Every election, I publish a Voter Guide trying to identify the most progressive candidates running for office in Alameda County. I do as much research as I can on the candidates, send out questionnaires and meet with them when possible. And yet, often times I get it wrong. I recommend a candidate who then turns out to be less than progressive while in office.
This time, I’m being more cautious. I’m only recommending candidates who are bona fide progressives, who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, and have a record of standing up for social justice and civil liberties. In cases where there are no such candidates in a race, or where I’m not exactly sure of just how progressive they are, I’ll tell you how I will or would vote, but I won’t make a formal recommendation (unless it’s to avoid voting for a particularly conservative choice).
Please leave comments and questions below and check out my Progressive Voter Guide to State Propositions & Local Measures.
National & State Races
PRESIDENT: No Recommendation
As a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, I cannot advocate that anyone not vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee or that they vote for someone else. I am therefore not doing either. However, when I ran I made it clear that I could never support Hillary Clinton and I stand by my word.
Progressives have three solid choices in California. They can vote for Peace and Freedom Party candidate Gloria La Riva, Green Party candidate Jill Stein or write-in Bernie Sanders. While a vote for La Riva or a write-in vote for Sanders are basically protest votes, voting for Stein will help her get the 5% of the vote the Green Party needs for it to receive public campaign financing in 2020, and thus potentially help push the Democratic Party to the left. I’m voting my conscience and I hope you do too.
US SENATE: Loretta Sanchez
Loretta Sanchez has accused Muslims of wanting to install a Caliphate and has insulted Native Americans. but she voted against the Patriot Act and against the war in Iraq and has a fairly liberal voting record in Congress. While she eventually endorsed Clinton, she held a fundraiser for Bernie Sanders and she has called on Obama to put a stop to the North Dakota Pipeline. Kamala Harris is pro-mass surveillance, seems to have strong neo-con tendencies and wants the US to kneel before Israel. As Attorney General she has failed to address the epidemic of police brutality against mostly people of color and has refused to investigate the police victimization of Celeste Guap. She is a big Clinton supporter. I’m voting for Sanchez.
CD 13: Barbara Lee
Barbara is one of the most liberal members of Congress, a strong voice against war and for civil liberties. While she didn’t endorse Bernie Sanders, she also did not endorse Clinton until Bernie was ready to do the same. I’m voting for Barbara Lee.
CD 15: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Eric Swalwell faces a weak Republican that is not campaigning and will easily win re-election. Swalwell is a corporate Democrat, a former prosecutor, that has shown concern about student debt and yet endorsed Hillary Clinton. He has shown little interest in protecting civil liberties. If I lived in this district, I’d write in Pete Stark.
CD 17: Ro Khanna
I first endorsed Ro Khanna when he ran in 2014 and continue to support him. I’m impressed by his expressed commitment to a non-imperialistic foreign policy and to human rights. Alone among all candidates to Congress, he was endorsed by former President Jimmy Carter. Mike Honda was a nice man, but he seems to have lost his mental faculties, is in the midst of a Congressional ethics investigation and is running a disgustingly racist campaign. I’d vote for Ro Khanna.
SD 9: No Recommendation
I endorsed Nancy Skinner when she ran on the primary and voted to give her the Democratic endorsement (ultimately, neither candidate received it), but I’m concerned about some of her actions that were directed towards harming the Progressive Revolution that Bernie Sanders has started. I was happy to see Sandre Swanson attend the recent Bernie Sanders rally in San Francisco. They are both strong progressives, though Skinner is a far more effective one. At this point, I haven’t decided whom I will vote for. I’m still undecided.
AD 15: No Recommendation
Democratic Incumbent Tony Thurmond is a pretty strong liberal, but he supported Hillary Clinton which gives me pause. However, he’s doing a good job in Sacramento. I’d vote for Tony Thurmond.
AD 16: No Recommendation
Incumbent Catharine Baker is a moderate Republican, but some of her votes are inexcusable. For example, she voted to deny farm workers overtime pay! Democratic challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio is more conservative than I, but she’ll be an improvement over Baker. I’d vote for Cook-Kallio.
AD 18: No Recommendation
Incumbent Rob Bonta will easily win this race against an invisible Republican opponent. Bonta is a transactional politician, he is good on Labor issues- because he relies on labor to fill his campaign coffers – but not on civil liberties or other matters without big pocketed donors. I’ll write in Lou Filipovich.
AD 20: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Bill Quirk has a mixed record. He voted against the farm workers overtime bill the first time around, but redeemed himself when it came for re-vote. He’s good on surveillance and privacy issues, however. I’d vote for Bill Quirk.
AD 25: No Recommendation
I haven’t paid any attention to what Kansen Chu is doing, so I can’t say anything about him. I’d do my research.
