music in the park san jose

.Prepping for the Primary Election

Basics about local, state and national races

music in the park san jose

As the March 5 primary election approaches, many voters are just now considering their choices. Below is information about some of the most impactful races—nationally, statewide and locally.

United States Senate

With the death of longtime senator Dianne Feinstein, the state is again voting—for a replacement for the months remaining before January 2025, and for the candidates who will face off in November to fill a six-year term.

In both cases, because of California’s “jungle primary,” the top two vote-getters will be on the ballot again in the fall, with the winner of the special election filling the post until Jan. 3, 2025, and the winner of the fall election taking office for a six-year term on that same day. Current “placeholder” Laphonza Butler, appointed by Gov. Newsom, is not running in either race.

Although 23 candidates are listed in voter information pamphlets, only four are considered viable: Democrats Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Katie Porter and Rep. Barbara Lee, and Republican Steve Garvey. Polls show Schiff as the clear frontrunner but are split on whether his eventual opponent will be Porter, whose strong debate performances have increased her support, or Garvey, who is supported by the majority of California Republicans. Longtime local House of Representatives member Barbara Lee trails all three in all polls.

United States House of Representatives, District 12

Because Lee has to relinquish her House seat in January 2025 to run for Senate, her district, which includes the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont and San Leandro, plus some unincorporated areas, will also select two candidates to face off in November.

Nine candidates are on the primary ballot, seven Democrats and two Republicans. Of these, nonprofit president, BART board of directors member and longtime activist Lateefah Simon has received multiple editorial endorsements, as well as endorsements from Lee, Gov. Newsom and the powerful national organization Emily’s List.

Two other candidates, Alameda Vice Mayor Tony Daysog and Jennifer Tran, president of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, also command some support.

California State Senate, District 9

District 9, which encompasses cities in Contra Costa and Alameda counties along the 880 corridor and includes Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro along with unincorporated areas, has been represented since 2016 by Democrat Nancy Skinner. Skinner is termed out in 2025, and a competitive race has emerged to replace her.

Six candidates, five Democrats and one Republican, are on the ballot, with Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and union president Kathryn Lybarger emerging as the frontrunners. Both are running well-funded campaigns.

Arreguin is endorsed by local Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, several Alameda County supervisors and a long list of building trade unions. Lybarger has her own long list of endorsements, including her organization, the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, and the California Teachers Association. Again, the top two finishers will be on November’s ballot.

Alameda County Board of Supervisors

District 4 includes portions of the city of Oakland; portions of the city of Pleasanton; the unincorporated communities of Ashland, Castro Valley, Cherryland, El Portal Ridge, Fairmont Terrace, Fairview, Hill Crest Knolls and a portion of Sunol. It has been represented for 24 years by Nate Miley, who is running for reelection. His campaign emphasizes that, given major turnover on the board during the past few years, his institutional knowledge is crucial. He is endorsed by State Sen. Nancy Skinner and Congressman Eric Swalwell, among others.

His only opponent, psychiatric nurse and member of the Eden Area Municipal Advisory Committee, Jennifer Esteen, believes a new voice is needed and criticizes Miley for ties to entrenched interests. Among many organizations, she is endorsed by 350 Bay Area Action, Oakland Rising Action and the Oakland Tenants Union. With only two candidates, this is a final election.

District 5 includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont and West Oakland, North Oakland, Rockridge, Grand Lake and portions of the Fruitvale, Manzanita and Dimond District neighborhoods. Longtime incumbent Keith Carson’s impending retirement sparked a competitive race, with nine candidates vying for the seat. Of these, former Emeryville mayor John Bauters appears to be the frontrunner, with a long list of endorsements including Assemblymember Buffy Wicks and Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia.

His major opponents are Oakland City Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas, endorsed by State Sen. Nancy Skinner, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and many labor unions; and Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett, endorsed by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, former Oakland mayor Elihu Harris and California State Controller Malia Cohen.

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, District 5

As in Alameda County’s District 5, the retirement of a longtime supervisor, Federal Glover, resulted in multiple candidates for his seat, which includes Pittsburg, Martinez, Hercules and Rodeo, portions of Antioch and Pinole, and multiple unincorporated communities. Four are on the ballot: Pittsburg Mayor Shanelle Scales-Preston, Pittsburg Vice-Mayor Jelani Killings, Antioch City Councilmember Mike Barbanica and Pittsburg-based realtor Hector M. Gonzalez.

This appears to be mainly a contest between Scales-Preston, former longtime aide to Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, and Killings, who is also an ethics analyst for the city of Oakland. Scales-Preston has DeSaulnier’s endorsement, as well as Glover’s. Killings has been endorsed by multiple newspapers, including the Mercury News and the East Bay Times.

Proposition 1

Voters can be forgiven for not reading the entire 69-page explanation of Prop. 1 contained in their primary pamphlets. Proposed and heavily supported by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Prop. 1 has generated considerable controversy about its potential effectiveness and impact.

According to nonpartisan CalMatters, “This two-pronged measure would fund a $6.4 billion bond to drastically expand the state’s mental health and substance abuse treatment infrastructure. A majority of the money, $4.4 billion, would be used to build 10,000 in-patient and residential treatment beds across the state. The remainder would fund permanent supportive housing with half set aside for veterans with mental illness or addiction disorders.

“The second part of the measure would require counties to change the way they spend existing mental health dollars by directing them to prioritize housing for people who are chronically homeless.”

Prop. 1, according to supporters, “includes exemptions to California’s environmental law to speed up development, and requires more transparency by mandating counties to submit annual spending reports,” reported CalMatters.

Opponents of Prop. 1, which include many county-based organizations, contend passage would negatively affect the effective services they already provide. Other opponents, including the ACLU, are concerned about the possible rise in “forced incarceration” of severely mentally ill people. Opposition to the measure has created some strange bedfellows, including the League of Women Voters California and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

James Espinoza, president of the Veteran Mentor Project, one of the organizations listed in the “Primary Election” pamphlet as supporting Prop. 1, is both a vet and a former law enforcement officer. In a telephone interview, he acknowledged that Prop. 1 would not “solve homelessness,” but challenged the view that the current mental health system is working.

Espinoza also pointed to Prop. 1’s increased oversight on how state money is being spent by the counties. His organization works with the many veterans who return from service with PTSD, leading to substance abuse and eventual homelessness. “[This proposition] is not just a Band-Aid,” he said. “The state would set aside $1 billion for veteran’s housing and mental health and addiction care.”

Asked about the concern over “forced incarceration,” Espinoza used his own family history, which includes a mentally ill family member who ended up on the street, and a brother, also a veteran, who committed suicide. “I don’t want to see anyone lose their freedoms,” he said, “but if we can free people from their addictions, their mental illnesses, that impacts everyone.”

At this point, California voters appear to agree. A December Public Policy Institute of California poll found 68% of likely voters saying they would vote “yes” on Prop. 1, with 30% saying they would vote “no” and 2% undecided.


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