Annie Campbell Washington is our clear choice for the Oakland City Council District Four seat. Campbell Washington, who represents District Four on the Oakland school board, is much more progressive than her main rival, Jill Broadhurst, a moderate who runs a landlords’ group in Oakland. As a former chief of staff to mayors Jerry Brown and Jean Quan, Campbell Washington understands exactly how City Hall works and how to get things done in Oakland.
We also like that Campbell Washington is a strong supporter of Measure FF — the Lift Up Oakland ballot initiative, which would raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.25 an hour next March. Broadhurst, by contrast, opposes the measure. Campbell Washington also is dedicated to finding revenue streams to build more affordable housing in the city, while Broadhurst, whose campaign is being financed in large part by the real estate industry, has shown no interest in affordable housing. District Four includes the Dimond, Laurel, Montclair, and Maxwell Park neighborhoods.
Campbell Washington is also committed to transit-oriented development, to improving mass transit, and to making Oakland a more walkable and bikeable city. She also strongly supports two good-government measures on the Oakland ballot, including one that will greatly strengthen the city’s Public Ethics Commission. We think Campbell Washington will be a terrific addition to the Oakland City Council and a fine replacement for Libby Schaaf, who has given up her seat to run for mayor.
In Berkeley, we strongly endorse Measure D, which would create a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages distributed in the city. Childhood obesity is a major problem nationwide, and research has shown that sugary drinks are playing a significant role in the epidemic and that taxes like this one help curtail consumption. Soda companies know this full well, which is why they’re spending huge amounts of money to defeat Measure D and a similar measure in San Francisco this fall. In fact, Big Soda’s spending in the two cities this year has already surpassed the record $2.6 million it shelled out to defeat a soda tax in Richmond in 2012.
In Berkeley’s hotly contested District Eight council race, we endorse Lori Droste as our top choice and Michael Alvarez Cohen as our second choice. None of the four candidates in the race are true liberals, but we think Droste, the chair of the Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women, is the most progressive candidate in the contest. We also think she will be able to work collaboratively with the often fractious city council. Droste is also a strong supporter of smart growth, and opposes Measure R, an initiative that we think will make it impossible to build dense housing projects in downtown it if passes. We also like Alvarez Cohen because he also supports urban density and opposes Measure R. But we strongly oppose candidate Jacquelyn McCormick, because she backs Measure R and is the most conservative candidate running for Berkeley City Council this year. The candidates are vying to replace Gordon Wozniak, who is retiring from the council. District Eight covers portions of Berkeley south of the Cal campus and includes the Elmwood district.
In the other two council races, we’re supporting the incumbents: Linda Maio in District One and Kriss Worthington in District Seven. Maio, a liberal who is a strong supporter of smart growth and of creating a dense downtown, is the clear choice in her race. Her opponent, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, by contrast, supports Measure R. District One represents the northwest section of the city.
We had hoped that redistricting, which turned District Seven into a student-dominated district this year, would prompt a UC Berkeley student to run for city council, because students haven’t had true representation in city government since Nancy Skinner won election to the council in the 1980s while she was at Cal. However, no students decided to run this year, so we’re backing Worthington for reelection. Although we have disagreed with Worthington on smart growth and downtown development over the years, we tend to side with him on numerous other progressive issues, including fossil fuel divestment. We also were pleased when he worked to increase density earlier this year on Telegraph Avenue, between Bancroft and Dwight ways. He also has helped the owners of the Sequoia Building, which burned down, to rebuild, and pushed the city to sue Ken Sarachan, the owner of the long-vacant lot at Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street. The suit prompted Sarachan to finally produce a development proposal for his property. (Worthington has taken a neutral position on Measure R.) We also like challenger Sean Barry, a political newcomer, but we think that, on balance, Worthington deserves reelection.
One of the toughest choices we have to make this election concerns the 15th Assembly District, a race that involves two liberal Democrats: Elizabeth Echols and Tony Thurmond. We like them both very much, but we’re endorsing Echols, a former Obama administration official, because we think she’ll be a stronger advocate for the environment. We’re also concerned that Big Oil is trying to swing the race for Thurmond. Over the past few weeks, a shadowy group called Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, A California Business Coalition, which is funded by Chevron and other major oil companies, has spent more than $150,000 on mailers in support of Thurmond. Now, it should be noted that Thurmond has denounced the spending and that he stood up to Chevron when he was on the Richmond City Council, but Big Oil obviously does not want Echols elected to the state legislature. In our book, that’s reason enough to support her.