ELECTION 2016 | This year is a presidential election and all eyes will be on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. However, when it comes to down ballot races in the East Bay, this is not the most electrifying local election, by any means. For instance, local campaign for Congress, the state Senate and the Assembly, each contain just one contested race. In some cities, people didn't even bother to challenge the incumbent. In San Leandro, one open seat failed to even attract more than one candidate. That's means Pete Ballew in San Leandro will do a "Haggerty," named after Alameda County Supervisor Haggerty, and come to power without even campaigning a single day. Incidentally, Haggerty did a "Haggerty" in June when he ran unopposed for re-election. In his case, Haggerty has done a "Haggerty" for his entire 20 years on the board*. Nevertheless, there are at least 10 local races that demand your attention this November.
1 | 17TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
MIKE HONDA VS. RO KHANNA
|Rep. Mike Honda-Ro Khanna, Part II.|
2 | 16TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
CATHARINE BAKER VS CHERYL COOK-KALLIO
Assemblymember Catharine Baker and Cheryl
Cook-Kallio meet again in November.
3 | BERKELEY MAYOR
LONG LIVE BATES
Tom Bates has been a fixture in Berkeley politics for decades. His stint as mayor ends this year following retirement. So, a mayoral election in Berkeley is a rare occurrence and three sitting members of the City Council—Jesse Arreguin, Laurie Capitelli and Kriss Worthington--all staking claim to the office. Political strategery is also at work here. Worthington joined the race late to form a progressive bulwark with Arreguin, and opponents of Capitelli charged him with bailing on the initial council compromise over minimum wage. In addition, the field of eight features an interesting Cal graduate student named Ben Gould and homeless community advocate Mike Lee. Of course, it wouldn’t be Berkeley without a candidates from the city’s menagerie of characters, including Zachary RunningWolf, who gained notoriety when he took residence in a tree to protest the clearing of "sacred" trees around Memorial Stadium.
4 | 9TH STATE SENATE DISTRICT
NANCY SKINNER VS. SANDRE SWANSON
|Sandre Swanson and Nancy Skinner|
5 | ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL
THE RENT CONTROL ELECTION
|Alameda residents rally outside of City Hall.|
6 | FREMONT MAYOR
BILL HARRISON VS. LILY MEI
Fremont is changing both physically and demographically. Construction around town, not to mention a new and much-needed City Hall, has come under first-term Mayor Bill Harrison. However, Fremont is the center of huge demographic changes that are bound to spread out through the rest of Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Fremont already hosts a minority-majority led by Asian and South Asian Americans. Most observers contend these changes could upend Harrison's re-election. However, he's popular in town, but without a few deft political moves four years ago, namely snagging the Alameda County Democrat's endorsement, he very well could have lost to former Councilmember Anu Natarajan. This time around first-term Councilmember Lily Mei is in an ambitious mood. She won't be a push over and her moderate to conservative ideology is actually a plus in Fremont. In recent years, this part of the county is beginning to mimic the moderate streak of the Tri Valley. Mei, though, has history. As a Fremont school board member, she advocated for banning certain books from public schools. It's a tidbit her detractors always bring up.
7 | SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE
BARBARA THOMAS VS. SCOTT JACKSON
Former Alameda Councilmember Barbara Thomas nearly won the June primary outright and many in the local Democratic Party and residents on the island, blurted out, WTF?! This is a judicial candidate who was once accused of throwing a brick through her ex-husband’s car window while she served on the Alameda City Council in the early 1990s. She also raised eyebrows when she strongly advocated against rent control at a public meeting in Alameda last fall. Open seats on the Alameda County Superior Court are rare and only come about following retirements. But, this race is important, say many Democratic Party poobahs, because of the lack of diversity on the current county bench. Scott Jackson, who is black, is a former Alameda County deputy district attorney, and although progressives are reticent about another prosecutor as a judge, there’s been a push to back Jackson. However, judicial candidates are limited on how they can campaign. For instance, the State Bar forbids negative campaigning and candidates are prohibited from expressing specific views that could later impeach their impartiality as a judge.
8 | OAKLAND AT-LARGE CITY COUNCIL
REBECCA KAPLAN VS. THE WORLD
If Oakland at-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has an extra bounce in her step, then it must be election season. One of the most popular public officials in Oakland is likely to win re-election, but she often attracts great enmity from her detractors. Peggy Moore is certainly putting her political capital on the line on behalf of Mayor Libby Schaaf and people like Matt Hummel represent those in the cannabis community have grown out of favor with Kaplan. Bruce Quan, no relation to Jean Quan, talks a good game and impressed some at the Alameda County Democratic Party endorsement meeting a few weeks back.. But, again, despite the apparent mismatches in this race, look for some type of scandal, convoluted or not, to fester against Kaplan during this campaign.
9 | SAN LEANDRO DISTRICT 2 CITY COUNCIL
BRYAN AZEVEDO VS. ED HERNANDEZ
This one could go either way and its effect on the increasingly progressive San Leandro City Council could be significan. With District 6 Councilmember Jim Prola terming out of office this year, the council will be losing its most progressive member. Recall, Prola led the city’s successful campaign for minimum wage legislation. His replacement is a former San Leandro police officer whose progressive credential are in doubt. That means the race in District 2 among the union-backed Bryan Azevedo and city planning commissioner Ed Hernandez is so important for the make-up of the City Council over the next two years. In addition, the city’s attention will be focused on this race. That’s because it’s the only contested race on both the council and school board.
10| HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD
INCUMBENT TRUSTEES VS. CITY COUNCIL
Who cares about school boards, right? Not in this campaign that is likely to contain the highest amount of “Game of Thrones”-style machination than all other races combined. A current school board that has been branded as disruptive and rude is being challenged by a slate of three candidates who are backed by many city leaders. Oddly, the political action committee supporting the overthrow of incumbents Luis Reynoso, Annette Walker and John Taylor is funded by the California Apartment Association and the Hayward Chamber of Commerce. In addition, there are already signs there will be political repercussions for the City Council’s declaration of war against the school board. Expect a multi-front battle and one of the most free-wheeling and entertaining races in the East Bay.
*- A "Haggerty" is not to be confused with doing "The Haggerty," which is the act of an Alameda County Republican suddenly changing their party affiliation to Democratic at a chili cook-off.