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 berniesanders.com/issues and take a look.
Democratic Party County Committee
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.
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.
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.
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.