Tag Archives: Elizabeth Echols

Endorsements for the June election

18 May

Though the primary election isn’t until June 8th, vote by mail started last week and plenty of people are casting their votes (or trying to figure out how to vote) so I thought it was time to post my endorsements for the June election. I’m going to breeze through the statewide initiatives and officers because there’s plenty of information out there, but feel free to ask specific questions or provide comments. And if you haven’t registered (or re-registered after moving) you still have until May 24th to do so to be able to vote on June 8th.

Statewide Ballot Initiatives

  • Prop 13 (Seismic retrofits): Yes
  • Prop 14 (Top two primary): No
  • Prop 15 (Public financing of elections): Yes
  • Prop 16 (Requiring 2/3 vote on public power): No
  • Prop 17: No

If you want more info on why to vote yes or no on any of these initiatives, check out Courage Campaign’s progressive voter guide.

Statewide Officers

The incumbents are all basically running unopposed so those were easy. As for Jerry Brown, he might as well be running unopposed. Though I’m not super-excited about his campaign or some of the things he’s been saying (like no new taxes), none of the other candidates excite me either. I’ve resigned myself to him being the nominee and he’s clearly better than Whitman or Poizner, so I might as well start supporting him now.

For the contested races, I feel strongly about all of my choices. Janice Hahn has been an effective LA City Councilmember who will bring a city-focused vision to the capitol. She’s serious about the position of LG, unlike Gavin Newsom who’s just looking for the next way to move up the ladder and publicly derided the position when he was still running for Governor. Kamala Harris has managed to bring creativity, ingenuity, and care for people to the office of the District Attorney in San Francisco and I know she will do the same for the state. The choice for Insurance Commissioner was a bit more difficult because I like both of the candidates, but I’ve been really impressed by Dave Jones during his time in the Assembly and think he’d be great in this position. Tom Torlakson has long been my choice for Superintendent, but I like him even more since hearing that when his daughter was in high school, he read every book she read so they could discuss them. That shows a real dedication to education.

Local Races

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 is the only judge in the race, having 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, only 29% of the judges are women, and zero judges are openly LGBT. 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 Judge Victoria Kolakowski to help make history.

UPDATE: The East Bay Express did a great and thorough profile of Vicky today that everyone should check out.

Alameda County Supervisor, District 3 – Wilma Chan

I have to admit that I’m not super excited about any of the candidates in this race. I’ve seen them all speak at several endorsement meetings. Beverly Johnson was disappointing every time, and though Harold Lowe has a lot of great energy, he spent a lot of time criticizing the current Board of Supervisors but didn’t provide concrete, realistic solutions to the problems they face. So that makes this endorsement choice somewhat easy. Wilma Chan has a clear grasp on the issues that the County is facing, and in this time of deep budget crisis, she’s the only one in the race who’s ready to jump in and deal with complex County issues.

Alameda County Board of Education – Joaquin Rivera

The County education elected representation is set up in a pretty weird way. We have an elected Superintendent and an elected Board of Education. Though I’ve been following this race, I’m still not entirely clear about the division of labor and power between the board and the superintendent. What I am clear on is that Joaquin Rivera, with his experience as an educator and his time on the Berkeley School Board, is the best choice for the board of education.

Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, Assembly District 14 – Andy Kelley, Edie Irons & Elizabeth Echols

Many people don’t even know about the existence of this office, but if you’re a registered Democrat, you get to vote for your representation on the County Democratic Central Committee. Your reps vote on local endorsements, represent the county at the statewide convention (and vote on state endorsements there), and coordinate get out the vote efforts for Democrats. This year, the Assembly District 16 race is uncontested so most Oaklanders won’t be voting for the ACDCC. But if you’re in the small part of North Oakland that’s in Assembly District 14, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for some great candidates. You can vote for up to 6 people out of the 7 candidates who are running, but I’ve chosen to only endorse three. It’s not that anything’s wrong with the others who are running – it’s mostly that I couldn’t decide who to leave off of an endorsement if I endorsed 6. So I’m sticking with the three people I know best, who I’m confident will work hard for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates.

Andy Kelley is the secretary of East Bay Young Dems (EBYD), and as of today, a very recent graduate of UC Berkeley. The Central Committee has historically been pretty old but that’s changing, and Andy will bring great energy to the committee. Edie Irons is an incumbent and the past president of EBYD. I’ve known Edie for years, since we worked together doing fundraising for the DNC in 2004, and I’ve always been impressed by her energy, commitment, and willingness to stand up for an issue or candidate, even if her position is unpopular. Elizabeth Echols is also an incumbent and ran the Oakland United Democratic Campaign headquarters in 2008. If you phoned for Rebecca Kaplan, you know how high the energy was in that office, and much of that was because of Elizabeth’s incredible work. She’s also been a leader in fundraising for the ACDCC, the importance of which can’t be overstated. So please vote for Andy, Edie & Elizabeth if you live in the 14th AD.

Why I’m endorsing Elizabeth Echols for AC Transit Board

18 Feb

I’m happy to announce that a group of East Bay transit advocates that I am a part of have endorsed Elizabeth Echols for Rebecca Kaplan’s vacated At-Large seat on the AC Transit Board of Directors.

When this seat became vacant, leaders of local transit advocacy organizations came together to decide who we thought was best suited to represent bus riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the board. We identified seven applicants and invited them to answer our questionnaire, and interviewed six. Our group includes leaders of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, Friends of BRT, the No on KK Committee, Alameda Transit Advocates, the City of Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley, Livable Berkeley, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, and TransForm.

Going into this endorsement process, I must admit that I was a bit nervous. Rebecca Kaplan was such an effective board member, and I didn’t know if we’d find someone who could match Rebecca’s experience, knowledge, and energy. I was pleasantly surprised by the answers to our questionnaire from all of the candidates and by the new ideas and vision the candidates demonstrated in our interviews. It’s exciting to see so many qualified candidates vying for a position that is so important to me but often gets overlooked by others.

Ultimately though, Elizabeth Echols stood out among the group of applicants. She has a clear vision for the agency, but is also open to learning more from the transit and bike/ped community.

She also has an absurd amount of experience that makes her particularly well-suited for this position. Her work on the Obama presidential transition team and in the Clinton White House has prepared her for working with the federal government and managing fast-paced projects. Her experience in information technology, particularly in her work as Director of Policy for Google, has led to her focus on technological innovation. Specifically, she plans to improve AC Transit’s online trip planning and enhance real time trip planning for riders via expanded use of bus shelter signs and cell phone alerts.

Beyond what you can find on paper in her resume and endorsement letters, Elizabeth is energetic and clearly committed to moving AC Transit forward. When I was preparing to write this blog post, I thought about my first encounters with Elizabeth. She was the Co-Chair of the Oakland United Democratic Campaign (UDC) in 2008, and the UDC office was always filled with incredible energy and dozens (and on election day, hundreds) of volunteers. Every time I phoned there for Rebecca Kaplan or No on 8, I saw Elizabeth running around, making sure everything was functioning smoothly at the office. I didn’t know her at the time, but I knew immediately that she was someone I wanted to know and someone I’d work with in the future.

Now I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity to work with her as an AC Transit Board member. If she can bring the energy she brought to the Oakland UDC to AC Transit, the agency will have a bright future.

For more about our endorsement process and a surprisingly detailed overview of all of the SEVENTEEN candidates who applied for the seat, head to A Better Oakland.

And for other takes on why we endorsed Echols, check out Stop, Drop and Roll, John Knox White’s Alameda based blog, the Friends of BRT blog, A Better Oakland, and Future Oakland.