Bonta, GOP Challenger Disagree Along Partisan Lines

Assemblymember Rob Bonta addresses a candidate’s forum Tuesday evening in Alameda as challenger, David Erlich looks on. PHOTO/Steven Tavares

ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | Until Tuesday night, San Leandro electrician David Erlich had never taken center stage in a political forum or debate. He paced and gathered his thoughts in the back of the room at Alameda’s Mastick Senior Center for more than 30 minutes as candidates for the county superintendent of schools race debated the finer points of public education. Erlich, a registered, Republican, ultimately did well, as he offered an opposing political ideology to one of the East Bay’s most progressive elected officials, Assemblymember Rob Bonta and his bid for re-election in the 18th District.

The race, which covers Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, however, may be the biggest mismatch in the entire East Bay. Bonta’s rising star in the Democratic-controlled State Legislature dissuading any challengers from within his own party, while Erlich is the only other candidate on the June 3 ballot. Therefore, because of California’s top two primary system, the pair will meet again in the November general election.

San Leandro resident David Erlich

“I am running in a district that has eight percent registered Republicans, which one of them I am,” said Erlich. “I just want you to open your ears and listen to a different perspective.”

“I want people to have their own choices,” he added. “Government is overreaching. We’re losing our private property rights, we’re losing our personal rights and that’s what I’m fighting for everyday.”

On fiscal issues facing the state, immigration and gun rights, the candidates found little commonality, starting with whether a potential $2 billion state budget surplus actually exists. Bonta said the state should be realistic about how much money is available to be spent, but encouraged using a portion to help shore up an estimated $74 billion shortfall for CalSTRS. “If we say we have a budget surplus of $2 billion,” said Erlich, “we’re lying to ourselves when our local municipalities are going to go broke unless we fix this problem.” Pensions are the top problem, he continued. “Spending money on anything else at this point in time would be crazy.”

A national Republican talking point has recently pitted California against Texas in a battle over attracting or maintaining businesses in each state. State Republicans contend California’s tax and regulatory system is too onerous, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made several high-profile attempts to lure businesses to the southwest. “I think some of the rhetoric on this is overblown, “said Bonta. As the eighth-largest economy in the world, he added, “California is competing with France, Italy and Brazil. We’re not competing with Texas.” California is creating more high wage-earning jobs than Texas and other states, said Bonta. “If you want to have a race to the bottom, create a lot of low-paying jobs that don’t support working families, then maybe Texas is your state.”

Two notable state laws, AB 32 which aims to cut emissions and SB 375, which urges regional planning to promote sustainable housing and transportation, has given businesses an incentive to move out of California, said Erlich. “Our truckers are going out of business because they have to spend $15,000 just to put a filter on a truck. We need to stop some of these ridiculous regulations that are stopping businesses from opening up.” In addition, said Erilich, only business people can promote job creation, not government. “When a politician tell you he can create jobs–let me tell you—run.”

On immigration, like most Democrats, Bonta advocated for comprehensive reform. He also applauded Alameda County for allocating funding to provide health care to undocumented immigrants. Erlich, though, said California does not have the resources to use taxpayers’ money to pay for or subsidize non-citizens. “We have a program that is very enticing to someone to come from Mexico and come here and live here,” he said.

If Bonta and Erlich couldn’t agree on the fiscal health of the state or immigration, they certainly weren’t going to see eye-to-eye when it comes to guns and violent crime that has put a damper on Oakland’s recent renaissance. “If you take guns away from people and they can’t defend themselves,” said Erlich, “that’s creating more violence.” He added, some gun control laws inadvertently turn legal gun owners into criminals. “I want to be able to protect my family, my children from somebody who busts through my door with a gun.”

In the past year, Bonta and other East Bay state legislators pushed for a large package of gun control laws in the aftermath of the December 2012 school shootings in Connecticut. Many of the bills, including specific legislation offered by Bonta to give the Oakland City council power to enact its own gun registration regulations, languished in Sacramento, despite popular support. In response to an audience question whether some gun control law infringe on gun owners’ rights, Bonta said, “If you’re going to be aggressive when addressing gun violence like I was last year and will continue to be, there’s no way you’re going to appear to not be infringing. That claim will be made by opposition every time you stand up to pass a law that tries to address gun violence and that’s exactly what happened.”

“What did I see in every committee that I testified in and who was in the rooms of my colleagues trying to convince them to vote against my bill, said Bonta? “The gun lobby.”

