Frustrated Socialists Voter Guide: Oakland 2020 Primaries

As is the way of things, several members of the Frustrated Socialist’s Guide team have had to depart the East Bay for cheaper pastures, and those remaining have been working overtime with the DSA for Bernie campaign (with which this guide has no formal relationship, but bears a deep affection for). We’ll be regrouping to bring you a timely, in-depth guide to the exciting elections coming up this fall. In the meantime, you probably just want to know ETF a county commissioner is. Let’s get to it. 


President: Bernie Sanders
Yeah no shit y’all, we’ve got the chance to boost working-class organizing in a way not seen since–[infighting over leftist history redacted]–in a long-ass time. He consistently beats Trump in head-to-head matchups, has the most volunteers, the biggest donor base and the highest popularity of the candidates, so Bernie’s as safe a bet as we can get for the general election. And as of press time, he’s come in first in first in both of the primaries thus far, and the most likely alternatives are Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg, with the remaining candidates failing to consistently meet the 15% minimum threshold required to win pledged delegates. If you’ve got any doubts, hit and take a look.


Democratic Party County Committee
District 15
Pick 8 of these 9: Paola Laverde , Igor Tregub , Wendy Bloom, Bobbi Lopez , Julie Caseky, Michael Barnett, Andy Kelley , Alfred Twu, Soli Alpert

The first 8 candidates are endorsed by the steering committee of the Berkeley Tenants Union. You can read their bios and rationale for endorsement here. Laverde and Twu are also endorsed by the People Powered Progressives, and the author of this document would vouch for them personally as committed public servants, Laverde as a Berkeley rent board member and Twu as one of the few people who writes publicly about zoning and development who is an unabashedly good person.

Soli Alpert is the youngest member of the Berkeley Rent Board, representing the city’s student population. He was a major force behind Students for Bernie in ‘16, and has remained engaged in left politics constantly since then.

District 18 
Henry Gage III, Pamela Price, Andrea Luna Bocanegra, Austin Tam, Marchon Tatmon, Victor Aguilar Jr, Royl Roberts, Guillermo Elenes, Howard Egerman, Iris Merriouns, Jose Carlos Moreno

We recommend voting for the People Powered Progressives slate, a group of left challengers who are all refusing corporate funding, and represent a comprehensive set of perspectives and areas of expertise including tenant’s rights, labor organizers, police accountability and a wide spectrum of marginalized identities. The slate is centered in D18, but also includes some candidates from districts 15, 16 & 20. Read more about them here.


13th Congressional District: Barbara Lee

No one will be replacing Lee with a Republican. Since this is a top-2 open primary and the Greens didn’t feel up to repeating their 2018 mini-victory in edging out the Republican competitor for the honor of losing to Lee in a landslide, this one technically doesn’t matter because we’ll see the same 2 candidate matchup in November for the actual vote. Still, vote Lee.

State Senate District 7: Marisol Rubio

Rubio is a former Bernie Sanders delegate and healthcare provider, running to unseat Shitty Democrat Steve Glazer. Glazer has said public transit workers shouldn’t be allowed to strike, authored bills to weaken environmental protections in favor of real estate developers, and gets tons of money from charter school PACs. Rubio has the backing of unions, especially teachers and firefighters, as well as environmental groups. She supports banning fracking and lists support for many components of a Green New Deal, proposes big, necessary expansions to public education funding, and supports universal healthcare (though her platform stops short of specifying the details). Vote for her, consider canvassing for her or donating as well. She’ll need to edge out the Republican to make it to the November ballot.

State Legislator

District 15: Sara Brink, or write-in Jovanka Beckles

Billionaire-backed incumbent Buffy Wicks is not facing the opposition she deserves this go-round. Brink is the progressive-ish challenger–she describes herself as “a 34 year old white lady gentrifier” and states her identities have given her the privilege to run for office, before getting to a platform that enters on making it easier to run for office and charging citizen committees to oversee each bill passed by the state. But she has has campaigned so halfheartedly (her slogan is literally “because you have no good options”) that local hero/2018 runner-up Beckles is also racking up some protest votes.

District 18: Rob Bonta

Again, both these candidates will return in November, but Bonta’s fine, and we don’t give Republicans an inch.

Superior Court Judge, Office #2: Elena Condes

This judgeship is vacant following the retirement of the previous judge, so there’s a rare competitive race to fill the seat. Progressive groups have settled pretty much unanimously on Condes, a longtime solo practice attorney. Her most viable opponent is Mark Fickes, a former prosecutor & SEC attorney who now does criminal defense for those charged by the SEC, and seems to have stretched things a bit to call himself a ‘civil rights lawyer’ on the ballot. Condes meanwhile touts her experience as a trial lawyer with extensive,varied experience in court (most lawyers do not actually go to court much, if at all), endorsements from 20-something other judges, and perspective as a Latina lesbian who values inclusion. It was challenging to find much information on this race (judicial candidates strive to appear apolitical; Condes website mostly explains what the position is and gives her bio), but she seems qualified, concerned with equal justice, and very nice, so sure. 

Board of Education, 2nd Trustee Area: Angela Normand

This is the Alameda Country Board of Education, separate from but kind of overseeing the school boards of the various cities in the county. A major function of the County board is hearing appeals from charter schools that the city boards deemed unnecessary to open, unprepared to function, or which are operating so poorly the city votes not to renew their charter. Incumbent Amber Childress has routinely sided with charter schools. Her opponent, Angela Normand, is a teacher endorsed by the Oakland Educators Association and, in a rare move, the Alameda County Democratic party abandoned the incumbent to support her. Vote Normand for public schools, and holding the charter schools we already have to account.