Superior Court Judge Office #1: No Recommendation
Superior Court Judge Office #1: No Recommendation
I have reservation about both candidates and I don’t actually support electing judges. Therefore I’m going to seat this race out.
At Large: No recommendation
Long term incumbent Chris Peeples faces retired bus driver Dollene Jones. Peeples is a strong progressive, but he has been criticized for supporting the purchase of expensive Belgium made buses and has lost the confidence of some public transit advocates. Jones, meanwhile, didn’t answer my questionnaire because she was afraid someone would steal her ideas. I’ll vote for Peeples.
Ward 2: No recommendations
District 3: No recommendation
Updated: Incumbent Rebecca Saltzman represents my district and she has been extremely responsive whenever we’ve contacted her with any concerns. She has been particularly good on issues concerning surveillance and police brutality, and she voted to not press charges against the BART protesters. She supported Hillary in the primary so I’m not officially recommending her, but I’ll happily vote for Saltzman.
District 5: No recommendation
Incumbent John McPartland supported prosecuting the BART protesters and would support similar prosecutions in the future, so I cannot recommend him. His challenger, however, is former Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, who did not provide specific answers to my questionnaire. In other interviews, she expressed opposition to Measure RR (the BART bond that will allow for the modernization of the system), while acknowledging that the system does need to be modernized. She seems to be running in an anti-labor platform, and I see no compelling reason to support her. I‘d probably just not vote on this race.
District 7: Don’t vote for incumbent Zakhari Mallett
Mallet was elected on contractor money, and has shown no interest in being accessible to the community. He did not answer either my questionnaire or the Green Party’s. Mallet, moreover, strongly sided against labor in past disputes. Both the Democratic and Green parties have endorsed Lateefah Simon, but she has not answered my questionnaire, so I don’t know anything about her views on freedom speech, surveillance and policing in BART. Will Roscoe did not answer my questionnaire and Roland Emerson is too pro-surveillance and anti-protest to get my vote (if I was voting in that district). I‘d probably vote for Simon as she’s the most viable candidate against Mallet.
WARD 2: Dionisio “Dee” Rosario
I hesitate a little in making this recommendation because I don’t know Rosario that well. Still, his answers to my questionnaire were good and he showed a lot of knowledge and, most imporantly, passion for parks during the Democratic endorsement interview. He is in favor of returning the armored vehicle that EBRP police has. Rosario has gotten the endorsement of both the Democratic and Green parties and he supported Bernie in the primary! I’d vote for Dee Rosario
WARD 4: No recommendation
Ellen Corbett is my former State Senator. She’s a moderate liberal, with a strong record on consumer rights. She will surely be a competent board member, and her extensive government experience will surely be useful for the park district, but I don’t fully know how much baggage she will also be bringing into this role. She did, of course, get the Democratic endorsement. Daniel Chesmore is a very young, enthusiastic politician-in-the-making. He seems quite progressive, but he works (or worked) for a charter school organization, which gives me a little bit of pause. I’m also a bit concerned that he’s looking to run for something, rather than have a specific interest in parks. Still, he lives in East Oakland and will represent a constituency – that of low income urban park users – that is not otherwise represented. The issues he spoke about in his questionnaire have not been raised by other candidates and I think there is much to be said for having a diverse board in terms of age. Otis Lee Sanders, meanwhile, did not respond to my e-mails. I’ll be voting for Dan Chesmore.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARDS
Chabot, District 7: No Recommendation
William Macedo’s answers to my questionnaire were fine. He received the Democratic endorsement and the Green Party did not endorse in this race (the Green Party usually only endorses in the northwestern part of Alameda County). His opponent, Edralin Maduli, is a Republican and did not answer my questionnaire. I’d vote for Macedo.
Peralta, District 6: No recommendation
Updated: I heard both Nick Resnick and Karen Weinstein speak at the Democratic Party interview. Neither seemed to have a deep knowledge of the financial issues concerning the district, but beyond that I couldn’t decide what made a candidate better than the other. I had a long talk with Karen Weinstein, and I’m now confident that I would vote for her if I was in the district. Karen is a psychologist and a counselor, and I think her skills will be useful in bringing professionalism to the Board. She has very progressive political views, she sees community colleges as a fundamental tool for taking students out of poverty, she understands education as a tool for social change and she shares my distrust of police forces. Basically, she is a bleeding heart liberal (despite her unwise support of Hillary Clinton). Resnick, with whom I haven’t spoken, has awoken the distrust of organized labor because of his ties with a charter school organization. I’d vote for Weinstein.
