Bonta, Guillen Debate Plan For Public Safety As Lackluster Race Enters Final Stretch

April 16, 2012 | Stemming the rise in crime is a perennial hot-bottom issue in the Oakland-centric 18th Assembly District. Alameda Vice Mayor and candidate Rob Bonta says he has solution for helping California cities combat spikes in crime, but one of his opponents in the June primary has concerns over its implications for maintaining civil liberties.

Bonta told a group in Chinatown last Thursday, if elected, he would offer legislation in Sacramento giving cities an option to draw from a pool of state funding and resources in the event crime rises to a certain level. “Oakland may qualify for that, unfortunately, for being the most violent city in the state,” Bonta said during the 90-minute debate that included Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen and AC Transit board member Joel Young.

Guillen said it was the first time he heard of the proposal and focused on Bonta’s use of the term, “state of emergency.” In other U.S. cities, instituting similar powers has usually been associated with cracking down on the youth with short-term curfews.

“I have concerns about what that means,” Guillen said. “Certainly there has been instances where police have abused those powers.”

Guillen also took umbrage with Bonta’s comment that the city had the highest crime rate in the state. “It scares away businesses,” Guillen said. “Anyone who is bringing up state of emergency is doing a discredit to our city.” Guillen, though, agreed Oakland needs some sort of assistance for maintaining public safety. “I think there’s some ideas where you can actually coordinate resources better,” he offered, while referencing better cohesion between the California Highway Patrol, Coast Guard and Oakland PD.

After the forum, Bonta conceded the use of “state of emergency” was not the best label for his plan. “If [Guillen] is conceptualizing it that way, I understand why, but it’s exactly the opposite,” said Bonta. “It’s not a free-for-all and bring in the riot gear, it means, you need help and people deserve safe communities.”

Bonta said his idea would have a built-in trigger for allocating resources where they are needed most. “Police or fire suppression–it could be anything,” he said. “When redevelopment was cut, the City of Oakland funded police and firefighter positions with redevelopment money. So if they should lose those positions and be at staffing ratios that are too low, they would have help from somebody,” said Bonta.

Young used the time to comment on Bonta’s proposal by reiterating a non-specific call for the state to create more jobs.

The disagreement over the proposal is the first signs of life in a race touted as one of the closest race in the entire state. Instead, it is precariously close to becoming one of the most boring. Last Thursday’s forum allowed candidates to rebut their opponent’s answers, yet, only on the issue of funding public safety detailed above, did any of the candidates take advantage of the format to begin developing distinctions among each other.

The laid back demeanor of the three candidates (Young sauntered in 20 minutes late and spoke without taking notes) suggests, said one long-time East Bay political observer, that all three may believe they are the front runner for the top-two June 5 primary. A fourth candidate, Republican Rhonda Weber, did not attend last week’s forum. In the battle royale for a spot in the November general election, two of the candidates can expect to be pushed over the ropes. With less than two months to go, you might expect some sort of political expediency, but it has yet to be seen.

Categories: Joel Young, Rob Bonta

9 replies

  1. Why anyone would vote Joel Young is beyond me? Not only does he have a checkered past given his temper. But what has he accomplished on the AC Transit board? He only came up with the Buy American rhetoric near campaign time. Otherwise, he hasn't accomplished squat. He was a former Politcal Director for the Labor Council, yet he did that so poorly he was shown the door. And gotten very little endorsement from labor. Finally, Swason hasn't endorsed him and that's telling.


  2. Correction, Swanson didnendorsednhim only to pull the endorsement because of the violence allegation.


  3. Everyone is being polite and that is impressive even when Young has been the one that has been slinging mud behind everyone's back. It isn't lackluster it the Guillen and Bonta showing more character and respect. I believe that Guillen has the most experience in working in difficult times and has the solid finance background our state needs. He understands how our money works and can help our state go through thoughtful reforms necessary for to have a competitive workforce through better funded schools and this will attract business. Bonta is a nice man and I had the opportunity to meet him when we talked about the smoking ban in Alameda, but he has no idea about budgets and money and we need a person who understands finance, not an attorney who knows how to uphold the law. We need Guillen who can make solid long term policies that is not driven by ego and making a name, but by real concern about our state. Abel Guillen is a good man and is running for the right reasons.


  4. It's a misstatement to claim that Mr. Guillen is the most qualified candidate because of his work in finance, or that Mr. Bonta is somehow less qualified because he's an attorney who “knows how to uphold the law.”

    Rather, what is needed is a candidate that can draw upon a wide range of experience and a strong body of knowledge when working in the Assembly.  Rob actually has the most success of all the candidates in a diverse array of policy areas.

    Rob has helped raise $84 million for East Bay public schools and took the state of California to court for failing to adequately fund our state's public schools.

    Job Creation:
    – As a director of part of the Alameda Healthcare District Board, Rob helped oversee the most successful financial performance in the history of Alameda Healthcare District; keeping the Hospital open and preserving approx 500 East Bay jobs 

    – As Alameda Vice-Mayor, Rob helped attract new businesses to town, including one notable major employer that provides 650 jobs.  

    – Rob helped secure the no-cost conveyance of a former military base in the East Bay to local control, clearing the way for massive economic revitalization, including the creation of 6,000 to 9,000 permanent jobs, countless more temporary construction jobs, and millions of dollars in local and state tax revenues.

    Strong Financial Leadership & Public Safety:
    – As Alameda Vice-Mayor, Rob balanced  the budget while avoiding layoffs to firefighters and police officers and ensuring that there were no cuts to street level public safety services.

    Fighting For Racial & Social Justice:
    As an attorney, Rob helped protect racial minorities throughout the state by working on a case that led to a historic settlement that prevented racial profiling.

    As a father, Rob shares the concerns of East Bay citizens.  He worries about the strength of our public schools, the safety of our streets, the existence of good jobs for the future generation, and understands them the way we do.

    Taken together, that's the type of experience that should be considered and given weight in this assembly race.


  5. How does one make reasonable predictions about the outcome of a city race with no data? Put simply, do you believe that these men are all behaving as front-runners because of faulty polling or simple hubris?


  6. Data. it exist. Bonta is coming first. Young is second. Guillen is third. Just the facts.


  7. Share the poll if so confident.


  8. in what context did Bonta raise $84 million for schools? Cuz he endorsed a couple of taxes? I can't find anything concrete on his website.


  9. The source made the statement as opinion. The context was that if none are attacking, maybe their strategy is to stay above the fray.

    I have heard rumors of a poll, too. I don't know if that's the order, but that it suggested the race for the second place.


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