Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Nov 2018 Berkeley + Local Offices

How I'm voting on Berkeley + other Local Offices, Nov 2018

Here's my summary of how I'm voting (or how I suggest you vote) for all the offices listed after the state propositions and/or after local ballot measures. Depending on how your ballot is arranged, you might see all these together. Details are below the jump. 

Berkeley Rent Board: Judy Hunt plus 3 from the pro-tenant slate: Chang, Laverde, Poblet
BUSD Directors: Alper, Brown, & Sinai
AC Transit At-Large District: Write in, or Dollene Jones
Berkeley City Auditor: Jenny Wong
Berkeley Council District 1: #1 Rashi Kesarwani, #2 Margo Scheuler
Berkeley Council District 4: #1 Gregory Magofña, #2 Ben Gould
Berkeley Council District 7: #1 Rigel Robinson
Berkeley Council District 8: #1 Lori Droste, #2 Alfred Twu

Read on for details ...

Berkeley Rent Board: Hunt plus 3 from the pro-tenant slate: Chang, Laverde, Poblet; ADVICE WELCOME

During my 20+ years in Berkeley, I have voted for most or all of the pro-tenant slate. In the past 6 years I’ve become concerned about some improprieties on the Board, stemming from a 2012 Grand Jury report and concerns expressed by our local League of Women Voters chapter. So I took a closer look. Here’s what I suggest:
  • Make sure to vote for Judy Hunt: she’s a West Berkeley landlord, served on the Rent Board during 2012-2016 (just after the Grand Jury report). She sounds good and I think her perspective is needed on the Rent Board, if only to promote some balance.
  • Of the tenant slate, I’m pretty sure I'll probably vote for 3 of them: Chang, Laverde, and Poblet are incumbents who sound sensible, very strong on tenant protection (perhaps stronger than me, but this is the Rent Board). 
  • I'm less impressed by Selawsky's responses -- the ones I saw were just generic, and he didn't say his position on Measure Q. 
  • I'm on the fence about Soli Alpert. It's cool that he's a senior at Cal specifically committed to helping students navigate renting, and I'm sure he's gained some experience there. But I mostly disagree with the councilmember he's worked for (Kate Harrison), and I disagree with his positions on Measure Q. 
  • Similarly, I don't plan to vote for David Buchanan: he's running to bring more homeowner/landlord perspective to the board. His writeups don't make him sound like he'd do that in a very productive way.  
  • Definitely don’t vote for William “Three Hundred” Barclay Caldeira. He has little discernible experience or positions, other than disliking the current Rent Board.
If you want to read more, see a Berkeleyside profile of all the candidates: link.
REQUEST: If you have a compelling argument about how well a specific candidate would do at helping the board function, let me know in the comments.

BUSD Directors: Alper, Brown, & Sinai

Two years ago, Berkeley voted to authorize the City Council to allow 16+17-year-olds to vote in school board elections. The City Council hasn’t set that up yet (I presume because of election costs), so I’m turning my endorsement page over to my 17 year-old son, Benjamin. He writes:
Alper, Sinai and Brown are all endorsed by a huge list of people including Robert Reich, Nancy Skinner, Jesse Arreguin, Laurie Capitelli, the entire current School Board (including Alper) and each other.  
Alper has been on the board the past four years, helped implement the U9 program at Berkeley High, and continues both to be qualified and to improve Berkeley public schools. Sinai and Brown each write of improving equity using data and their experiences. Brown is a public elementary school teacher who has held leadership positions there. Sinai has experience in the City of Berkeley, including serving 18 months on the School Board after being appointed to fill a vacant seat.
Of the other three candidates, Dru Howard has experience in the district and working on local issues, and she has kids in the schools. But she doesn’t clearly state what issues she looks to tackle that are specific to Berkeley’s schools. This is also true for Abdur Sikder, who ran and lost in 2016. He seems to be a smart and capable man based on his accomplishments, but again doesn’t mention issues specific to Berkeley schools. Norma Harrison runs every time and wrote a manifesto of her plans for an upcoming socialist revolution.

AC Transit At-Large District: Write in, or Dollene Jones 

This election makes me sad. AC Transit needs good governance, but neither candidate really deserves your vote. Incumbent Joel Young is no better than he was 4 years ago -- exploiting conflicts of interest to make himself money, accused of domestic violence, avoiding campaigning to avoid questions, and being censured by his colleagues on the AC Transit Board. Organized labor keeps supporting him, so he’ll probably win again. 

That’s in part because his opponent is unqualified. This is her 4th run for an at-large seat, including four years ago against Young. As I said then, “Dollene Jones is a former bus driver and just plain doesn't demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the system. I'm sure she was a nice bus driver, and probably understands it well from that perspective.” But she can’t be bothered to turn in a ballot statement and she has no online presence -- she’s making no effort to tell people who she is. I can’t imagine she’ll win. 

I might write in a friend, or I might vote for Jones just ‘cuz she’s not unethical (only unqualified) -- and hope that Young losing opens the field next time around for a decent candidate.  

