Candidates For 18th Assembly District, Minus One, Debate In San Leandro

May 17, 2012 | The cavernous Bal Theatre in San Leandro with its bright light glaring down on three candidates for the 18th Assembly District made it difficult to see the faces of their future constituents. For a race that has consistently seen candidates unwilling to face-off with each other while sharing similar riffs on the same issues like, job creation, oil severance taxes and reducing the two-thirds majority, the rhetoric made it almost equally hard for voters to differentiate between the candidates.

Being San Leandro, the first question posed by City Manager Chris Zapata dealt with the impending closing of San Leandro Hospital. Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta said he would look into the city enacting a parcel tax to help the hospital survive. It’s a course of action, he says, that is similar to what he used as a member of the Alameda Healthcare District. “We went through the same battle and struggling that San Leandro Hospital is going through now in Alameda,” he said. He also advocated continuing the approach of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who backs formulating a “hybrid” plan to keep the facility’s emergency room open and bring acute rehab beds from Fairmont Hospital to San Leandro Hospital. Bonta said he would also “refresh” a bill once offered in the State Senate by Sen. Ellen Corbett that gives voters the ultimate authority for closing district-owned hospitals.

Abel Guillen, a trustee for the Peralta Community College Board of Directors, said he “was very disturbed to hear about the closing of San Leandro Hospital” and added, “As a legislator, my job is to actually try to bring the parties together and broker some kind of a deal to insure access is not denied.” Guillen is also supported by the California Nurses Association, which has been an active and vocal supporter of keeping the doors at San Leandro Hospital open.

AC Transit board member Joel Young did not attend the San Leandro debate because of a prior engagement, said his campaign manager Mark Goodwin, who filled in for Young Wednesday night. Goodwin was more general about how Young would help San Leandro Hospital, saying Sacramento should make it easier for local governments to fund services on their own. “The key, long-term for making those hospitals viable, is to make it easier for us to make our own decisions about the community services that we want to support,” he said, although, he also said Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment plan in areas like prisons, “could be a very good thing in the long run.”

The hour-long forum did reveal some of the potential pieces of legislation that might one day be offered by one of the candidates in the future. In a bill likely targeted at constituents in Alameda, rather than San Leandro, Bonta said one of his first priorities would be to offer an exemption for former military installations to continue receiving tax increment dollars lost to the dissolution of redevelopment agencies. He said the plan would revitalize these areas across the district and state, while creating an economic stimulus and jobs. Bonta reiterated another proposal he calls an “emergency prevention fund” that would provide communities with spikes in crime or loss of funds in public safety a boost of state dollars.

Guillen said he would immediately offer a Constitutional amendment to lower the threshold for local governments to raise tax revenue from two-thirds to 55 percent. “It’s hard to get two-thirds of any group of people to agree to anything,” he said. Giving local governments more power will also help seniors and children avoid cuts to health care and education. “It’s reasonable and will have an immediate impact,” Guillen added. He also proposed looking into a two-year cycle for legislation, whereby lawmakers would audit potential bills one year and offer them in the Legislature the next.

Although, he admitted Young’s first piece of legislation is a bit “wonky,” but important, Goodwin said the state’s contract procurement process needs to be changed. The current “Buy American” regulations allow for 60 percent of the work must go to American workers, Goodwin said, but most of the work goes to the East Coast and fails to help the local and state economy. Goodwin said Young might also look into enacting a sugary drink tax, similar to proposals in several local governments across the state.

The low light of the debate possibly came from a question directly from its moderator, Zapata, who asks the candidates how they would stop passing down unfunded mandates on local government. Each of the candidates either gave short answers or merely avoided the query all together.

Bonta said he been on the receiving end of the unfunded mandates in Alameda, both as a healthcare district director and councilman. “If you’re going to impose mandates and you’re not going to fund them, then they have to let localities be able to generate that revenue themselves.” One way is to lower the two-thirds majority, he said.

As the only candidate to have worked in the Capitol as a staffer for the appropriations committee, Guillen said, “If the state doesn’t have its financial house in order, then we should not put any further mandates on local government,” although he would allow for an exemption in the extraordinary case of a health and safety issue.

Goodwin simply declared the obvious. “The state, because it is broken in terms of its ability to make decisions about revenue and spending, has frequently left city and county governments with unfunded mandates to help balance the [state] budget.”

Voters will have one last chance to see the three candidates in the same room just six days from the June 5 primary on Wednesday, May 30, 6:00, at the Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland. A fourth candidate, Republican Rhonda Weber, has not attended any debates.

