|Clockwise: Mayoral candidates Trish Spencer and Marie Gilmore. City Council candidates Jim Oddie Stewart Chen and Frank Matarrese.
MEET THE CANDIDATES Alameda has one of the more intriguing mayoral races in the East Bay. Two legitimate candidates with compelling counter arguments when it comes to development on the island. Mayor Marie Gilmore is seeking re-election this November. She says under her leadership, Alameda’s financial status has markedly improved and the development of Alameda Point has been furthered by her and the City Council over the past four years. School board member Trish Spencer represents a diametrically opposed vision for Alameda when it comes to Alameda Point and other development projects—she’s against it.
On the City Council side, two seats are available for three candidates, including an incumbent Councilmember Stewart Chen. Chen ran in 2012 and finished third in a race for two seats and owes his election to former Alameda Councilmember Rob Bonta’s political ambition. Because Bonta won his race for the State Assembly in 2012, Chen was elevated to serve the last two years of his term. Earlier this year, it was reported that Chen, also an Oakland chiropractor, was convicted 20 years ago of insurance fraud, an incident he never bothered to mention over the course of his political career. Frank Matarrese, who served eight years on the City Council before running for mayor in 2010, is back. Matarrese, like Spencer, is running on an anti-development platform at Alameda Point. Bonta’s Assembly District Director Jim Oddie is seeking a seat on the City Council while running on a plane opposite to Spencer and Matarrese and closer to Gilmore and Chen. That’s not surprising since the three are endorsed by the city’s powerful firefighters’ union.
PAST RESULTS 2010 General Election–Mayor:
1. Gilmore 9,298 (36.9%) 2. Frank Matarrese 6,074 (24.1%) 3. Doug deHaan 5,870 (23.3%) 4. Tony Daysog 2,977 (11.8%).
City Council (Top Three): 1. Rob Bonta 9,164 (20.5%) 2. Lena Tam 7,748 (17.3%) 3. Beverly Johnson 7,682 (17.2%) 4. Jean Sweeney 7,018 (15.7%) 5. Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft 5,560 (12.4%) 6. Tracy Jensen 3,211 (7.2%) 7. Adam Gillitt 2,291 (5.1%).
OUTLOOK Gilmore’s re-election was never really in doubt, but she drew in Spencer, likely the only candidate in the city who could possibly give her fits. Alameda’s nativist streak is well-known and questions about development and traffic congestion on an island with few exit points has persisted for generations. Spencer’s boldface stance against development at Alameda Point is a winner for many in Alameda, but not enough to unseat an incumbent who may have few personal accomplishments, but also one who hasn’t come anywhere close to dialing back the city’s forward momentum.
The council race, however, is one of the most difficult to prognostic in the entire East Bay. There is simply no consensus, but numerous theories exist. Mataresse likely has the highest name-recognition of the three. That’s a major positive in what may be a low-turnout election. In addition, fervent opponents of Alameda Point may head to the polls with the idea Matarrese is the best and only hope for someone to represent their position on the council because Spencer won’t make the cut. Chen has the incumbency and has the city’s growing Asian American demographic on his side. Meanwhile, those who believe Oddie sneaks into the top two place their faith in his connection to the firefighters’ union, which can’t seem to lose in recent elections. Oddie is also, by far, the least known in the race. However, a major negative push is being seen against Matarrese just within the last two weeks. Attacking him worked four years ago and it will work again.
PREDICTIONS Mayor: 1) Gilmore 2) Spencer
City Council (Top Two) 1. Chen 2. Oddie. 3. Matarrese