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Friday, March 16, 2018

Political patronage rekindled in Alameda County with well-timed retirements and unopposed incumbents this June

The status quo in Alameda County has been
aided by a concerted effort to perpetuate
political patronage and stymie insurgents.
ALAMEDA COUNTY
--ELECTION 2018--
As the filing deadline for the June 5 primary passed last Friday evening, the Alameda County Auditor-Controller Steve Manning and Assessor Ron Thomson failed to complete their filings for re-election. Alameda County elected officials waiting until the last minute to bow out of re-election in an apparent effort to boost the chances of their underlings is an even-year tradition in the East Bay, which critics say only reinforces continuity of power among county government loyalists.

In the case of Manning, who has served as auditor-controller since 2014, the filing scheme is most evident. Records with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters long listed Manning as pulling papers for re-election. A race in which he almost certainly would have won. But days before the Mar. 9 filing deadline appeared another candidate--Manning's subordinate--Melissa Wilk, a deputy Alameda County auditor, replete with a well-designed campaign web site. Irella Blackwood, an outsider to county politics, is also a candidate for auditor-controller this spring.

The same strategy was used four years ago when long-time Alameda County auditor-controller Patrick O'Connell failed to complete his filing and instead opted for retirement. At the last moment, O'Connell's chosen replacement, Manning, was left as the heir apparent for the job in June. Twenty-eight years prior, O'Connell got the job in the same manner. Manning's election in June 2014 was also hastened by news reports that his challenger had illegally filed for the seat while living in Contra Costa County.

>>>Who's on the ballot this June. Who's thinking about it for November? Click HERE for the East Bay Citizen Candidate List.

In the case of county assessor, Thomson's incomplete filing last week attracted four late-filing candidates, including a member of the assessor's office, James Johnson. The race in June includes two candidates with experience in politics: John Weed, an elected member of the Alameda Water Agency, and Phong La, a well-known local Democratic Party activist. A certified general appraiser named Kevin Lopez also qualified for the June ballot.

Meanwhile, variations of this apparently election scheme, which ostensibly edges out outsiders from winning elections at the county-level, has been used repeatedly over the years. An alternate version also used in Alameda County politics involves the seat-holder announcing retirement and forcing an appointment to the seat just prior to the election, thereby, significantly aiding that person's chances of winning.

This is how Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley got the job and was subsequently elected in 2010. Same for Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern. Since becoming a supervisor in 1998, Scott Haggerty has never faced a challenger. Only in the case of O'Malley this campaign season, has any of the three ever faced a challenger for re-election.

More recently, appointed Alameda County Treasurer-Tax Collector Henry Levy was the benefactor of a well-timed retirement last year by Donald White, the long-time office holder. Levy was appointed to the office last April and is running unopposed this June.

And just like four years ago, Alameda County Supervisors Wilma Chan and Richard Valle will run unopposed. In addition, 24 races involving incumbents for Alameda County Superior Court judge failed to gain a challenger, therefore, will not appear on the June ballot.

The lone judgeship on the ballot, however, is an anomaly, featuring controversial Superior Court Judge Tara Flanagan and retired public defender Karen Katz. Typically, judicial races in Alameda County are only contested when a sitting judge leaves the seat open due to retirement.

4 comments:

  1. By MW:

    I am ten million percent quadruple certain that it is just a coincidence the way almost every single time when the present office holders in Alameda County government have secretly decided to retire, rather then openly declaring such long in advance, instead they give the general public the impression they intend to run again for re-election, but instead at the very last minute then make it obvious they will not run, and too late for any outsider to mount a serious campaign, and therefore making it inevitable that a member of the present entrenched mafia, in other words a member of the present political establishment, and such as the present number two in the department, will automatically be rubberstamped into the number one job.

    In other words AC government is not based on law, but instead on custom and a culture of lies, fraud, and always finding a way to put the fix in.

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  2. Haggerty didn't win by handoff. Ed Campbell gave everyone plenty of notice that he wasn't going to run for reelection. Scott survived a crowded primary and a tough runoff in 96 because he, Chris and Charlie each knocked on over 20,000 doors that year

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  3. By MW:

    Concerning the post of 10:00PM, it is possible that Haggerty did not win by habdoff, and I do not live in his district and am somewhat less familiar with his electoral history than that of some of the other Supervisors, however the upper ranks of Alameda County is heavily infested - AND RUN - by a sleazy organized ring that pretends to be a legitimate government, and frequently using the handoff is one of the ways that organized crime ring perpetuates itself and keeps itself in power.

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  4. I fixed it. I meant to suggest Haggerty never had a challengers for re-election.

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