East Bay’s June ballot is set; AD15 features 12 candidates; sheriff, 2 supervisors to run unopposed

Just a portion of the AD15 field during a
forum in Oakland last January.

ELECTION 2018
Voters in the contentious 15th Assembly District will have to choose from a list of 11 Democrats and a lone Republican this June. The wide-open race in the top-two primary is destined to be another tight Dem-on-Dem affair, just as it was in 2014 when Tony Thurmond outlasted Elizabeth Echols. Thurmond is leaving the seat that represents areas around Berkeley, Richmond, and a portion of North Oakland, in order to challenge for the state superintendent of public instruction race, also this June.

Although none of the dozen candidates has clearly pulled away from the pack, the upper tier of candidates on the ballot include, Buffy Wicks, who ran Hillary Clinton‘s presidential operations in California and worked in the Obama administration. Wicks has, by far, led the field in fundraising with a whopping $520,000 in contributions through last year.

Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, Berkeley school board member Judy Appel, Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, El Cerrito Councilmember Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett, and East Bay MUD Board Director Andy Katz round out what is generally viewed as a solid, but not necessarily flashy group of primary challengers.

The rest of the field includes, activist Owen Poindexter, who has brought Universal Basic Income into the conversation; attorneys Cheryl Sudduth and Raquella Thaman; and software engineer Sergey Piterman. The only Republican in the race is Cal student Pranav Jandhyala. The 2016 campaign for this seat also featured a lone GOP candidate from Cal.

The race between Pamela Price, left, and Alameda 
County DA Nancy O’Malley has been testy of late.

In the other marquee East Bay race this spring, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and Oakland civil rights attorney Pamela Price will go head-to-head in a winner take-all June primary after a third candidate named Frederick Remer, pulled papers to run, but failed to complete his application by the Mar. 9 deadline.

In the 16th Assembly District, Democrats will again try to thwart GOP Republican Catharine Baker‘s re-election. In this fairly purple suburban East Bay district, Democrats will be represented by immigration attorney Rebecca Bauer-Kahan.

The Fremont area and South Bay’s 25th Assembly District will feature three challengers to Assemblymember Kansen Chu‘s re-election, including former Ohlone Community College District board member Bob Brunton, who faced Chu in 2014 and 2016. Libertarian candidate Robert Imhoff and Democrat Carmen Montano will also seek a spot in the two-top.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta in the Oakland-Alameda-San Leandro 18th District will face Alameda Republican Stephen Slauson in both June and November. Assemblymember Bill Quirk, who represents Hayward-Tri-Cities-Fremont areas in the 20th District is running unopposed this year.

In roughly the same region, 10th District State Sen. Bob Wieckowski will face Milpitas businessman Victor San Vicente, a Republican; and Libertarian Ali Sarsak.

Rep. Barbara Lee will not face an opponent
this year; rookie Rep. Ro Khanna, meanwhile,
 has five challengers in the primary.

At the congressional level, popular Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee will run unopposed in the 13th District. First-term Rep.Ro Khanna in the 17th District will face five challengers this June, including three who ran or pulled papers for the 2016 primary.

The news-making Fremont CPA Ron Cohen is again in the race as the lone Republican in the field. Libertarian Kennita Watson, who also ran in 2016 and Democrat Stephen Forbes, who did not qualify two years ago, are in a field that also includes Alum Rock school board member Khahn Tran, and businesswoman Pauline Vanderbilt, both Democrats.

It appears Rep. Eric Swalwell‘s almost daily cable news rants against President Donald Trump in the Russian collusion investigation has rustled up two primary challengers. They are Tri-Valley businessman Rudy Peters and medical marketing executive Brendan St. John, who is registered as No Party Preference.

In Alameda County, three notable incumbents will again face no challengers this June. Alameda County Supervisors Wilma Chan and Richard Valle, along with Alameda Sheriff Gregory Ahern also did not face competition in 2014.

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Karen Monroe is unopposed, as is two other members of the county Board of Education, who will not appear on the ballot–Aisha Knowles and Yvonne Cerrato. (Berkeley-Emeryville trustee Joaquin Rivera will face Adbur Sikhar). Recently appointed Treasurer-Tax Collector Henry Levy will be unopposed.

In addition, 24 judicial races for Alameda County Superior Court did not attract a challenger and will not appear on the ballot this June. But one judicial race did make the cut. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Tara Flanagan will be challenged by retired deputy public defender Karen Katz. The race is notable because judicial incumbents are rarely contested in Alameda County.

Retirements at the Alameda County assessor and auditor/clerk-reporter’s office will include candidates from each office hoping to inherent the seats from their boss. James Johnson, who works in the assessors office, will face business owner Phong La, Alameda Water Agency board member John Weed, and certified general appraiser Kevin Lopez. To avoid a runoff in November, one candidate must win a simple majority of the June vote. At the auditor’s office, Melissa Wilk, a deputy in the auditor’s office will face newcomer Irella Blackwood.

Well down ballot at theTri-Valley Zone 7 water agency, former Pleasanton council candidate Olivia Sanwong is hoping to crash a race that includes four incumbents. The at-large race includes current Zone 7 members, Dennis Gambs, John Greci, Jr., Sarah Palmer and Bill Stevens.

Going forward, in addition, to two-top races at the state and federal level, East Bay voters this November will face a number of intriguing municipal elections. Voters in Oakland, Alameda, Hayward, San Leandro, Pleasanton, and Newark will decide whether to re-elect incumbent mayors.

Two Oakland City Council members–Abel Guillen and Desley Brooks–will likely face strong challengers, as will San Leandro Councilmember Deborah Cox. A wide-open race for Alameda’s two council seats will also be attention-worthy, and four seats are up-for-grabs on the Berkeley City Council.

Meanwhile, Hayward voters make the switch back to November municipal election this fall in a race where two incumbents are seeking re-election. Not to mention a potential free-for-all in Fremont where a potential lawsuit forced the city to introduce district elections and expand the council to seven seats. Two of those new seats will be contested this fall, in addition, to two incumbents seeking re-election.

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