Endorsements 2008: East Bay races and measures

Pub date October 7, 2008


Alameda County Superior Court judge, Seat 9


A public interest lawyer with a focus on civil rights, Dennis Hayashi has worked for years with the Asian Law Caucus. He was co-counsel in the historic case that challenged Fred Korematsu’s conviction for refusing to report to a Japanese internment camp during World War II. He’s run the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing and was a civil rights lawyer in the Clinton administration. He has spent much of his life serving the public interest and would make a fine addition to the bench.

Berkeley mayor


Tom Bates was a stellar member of the State Assembly once upon a time, and is seen in many quarters as a progressive icon in the East Bay. But he’s been a bit of a disappointment at times as mayor. He’s been dragging his feet on a Berkeley sunshine ordinance, he’s way too friendly with developers, and he helped gut the landmarks-preservation law. He’s supported some terrible candidates (like Gordon Wozniak).

Still, Bates has made some strides on workforce housing and on creating green jobs. He’s fought the University of California over its development plans. And he’s far, far better than his opponent, Shirley Dean.

Dean is even more pro-development than Bates. She’s terrible on tenant issues and won’t be able to work at all with the progressives on the council. We have reservations with Bates, but he’s the better choice.

Berkeley City Council

District 2


Moore came to the Berkeley City Council with a great track record. We endorsed him for this post in 2004, as did the Green Party. He supports instant-runoff voting and a sunshine ordinance. But he’s been awfully close to the developers and brags that he’s proud to have a high rating from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. His opponent, John Crowder, isn’t a serious contender, so we’ll go with Moore, with reservations.

District 3


Max Anderson is one of two real progressives on the council (the other is Kriss Worthington). Anderson, an ex-Marine, was one of the leaders in the battle against Marine recruitment in Berkeley and has been strong on environmental issues, particularly the fight against spraying the light brown apple moth. He deserves another term.

District 4


Dona Spring, who ably represented District 4 and was a strong progressive voice on the council, died in July, leaving a huge gap in Berkeley politics. The best choice to replace her is Jesse Arreguin, who currently works in the office of Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Arreguin is the chair of the Rent Stabilization Board and has served on the Zoning Appeals Board and the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, where he out-organized the moderates and pro-development sorts. He supports sustainable, community-based planning and would be an excellent addition to the council

District 5


This is a fairly moderate district, and incumbent Laurie Capitelli is the clear favorite. But Capitelli has been terrible on development issues and is too willing to go along with the mayor on land use. Sophie Hahn, a lawyer, is a bit cautious (she didn’t like the city’s involvement in the Marine recruitment center battle), but she’s a strong environmentalist who’s pushing a more aggressive bicycle policy. And she’s a big supporter of local small businesses and wants to promote a "shop local" program in Berkeley. She’s the better choice.

District 6


Incumbent Betty Olds — one of the most conservative members of the city council — is retiring, and she’s endorsed her council aide, Susan Wengraf, for the seat. It’s not a district that tends to elect progressives, and Wengraf, former president of the moderate (and often pro-landlord) Berkeley Democratic Club, is the odds-on favorite.

We’re supporting Phoebe Ann Sorgen, who is probably more progressive than the district and lacks experience in city politics but who is solid on the issues. A member of the Peace and Justice Commission and the KPFA board, she’s pushing alternative-fuel shuttles between the neighborhoods and is, like Sophie Hahn, a proponent of shop-local policies.

Berkeley School Board



Incumbent John Selawsky has, by almost every account and by almost any standard, done a great job on the school board. He’s mixed progressive politics with fiscal discipline and helped pull the district out of a financial mess a few years back. He knows how to work with administrators, teachers, and neighbors. He richly deserves another term.

Beatriz Levya-Cutler is a parent of a Berkeley High School student and has run a nonprofit that provides preschool care and supplemental education to Berkeley kids. She has the support of everyone from Tom Bates to Kriss Worthington. We’ll endorse her too.