Berkeley City Auditor: Jenny Wong 

There’s one good candidate for Berkeley City Auditor: Jenny Wong. She’s worked for the federal Government Accountability Office for 18 years, she’s trained auditors for years, she’s endorsed by the past two auditors, the whole city council, and several former mayors. I also happen to know her through our kids; she’s as a kind and decent person. The other candidate has not been an auditor and trumpets his “independence” and willingness to fire people. 

Berkeley City Council District 1: #1 Rashi Kesarwani, #2 Margo Scheuler

After 20 years, Councilmember Linda Maio is retiring, and there are three serious candidates to replace her. I’d give my first vote for Rashi Kesarwani. She’s smart, energetic, and committed. She’s knocked on doors throughout her district since the summer, and she understands District 1. I agree with her take on (what is to me) the most important issue in Berkeley -- how to get more homes people can afford. She has taken the time to understand the homelessness crisis in Berkeley and in particular in District 1. And she’d bring significant experience working on city social services. This district’s councilmember will have tremendous influence on what happens at the North Berkeley BART station. I was impressed by how Rashi participated in a recent public workshop on numerous community-generated designs. 

In ranked-choice voting, my second vote would go to Margo Scheuler, a longtime activist who’s got Maio’s backing. I wouldn’t list a third vote. I’m not enthusiastic about Igor Tregub, largely because I’ve seen him to be more opposed to new homes than I’d want from a Berkeley councilmember. 

Berkeley City Council District 4: #1 Gregory Magofña, #2 Ben Gould

Please vote Magofna and Gould as your first two votes, in whichever order you like best. My mom likes Gould #1 -- his day job is running SFO’s sustainability program (pretty good, from my limited comparison of airports). My friend Nathan Landau goes with Magofna #1. He has been an aide in the Mayor’s Office and helped start East Bay for Everyone, the group supporting more housing in Berkeley. 

Please do NOT vote for incumbent Kate Harrison. As my friend Nathan says, “In a time of crushing housing shortage, Harrison says nothing on her campaign page about building housing. Harrison has often been anti-housing vote on the Council, and has appointed an extremely anti-housing member of the Zoning Adjustments Board.” That’s not what Berkeley needs. 

Berkeley City Council District 7: #1 Rigel Robinson

This is the district that represents lots of students. This councilmember should understand students’ need, how they differ from other constituents, and how they’re the same. Robinson has been active in Berkeley politics for awhile, gets students, and strongly supports more housing -- a crucial issue for students struggling to find places they can afford in Berkeley’s presposterously expensive housing market. By contrast, as my friend Nathan says, “Ces Rosales has some good ideas, but she avoids discussing student needs by saying students need what everyone needs. Well, sort of yes, sort of no, that reasoning wouldn’t be acceptable to progressives if applied to many other groups.” 

Berkeley City Council District 8: #1 Lori Droste, #2 Alfred Twu

The main candidates here are the incumbent Lori Droste and anti-housing advocate Mary Kay Lacey. I’ll quote my friend Nathan on the two of them: 
Incumbent Lori Droste has often been a voice of reason on the Council. Droste has been a genuine supporter of housing and transit, winning the support of UC housing expert Karen Chapelle and pro-housing development group East Bay for Everyone. Mary Kay Lacey is closely tied to district neighborhood groups that are some of the most ferociously anti-housing in the city. When Lacey sees transit-oriented development all she sees is gentrification (in a mansion-heavy district)
I’d give my second vote to Alfred Twu -- I know, he won’t win, but he’s also pro-housing and I want Berkeley political leaders to see support for that perspective. Plus, he invented the fun and topical “North Berkeley BART” board game (I got a copy; let me know if you want to play and we’ll invite you over for a games night). 


elissa said...

Agree 100% about Jenny Wong and Rashi Kesarwani. I know Jenny personally and through our synagogue and have found her to be kind, thoughtful, and conscientious. I know Rashi from when she worked at the Legislative Analyst's Office and was pleasantly surprised to see that she's running for local office. Super smart, enthusiastic, and a really lovely person--I think she will do a great job!

Rachel said...

I've worked with Judy Hunt through her work on the Board of Library Trustees and think highly of her. She's smart, thoughtful, deliberative and also brings a level-headedness to her service which, honestly, is sometimes in short supply on public commissions and boards.

I can't vote for Lori Droste (my council member is actively campaigning against her) but if I could I would in a heart beat. (spirit of transparency: I have volunteered for her campaign) Why is it such a marvel to support a city council member who is focused on evidence-based policy, level-headed and isn't looking to the next ring of her political career? Plus, it matters to me that she's a lesbian mom raising two school age kids in Berkeley.

Jeff Hobson said...

Thanks Elissa and Rachel for your comments.

Elissa -- I also want to give you a shout-out because your 17 year-old daughter got involved in this election. Also good to know you've got positive experience with Rashi; I'm curious how that race will turn out.

Rachel -- thanks for the good words about Judy Hunt. I'd welcome thoughts on future Berkeley elections based on your experience. Feel free to send me an email as the election approaches.