The Oakland City Attorney’s race is a no-brainer: Barbara Parker is the clear choice. Throughout her many years in office, she has proven herself to be a consummate professional, and, over the past sixteen months, she has successfully depoliticized the department. We’re also impressed with the city attorney’s courage; Parker has been one of the few elected officials in California to publicly condemn the ridiculous and unnecessary federal crackdown on medical cannabis — plus, she’s doing something about it, having recently filed a lawsuit against US Attorney Melinda Haag.
We’re also urging voters not to cast ballots for Jane Brunner, Parker’s opponent. Brunner used to be a good councilwoman, but her decision to run a sleazy and dishonest campaign this fall has made our choice very easy. First, Brunner tried to put a term-limits measure on the ballot that could have effectively allowed her to circumvent the city’s campaign spending cap. Then, she leveled hypocritical charges against Parker, accusing her of taking donations from government contractors when Brunner has been doing that for years. And finally, last week Brunner decided to attack Parker with hit-piece mailers that grossly distorted Parker’s record in office.
In Oakland’s city council District 7, East Oakland, we’re endorsing challenger Sheryl Walton, because we think it’s time for a change. Councilman Larry Reid, who has held this seat since 1996, has repeatedly run on a platform of improving public safety, but has failed to lower crime in his district, even though he also was chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee for a decade. Reid also has long been an apologist for police misconduct, and done virtually nothing to address the fact that the Oakland Police Department has failed to adopt federally mandated reforms during the past nine years and so is now on the brink of federal receivership.
In the Oakland school board District 1 race, North Oakland, we strongly endorse President Jody London for another term. London is one of the best school board members in the East Bay, and she plans to continue implementing the education reforms proposed by Superintendent Tony Smith. We also admire her courage in supporting last year’s necessary school-closure plan and her opposition to renewing the license of the scandal-plagued American Indian Public Charter schools.
In school board District 3, West Oakland-downtown, we endorse incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge. We also like her main competitor, Richard Fuentes, but we think Hinton Hodge deserves another four years. She’s a strong backer of Smith’s reforms, and we were heartened last month when she decided to change her mind about the American Indian charter schools, and voted to begin the process of revoking the schools’ license.
In school board District 5, Fruitvale-Glenview, we endorse Rosie Torres, a parent and criminal defense attorney. She’s a progressive; she opposes gang injunctions and youth curfews, and is an advocate for restorative justice. She’s also a Smith supporter. We also think she would be a much better school board member than her competitor Mike Hutchinson, who is a staunch opponent of school closures and has no viable plan for solving the district’s structural budget problems.
In school board District 7, East Oakland, we endorse challenger James Harris, a former high school teacher. Harris impressed us with his knowledge of the district’s most-pressing issues. By contrast, incumbent Alice Spearman has increasingly opposed the superintendent’s ideas, and we disagreed strongly with her votes against the school closures and in favor of American Indian Public charter schools.
We also endorse Measure J, the Oakland school district’s $475 million bond measure. The measure not only will pay to remodel school facilities in desperate need of upgrades, but it also will finance the installation of school kitchens throughout the city. Believe it or not, most Oakland public schools don’t have functioning kitchens, and so kids who don’t bring a lunch to school are left to eat reheated meals covered in plastic.
In the race for Alameda County supervisor, we’re making no endorsement. We had thought early on about backing appointed incumbent Richard Valle, but we’re deeply disappointed by his unwillingness to respond to attacks leveled by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, and his failure to note publicly that Hayashi was convicted of shoplifting just last year. Valle’s timid approach to the race, in our view, raises serious questions about whether he would be a strong supervisor.
In Richmond, we endorse Measure N, the soda tax. Many Richmond residents, particularly children, have a serious problem with obesity — much like the rest of the nation. And Measure N, a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, will generate $2 million to $4 million a year for anti-obesity programs.
For the East Bay’s 15th Congressional District, we endorse longtime incumbent Pete Stark. Stark has been a strong Democratic voice in Washington for decades, while his challenger Eric Swalwell has no experience in public office other than serving as a Dublin city councilman. Swalwell’s pay-to-play politics are also quite troubling.
Statewide, we’re strongly urging voters to reject Proposition 33 — the latest attempt by insurance giant Mercury General to jack up rates for low-income drivers.
And finally, we strongly urge voters to reelect President Barack Obama. We know that Obama has been somewhat of a disappointment on progressive issues, from climate-change legislation to letting torturers off the hook. But he’s also had a lot of accomplishments, including keeping us out of an economic depression, passing Obamacare, saving the auto industry, and finally getting Osama Bin Laden. Moreover, Mitt Romney, who will literally say and do anything to win the election, is unfit for office.