Our recommendations in key Alameda County, Berkeley and Oakland races
The East Bay ballot is crowded, with races for mayor, city council and school board in Berkeley and Oakland, plus a long list of ballot measures. We're weighing in on what we see as the most important races.
OAKLAND CITY ATTORNEY
This one's simple: Progressives on the council like Parker, who's a pretty unbiased attorney. Her challenger, Jane Brunner, is a supporter of Ignacio De La Fuente. Vote for Parker.
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL
In some ways, this is a replay of the 2010 mayor's race, where Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan, running as allies in a ranked-choice voting system, took on and beat Don Perata, the longtime powerbroker who left town soon after his defeat. This time around, it's Kaplan, the popular incumbent, facing Ignacio De La Fuente, a Perata ally, for the one at-large council seat.
De La Fuente, who currently represents District 3, would have easily won re-election if he stuck to home. But for reasons he's never clearly articulated, he decided to go after Kaplan. The general consensus among observers: De La Fuente wants to be mayor (he's tried twice and failed), thinks Quan is vulnerable, and figures winning the at-large seat would give him a citywide base.
It's a clear choice: Kaplan is one of the best elected officials in the Bay Area, a bright, progressive, practical, and hardworking council member who is full of creative ideas. De La Fuente is an old Perata Machine hack who wanted to kick out Occupy Oakland the first day, wants curfews for youth, and can't even get his story straight on cutting the size of the Oakland Police Department.
De La Fuente is all about law and order, and he blasts Kaplan for — literally — "coddling criminals." But actually, as the East Bay Express has reported in detail, De La Fuente, in a fit of anger at the police union, led the movement to lay off 80 cops. And the crime rate in Oakland spiked shortly afterward. Kaplan opposed that motion, and tried later to rehire many of those cops — but De La Fuente objected.
Public safety is one of the top local issues, and Kaplan not only supports community policing (and more cops) but is working on root causes, including the lack of services for people released into Oakland from state prison and county jail. She's also a strong transit advocate who's working on new bike lanes and a free shuttle on Broadway. She helped write the county transportation measure, B1. She richly deserves another term — and De La Fuente deserves retirement.
It would be nice to have a Berkeley person as mayor of Berkeley again.
The city's still among the most progressive outposts in the country — and Mayor Tom Bates, for all his history as one of the leading progressive voices in the state Legislature and a key part of the city's left-liberal political operation, has taken the city in a decidedly centrist direction. Bates these days is all about development. He's a big supporter of the sit-lie law (hard to imagine the old Tom Bates ever supporting an anti-homeless measure). He didn't even seek the mayoral endorsement of Berkeley Citizens Action, which he helped build, and instead hypes the Berkeley Democratic Club, which he used to fight. After ten years, we're ready for a new Berkeley mayor.
Worthington is the voice of the left on the City Council. He's an aggressive legislator who is never short of ideas. He's talking about the basics (holding separate council meetings on major issues so people who want to speak don't have to wait until midnight), to the visionary (a 21-point plan for revitalizing Telegraph Avenue). He's against sit-lie and wants developers to offer credible community benefits agreements before they build. We're with Worthington.