Eric Swalwell

ERIC SWALWELL What can you say? The kid shocked the entire political establishment in the East Bay. Through hard work and boats load of good luck, namely, his opponent’s astonishing self-destruction, Swalwell is a United States representative. How did he do it? His greatest accomplishment was selling new voters in the 15th District something they didn’t even know they wanted. He took common knowledge about Pete Stark’s residency, combined it with his age and forced voters to want something else. The huckster in Swalwell did it without even having to introduce himself to voters. We know nothing about Swalwell and to do that and still ease to a four-point victory last week is an amazing accomplishment. He needs to create a positive image for himself before his opponents proffer an ugly version. Is he a closeted conservative, an overly ambitious, cocky, young bachelor? And what is up with those perfected-trimmed eyebrows? Or, will he show progressives he is like them and calm any further scrutiny into his politics. In the meantime, he needs to meet a woman, get married, knock her up and start acting like an adult who understands his constituent’s real-world problems. Will Swalwell be a generational touchstone in local politics or ultimately the first example revealing the inherent instability of the new open primary system?

Luis Reynoso

HAYWARD SCHOOL CHILDREN Hayward school board trustee Luis Reynoso is back for another four years and for the first time may have a majority of the five-person body on board with his zeal for ridding the school district of graft and money-wasting. Gone are Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia, who along with remaining trustee Lisa Brunner, stymied investigation into the district’s inner-workings and alleged hanky panky. Make no mistake about it, the problem with Hayward’s under performing schools does not rest with the board of trustees, it lies squarely on the school district’s staff. Money is missing and some of the alleged crooks audaciously sit in the audience at City Hall at every single school board meeting. Their pull with the board is now gone and there will be no more obfuscation when it comes to rooting out the bad characters. Here’s hoping John Taylor sits firmly with school board members Reynoso and William McGee in helping clean up one of the top-three most corrupt government bodies in the East Bay.

Richard Valle

RICHARD VALLE Talk about avoiding the worst possible election result imaginable? Not only avoiding losing, but risking defeat at the hands of Mary Hayashi? It didn’t happened and Cool Hand Rich’s ground game with help from labor got the message across to District 2 voters in ways costly mailers and Hayashi’s infamous mugshot could not. Valle went from possibly becoming a lingering punch line in these parts to simply an elected supervisor on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and ended speculation over whether the seat was indeed cursed. However, there is no time to rest on his laurels, Valle will soon be back on the fundraising trail with an eye towards 2014 when he finishes the rest of Nadia Lockyer’s first term and seeks his own four-year re-up.

EAST BAY POLITICAL BENCH On some levels, the future of the East Bay when it comes to cultivating new talent looked bleak, but there were positives to be taken away from the open primary system where it rests in the area’s two internecine fights for the Assembly. Not only did the process elect two highly-qualified people—Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk—it also attracted and created an additional duo of candidate who were not as lucky last Tuesday, but have very bright futures. If you can’t win a race, then the best consolation prize is positioning yourself on a steep upwards trajectory for the next time. Both Abel Guillen and Dr. Jennifer Ong did just that and have nothing but greener pastures in their future. In fact, all four of the general election candidates in the Assembly are barely recognizable with the hesitant, bland politicians I watched just nine months ago in the primary. We have not heard the last from Guillen and Ong. In addition, Oakland’s city council races also showed signs of strength in the future even though Richard Raya, Sean Sullivan, Nyeisha DeWitt and Mario Juarez fell short.

Rob Bonta

ASIAN AMERICANS Many East Bay political insiders are routinely flummoxed by Asian American candidates they say are “too nice,” “too conciliatory to their opponents” and “too proud” to ask for votes and fundraising. Most of these traits are cultural and not necessarily bad, but in need to integrating into the realities of campaigning in the East Bay and beyond. These groups are also underserved in parts of the East Bay and that is changing. Rob Bonta is likely to become the first Filipino American member of the Assembly next month after winning in the 18th District and Benny Lee becomes San Leandro’s first Asian American council member. These groups have historically contributed greatly to region and the time has come for them to finally take their share of local government. Don’t worry white man, your world is not falling apart. Nearby Alameda will be represented by three Asian American city council members next year and white slavery is nowhere near in the horizon.

ORGANIZED LABOR This group is here not for its exemplary work, but for averting what could have been a disastrous Election Night. Start off with Richard Valle. The Alameda County Labor Council put all their eggs in Valle’s basket last June by getting him the appointment at the Board of Supervisors. Even though Richard Valium seemed unenthusiastic and downright unimpressive, labor came through for him and avoided the ignominy of losing to Hayashi. And, despite labor’s own attempts to shoot themselves in the foot in San Leandro after endorsing two candidates for the city’s City Council who backed pension reform at the behest of crusader Mayor Stephen Cassidy, all three candidate’s look like they will fail. Labor also dodged a bullet with Bill Quirk’s win the Assembly, even as Dr. Jennifer Ong eventually made it a very tough race. Let’s hope next time, labor takes fewer risks with the movement’s future.