Even though Obama’s not on the ballot (and neither is McCain), there’s plenty to be excited about (or terrified of) on the November 2010 ballot. I know, I know, the election’s not for another month, but absentee ballots went out last week and many people have already voted so I wanted to post this right away.
There’s a LOT on the ballot this time, so to save some space and in hopes that folks would get through this entire post, I’ve left off some local races where the outcome is a foregone conclusion (like my friend Andy Katz who’s running unopposed for EBMUD or Joel Young who might as well be running unopposed for AC Transit), and I’ve skipped descriptions of some of the statewide candidates and initiatives because you can find those in many other places.
Instant runoff voting will be in place for the Oakland races. If you’re still confused about how it works, please read either the explanation I wrote last year or V Smoothe’s more recent explanation. It’s important to understand how voting works before you cast your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice votes!
(I’m working on several campaigns and the firm I work for is working on many more. I’ve marked all of those campaigns with asterisks.)
As you can probably tell, I’m voting the Democratic slate. One race I want to especially point out is the Attorney General race. Kamala Harris is an excellent candidate, and there are probably few people I would choose over her, but what you might not know is that her opponent is seriously bad news. Steve Cooley is anti-marriage equality, anti-environment, and anti-medical marijuana. For more on why not to vote for Cooley, check out the Not Cooley website, created by some of my very good friends and colleagues in the medical marijuana community.
Statewide Ballot Initiatives
I’m reluctantly linking to the Courage Campaign Voter Guide for descriptions. Reluctantly because I think they are off on Prop 22, which would protect local governments and transit agencies from having their funds raided by the state legislature. As is crystal clear here in Oakland, our local agencies are in huge financial trouble and the last thing they need is the state stealing their money. If Prop 22 had been passed in 2008, it’s likely AC Transit could have avoided many of its most drastic service cuts. Vote Yes on 22 to protect Oakland and East Bay agencies!
The other initiative I want to point out is Prop 19. I’ve been working on marijuana policy reform for a decade, and I must admit that ten years ago I never could have imagined that marijuana legalization would be on the ballot so soon. Thanks to Richard Lee, it is, and thanks to the amazing team of people I’ve been working with for the past year, it looks like marijuana will soon be legal in California. This is a historic measure and even though I feel good going into our last month of campaigning, we’re going to need every last vote. It’s time to end cannabis prohibition, end the arrests of marijuana users and grower, and provide much needed tax revenue to our state and city. Vote yes and talk to everyone you know about this measure – there are few undecided voters left but we need ever supportive voter to turn out.
*Alameda County Superior Court – Victoria Kolakowski
I’m working on Vicky’s campaign, but even if I wasn’t, I’d vote for her, just as I did in 2008 when she first ran to be judge. I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know Vicky over the past several months. I immediately knew she was dedicated and experienced, but over time I’ve learned about her level-headed temperament and compassion, which are very important qualities to me in judges. She has served for several years as an administrative law judge, and she is the only one in the race with extensive civil law experience. Why is this important? Well, governors tend to appoint prosecutors to be judges and it’s important to have a diversity of legal experience on the bench because many cases are not criminal. Issues like divorce, family conflicts, employment issues, etc. come before the court frequently.
Vicky would also bring a different kind of diversity to the courts. In Alameda County, less than a third of the judges are women! When Vicky wins, she will make history by becoming the first transgendered trial court judge in the entire country. There’s no way I can explain this as eloquently or powerfully as she does, but having a transgendered judge on the bench would be huge for the transgendered community. Transgendered people often struggle with the legal system, with issues ranging from changing their names to being the victims of violence so its important for this community to be represented well. Though I am not a person who votes for someone simply because of gender or sexual orientation, Vicky brings both diversity and experience so she is the clear choice. Please cast your vote for Victoria Kolakowski to help make history.
*BART Board, District 4: Robert Raburn
I’m not sure I could be much more excited about this race, especially since I recently moved into the district and now get to vote – both for Robert Raburn and against Carol Ward Allen. Regular blog readers shouldn’t be surprised that Ward Allen is one of my least favorite elected officials in the East Bay. She was the major champion of the Oakland Airport Connector, the half billion dollar boondoggle that will do nothing for Oakland and very little for transit riders. But beyond that, she’s incredibly rude to her constituents, telling at least one of her constituents that if he didn’t like how she voted, he should move. Luckily, I won’t just be casting a vote against Ward Allen because Raburn is a very qualified candidate for this seat. He used to run the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and has been involved with improvements at just about every BART station in the district. He’s a transit wonk, exactly what we need on this board, and has the interests of BART riders (and potential BART riders) in mind. I hope you’ll join me in enthusiastically voting for Robert Raburn for BART Board!
