20 THINGS I THINK ABOUT THE EAST BAY ELECTIONS

Union City Council candidate forum last September

I think this November election season has produced a number of future political prospects. Many more than most election cycles. They include John Knox White (Alameda City Council), Sheng Thao (Oakland City Council District 4), Aisha Wahab (Hayward City Council), Cat Brooks (Oakland mayor), Cindi Reiss (Peralta Community College Board), Harpal Singh Mann, (Chabot-Las Positas Community College Board), Harris Mojadedi (Union City Council), Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (16th Assembly District), and Jeromey Shafer (San Leandro mayor).

I think Knox White in Alameda and Thao in Oakland District 4 will enter office running on the first day. Knox White has been quietly shaping legislation in Alameda for over a decade, and Thao, as Rebecca Kaplan’s chief of staff, already knows where all the bodies are buried at Oakland City Hall.

How presumptuous can one be? Not only did Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer leave her re-election campaign last week for a needless city trip to China, but the sum total of her entire effort is reportedly sticking up to 1,000 yard signs in the ground. She’s still the odd-on favorite to win next week. It’s a lazy, cynical way of running for re-election.

AD15 Nov collage
15th Assembly District candidates Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks.

I think there’s going to be an inordinate number of too-close-to-call races all over the East Bay. They include all three Oakland City Council races; Alameda mayor, the second seat on the Alameda and Hayward City Councils; and of course, the AD15 tilt.

I think Buffy Wicks is going to totally fit in if she is able to outlast Jovanka Beckles and head to Sacramento in the tight 15th Assembly District race, and not in a good way.

Rarely in these parts has a high-profile race like the one in AD15 failed to coalesce around some sort of consensus on the outcome. I think Jovanka Beckles is making a similar, sneaky, late run like she did in the primary. The only reason given by those who predict a Wicks victory is that she has so much money, therefore, can’t lose. The progressive zeitgeist in the East Bay and nationally is with Beckles, not the other person.

I think, though, if Wicks beats Beckles, it’s going to put a nail in coffin for this already laughable view of Berkeley as a progressive paradise. These are rich, white, NIMBYs. Progressives in sheep’s clothing. They’ve been this for a long time. The movement resides in Richmond and Oakland, and in that order. And don’t surprise if Alameda joins the group soon.

I think if Desley Brooks loses her Oakland City Council seat next week, it’s going to make their meetings extremely boring. Over the past six months, they have already been snooze-fests because Brooks has toned down her rhetoric in advance of the election. It’s not just her theatrics that makes for good copy and spectacle, it’s that Brooks is one of the few councilmembers who express any interesting thoughts.

I think what Brooks did to Elaine Brown and taxpayers is horrible. But this is a wimpy Oakland City Council. They should have immediately censured Brooks. If there was ever a moment why the power to censure exists, it’s to reprimand a colleague for assaulting a civil rights icon and costing taxpayers $2.1 million in damages. But here’s the crazy part: She’s by far the best choice in the five-person field in District 6.

Schaaf price
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Pamela Price, a mayoral challenger, at a forum last September in Oakland.

I think Oakland voters should have been told that their mayor was actively seeking a run for lieutenant governor last year. Turns out donors, especially in Southern California, showed absolutely no interest. So Libby Schaaf decided to run for re-election with Donald Trump as her foil.

Here comes the Red Wave through Fremont as I’ve prophesied for over four years. Fremont’s move to district elections and expansion of the City Council to seven seats this fall is looking like a disaster for progressives. Fremont Mayor Lily Mei is a bit moderate, but as a school board member she voted to ban some books from the curriculum. Now, two evangelicals are poised to join Mei. Yang Shao, who has angered the LGBT community to no end and once said Martin Luther King, Jr. “bought sex, is a favorite to join the new council, along with Teresa Keng. This is just the start in the East Bay. Return to this blurb in 20 years. If hashtags still exist in 2038, use #IToldYouSo.

I think someone on the left should have run for Hayward mayor. They probably would not have won, but like Jeromey Shafer in the San Leandro mayor’s race, the issue of rent control, just cause, and minimum wage would have been a topics in this race. For a one-on-one race between two well-known candidates, the Barbara Halliday versus Mark Salinas mayoral matchup is the worst I have ever seen in the East Bay.

I think Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk is going to retire by 2020. The signs are all there. He’s downsizing his personal life (moved to a senior community in Union City), in addition, to his political life (a noticeable amount of campaign expenditures this fall despite running against a write-in candidate. If so, I think Hayward loses this seat.

I think the Alameda County Democratic Party should feel stupid for putting so much capital into Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s race last June against Pamela Price after she went off and endorsed Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker. Then O’Malley did a “James Comey” on Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie by releasing, two weeks before his tough re-election, her report on allegations that former Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach illegally recorded Oddie and another councilmember. Here’s the rub: Oddie is Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s district director and right-hand man.

Bonta headshot voting
Assemblymember Rob Bonta

I think Bonta would be wise to think about challenging O’Malley in 2022, as one insider floated to me this week. Bonta would be termed out of the assembly in 2024. I don’t think there would be a race. O’Malley would just retire because Bonta is wildly popular in the East Bay and progressives would love nothing more than to put one of their own in the DA’s office. The next refrain would be, ‘Now, how can we get ALCO Sheriff Greg Ahern out of office?’

I think what the San Leandro Fresh, Clean Slate of rent control and just cause candidates are doing is…refreshing. They won’t win a seat, but they’re right, there is a gigantic imbalance in the city between regular people and the special interests. It’s greatly amplified because nobody runs for office in San Leandro. Therefore, groups like landlords and developers can assert power and do it without spending much money. That’s a great investment for them. The day after the election next week, this group needs to form a legitimate renters’ rights organization in San Leandro. One like the Alameda Renters Coalition that can have an almost equal seat at the table with city officials and landlords.

But what Alameda renters can learn from San Leandro is that it’s never bad to have a face to go along with the enemy. The Fresh, Clean Slate’s flyer featuring San Leandro landlord and City Hall insider Tom Silva as the council’s puppet master is what the Alameda Renters Coalition should do with Alameda’s “Landord-In-Chief” Don Lindsey. People should now the man behind “Alamedans In Charge” really loves islands. Not Alameda, but numerous vacations in Hawaii. Check his Facebook page.

I think we can all forget about Rep. Eric Swalwell running for president in 2020. The Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary is in early 2020. Recall that the California primary is being moved from June to March 2020. Do you think he’s really going to give up his congressional seat? Better hope not, because the next up candidate would be State Sen. Bob Wieckowski.

I think Pamela Price’s next move, that is, if she is unsuccessful Tuesday in the Oakland mayor’s race, should be chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party. That place needs to be cleansed and Price has proven to be the one central committee member willing to disinfect it with transparency. If not Price, it would also be a good landing spot for Jim Oddie, if Alamedans don’t re-elect him Tuesday.

Incumbent mayors in Alameda, Hayward, and San Leandro are favorites to win re-election. That means on Wednesday the list of possible 2022 candidates will begin to line up (Hayward, though, does not have term limits). I think if the incumbents are victorious, Alameda Councilmember Malia Vella’s name goes to the top of the list; same with Councilmember Corina Lopez in San Leandro; and Councilmember Elisa Marquez in Hayward.

 

 

 

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