Alameda County Supervisor, District 4: Esther Goolsby

She fought off a crematorium in working-class, majority POC, already-heavily-polluted East Oakland. She’s won the support of the Green Party and our pal Jovanka Beckles. We’ve not been following the supervisor races as closely as we should, but we’d be proud to see her environmental justice experience guide the county. 

Ballot Initiatives

State 13: Yes
This initiative gives the state permission to borrow $15 billion from bond-buyers to repair & build school facilities, from preschool to university, with the bonds being paid off over 35 years. Given the enormous size of the state and the decaying buildings of many of our schools, $15 billion may be a little light, but we should take it. A nice upside is requiring that our big public colleges ensure affordable student housing in order to get their share of the money. They downside is charter schools are eligible to pocket up to $500 million, a problem we’ll have to solve through public ed, rather than starving them out.

County C: Yes

This creates a half cent per dollar sales tax county-wide for the next 20 years, with the money earmarked for preschool and a pediatric trauma center. Sales taxes are regressive (hitting the working class proportionately harder than those who have so much money they spend in ways that aren’t ‘sales’) but $0.005 per dollar is small, and the revenue also goes to underserved kids, so we think you should do it.

Oakland Q: Yes

This raises property taxes on each ‘parcel’ (single family home) of land by $148/year, expiring in 20 years. The money will fund homeless shelters and public parks. We have a homelessness crisis and parks are a vital public good (and some of ours do inded need infrastructure repairs) so do it.

Oakland R: Yes

The Oakland city charter calls for making a newspaper with daily circulation of 25,000 or more the official county paper in which legal notices must be published. We, uh, don’t have a paper like that anymore, thanks to the collapse of journalism. This would eliminate the 25k/day requirement and let the city council figure out what we do instead.

Oakland S: Yes

An obscure part of the state constitution puts a spending cap on the city, and we have to vote to suspend the cap to use already-collected tax money on city services like paramedics, libraries, violence prevention, and homelessness services. Do it, we can’t afford not to have those things. You already paid for them anyway. 

2018 East Bay Voter Guide: The Master Post

Welcome to the Frustrated Socialists’ Voter Guide. We’re a volunteer team of democratic socialists in the East Bay who have tried to research everything on the ballot in our communities and share those recommendations. We take a harm reduction approach to voting–meaningful political change relies on everyday people taking action before and after elections to shape what’s on the table. But if your eligible to vote, we encourage you to pick the best, or at least the least-bad, option in each race while you’ve got the chance. Some races have no good option, some have several highly similar candidates, and our research is imperfect, but these are the consensus picks of a team of dedicated organizers. We tried to provide helpful explanations for each choice, but we encourage you to do your own research too. We hope you find it helpful!

We broke different sections of the ballot up into separate posts, and we’ll have some shareable graphics for Facebook and Twitter coming very soon. In the meantime, here’s links to our recommendations for different sections of your ballot:

Peralta Community College District Elections: Nov 2018

Peralta Community College District Trustees

Area 3: Corean Todd         Area 5: Cindi Reiss

Staff at the Peralta Community College have been ringing the alarm over financial mismanagement. Corean and Cindi are both highly qualified women of color with the support of the teachers union and the more reform-minded incumbent trustees.


Peralta Community College Bond Measures

Peralta College District – Measure E: Yes

Measure E renews an existing $48/house/year tax to fund the already-underfunded Peralta community colleges: College of Alameda, Berkeley City College, Laney College and Merritt College. These colleges primarily serve working class students of color, and the state won’t pony up the money to keep them running properly, so here we are. The tax makes up about 7.5% of the colleges’ funding, bringing them from 19% under budget to just 16% under-funded.

Peralta College District – Measure G: Yes

Measure G adds another $24.50/yr in property taxes to issue a bond–basically selling the future tax revenues to investors with interest in order to get all the money up front–to pay for infrastructure improvements to the Peralta colleges: repairing buildings, upgrading science labs and the like. We’re pleased that none of the money can go to chronically-inflated administrator salaries. The biggest downside is that past financial mismanagement has hurt the Peralta system’s credit rating, so we’ll be paying a higher interest rate than we should, raising the cost and eating into the money available for actual use. Still, students deserve good learning environments and university workers shouldn’t have to make due with run-down facilities. So vote yes now and elect Corean Todd and Cindi Reiss to start fixing the system for the long haul.

Oakland Elections: Nov 2018

Oakland Candidates for Office

Oakland Mayor: #1 Cat Brooks, #2 Pamela Price, #3 Saied Karamooz

Cat Brooks is a Black Lives Matter and anti-police violence activist. Pamela Price is a civil rights attorney fresh off nearly unseating Alameda County’s terrible DA. Saied Karamooz is a Green party activist and advocate for a public bank. Any of them would be an improvement over incumbent mayor Libby Schaaf, who’s been mired in scandal for covering up sex trafficking of a minor by the Oakland PD, and whose business-friendly platform has worsened gentrification. Oakland tends to not re-elect mayors, but all challengers entered the race pretty late and Schaaf is deep seated and well-funded.

Oakland City Auditor: Courtney Ruby

Courtney Ruby is the old Auditor running to oust the one who succeeded her. She’s pretty well regarded, and the incumbent is viewed to be ineffectual.

Oakland City Council

District 2: Nikki Fortunato Bas, #2 Kenzie Smith

Nikki Fortunato Bas is a long-time local labor activist, working through non-profits to support garment workers. She’s been a leader in successful campaigns to raise the city’s minimum wage, to require real estate developers to hire local residents, and to reduce air pollution around the port. Her platform includes strengthening anti-displacement measures for tenants, stronger rent control, strengthening police accountability, and environmental health measures. She’s won the support of a broad swath of labor and progressive community groups.