WATER AND SANITARY BOARDS
Water and sanitary boards are usually made up of engineers and people with technical knowledge. None of the races this time are in my district, so I’m weary of making recommendations. Plus, incumbents are pretty much always re-elected to these races. So, for these races, I will allow myself to make recommendations that come from my heart, not necessarily careful analysis.
Alameda County Water District Board (choose 3): Aziz Akbari
He’s very young, energetic, has done his homework on water, seems fairly progressive and would bring a different perspective to the board.
Castro Valley Sanitary District Board (choose 3): John Maher
This is pure cronyism. John serves with me at the ACDCC, and he’s a lovely, wonderful, super progressive, retired union worker. I just love him. He may not have the expertise of the incumbent board members, but there is something to be said about having good, decent human beings be in positions of power.
Oro Loma Sanitary District Board (choose 2): Dan Walters
Dan is another decent human being, more conservative than I in many ways, but a good man. He is a chemical engineer who just LOVES water treatment plans and knows everything about everything connected to garbage. He’s also smart and fiscally conservative, so a good person to have in a board. But mostly, I recommend him because he really has a childish enjoyment of water treatment plants that I find so cute. He is the only incumbent I’m recommending.
Oro Loma Sanitary District Board Short Term (choose 2): Chike Udemezue
Chike is a Nigerian immigrant who has written a book about the social implications of Nigerian accounting practices. How cool is that?
Cities & School Districts
City of ALAMEDA
City Council (choose 2): Don’t vote for Malia Vella
No progressives are running on this race and there are just no good or even mildly acceptable choices. None of the candidates responded to my questions or invitation to speak.
Malia Vella is probably the worst of the bunch. She is a political operative with endless political ambitions. She has moved around different jobs working for Democratic politicians and unions, and likes to work behind the scenes supporting candidates that can help her political career. She is originally from San Leandro, where she has backed candidates that support mass surveillance and police militarization, while opposing rent control. Labor has poured tens of thousands of dollars into her race and she’s supported by the Firefighters union and the conservative Alamedans United PAC. The Green Party recommends voters do not vote for her, while the Democratic Party had endorsed her.
Incumbent Marilyn Ashcraft has also received the endorsement of the Democratic Party and the anti-endorsement of the Green Party, and is also supported by the Alamedans United PAC. She has an undistinguished record as a Council member. Tony Daysog is a self-described conservative who opposes rent control. Lena Tam voted to militarize the Alameda Police when she previously in the City Council. Jennifer Roloff is the only newcomer and she got the Green Party’s endorsement, but she didn’t reply to my questions. I’d probably just vote for Roloff in this race.
School Board (choose 3): No recommendations
Gray Harris is a former teacher who has been active in Democratic politics. She is very progressive and I’ve heard she’s a great teacher. She was appointed to the Board and apparently she is doing a fairly good job. She isn’t a Berniecrat, however, otherwise I’d recommend her.
Ardella Daily, Matt Hettich and Jennifer Williams did not answer my questionnaires, while Dennis Popalardo did, so he would get my second vote by default. I had a great meeting with Anne McKereghan, and while she’s definitely more conservative than I am, I was impressed by her personal commitment to Alameda schools, where she has been a parent volunteer for many years. I would vote for Gray Harris, Dennis Popalardo and Anne McKereghan.
City Auditor: No recommendation
City Treasurer: No recommendation
These are two very technical positions and I did not research how good a job the incumbents were doing to be able to make a recommendation one way or the other as to whether to vote for them. I’d vote for the incumbents in both races.
City Council (choose 3): No recommendations
The only candidate to answer my questionnaire was Amber Whitson, though Nick Pilch has reached out and I’m trying to schedule an interview. If I was in Albany I’d probably vote for Amber, just to bring a new voice and a very different perspective to the City Council, but she probably lacks the knowledge of City Hall that would make her an effective council member.
Incumbent Michael Barnes refused to answer my questionnaire, claiming he was no longer a Democrat. The Green Party recommends you vote against him given his history of vitriol and personal attacks in public fora. As mentioned, Erik Giesen-Fields and incumbent Peter Maas did not return my questionnaire. I’d probably vote for Whitson and Pilch on this race.
School Board (choose 2): No recommendations
Kim Trutane, Jon Raj Destin and Clementina Duron all seem well qualified, progressive candidates that would do a good job in the Albany School Board. Jacob Clark, a teacher in San Leandro schools no less, did not return my questionnaire or the Green Party’s. I’d probably vote for Trutane and Destin.
Berkeley has ranked choice voting.
Mayor: Jesse Arreguin
This race is mostly between Council members Jesse Arreguin, who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders himself, and Laurie Capitelli who has refused to call himself a progressive. Write down Kriss Worthington as your second choice. I’d vote for 1) Jesse Arreguin, 2) Kriss Worthington, 3) leave blank