Odd Signals Coming from a Powerful East Bay Labor Group

The reasons why labor cleared the field for bad boy AC Transit board member Joel Young last month are still uncertain. The Alameda Labor Council appeared set to push Young’s endorsement through before members of SEIU Local 1021 intervened to gain an open endorsement. Recall, Young screwed over SEIU during his run two years ago for the Assembly when he distributed the confidential union questionnaires of his fellow Democratic opponents. In addition, Young’s colleagues at AC Transit censured him last year for misconduct. However, Young’s transgression at AC Transit in fact helped union transit groups in other areas. Two challengers, in fact, were poised to mount spirited campaigns against Young, but both, Igor Tregub and Tyron Jordan, inexplicably lost their enthusiasm at the last minute. For whatever, reason there is those who believe Josie Camacho of the Alameda Labor Council browbeat and threatened one or both into exiting the race. Now, Young has a considerably less difficult path to re-election against a former AC Transit bus driver, Dollene Jones, who ran in 2012, and a newcomer named Adrienne Andrews.

But there is more when it comes to some questionable behavior by the Alameda Labor Council. In the race to replace Abel Guillen at the Peralta Community College District, the council’s executive committee forced one of the candidates, Richard Fuentes, who is backed by many officials in Oakland, to answer questions before a camera with the husband of his challenger, Julina Bonilla, in attendance. These endorsement meetings are highly confidential and may have put Fuentes in a difficult position. Some with knowledge of the meeting believe the incident was a set up by Camacho to undermine support for Fuentes in favor of her preferred candidate, Bonilla. Later, video of the endorsement meeting was played for Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who is supporting both candidates, and presumably to discredit Fuentes’ candidacy. However, according to sources, Bonta found little concern with Fuentes’ answers.

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Hot Prospects: Shereda Nosakhare and
Alejandro Soto-Vigil.

RISING STARS Alameda County Democrats this week are raving about two young candidates making their first runs for higher office. Alejandro Soto-Vigil, who is opposing Berkeley Councilmember Linda Maio in District 1 wowed some last week. One central committee member said Soto-Vigil’s recent endorsement interview with one labor group was one of the best they have ever seen. When it comes to workers, the member said, “He spoke from the heart.” The other young Democrat turning heads is Shereda Nosakhare, the Oakland District 6 challenger to incumbent Councilmember Desley Brooks. Democrats were also impressed with Nosakhare for her knowledge of city government and an impressive recent fundraising haul. In addition, both candidates boast hands-on experience in local government. Soto-Vigil works in Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington‘s office and Nosakhare is an aide to Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf. However, both candidates face uphill climbs against two long-time incumbents and onlookers admit, both are extremely raw, but the talent is clearly evident.

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Castro Valley’s Marc Crawford

ALL HAIL THE MULLET One of the most colorful candidates this fall that nobody knows about resides in the hometown of Rachel Maddow (and myself), Castro Valley. His name is Marc Crawford and he is running for one of the unincorporated town’s two elected offices, the Castro Valley Sanitary District. The mullet-haired Crawford is also a member of the Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley-appointed Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) and is well-known for his overbearing attitude. Over the past year, a small group of residents calling themselves, Castro Valley Matters, started a push to make the MAC an elected body, among other ideas. Crawford is one MAC member who has resisted and become a target of the group’s ire. Meanwhile, a person unrelated to the group took to social media to mock Crawford and he therefore lashed out against the entire group. A letter to the local weekly in Castro Valley written by Crawford accused one member of Castro Valley Matters of being an anarchist. Later, Crawford spoke with the principal of Castro Valley High School to smear another from the group. Many describe Crawford has highly mistrustful, so it comes as no surprise he would seek a seat on the town’s sanitary district board after he once tussled with the same elected body. A few years ago when he built a snack bar at a local school, but failed to procure the necessary approval to connect a sewer lateral, he fought with sanitary district members. Minutes from the clash describe Crawford berating a member of the district’s management during the meeting. Meanwhile, members of Castro Valley Matters were ready to question Crawford at a surprisingly well-attended candidate’s forum last Wednesday, but he didn’t bother showing up.

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John Russo

HERE AND THERE Last week, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said, if re-elected, she already has a replacement in mind to replace Interim City Administrator Henry Gardner and it is someone in-house…San Leandro’s Vice Mayor Benny Lee is getting considerable heat after advocating for the Oakland waste company California Waste Solutions, but Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen, who is up for re-election this fall, also spoke in favor of the group before the Oakland City Council the same night last July 30…Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore is also up for another four years this November and her “leading from behind” approach to governance is often highlighted by her larger-than-life city manager, John Russo, who often hijacks City Council’s meetings. So, it’s not surprising, although nonetheless odd, to hear that Russo, and not Gilmore, is scheduled to give a “State of the City” speech to the League of Women Voters next week…Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski‘s idea of dressing up is to wear a sport coat over a t-shirt. He showed up at this week’s Alameda County Democratic Central Committee meeting dressed as an adult legislator, but forgot to comb his hair…Speaking of the central committee, they expect to spend up to 10 hours interviewing candidates at an endorsement meeting Sept. 13 at their headquarters in San Leandro…One last thing. If you are still unsure about ranked-choice voting, a Hayward resident has created this website to help you out.

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