Kenzi Smith is a community activist who became famous overnight as the target of ‘BBQ Becky,’ when a white woman called the police to complain he was enjoying a cookout at Lake Merritt. That lead to his appointment to the Parks commission, and his decision to challenge incumbent Abel Guillen. Guillen is one of the more conservative city council members and faces ethics complaints for accepting donations from real estate developers behind a project pending city council approval, we suggest you leave him off your ballot altogether.

District 4: #1 Pam Harris, #2 Sheng Thao #3 Nayeli Maxson

Pamela Harris is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and an inspiring speaker. She’s called for a real living wage in the Bay–noting that in San Francisco, that would realistically be $40/hr–supports union jobs, and favors supporting Oakland’s diversity through both economic and cultural equity. She’s gained the endorsement of community organizations and leaders from the far left to the center, including that of the outgoing incumbent.

Sheng Thao is the labor candidate, having secured support from an assortment of progressive unions and non-profit groups. She promises to be exceptionally available to her constituents through frequent town halls and office hours, proposes using unspent homelessness prevention money to buy a shuttered SRO and open publicly-run transitional housing, and to migrate public services like illegal dumping clean-up and pothole-filling from a complain-and-wait to a proactive service model.

Nayeli Maxson is to both their right, having endorsed and been endorsed by Buffy Wicks. Still, it’s a crowded field and the remaining candidates are even more conservative, so we’d recommend rounding out your ballot with her.

District 6: #1 Desley Brooks, #2 Mya Whitaker #3 Marlo Rodriguez

Desley Brooks is not perfect. Many have likely heard about her misadventures with a Black Panther Party member-turned-housing developer, and other incidents. But at the end of the day, she represents her community, and has been a reliable progressive vote on the Oakland Council. The Schaff machine is out to get her though, and they’ve used every excuse they can find to paint her in a bad light. She’s been endorsed by Bobby Seale, founder of the Black Panther Party, ACCE Action, Oakland Rising Action, and many labor organizations.

Mya Whitaker is an accomplished recent college grad who grew up in the district and serves on the police accountability board. Her platform includes anti-displacement protections for longtime residents, trauma-informed mental health care for youth living in difficult conditions, promoting small businesses over large developments, and a preventative approach to crime reduction. As a first-time candidate, she doesn’t yet have a voting record we can parse to make a fully informed recommendation, but she seems likely to be politically successful over the long haul. If you have misgivings about Desley Brooks, Mya Whitaker would also be an excellent choice for #1.

Marlo Rodriguez is a union nurse and community activist. Her platform includes reducing police violence through training and accountability, expanding affordable housing through add-on units and development, and attracting a grocery store to the food-desert flatlands in the district. We have qualms with her approach to curbing police violence and crime through improved community/cop relations, but we expect her to be more progressive than the remaining 2 candidates, who are more closely aligned with our neoliberal mayor.

Oakland School Director

District 2: Aimee Eng
Running unopposed

District 4: Clarissa Doutherd

The Oakland teachers’ union (OEA) has thrown all their energy behind Doutherd this year. She’s running on equitable funding for all schools, democratic & transparent control of school district finances, and developing full-service ‘community schools’ that support kids & their families’ needs outside of just education. As a non-profit director, she’s been very successful in expanding access to & funding for childcare for low-income families, and is generally seen as an opponent of Oakland’s pro-charter/pro-privatization school board.

District 6: Shanthi Gonzales

Strong progressive, proponent of public schools, and labor ally. Running unopposed.


Oakland Ballot Initiatives

Measure V: Yes

This changes several regulations to the Oakland cannabis industry. One would be letting cannabis businesses pay their taxes in 4 installments a year instead of one huge annual tax bill, which would help smaller business keep up with their tax burden. It would give them the tax break on their raw materials which other manufacturing businesses already get. And it would let the city council make future changes to cannabis business regulation, so we don’t have to have a ballot initiative about it every time they want to change these codes. Business-enabling legislation isn’t really our wheelhouse, but these all seem like sensible moves to treat cannabis businesses like regular businesses, so, sure. Literally no one bothered filing an argument against it.

Measure W: Yes!

This would create a new tax on properties left vacant or almost-vacant (used less than 50 days per year) to fund homelessness services and clean up illegal dumping. The tax is progressive, with 3 tiers of higher rates as properties get more expensive, and is expected to raise $10 million a year. Measure W was a latecomer to the ballot and has flown pretty low (apart from some skeezy real estate industry campaigns against it), but it’s an excellent idea from every angle. Gentrification often encourages property owners to leave perfectly good homes and storefronts vacant in the hopes of attracting a high-end buyer or tenant someday, while locking out or kicking out the people who’re already there. Our homelessness services are dramatically underfunded for the crisis we’re facing. Taxing vacant spaces to fund homelessness services raises desperately needed money while punishing landlords for letting homes sit empty. And Oakland’s inadequate trash pick-up lead to lots of illegal dumping, which is an environmental mess, frequently blocks sidewalks for pedestrians and people using wheelchairs, and is insulting to the residents of working class communities left covered in trash. This is a strong yes.

