbents got the endorsement. Miller won the election along with Laursen.
San Leandro City Council District 1: pulled Deborah Cox
Reason: Deborah Cox, who is running against my husband Mike Katz-Lacabe, does not hold the progressive values that the Democratic party should spouse (e.g. she is a vocal opponent of marijuana dispensaries). Cox is represented by Ramirez-Holmes and her candidacy has been pushed forward by ACDCC chair Robin Torello Result: no endorsement was made on this race. Cox won the election.
San Lorenzo School Board: nominated Steve Kirk
Reason: This district includes part of San Leandro. There are two spots on this race and only one candidate, Janet Zamudio, was put on consent. Kirk and Zamudio are running together. They have both received the endorsement of the teacher’s union. The current incumbents have been there for many years and do not reflect the diversity of the district. If elected, Kirk will be the first openly LGBT official in San Leandro. Result: Kirk got the endorsement. Kirk lost the election.
Reason: I looked at this race after a colleague suggested it. The Democratic party has a tendency to endorse incumbents automatically which concerns me. Ralston has been in office for 16 years now and I think it’s important for him to explain what he has to give the district that he hasn’t already given, and for the challenger to make a case as to what he wants to do differently. That said, this is the only race for which I didn’t actually reach out to the candidates. Result: Riley got the endorsement and was re-elected.
Wanted to pull / nominate but couldn’t find a second
Alameda City Council: pull Stewart Chen.
Reason: Chen has shown a great insensitivity towards victims of human rights violations in China and Tibet by advocating the flying of the flag of the People’s Republic of Chinaat City Hall. In addition, Chen’s unwillingness to own up to the insurance fraud charges to which he plead guilty years ago and his advocating in favor of California Waste Solutions in front of the Alameda City Council call into question his integrity. He also didn’t respond to my questionnaire. Stewart lost re-election.
Albany School Board: nominate Charles Blanchard
Blanchard responded to my questionnaire and I very much liked his answers. I also researched him and he seems to have been very much liked when he was in the School Board before. He had not been previously interviewed by the screening committee, as he had not seen the invitation to apply for the nomination. No other candidate has been nominated in this race. Blanchard was elected.
Reason: I spoke at length with Theodore and she impressed me. She has young children in the district and thus has an inside view to what is working and what is not. The Castro Valley School Board messed up big time last year when they tried to move a preschool into the grounds of an existing school, eliminating needed open space. They did this without appropriate communication and buy-in from parents. Theodore was recruited from the group of parents who organized to oppose it. In our conversation, Theodore showed herself to be intelligent, concerned about issues of social inclusion and diversity, and aware of how the schools are working. In order to nominate her, however, I would have to pull at least one incumbent. I was able to get a second to nominate Theodore but not to pull the incumbents. Dorothy Theodore was elected.
San Leandro School Board Area 4: nominate Latrina Dumas
Reason: This race is for the School Board seat my husband will be vacating. I would have let this race go, but someone else nominated Latrina’s opponent, Leo Sheridan. Sheridan doesn’t have a platform to speak of, doesn’t understand how the district works, did not reach out to Mike – the current officeholder – and would not meet with me to speak about his candidacy. I was predisposed to dislike Latrina because she ran against Mike in 2010 and because during the period where the School Board was considering firing Chris Lim, Latrina spoke out often and in very harsh terms to School Board members. However, I met with her and found her to be intelligent, very committed to education, a fighter, and someone who respects and cherishes each child for what they have to offer. All in all she is a very positive person, but also one that spouses very progressive values. I think she’d be a good addition to the School Board. Dumas ended up not campaigning and Sheridan won the election.
Would have pulled / nominated if someone else asked me to:
Reason: My main issue with Gilmore is that she has not shown much interest in curtailing the militarization of police in Alameda (e.g. she voted in favor of having the police department acquire an armored vehicle). I spoke at length with Spencer when she was up for the Democratic endorsement in her race for School Board and again now, and her commitment to both social justice and civil liberties matches mine. Spencer was elected Mayor.
Oakland School Board Dist. 4: nominate Nina Senn
Reason: This was a race in which no candidate had been nominated. Senn reached out to me after I contacted her, and I would have seconded her nomination if another member who knew her well had asked me to. However, she is running against Karl Debro, so I won’t be voting for her. Senn won the election.
Candidates on Consent
These are the candidates who remained in the consent calendar and who will automatically receive the Democratic endorsement on Saturday:
- Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent (won)
- Mary Gilmore, Alameda Mayor (lost)
- Jim Oddie and Stewart Chen, Alameda City Council (won)
- Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley City Council Dist 4* (won)
- Ann-Marie Hoggan, Berkeley Auditor* (won)
- James Chang and Paola Laverde-Levand, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board* (both won)
- Kasie Hidenbrand, Dublin Mayor* (lost)
- Don Biddle, Abe Gupta, Dublin City Council* (both won)
- Scott Donahue, Diane Martinez, Emeryville City Council (both won)
- Raj Salwan, Fremont City Council (lost)
- John Marchand, Livermore Mayor* (won)
- Alan Nagy, Newark Mayor (won)
- Mike Bucci and Francisco Preciado, Newark City Council (won and lost)
- Olivia Sanwong, Pleasanton City Council* (lost)
- Victor Aguilar, San Leandro City Council District 3 (lost)
- Corina Lopez, San Leandro City Council District 5 (won)
- Emily Duncan, Pat Gacoscos and Kashmir Singh Shahi, Union City City Council* (won, won and lost)
- Isabel Dvorsky, Chabot/Las Positas Community College District* (won)
- Vivien Larsen, Ohlone CCD Area 1 (not on ballot)
- Janet Giovannini-Hill, Ohlone CCD Area 2
- Ishan Shah, Ohlone CCD Area 2 short term, *(not on ballot)
- Linda Handy, Peralta CCD Dist. 3* (not on ballot)
- Solana Henneberry, Alameda School Board (lost)
- Janice Friesen and Gary Howard, Castro Valley School Board (lost and won)
- John Affeldt, Miguel Dwin and Christian Patz, Emeryville School Board (won, lost and won)
- Moina Shaq and Dax Choqsi, Fremont School Board (both lost)
- Lisa Brunner, Hayward School Board (won)
- Sarabjit Kaur Cheema and Lance Nishihira, New Haven School Board (won and lost)
- Nancy Thomas and Christopher Wecks, Newark School Board (won and lost)
- Shanthi Gonzales, Oakland School Board Dist 6 (won)
- Lance James, San Leandro School Board Area 2 * (not on ballot)
- Evelyn Gonzales, San Leandro School Board At-large (won)
- Janet Zamudio, San Lorenzo School Board (won)
- Elsa Ortiz, ACT Ward 3 * (not on ballot)
- Mark Williams, ACT Ward 4* (won)
- Kewal Singh, ACT Ward 5* (lost)
- Paul Sethy, Alameda County Water District* (won)
- Lena Tam, BART Dist 4 (lost)
- John Maher, Castro Valley Sanitary District (lost)
- Tracy Jensen and Jim Meyers, Alameda Healthcare District* (won and lost)
- Andy Katz, EBMUD Dist 4* (not on ballot)
- Ayn Wieskamp, EBRP dist 5* (won)
- Paul Hodges, Hayward Parks (not on ballot)
- Shelia Young, Oro Loma Sanitary district* (won)