Berkeley Rent Board






The Berkeley left doesn’t always agree on everything, but there’s a pretty strong consensus in favor of this five-member slate for the Berkeley Rent Board. The five were nominated at an open convention, all have pledged to support tenant rights, and they will keep the board from losing it’s generally progressive slant.

Oakland City Council, at-large


Rebecca Kaplan, an AC Transit Board member, came in first in the June primary for this seat, well ahead of Kerry Hamill, but she fell short of 50 percent, so the two are in a runoff.

Hamill is the candidate of state Sen.(and East Bay kingmaker) Don Perata. Political committees with links to Perata have poured tens of thousands of dollars into a pro-Hamill campaign, and city council member Ignacio de la Fuente, a Perata ally, is raising money for Hamill too.

Kaplan is independent of the Perata political machine. She’s an energetic progressive with lots of good ideas — and a proven track record in office. While on the AC Transit Board, Kaplan pushed for free bus passes for low-income youths. When she decided she wanted the district to offer all-night transit service from San Francisco, she found a way to work with both her own board and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to iron out the jurisdiction issues and get it done. Her platform calls for affordable housing, rational development, and effective community policing. She’s exactly the kind of candidate Oakland needs, and we’re happy to endorse her.

AC Transit Board of Directors

At large


Chris Peeples was appointed to an open seat in 1997, elected in 1998, and reelected in 2000 and 2004. A longtime advocate for public transit, and AC Transit bus service in particular, Peeples is a widely respected board member who helped secure free transit for lower-income youths and the current low-cost youth passes. Involved in the AC Bus Riders Union, Alliance for AC Transit, Regional Alliance for Transit, Alliance for Sensible Transit, Coalition for a One-Stop Terminal, and many other transit groups, Peeples has served on the Oakland Ethics Commission and is active in the meetings of the Transportation Research Board and the American Public Transportation Association.

Peeples was also involved in the mess that was the Van Hool bus contract, in which AC Transit bought buses from a Belgian company that were poorly designed and had to be changed. Joyce Roy, who is well known in the East Bay for her lawsuit against the Oak to Ninth proposed development and her participation in the ensuing referendum effort, is challenging Peeples because of his support of the Van Hool buses. A retired architect and local public transit advocate, Roy lost the 2004 race for the AC Transit Board, Ward 2, post to current incumbent Greg Harper. But now she is running a stronger race because she has the support of the drivers and passengers, especially the seniors and the disabled, who find these buses uncomfortable and unsafe.

But given Peeples’s long history and generally good record, we’ll endorse him for another term.

Ward 2


An East Bay attorney and former Emeryville mayor, Greg Harper was elected in November 2000 and reelected in 2004 to represent Ward 2. Harper appears committed to ridership growth and has become increasingly critical of the district’s attempts to increase fares, not to mention the much maligned decision to purchase Van Hool buses. Harper is in favor of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and has a strong record of listening and being responsive to community concerns. He has said that if Berkeley votes to stop BRT-dedicated lanes, he’d only try to implement BRT in his district, if its makes sense.

East Bay Municipal Utility District

Director, Ward 5


With the East Bay falling short of targeted water savings, it’s increasingly vital that voters elect environmentally conscious EBMUD directors. Doug Linney fits the bill. First elected in 2002 and reelected in 2004, Linney is a solid progressive. Opposed to reservoir expansion, Linney wants to promote water conservation and is open to groundwater storage and water transfers, but only if no environmental damage is done.

Director, Ward 6


Incumbent William Patterson has supported dam and reservoir expansion, groundwater storage, wastewater recycling, and desalinization. He has opposed large water transfers from agricultural districts and rate changes that would promote conservation.

His opponent, Bob Feinbaum, is a solid environmentalist who supports water transfers, opposes desalinization and reservoir expansion, and offers promising and sustainable ideas in terms of managing the drought that include setting fair rates for big users and protecting low-income users. He deserves support.