Measure X: Yes

Similar to Berkeley’s Measure P, this raises the transfer tax (the sales tax on real estate) in a progressive way: the rate goes up for more expensive properties, and there are breaks built in for low-income & first-time homebuyers. Unlike Berkeley’s tax, the lower tier (1%) would apply to all real estate sales. The current transfer tax is a flat rate of 1.5%, so this makes properties under $300K properties a tad cheaper, holds the rate steady for $300K to $2 million sales, and raises taxes on everything over $2 million: luxury housing and big commercial projects. The money, like our existing transfer tax, would go to the city’s general fund. We’re all for taxing the rich, so this is a welcome change. And because the tax is only paid when properties are sold, it should not affect people staying in their homes.

Measure Y: Yes!

This measure takes the protections against unfair eviction that most Oaklanders already enjoy, and expands them to cover people living in duplexes and triplexes. Tenants in single-family homes and bigger apartment buildings can only be evicted for ‘just cause’, that is, only for specific violations of their lease, like failing to pay rent or doing damage to the property. This closes the loophole that lets landlords who live in one apartment in a 2- or 3- unit building evict their tenants in the other units for no reason (it would still allow homeowner/landlords who have roommates to evict people from within a shared home without cause). Measure Y was buoyed by investigative journalists going undercover at real estate open houses & getting footage of agents telling would-be buyers how to buy a small apartment building & evict all the existing residents to increase the rent. Vote yes.

Measure Z: Yes!!!

This would set the minimum wage for hotel workers (at hotels with more than 50 rooms) to $15/hr, (or $20/hr if the job doesn’t offer benefits), give them a panic button when working alone in rooms with guests, and resources to report threats and receive paid time off for counseling if they sustain violence in the workplace, and place restrictions on workload. It also gives the city the resources to enforce labor laws across the city. Hotel workers–especially immigrant women of color–have fought hard to win these benefits: they’re frequently underpaid, overworked, and subject to on the job sexual violence. As a result of their organizing, not only would their own jobs be improved, but the new Department of Workplace and Employment Standards this initiative sets up would make it easier for all workers to demand their bosses be held to the letter of the law.

Measure AA: Yes

A similar measure to fund childcare and public early education just barely failed in the primary, it’s back now in the form of a $198/yr property tax (with exemptions for low-income property owners). It would also set aside funds to reduce disparities in post-high school education outcomes, that is, help kids prepare for, apply to, and figure out how to pay for college. The high cost and low availability of childcare and preschool are disastrous for working class families. Working class moms, especially, find that their ability to work is hampered by insufficient childcare, or that all their wages are eaten up by the costs of sending their kid somewhere safe and educational while they work. Racial disparities in earning power and childcare availability means this deepens racial inequality, and there is a notable trend towards criminalizing parents who can’t pay for childcare. Universal, free-to-use childcare is a key socialist feminist project, and this at least establishes public funding to fill the gap for lower-income families.

On the other hand, some progressive groups have criticized the measure for routing the money through a politically controlled board of appointees rather than sending it directly to public programs like Head Start, and worry the pretty steep price tag represents an inflated budget and might deter voters from other necessary tax measures in the future. In short, it’s clear the goals of the initiative are vital, but we’re gambling a bit that this measure will accomplish them well.

Berkeley Elections: Nov 2018

Here’s our picks for Berkeley candidate for office & city-wide ballot initiatives. See previous posts for the Alameda County races and statewide elections.

City Auditor: Jenny Wong

Jenny Wong is a talented and experienced auditor who is running her campaign by canvassing the entire city and asking the residents of Berkeley what they want audited. She is endorsed by every member of of the Berkeley City Council and will do a great job. We could write this entire blurb about her positives, but she is also running against a candidate whose primary campaign platform is “move all the homeless people in Berkeley to Pleasanton,” which is completely immoral and also not what an auditor does.

Berkeley City Council

District 1: #1 Igor Tregrub, #2 Margo Schueler, #3 Mary Behm-Steinberg

Igor Tregrub is a smart, policy-minded candidate (as well as a DSA member), and we trust him to find the very best possible policies within the existing political framework. Among other public service gigs, he’s a current member of the Berkeley rent board, and is running with a strong focus on affordable housing and aid to the homeless population. He points to his past experience negotiating larger affordable housing set-asides in promising to push for a similar deal in development around the North Berkeley BART station. He’s also focusing on upgrading public transit and keeping Alta Bates hospital open.

Margo Schueler is a civil engineer, running on a heavily infrastructure-centric platform. She was one of the first women welders in the SF shipyards, and was a long time union activist before becoming an engineer, and she’s endorsed by the retiring incumbent. Her campaign website lists a number of issues of importance, from city sewer maintenance to STEM education, but does not include a platform of policy specifics.

Mary Behm-Steinberg is a disabled activist, running on a platform that includes more flexible building codes to legalize unlicensed apartments, supporting statewide taxes to fund housing, protecting the West Berkeley shell mount, and calling for a police oversight commission.

District 4: Kate Harrison

Kate Harrison was elected to the City Council in a special election. She has been on the council only 18 months, and in that time she has doubled the required number of affordable units in all new developments, passed an impressive ordinance requiring registration of all lobbyists who walk into city hall, secured public money for legal fees for tenants facing eviction or harassment, passed a fair scheduling ordinance, and is working on expanding paid family leave for all city employees. She is a vocal proponent of single-payer, and her work to save Alta Bates hospital gave her the wholehearted endorsement of CNA and NUHW. As if all of that wasn’t enough, her work to ensure civilian oversight over the police, as well as her attempt to pull Berkeley out of the militaristic and expensive Urban Shield program caused the Berkeley police union to officially endorse “Anyone But Kate Harrison” for this seat. Anyone who can piss off cops this much has our vote.