Categories: Abel Guillen, Assembly, Chris Zapata, Joel Young, Mark Goodwin, Rob Bonta, S.L. Hospital, sacramento, san leandro

12 replies

  1. 5 bucks says Joel doesn't make the debate on the 30th.


  2. Just curious, not having followed these candidates closely, would someone please rank them as to the degree they “fall in line” with the decades of local party club-ism.

    In other words, the Hancock, Swanson, Hayashi, Lockyer, Klehs, etc. crowd, where every position has to please the California Nurses Association, the CTA, the various public employee unions, and say the precisely “correct” thing about every possible movement of one group or another.

    I mean, is there a independent thinker in the bunch willing to buck even one sacred cow of East Bay party provincialism?
    Has any of these candidates said even one word about Mary Hayashi's situation and misdeeds?

    Or do we just have three more candidates who continue the tired tradition of Central Alameda County politics?

    Is there a creative leader in the bunch?
    Anyone with backbone?


  3. Hey Steve,

    Been following coverage of this race here for a while, and glad to see an article that at least touches on public policy and the things that will matter when we send one of these candidates to Sacramento. While I think some of the quotes above were taken out of context, I'd encourage everyone to watch the debate for yourself here:

    I thought Bonta made some good points, and was also happy to hear about specific legislative plans from Young's campaign manager, rather than the sweeping generalizations we usually get in politics.

    From following the blog, it's pretty obvious you don't like Joel Young, but I'd request that as we get closer to the election, you cover the issues that matter, like those you can see in the youtube link to the actual debate, rather than harping over who had a scheduling conflict or pulling quotes out of context.

    We need reporting that will pass along the meaningful policy differences between the candidates so your readers can make an informed decision at the polls – I hope you'll step up and fill that role.


  4. When Joel Young starts saying things of substance, I'll surely write about them. It is very difficult to write a good article on any debate when some of the candidates say absolutely nothing. I'm speaking in terms of the mechanics of writing an article. Watch the video.

    What you should say is this: “from reading your blog, it is clear Joel Young gets himself into terrible positions from being an undiscplined person. Thank you for being the only reporter covering this important race for the people of Alameda, Oakland and San Leandro.”

    As for the comment above, I would definitely put Joel Young in the same boat as Mary Hayashi in terms of their style of governing through aggression and intimidation.


  5. Thank God for the “top two” voting this year.
    Finally, in November, we will have two viable candidates for the first time in decades.
    I secretly kind of wish Mary Hayashi hadn't been termed out. Would have been so interesting to see her running for re-election while on probation and seeing who would have endorsed her and who would have opposed her.


  6. Anonymous 5/18 11:05,

    This “creative leader”, you ask for, the one with “backbone”: please name one or more policy positions your candidate would take which would “buck…sacred cow(s) of East Bay party provincialism”.

    If your courageous candidate can't speak about their specific policy positions, and fills the air with these tired bromides instead, they're not very courageous, are they?

    Nor is your candidate serious or qualified for office.


  7. Hey, I just got a full sized mailer from the “California Allliance, a coalition of consumer attorneys and conservationists”
    6310 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles

    In this mailer they show a article from the East Bay Express and quote directly a entire paragraph.
    That store written by one Steven Tarves.

    The paragraph quoted begins “Just over a year ago, Young appeared destined for a successful political career, but….”

    I assume this mailer will go to the entire district.

    Who is this group, and who are they supporting?
    I'm guessing they are supporting Guillen.


  8. While the Form 496 for this IE is not yet live, it should appear here within 24 hrs:

    Looking at their IE for another race ( they report funds from CAOC, CFT, CLCV, and PACE (from CSEA). Two of those orgs have only endorsed Abel (CAOC and CFT), while CSEA only endorsed Bonta, and CLCV endorsed both. So this looks like simply an anti-Young effort, which is all those four can agree about. On a practical level, Guillen has been the recipient of other IEs as well, which could lead one to think that outsiders were worried about his chances.


  9. Just got two mailing against Joel Young. Those attorneys must love Bonta to help him out like this. Who are the conservationists? Is it the endorsers of Bonta? Bonta needs a lot of help. Leave Joel alone.


  10. The attorneys are actually backing Guillen, the conservationists are backing Guillen and Bonta. Guillen's the one needing and getting the help – he spent an enormous amount during the past three months and didn't raise much compared to the other two.


  11. Bonta is the consummate politician, pandering to whomever will support him.


  12. The attorneys are supporting Bonta and Guillen. Get your facts straight. Also, Guillen has the most amount of donors in the district and I think it is awesome that he has the most small donors in the district because they actually vote.


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