.East Bay Progressives Dominated the Election

Liberals won nearly every political contest in Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond on November 4. And so did the candidates and measures endorsed by the Express.

Conservatives scored numerous victories nationwide on November 4, but the East Bay proved once again that it’s a haven for progressives. Liberals won nearly every political contest in Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond on Election Day, earning victories over moderate candidates in race after race. Local voters also overwhelmingly approved a range of progressive ballot initiatives, including a minimum wage hike in Oakland and a soda tax measure in Berkeley. Candidates and measures endorsed by the Express also enjoyed a big day at the ballot box, winning 83 percent of the local election contests, while those backed by the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle suffered a string of defeats.

In Oakland, progressives dominated. City Councilmember Libby Schaaf took the mayor’s race in a landslide, garnering a 23-plus point victory over Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan in ranked choice voting (RCV). According to RCV counts updated on November 11, Schaaf had 50.21 percent compared to Kaplan’s 26.48 percent, while Mayor Jean Quan came in third with 23.30 percent. The leading moderate candidate, Joe Tuman, finished in fifth place, behind another progressive, Dan Siegel.

In the city council contests, liberal Annie Campbell Washington won in a landslide over moderate Jill Broadhurst, 63.98 percent to 30.08 percent, in District Four. In District Two, progressive Abel Guillen defeated moderate Dana King, 53.12 percent to 46.88 percent in RCV. And in District Six, incumbent Desley Brooks slipped past fellow liberal Shereda Nosakhare 52.22 percent to 47.78 in RCV. Likewise, in the Oakland school board races, liberals Aimee Eng, Nina Senn, and Shanthi Gonzales won the District Two, Four, and Six races, respectively.

Oakland voters also overwhelmingly approved six progressive measures on the ballot. Measure FF, which will raise the minimum wage in Oakland to $12.25 an hour starting in March, received a whopping 81.7 percent of the vote. Two good-government initiatives — Measure CC, which will strengthen the city’s Public Ethics Commission, and Measure DD, which will create an independent redistricting commission — won easily, taking 73.99 percent and 61.49 percent, respectively. Measure Z, a tax measure for public safety and violence prevention programs, won big with 77.46 percent. Measure EE, which is designed to fix the city’s old public-employee retirement plan, got 73.64 percent. And Measure N, a school district parcel tax, received 76.41 percent.

“The results show clearly that we’re a liberal-progressive city,” said Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, who authored measures CC and DD. “I’m really pleased with the outcome.”

In Berkeley, voters handed a huge defeat to Big Soda by passing Measure D, the soda tax. Beverage companies spent at least $2.4 million to defeat the measure, but it won decisively, with 76.18 percent of the vote. Measure R, which environmentalists said would have ruined Berkeley’s attempts to create a vibrant downtown, lost big, 25.8 percent to 74.2 percent. Measure S, which upheld the city council’s redistricting plan, won with 63.93 percent. And Measure F, a parcel tax for city parks, was victorious, winning 74.99 percent.

City voters also reelected liberal councilmembers Linda Maio in District One and Kriss Worthington in District Seven. And as of early Tuesday, liberal Lori Droste was leading the District Eight council race by four votes over moderate George Beier in the closest local contest in this year’s election.

The most significant victories for progressives this year, however, took place in Richmond. Chevron spent at least $3 million in an attempt to stack the city council with pro-corporate centrists who are friendly to the oil giant. But the company but lost every single contest it spent money on.

In the mayor’s race, Councilmember Tom Butt easily defeated Chevron candidate Nat Bates, 51.34 percent to 35.69 percent. And in the city council contest, the Richmond Progressive Alliance — Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles, and Eduardo Martinez — won a clean sweep of the three four-year seats that were up for election. Incumbent Jim Rogers, a moderate who was not aligned with Chevron, came in fourth, while Chevron candidates Donna Powers, Charles Ramsey, and Al Martinez finished far behind the winners. In the race for the two-year council seat, liberal Jael Myrick defeated Corky Boozé, a Chevron supporter, 51.88 percent to 31.17 percent.

It’s also worth noting that liberal Marguerite Young defeated moderate incumbent Katy Foulkes in the East Bay MUD Ward Three contest, 51.67 percent to 47.73 percent, giving environmentalists a majority of seats on the East Bay MUD board of directors.

The numerous victories by local progressives on November 4 also served as a striking example of how woefully out of step the Tribune and Chronicle editorial boards are with voters in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and other East Bay cities. Those newspapers favored moderate candidates, who lost decisively. But contrast, the numerous victories by the Express‘ endorsed candidates and measures showed that this newspaper is aligned far more closely with area voters than the region’s dailies.

In fact, the numbers aren’t even close. Of the 41 local candidates and measures endorsed by the Express this year, 34 were victorious — a win percentage of 82.9. By contrast, of the 33 candidates and measures endorsed by the Tribune in contests in which the Express also made an endorsement, only 16 were victorious — a win percentage of 48.5. In Oakland, the Tribune‘s candidates lost six of eight races, including the mayor’s contest. The Trib backed the fifth-place Tuman.

The Chronicle, meanwhile, made an endorsement in only one local East Bay race this year: the Oakland mayor’s contest. And the paper’s candidate, centrist Bryan Parker, finished in sixth.

Click here for a list of results for the political contests we followed this year.

Correction: The original version of this report transposed the percentage results from the East Bay MUD Ward 3 race with the AC Transit At-Large contest. The correct percentage results for the East Bay MUD contest (as of 10 a.m., Nov. 10) are now included in the story.

East Bay Express E-edition East Bay Express E-edition