This is a ranked choice seat, but we would suggest leaving Ben Gould and Greg Magofna off of your ballot entirely. Both Gould and Magofna are pro-development YIMBYs. Gould is an ardent supporter of Buffy Wicks, and Magofna co-leads East Bay For Everyone, which is acting as a huge canvassing operation for Buffy this election cycle. Ben Gould is a weird trickle-down economics type masquerading as a progressive — at a recent town hall, he argued that the only way to solve Berkeley’s looming pension discrepancy is to invest in small business owners. In this same town hall, he argued that the biggest threat to public safety is “low police morale”, and this still wasn’t enough to get a positive endorsement from the police union.

District 7: Rigel Robinson

Rigel Robinson is a 2017 Berkeley alum. In his time on student government he led the campaign to divest the school’s endowment from fossil fuels and led the Cal for Bernie group, one of the largest Bernie student groups in the country. He is running on a platform of affordable housing and public safety for students, public safety here referring to increasing lighting, late-night transit options, better police oversight, and pulling out of Urban Shield (not more cops, which is usually what people mean by “public safety”). His platform is all very solid, but he is running is because Berkeley District 7 is the only student supermajority City Council district in the entire country as a result of a hard-won redistricting effort, and yet there has never been a student or recent graduate in that seat. He is running to give Berkeley students a seat at the table, and his platform and past progressive victories indicate that he will excel at this task.

District 8: #1 Alfred Twu, #2 Mary Kay Lacey

Alfred Twu is an activist, artist, and also an active DSA member, running on a vision of Berkeley as a green, affordable, inclusive and friendly city. That translates to expanded tenants rights, architecturally pleasing in-fill housing, public health services (including saving the Alta Bates hospital), and transit-and-pedestrian-oriented cityscapes. He’s a political staple in Berkeley and a veteran of Berkeley’s co-ops, pushing for more housing and worker-owned co-ops.

Mary Kay Lacey is an attorney who’s specialized in land use and tribal law, and also emphasizes the need to save Alta Bates hospital and strengthen tenant protections. She’s also highlighting the zero-waste initiative and the need to address traffic congestion on the district. Either candidate would be a welcome improvement over moderate incumbent Lori Droste.

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board (choose 5)

The Community Power Slate: John Selawsky, Paola Laverde, James Chang, Maria Poblet, and Soli Alpert

These candidates were all chosen to run by the Berkeley Tenants’ union, endorsed by East Bay DSA and other progressive groups. All but Alpert are accomplished incumbents, and he’s a Cal student running to represent students–one of the most numerous and frequently exploited renter populations–on the rent board. The 2 candidates actively campaigning against the slate are literally landlords. There’s no ranking order, just chose these 5.

Berkeley School Board (Choose 3)

Ka’Dijah Brown, Ty Alper, and Julie Sinai

These three candidates are running together as a slate, with the backing of most of Berkeley progressive groups. Ka’Dijah Brown is an elementary school teacher and is herself a graduate of Berkeley public schools, bringing a dual perspective to her understanding of the district. Ty Alper is an incumbent with a generally progressive voting history and notable awareness about racial discrepancies in the school system. Julie Sinai is more tied to the moderate wing of Berkeley politics, but has nonetheless won the endorsement of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers and established progressive groups like the Wellstone Democrats. We support candidates running together as slates as a way to put platform over personality and build voting blocs of elected officials, and prefer to approach slates as an all-or nothing proposition. But as an alternative, the Green party is endorsing school worker and parent of Berkeley public school students Dru Howard over Sinai.

Berkeley Ballot Initiatives

Measure O: Yes

Issues a bond, paid for by a small property tax increase (roughly $100/year range for the average house), to fund a smorgasbord of affordable housing projects: construction, preservation of affordable housing, co-ops and land trusts, all kinds of necessary stuff. Progressive groups are backing O&P together as a broad affordable housing initiative, but they’re separate ballot measures because they rely on different revenue streams. Take ‘em both.

Measure P: Yes

This is a sales tax on luxury real estate to fund services for Berkeley’s homeless population–housing, navigation centers and hygiene facilities. Transfer taxes are taxes paid when real estate is sold, and Measure P would tax only the top 33% most expensive real estate deals–right now, that kicks in at $1.5 million and up. It’s redistributive, it’s well thought out, it’s Good. Vote yes.

Measure Q: Yes

Most of this measure only matters if Prop 10 passes; it’s designed to update and expand rent control in ways that Costa-Hawkins currently bans. It would rent control new buildings after giving developers 20 years to make back their money (a longer window than we’d like, but better than the status quo of never). Unfortunately, it also exempts accessory dwelling units (garage apartments, in-law apartments, and other ways people add an apartment to what was originally a single family home) from rent control and just cause eviction, which we’ll argue against in Oakland. But overall, it would expand rent control a ton the moment it’s possible to do so, so let’s pass it now.

Measure R: Yes

This is a non-binding resolution calling for the Mayor’s office to develop a climate & infrastructure plan for the future of the city. Vision 2050 is basically already underway, as it desperately should, since Berkeley needs new infrastructure anyways. This measure is to get citizen buy-in to a pretty massive project.

Richmond and Contra Costa County Elections: Nov 2018

Most Contra Costa county-wide elections were decided during the primary, leaving just 1 ballot initiative and the West County school board races. As such we’ve included those with Richmond, and hope to expand to more CoCo cities in future elections as our team grows.  You can find more info on Richmond’s general election here:

Candidates for Office

Richmond Mayor: Melvin Willis Vice Mayor Willis is running to unseat current Richmond mayor Tom Butt. Willis is young, dynamic, very progressive, working by day as a tenant organizer for ACCE. Butt is a wealthy, white conservative democrat, wildly out of step with Richmond’s new political direction.