East Bay Regional Parks District

Director, Ward 1


A longtime environmental advocate, Norman La Force has shown a commitment to expanding and preserving parks and open space and tenacity in balancing the public’s desire for recreational facilities and the need for habitat protection for wildlife. We’re happy to endorse him for this office.


Berkeley Measure FF

Library bonds


Measure FF would authorize $26 million in bonds to improve and bring up to code branch libraries in a city where the branches get heavy use and are a crucial part of the neighborhoods. Vote yes.

Berkeley Measure GG

Emergency medical response tax


A proposed tiny tax on improvements in residential and commercial property would fund emergency medical response and disaster preparedness. Vote yes.

Berkeley Measure HH

Park taxes


A legal technicality, Measure HH allows the city to raise the limit on spending so it can allocate taxes that have already been approved to pay for parks, libraries, and other key services.

Berkeley Measure II

Redistricting schedule


This noncontroversial measure would give the city an additional year after the decennial census is completed to finish work on drawing new council districts. After the 2000 census, which undercounted urban populations, Berkeley (and other cities) had to fight to get the numbers adjusted, and that pushed the city up against a statutory limit for redistricting. Measure II would allow a bit more flexibility if, once again, the census numbers are hinky.

Berkeley Measure JJ

Medical marijuana zoning


Berkeley law allows for only three medical marijuana clinics, and this wouldn’t change that limit. But Measure JJ would make pot clinics a defined and permitted use under local zoning laws. Since it’s hard — sometimes almost impossible — to find a site for a pot club now, this measure would allow existing clinics to stay in business if they have to move. Vote yes.

Berkeley Measure KK

Repealing bus-only lanes


Yes, there are problems with the bus-only lanes in Berkeley (they don’t connect to the ferries, for example), but the idea is right. Measure KK would mandate voter approval of all new transit lanes; that’s crazy and would make it much harder for the city to create what most planners agree are essential new modes of public transit. Vote no.

Berkeley Measure LL

Landmarks preservation


Developers in Berkeley (and, sad to say, Mayor Tom Bates) see the Landmarks Preservation Commission as an obstacle to development, and they want to limit its powers. This is a referendum on the mayor’s new rules; if you vote no, you preserve the ability of the landmarks board to protect property from development.

Oakland Measure N

School tax


This is a parcel tax to fund Oakland public schools. San Francisco just passed a similar measure, aimed at providing better pay for teachers. Parcel taxes aren’t the most progressive money source — people who own modest homes pay the same per parcel as the owners of posh commercial buildings — but given the lack of funding choices in California today, Measure N is a decent way to pay for better school programs. Vote yes.

Oakland Measure OO

Children and youth services


This is a set-aside to fund children and youth services. We’re always wary about set-asides, but kids are a special case: children can’t vote, and services for young people are often tossed aside in the budget process. San Francisco’s version of this law has worked well. Vote yes.


Measure VV

AC Transit parcel tax


In face of rising fuel costs and cuts in state funding, AC Transit wants to increase local funding to avoid fare increases and service cuts. Measure VV seeks to authorize an annual special parcel tax of $96 per year for 10 years, starting in 2009.

The money is intended for the operation and maintenance of the bus service. Two-thirds voter approval is needed. If passed, a community oversight committee would monitor how the money is being spent.

The measure has the support of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter and the League of Women Voters.

Measure WW

Extension of existing East Bay Park District bond


The East Bay Regional Park District operates 65 regional parks and more than a thousand miles of trails. It’s an amazing system and a wonderful resource for local residents. But the district needs ongoing sources of money to keep this system in good shape. Measure WW would reauthorize an existing East Bay Park District bond. This means that the owner of a $500,000 home would continue to pay $50 a year for the next 20 years.

One quarter of the monies raised would go to cities, special park and recreation districts, and county service areas. The remaining 75 percent would go toward park acquisitions and capital projects. The bonds constitute a moderate burden on property owners but seem like a small price to ensure access to open space for people of all economic backgrounds. Vote yes.

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