Categories: #AD18, Alameda, budget, CalSTRS, candidate forum, David Erlich, Gun Control, jobs, June primary, Republican, Rob Bonta, Texas

15 replies

  1. Has Erlich looked at the asthma rate in our District particularly among children? This is due to pollution. What a freaking idiot! We need AB32 and SB 375. People are dying from emissions.


  2. 1:43, The air pollution in the East Bay is only a small fraction of what it was 40 and 50 years ago, yet asthma rates are said to be higher, as you indicate.

    Why would asthma rate climb as the air become greatly cleaner than before.
    Do you have any idea how much cleaner the air is today?
    Or do you just suppose that increasing air pollution is causing higher asthma rates?


  3. Tavares is a huge sexist and a bigot


  4. There are more people in the Bay Area then there were before. Therefore more planes, trains, ships, cars, trucks, buses, chemicals, etc. and more people living next to freeways, airports and shipping lanes. What do you contribute the higher asthma rates to if not pollution?


  5. 2:30 Were you even in the Bay Area 40 or 50 years ago?
    If you were, you'd be well aware of the level of smog and air pollution. Today's air has only a fraction of the pollution back then.
    In 1970 the Bay Area recorded 65 days over the national one-hour standard for ozone (12 parts per hundred million)— the highest number of days in its history.

    Despite the growth, the Bay Area air is hugely better than back then.
    If you want to know about the mystery of growing asthma rates, you only need Google about that.
    Stop drinking the Kool-Aid handed out by the local Air Quality Agency which needs a growing reason for their existence and budgets.


  6. I for one want the cleanest air I can get and are very happy the people of the Bay Area agree with me. You need to stop drinking the Tea Bagger Kool-aid. It's chemicals and pollution that are causing asthma and cancer and 98% of the scientists will agree with me. One only needs to look at the higher levels around freeways and oil refineries to prove my point. I suggest you join the ” flat earth society” as they are looking for members.


  7. 6:36, Good to know you already know it all.
    No need to read Scientific American. We all know its controlled by the Tea Bagger crowd.
    Nice to know you've studied the historical rates of air pollution from 1970 compared to today.


  8. That doesn't explain the higher rates of asthma and cancer in clusters around freeways and oil refineries where the air is dirtier. You are the one that seems to know it all. I, and most americans, want air without chemicals and hydrocarbons in it.


  9. 1:42, ” I, and most americans, want air without chemicals and hydrocarbons in it.”

    I see, NO chemicals, and NO hydrocarbons.
    Is that your standard? Every car and truck electric?
    So tell me, exactly how are you going to produce the electricity we need for all those power needs for cars, trucks, buses, trains, heating and airconditioning, factories, steel production, food production, international shipping and such.

    BTW, do you know the percent of our electricity that is currently produced with hydrocarbons (natural gas, oil, coal, etc)

    No wonder you consider a publication such as Scientific American as being controlled by Tea Baggers.


  10. My thought is he's an idiot without common sense, or life experience to know what So Cal smog 50 years ago that made people's eyes smart also on occasion visited the Bay Area.

    Testla is a good looking 1st rate vehicle, but most of the electricity is carbon produced. With current technology, the cleanist is nuclear and the UK choice. Germany when issued an ultimatum by German Industry choose “Clean Coal” over loosening jobs


  11. The idiot appears to be you. The enviro above is right when he says there are cancer clusters around oil refineries and along busy freeways. We do need AB32 and there is no such thing as clean coal or safe nuclear. The clean energy is solar and wind.


  12. 11:24, any idea on your part of how much of our national electricity is solar? Give me your estimate of current solar in percentage terms, then tell me what percent is coal.

    Then tell me about how long you'd estimate it will take solar to take over the same percentage that coal now supplies.

    That will give us some idea of your reality check on this issue.
    Do you really know anything about electric power generation.
    Especially the kind that take place 12 months of the year, 24 hours a day.
    I do suppose you favor electricity being available at 3 AM in Janauary, right? You know, to power your Tesla or Nissan Leaf.


  13. I would love to discuss the issue's of AB 32, SB 375 and the most oppressive of all SB 1. Let me be clear, Environmental regulation is necessary, as long as the science behind the regulation is sound. We have gone past Environmental regulation and have entered into Eco tyranny.

    Dave Erlich
    Candidate For State Assembly 18th District


  14. The only tyrant is Dave Erlich trying to push his extreme right-wing tea party nineteenth century ideas on the rest of us. He will be soundly rejected by the voters of the 18TH who are a lot smarter than he is.


  15. Bonta's gonna crush Erlich like the pollution he is!


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