Richmond City Council (Choose 3): Ada Recinos, Eduardo Martinez, Virginia “Vicky” Ramirez Ada Recinos and Eduardo Martinez are incumbents, representing the Richmond Progressive Alliance’s Team Richmond slate along with Melvin Willis for mayor, and all 3 are endorsed by DSA as well as a slew of progressive groups. Their main focus is expanding affordable housing and rent control, and over the last term they’ve been part of the successful push to pressure the sheriff into ending an ICE detention contract. Vicky Ramirez is a late entry to the race, but she’s informally joined Recinos and Willis at campaign events. She works for a legal aid clinic, has joined in refusing corporate donations, and supports decommodifying housing.

West County School Board (Choose 3): Madeline Kronenberg, Valeria Cuevas, Consuelo Lara We’re taking our cue from the WCCC United Teachers and Richmond Progressive Alliance endorsements. These 3 candidates have their teacher’s backing, along with other unions. There’s no ranking or districts, just select these 3 candidates from the long list of those who are running.

Richmond & Contra Costa Ballot Initiatives

Measure R (county-wide): Yes Measure R would tax and regulated cannabis growing businesses in unincorporated portions of Contra Costa County. The money would go to fund general county services. Supporters say it will provide oversight to the cannabis industry for quality & environmental compliance, while funding public services. Opponents suggest stealing public workers’ pensions to pay for public services instead (really)

East Bay Parks District: Measure FF Yes.  Re-authorizes a tax we’re already paying to keep our extensive network of public parks running, including funding for wildfire prevention.

Measure H: Yes This is a progressive real estate transfer tax that goes into the general fund, the arguments are similar to those for Oakland’s Measure X: it places a higher tax on luxury and major commercial real estate transactions, its paid only when real estate is sold, and the money goes into always-underfunded city government.

Measure T: Yes Similar to Oakland’s Measure W, this would tax the owners of vacant property to pay for programs for homeless Richmonders and fund affordable housing. It’s a material stand against letting homes sit empty while people are on the streets.

Alameda County Races: Nov 2018

AC Transit Director: Dollene Jones The incumbent, Joel Young, has major issues, including alleged domestic abuse. He’s been censured by the transit department, but only voters have the power to remove him from office. Dollene Jones is a long-time bus driver with a deep understanding of the AC Transit system. The run-down we found of this race suggested she knows the budget and ongoing projects better than the incumbent. Let the workers who know the system have a seat at the table, and let’s get abusers out of office.

County Assessor: Phong La Phong La is a tax attorney who points to his volunteer work helping people avoid foreclosure during the 2008 crash, supports Prop 13 reform, and is campaigning on customer-service oriented improvements to the office. His opponent is against Prop 13 reform (i.e. wants to keep taxes on commercial property frozen at their purchase value, which starves local school and infrastructure budgets) and has argued tax assessments, and thus city revenues, should be decreased. We don’t need someone cutting property owners a break at the expense of functioning local government.

East Bay Parks District: Measure FF Yes.
Re-authorizes a tax we’re already paying to keep our extensive network of public parks running, including fire prevention.


CA Statewide Ballot Initiatives: Nov 2018 General Election

These puppies are on your ballot no matter where you live in California. We’ll have the local propositions for Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond up in separate posts (they’ll be in another section of your ballot)

Prop 1: Yes Authorizes Bonds to Fund Specified Housing Assistance Programs This would issues $4 billion in bonds to build affordable housing and help veterans buy homes. The money would be split among a handful of different initiatives, including transit-oriented housing, low-cost apartments, housing for farm workers, and home-buying assistance for low-income people. We have a massive housing affordability crisis, and this would help.

Prop 2: Yes Authorizes Bonds to Fund Existing Housing Program for Individuals with Mental Illness. This would move some money already raised by the millionaire’s tax for mental healthcare to help keep mentally ill people from becoming homeless. Because it’s outside the original scope of approved spending, voters have to approve the change. We’re a little unsure on this one. On the one hand, losing their home is one of the major dangers people with mental health challenges face, and comprehensive care should include housing support. The measure has union support, and the backing of the Sacramento mayor who authored the original millionaire’s tax. On the other hand, this initiative funds housing support by pulling money away from county mental health programs, and at least one mental health advocacy group worries that it will be a giveaway to politically connected developers, suggesting the $250K-per-home budget is inflated. We’d rather mental health funding not be zero-sum, but we’re a yes because it should provide significant relief to mentally ill people facing homelessness.

Prop 3: No Authorizes Bonds to Fund Projects for Water Supply and Quality, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Water Conveyance, and Groundwater Sustainability and Storage. The Sierra Club came out against this with surprising vigor, on the grounds that there’s insufficient oversight of the funds. Most of the important projects it would cover have other viable funding paths, while too much of the money goes to corporate agriculture interests backing the prop. Vote no.

Prop 4: Yes Authorizes Bonds Funding Construction at Hospitals Providing Children’s Health Care.  This would fund mostly public and non-profit children’s hospitals. You’re not against children’s hospitals, right?

Prop 5: NOOO Changes Requirements for Certain Property Owners to Transfer their Property Tax Base to Replacement Property. This would cut local government and school budgets by about $1 billion a year state-wide, for very little benefit: homeowners over 55 have generally either benefited from years of accumulated inflation and equity they can cash out upon selling, or bought recently enough that the Prop 13 loophole isn’t terribly important. This is a bid funded by the real estate lobby to further their business interests by giving an even bigger tax break to people who already receive huge tax subsidies, and would cost the rest of us dearly in infrastructure and public goods.

