FREMONT CITY COUNCIL
While Rep. Ro Khanna revels on the national scene as a progressive flag bearer, the situation at home in his Fremont congressional district is quite different. Khanna’s curious endorsement of Fremont City Council candidate Yang Shao continues to fuel discontent among members of the LGBT community and progressives in that city. Khanna is double-downing on the endorsement and says he will not withdraw his backing. Last week, some Fremont voters received door-hangers from Shao’s campaign that feature the candidate, along with Khanna, and Fremont Mayor Lily Mei. Shao, a member of the Fremont school board, is part of a growing Chinese evangelical movement in the South Bay called the River of Life. Shao previously supported Proposition 8, the 2008 state initiative to ban same-sex marriage. A New York Times piece from 2010 is getting much play from Shao’s opponents. In it Shao is quoted as supporting the beliefs of the River of Life’s leader, William Tam, who asserted gay marriage will lead to the legalization of prostitution and pedophilia. The spotlight returned to Shao’s uneasy relationship with the LGBT community earlier this spring when he voted against continuing sex education curriculum for fourth to sixth grade Fremont students. The new curriculum included additional references to LGBT family dynamics. Khanna, incidentally, publicly criticized the Fremont school board for their vote to suspend the sex ed program.
One of the most curious items from the release of semi-annual campaign finance reports this week is the $181,005 personal loan Oakland mayoral candidate Saied Karamooz made to his campaign. On its face, his robust war chest should make him a player in November. But the large contribution is the only one he reported through the six-month reporting period. In addition, Karamooz, a member of the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, ran for mayor four years ago and with scant success–winning just 264 first place votes. But it remains to be seen what Karamooz does with all the cash in his campaign. Because despite his low level of support in 2014, his rhetoric was sharp, witty, and colored with a critique that Oakland has been taken over by special interests money. He routinely labeled the three incumbents in the 2014 race–Libby Schaaf, Jean Quan, and Rebecca Kaplan–as”coin-operated politicians” and “remote-controlled by big donors.” It’s not hard to imagine a three-headed punching machine of Karamooz, community organizer Cat Brooks, and civil rights attorney Pamela Price, giving Mayor Schaaf fits throughout the fall.
18TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
Assemblymember Rob Bonta has been rolling out a number of local endorsements in recent weeks and it’s not hard to see a trend forming. Notably, many are women of color. Last week, Bonta endorsed Oakland City Council District 4 candidates Sheng Thao and Pam Harris; Oakland District 2 school board member Aimee Eng; and Peralta Community College Trustee Julina Bonilla. Perhaps more controversially, Bonta previously endorsed Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks. But there’s word that female candidates in other cities may also received Bonta’s backing. Meanwhile, last June, he also endorsed Irella Blackwood, an African American candidate for Alameda County auditor, in addition, to backing Kimberly Ellis for California Democratic Party chair.
20TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT Hayward area voters sent Bill Quirk to the assembly in 2012 along with the first class of legislators to benefit from potentially 12 years in office. Two years prior, California voters approved an increase in term limits in the legislature from 8 years to 12 years. In the years since, Quirk has faced token opposition at the ballot box and settled in as the assembly’s expert scientist. But questions about whether will choose to serve through 2024 or retire sometime before, have increased in recent months. Further increasing speculation is the fact Quirk recently sold his home in Hayward and moved to a senior community development in Union City (still in 20th Assembly District). Tomasa Duenas, Quirk’s chief of staff said he and his wife are merely downsizing. There are other factors, including Quirk’s age (he will be 72 this September) fueling doubt, including the exhausting daily grind of driving from south county to Sacramento four days a week when the assembly is in session, and within the last few years he became a grandfather. Meanwhile, there is parlor talk about who might replace Quirk one day? The pickings are slim in a district dominated by Hayward and Fremont.
A tip of the hat from one East Bay political legend to another. Former Rep. Pete Stark remembered his colleague, Ron Dellums, who died last Monday. “I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, Congressman Ron Dellums. He welcomed me, providing space in his office before mine was assigned when I was first elected to Congress in 1972. We served together for twenty-five years. Ron was a great leader who worked tirelessly for peace and justice. I send my thoughts and condolences to the Dellums family.” There’s a clear link between the elections of Stark and Dellums. Both parlayed the rising anti-war sentiment in the Bay Area against a Democratic establishment that was still supportive of the conflict.