East Bay Express Endorsements on June 8

Barbara Boxer, Tom Campbell, Gavin Newsom, Abel Maldonado, Kamala Harris, Wilma Chan, Victoria Kolakowski, and yes on Props 13, 14, and 15.

There’s no doubt that the gubernatorial and US Senate campaigns are the hot-button races of the June 8 primary. For senator, we’re endorsing incumbent Barbara Boxer for the Democratic Party nomination and Tom Campbell to be the Republican Party nominee. But we can’t endorse any of the gubernatorial choices.

It’s somewhat unusual for us to endorse Republicans, but we’re supporting three this election. For us, Campbell is a different breed. He’s been an independent thinker over the years who often refuses to go along with GOP hard-liners. He’s pro-choice and pro gay marriage, and has record of fiscal responsibility — although we’re disappointed with his recent support of Arizona’s anti-illegal-immigration law, because it will undoubtedly result in racial profiling. As for Boxer, we’ve been continually impressed by her forward-looking stance on climate change and the environment, but we think she could have shown more leadership in the Senate over the past decade.

Unfortunately, we can’t support Jerry Brown to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor. He was a mediocre mayor, who showed little interest in anything other than his pet projects, making him a poor choice to govern a state with so many challenges. As for ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, we simply disagree too much with their positions to endorse either of them.

For lieutenant governor, we endorse Gavin Newsom for the Democratic Party nomination and Abel Maldonado to be the GOP nominee. We admire Newsom’s courageous stance on gay marriage and Maldonado’s decision to cross party lines last year and strike a compromise on the state budget.

For state attorney general, we’re endorsing Democrat Kamala Harris and Republican Steve Cooley. The reason is simple: As district attorneys in large urban areas, Harris and Cooley are much more qualified than their competitors. We’re also impressed with how Harris improved the conviction rate in San Francisco and with Cooley’s integrity in keeping track of bad cops in Los Angeles.

We’ve also decided not to endorse in the race of state superintendent of schools. We think state Senator Gloria Romero is too beholden to charter-school interests and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson is too beholden to the California teachers’ union.

Locally, we endorse Wilma Chan for the Alameda County Board of Supervisor’s District 3 seat. Chan did an effective job in that position before joining the state Assembly. And over time, she became an independent voice in the Legislature, bucking the East Bay political machine run by Don Perata. Her opponent, Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson, by contrast, has remained too close to Perata over the years for our liking.

In the supervisor’s District 2 race, we endorse Hayward Councilman Kevin Dowling. Although we were disappointed in his recent decision to oppose cannabis dispensaries in his city, the openly gay councilman has been a good progressive over the years and understands the job of county supervisor because of his work for retiring supe Gail Steele. By contrast, ex-state Senator Liz Figueroa is a career politician looking for her next gig and Nadia Lockyer appears to be simply trying to ride her husband’s coattails into office.

In the Alameda County judge’s race, we’re endorsing Victoria Kolakowski. We think it’s time that a county judge reflect the progressive views of most voters. Most of our judges are far more conservative than the East Bay electorate because they’re appointed by governors who don’t want to be soft on crime. Diversity of legal opinion is essential, and we think that the progressive Kolakowski, who would be the nation’s first transgendered superior court judge, will bring an important perspective to the bench that does not now exist.

The only race among candidates in Contra Costa County that we’re weighing in on is the battle for district attorney. We’re endorsing longtime prosecutor Mark Peterson over former prosecutor Dan O’Malley, mostly because we think it’s way past time that the old-boys network in that office is broken up.

As for local measures, we endorse Berkeley’s Measure C, a $22.5 million parcel tax for swimming pools. It’s an expensive measure, but swimming pools are part of the recreational fabric of Berkeley. We also endorse Alameda’s Measure E, the mail-in ballot initiative that would raise much-needed funds for Alameda Unified. Likewise, we support Measure D, a $380 million bond measure for West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Statewide, we support Proposition 13, which would allow homeowners whose houses are made of brick or unreinforced masonry to seismically retrofit without increasing their property tax assessments. We also endorse Proposition 14, the open primary initiative. For us, it’s an issue of liberty — people should be able to vote for whomever they want, regardless of party. We also endorse Proposition 15, which would make the 2014 race for secretary of state a test case for public campaign financing. We especially like the fact that the race will be paid for by a $350 annual tax on lobbyists, who only pay $12 currently.

Finally, we strongly oppose Propositions 16 and 17. Prop. 16 is the PG&E-sponsored initiative that would make it nearly impossible for cities to jump into the public power market and increase renewable energy use. And Prop. 17 is the Mercury Insurance initiative that will unfairly hurt low-income motorists and will eventually lead to more uninsured drivers, thereby raising rates for everyone.


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