Prop 6: NO! Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding. Requires Certain Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Approved by The Electorate. The Republican Party is pouring money into this effort to repeal the gas tax and make it harder to pass new gas taxes. The money raised by the gas tax is set aside for road repair and public transit infrastructure, two extremely necessary services that also provide quality union jobs. We’ve got to cut carbon emissions dramatically, and axing public transit expansions to make it cheaper to drive is an astoundingly bad idea. Also, cutting funding to bridge repair is the kind of austerity maneuver that you tend to regret when it inevitably catches up with you.

Prop 7: Choose Your Own Adventure Conforms California Daylight Saving Time to Federal Law. Allows Legislature to Change Daylight Saving Time Period. This would instruct the legislature to either get rid of Daylight Savings Time or make it daylight savings time year-round in California. Do you want that? We don’t have a socialist hot take on it, so follow your heart.

Prop 8: YES Regulates Amounts Outpatient Kidney Dialysis Clinics Charge for Dialysis Treatment. The dialysis industry is monopolized by two for-profit companies that exploit patients and workers. This measure is being brought by a union that has been trying to organize the clinics and has been met with nasty union-busting tactics. You’ve probably seen a lot of No On 8 attack ads paid for by the California Medical Association. Please vote for the proposition that these anti–single payer goons want to fail. Prop 8 is good for workers and prevents price-gouging patients who will literally die without their services.

Prop 10: Y-E-S Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property. A state law called Costa-Hawkins puts all kinds of limits on how cities in California can control rent: You can’t have rent control on buildings built after the law was passed in 1995 (so rent-controlled housing is slowly eroding away), you can’t rent control houses (only apartments), landlords can jack up the rent in between tenants (incentivizing them to force out long-term residents), and more. This initiative would overturn that law, letting cities have a lot more leeway to pass stronger rent control. It wouldn’t do anything other than that, but several cities in the East Bay already have stronger rent control on the books that would kick in (or kick *back* in, in the case of Berkeley) once Prop 10 passes. This is a major project for tenants rights and affordable housing activists around the state; Costa-Hawkins bars a lot of the solutions they’d otherwise offer to the housing crisis. Most people support it once they know what it would do, so don’t just vote yes, tell everyone you know about it.

Prop 11: Hell No! Requires Private-Sector Emergency Ambulance Employees to Remain On-Call During Work Breaks. Eliminates Certain Employer Liability. Hell no! Jesus Christ, do you want exhausted people driving ambulances in long, stressful shifts without a real break? This is a terrible idea, put forward by bosses who don’t want to hire enough ambulance drivers to cover emergencies while they grab a coffee. Kill it.

Prop 12: Yes Establishes New Standards for Confinement of Specified Farm Animals; Bans Sale of Noncomplying Products. Sets minimum rules for the amount of space farm animals get. Overcrowding of farm animals is inhumane, promotes disease transfer, and pollutes waterways. Vote yes.

You can find the full text of these initiatives at

California Statewide Offices: Nov 2018 General Election

Welcome back! We’ll be putting up the Best and Least-Bad (let’s be real, most of these are harm reduction choices) candidates + ballot initiatives for a variety of East Bay races over the next few days, along with some shareable cheat sheets. We’ll be covering Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond this go-round. Let’s start with the top of the pile: statewide offices. Here’s our picks:

Governor: Gavin Newsom

We’re deeply frustrated by Newsom’s tepid support for Medicare for All (including, at one point, just flat-out labeling a totally different gap-filling scheme ‘single payer’), but his opponent’s a Republican, so, fiiiine.

Lieutenant Governor: Dr. Ed Hernandez

Hernandez has the backing of labor, while Eleni Kounalakis is generally seen as the developer’s candidate. They’re both fairly moderate Democrats, but Kounalakis seems to be spending her family fortune to jump-start a political career (her family owns a major real estate development corporation). So we’re backing Hernandez, who seems more likely to retire than climb the ladder after this term.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

One of the most important duties of the Secretary of State is running elections. Incumbent Alex Padilla has done a lot to make voting more accessible to working people: He supported the new automatic voter registration law, which registers you to vote when you get a drivers license or state ID (unless you opt out). He sponsored legislation making it easier to vote by mail, heavily promoted online voter registration, and expanded the window for teens to pre-register to vote so they’ll be on the rolls on their 18th birthday. California has added 2 million registered voters during his first term. He’s also refused to hand the voter rolls over to Trump’s voter suppression commission, and opposed asking questions about citizenship on the census (a clear move to intimidate non-citizens, likely to result in California losing congressional representation and funding due to under counting our population)

His opponent is a Republican whose primary promise is to ensure the “integrity” of voter rolls, a standard Republican dog-whistle for erecting barriers to voting and purging predominantly non-white voters from the rolls.

Controller: Betty Yee

Quoting the SF Guardian: “Yee has always been a solid progressive, from her time on the state Board of Equalization (which she helped overhaul) to her role as state controller. She clearly deserves another term.”

Treasurer: Fiona Ma

Another D vs R race, Ma is the Democrat. She’s consistently backed moderates in San Francisco, her home turf, and if there was any choice other than a Republican, we wouldn’t recommend her.

Attorney General: Xavier Becerra

As the incumbent, Xavier Becerra, has focused heavily on suing the Trump administration on a host of issues including the travel ban, our right to limit air pollution, and in an attempt to block Trump’s border wall. This is a welcome shift from previous AG Kamala Harris’ high-profile bids to keep incarcerated transgender women from accessing healthcare. (Though Becerra  also declined to take Exxon to court for hiding evidence of climate change.) His Republican opponent, on the other hand, says California needs an AG who will “stop the unconstitutional sanctuary state” and who will keep people incarcerated longer.