Oakland Mayor: Rebecca Kaplan
Though on policy Kaplan is often in line with my ideologies, that’s not the main reason I’m supporting her. There are a few qualities I’m looking for in a mayor, and Rebecca has all of them:
- Managerial skills & the ability to get things done
- Fresh ideas & the willingness to thing outside of the box
- Ability to work well with others
Policy is taking a back seat for me in this race because what we need right now is someone who’s ready to manage this city hands on. We need someone who will hire the right city administrator and who isn’t afraid to shake up department leadership. We need someone who will bring people together to fix our city. We need someone who’s innovative and who can get things done with basically no money. That person is Rebecca Kaplan. In her two years on the Council she’s accomplished so much, including passing a blighted property ordinance that had been stalled for years, authoring and helping pass the first cannabis tax measure in the country, and bringing Oakland the free Broadway shuttle. I can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish as mayor.
Oakland Mayor, 2nd Choice: Don Perata
I know there are a lot of people going around saying “anybody but Don,” and my response is “anybody but Quan.” I know, I know, Don hasn’t played nicely in this race and his people have done some pretty bad things. But ultimately, it comes back to the three things I’m looking for in a mayor, and Don exhibits most of those qualities. Quan, meanwhile, doesn’t exhibit any of them. She’s not a leaders. She doesn’t get along well with people. She doesn’t get stuff done (though she often takes credit for stuff other people do). She drove the Oakland schools budget into the ground, as president of the school board, and Oakland’s budget into the ground, as chair of the finance committee. I think she’d be a disaster for Oakland, just as Dellums has been. So for 2nd choice, I’m voting for Perata, and for 3rd choice, anybody but Quan.
*Oakland City Council, District 2: No Position
I’m sure I’ll get shit for doing this, but I’m not taking a position in this race. The firm I work for is running Pat Kernighan’s race, and Jenn Pae’s on the board of East Bay Young Dems with me. I know and respect both of the candidates and don’t feel comfortable taking a position in this race. I don’t live in the district so won’t have to make a choice on who to vote for either. For those who do live in the district or have opinions, feel free to discuss in the comments here.
*Oakland City Council, District 4: Libby Schaaf
The only good thing about Jean Quan running for mayor is that her council seat is opening up. Seven candidates are vying for her seat, but only one has the experience needed – both in City Hall and in the community – to be ready on day one to deal with the financial and other crises the City is dealing with. I told Libby early on that I would support her (long before I started working on her campaign) because I’ve seen how effective, intelligent, and accessible she was while working for Ignacio De La Fuente. But since working on her campaign and getting to know her even better, I feel much more strongly that we need her on the Council. Though Libby understands the deep, structural problems the City has, she maintains hope and optimism. She focuses on the strengths Oakland has and how we can improve those strengths. Another quality of hers that has immensely impressed me is how well she gets along with basically everyone. Her supporters include environmentalists, business people, housing advocates, developers, labor leaders, and just about everyone in between. We need more councilmembers who can bring people together like Libby does. I don’t live in District 4 so won’t be able to vote for Libby, but I strongly urge District 4 residents to vote for her. And if you’re already supporting her, join us at the East Bay Young Dems phone bank for her tonight at the Oakland UDC.
Oakland City Council, District 6: Desley Brooks
I know there are mixed feelings about Desley Brooks – she sticks to what she believes in and sometimes that rubs people the wrong way. But I think it’s incredibly important to have a councilmember who’s willing to say what she believes, even if it’s not popular. It’s important to have a councilmember who will question an incredibly popular project for good reason when no one else is willing to. As I’ve watched council meetings over the past years, I’ve grown to greatly appreciate this quality in Desley. Beyond that, though I don’t live there, I’ve heard much from district residents about what she’s accomplished for her district, including a huge focus on parks. If you live in District 6, please re-elect Desley Brooks.
- Alameda County Measure F: Yes
- Oakland Measure L: Yes
- Oakland Measure V: Yes
- Oakland Measure W: Yes
- Oakland Measure X: No
- Oakland Measure BB: Yes
I know there are some people who are going to look at the slate of local measures and cringe because they’re all taxes and fees, but some of them are very important. Measure F is an obvious yes – it’s just a $10 vehicle license fee and will mostly be used to fix local streets. There would also be some funding set aside for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit improvements, and since it’s a relatively small pot of money, none of the funds would be used for highways or transit boondoggles like the Oakland Airport Connector. Measure L is also super important – Oakland schools are terribly funded and we’re losing teachers because pay is so low. The one measure I’m conflicted about is Measure V – the marijuana tax. I think it’s inappropriate to tax medicine at such a high rate, but I fully support the other half of the measure – taxing recreational marijuana so that immediately after Prop 19 passes, our city will be able to tax and regulate the sales of marijuana immediately. I’m reluctantly supporting the measure but am disappointed about the trend of cities viewing a medicine as a revenue source.