ELECTION 2014 | ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | After just a year in Sacramento, Assemblymember Rob Bonta is firmly entrenched within the Democratic leadership. In fact, a few tweaks here and a few arm pulls here and Bonta could have been in the conversation to become the next speaker. That job went to Southern California Assemblymember Toni Atkins. But, for the time being, no Democrat will dare challenge Bonta in the 18th District. However, a tough-talking libertarian with a biting sense of humor wants a shot.
San Leandro’s David Erlich is often seen at City Council meeting with a wicked Tea Party rejoinder ready for launch during the public comment period. In recent years he’s sort of taken over the mantle of town naysayer once belonging to the irascible Lou Filipovich, who passed away last year. Erlich, however, doesn’t badger staff or admonish council members with a crooked pointing of the finger like Filipovich. “I know what you’re up to,” Filipovich often said in the best old codger voice you would expect from a person who ran for every office from Congress to City Council and lost over two dozen times.
This week, as the San Leandro City Council heard a report from its Washington lobbyist, Erlich couldn’t help himself as he listened to the list of various federal grants potentially available to the city. “Let’s have a little fun with this, tonight,” Erlich declared, as he appeared before the council in an orange t-shirt evoking thoughts he had just escaped from Santa Rita. Joking aside, Erlich has honed his small government message over the past few years railing against the massive regional housing and transportation plan, known as Plan Bay Area. (Watch video below of Erlich speaking last Monday.)
“We’re actually going to the federal government and asking for money and we’re $17 trillion in debt,” he said. “We’re like hooked on heroin.” Later, Erlich criticized a comment made earlier by the city’s legislative lobbyist about President Obama using executive powers to move forward certain policies. “That’s no longer a president, that’s a dictator,” he said. “Maybe it’s a good thing we have a little gridlock in Washington.”
Near the end of his two-minutes, however, Erlich said instead of seeking grants from what he called a bankrupt federal government, the city should be fiscally self-sustainable. Erlich, in fact, might be running for the wrong office. In 2010, Stephen Cassidy upset the sitting mayor in San Leandro by employing the same rhetoric. Where was Cassidy last Monday night? He was in Washington with hundreds of other U.S. mayors bending over backwards in hopes of bringing home a little piece of the federal pie.