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara

Lara was the key author on California’s most recent Medicare for All bill, in addition to sponsoring the successful sanctuary state law. We’d be happy to see a pro-M4A insurance commissioner.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond

This race is a battle over privatizing California’s schools. Marshall Tuck has received massive funding from pro-charter PACs and billionaire donors to run repeatedly for state superintendent, while Thurmond has the support of public school teachers’ and their unions. Thurmond 100%.

Board of Equalization District 2: Malia Cohen

Cohen seems to be a fairly standard Democrat, with a Republican opponent. Like Ma, she comes from the San Francisco moderate camp, though she is much more of a swing vote.

US Senate: Kevin de León

Dianne Feinstein is arguably further to the right of her own base than any other Democratic senator, and in this Dem-on-Dem race, there’s no need to back her for strategic safety. Meanwhile, de León has come out in favor of packing the Supreme Court in the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and for abolishing ICE. (He hosted an Abolish ICE Cream Social during the state party meeting while Feinstein failed to keep the party from endorsing him.) De León is more of a progressive party insider than a radical, but overall we’d be doing America a favor here.

US Representative

District 13: Barbara Lee It’s nice that the Green Party write-in candidate beat the Republican write-in candidate for the privilege of losing dramatically to Lee, but Lee is one of the few members of Congress we’re not constantly mad at, and we’re looking forward to her challenging Nancy Pelosi for congressional leadership. Lee also endorsed our hero Jovanka Beckles for State Assembly!

District 15: Eric Swalwell Swalwell is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, so it pains us to suggest him, but his opponent is running on a platform of “border security and uniformed law enforcement in every school” so…. I guess… vote for Swalwell?

District 17: Ro Khanna Khanna’s been trying to establish his progressive bona fides since winning the seat in 2016. He’s supported tuition-free public college and Medicare for All. He’s also tried to inflict the tech sector on Appalachia, but in spite of that we’ll back him over his Republican challenger.

State Senate

District 10: Bob Wieckowski Bob has been one of the most progressive members of the State Senate. When the legislature stupidly tried to restrict diving rights for people aged 18 to 21, he was the only Senate Democrat to vote no. He’s not perfect, but he’s good by Sacramento standards.

State Assembly

District 15: Jovanka Beckles Jovanka Beckles is one of the most exciting candidates in the country right now. Her platform and her rhetoric are genuinely exciting, filled with ideas that are both incredibly sensible and comparatively radical. She’s calling for a $20-per-hour minimum wage, a 36-hour workweek, local and state voting rights regardless of immigration status, Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal that takes climate change as seriously as we need to and provides positive measures to curb our carbon habits and provide quality, unionized jobs in renewable energy and care-work sectors. Her record on the Richmond City Council suggests she’s actually up to the task, too: She was key in passing a $15 minimum wage, the state’s first new rent control in 30 years, building new senior housing that’s 100% Section 8–eligible and ADA-compliant, cutting city contractors off from ICE, and much more. Her opponent is a career political operative who’s never held office and receives massive donations from billionaires, Republicans, anti-public education activists and opponents of Medicare for All. We even made a website about it:

District 16: Rebecca Bauer-Kahan Bauer-Kahan is trying to unseat Republican Katherine Baker. We haven’t followed this race closely, but we wish her luck.

District 18: Rob Bonta Bonta’s fine. We’re not sure why he’s raised record-breaking sums to defeat his Republican challenger by 80 points, but that’s what’s about to happen. Rob has been pretty consistently one of the most progressive members of the more moderate State Assembly.

District 20: Bill Quirk The only option worse than almost-a-Republican Bill Quirk would be his challenger, a literal Republican.

District 25: Kansen Chu Chu’s also up against a Republican challenger.

Associate Justice, State Supreme Court

Carol Corrigan: No

State Supreme Court and Appellate Court judges are appointed, but they’re subject to a yes/no vote every 12 years. We’re joining statewide LGBT groups in suggesting a No vote on Corrigan, owing to her vote to uphold Prop 8 and another anti-marriage equality decision before it. If she’s removed from the court, the new governor would appoint a replacement.


2018 East Bay Primaries Cheat-Sheet

Here’s a quick reference to use when filling out your ballot. Scroll down a smidge for the full guide.

Statewide Office
• Governor: Delaine Eastin
• Lt Governor: Gayle McLaughlin
• Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
• Controller: Betty Yee
• Treasurer: Kevin Akin
• Attorney General: Dave Jones or Xavier Becerra
• Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
• State Board of Equalization, Member 2: Malia Cohen or
Cathleen Galgiani
• US Senate: David Hildebrand or Kevin de León
• US Representative: Barbara Lee
• State Assembly District 15: Jovanka Beckles
• State Assembly District 18: Rob Bonta
• Superior Court Judge, Office #11: Karen Katz

• State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
• Alameda County Superintendent of Schools: Unopposed

Alameda County
• Assessor: John Weed
• Auditor-Controller/Clerk-Recorder: Irella Christina Blackwood
• District Attorney: Pamela Price
• Sheriff-Coroner: Write-in
• Treasurer-Tax Collector: Unopposed incumbent

Ballot Initiatives
• Proposition 68 (Fund water and parks): Yes
• Proposition 69 (Gas tax use): Yes
• Proposition 70 (Cap and trade fund use): No
• Proposition 71 (Date for ballot initiatives): Yes
• Proposition 72 (Rain capture tax exemption): Yes
• Regional Measure 3 (Toll increase): Yes
• Alameda County, Measure A (Fund childcare): Yes
• Oakland, Measure D (Fund libraries): Yes