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By Tim Hunt

An upset 40 years in the making

Uploaded: Nov 8, 2012

Turnabout took 40 years, but it's refreshing to see upstart Eric Swalwell take down the ancient Rep. Pete Stark, a 20-term incumbent in Congress in a manner similar to Stark's campaign back in 1972 against a older representative.
Stark had the backing of the entire Democratic Party apparatus and sent out mailers with endorsements from President Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other party luminaries.
That's despite his record, which is devoid of achievement and loud of mouth. Democrats were so concerned about Stark that they refused to let him chair the House Ways and Means Committee, despite his seniority, after Charlie Rangel had to resign because of ethics violations.
Stark has been out-of-touch, living in Maryland, for two decades. His district was so safe for Democrats that he would have held it until he retired or died, but for the voter-approved change that allowed the top two vote-getters in the primary (regardless of party) to advance to the general election.
Swalwell got within six points in the primary and then worked hard for Tuesday's election with a good door-to-door campaign and received the endorsement of the newspapers across the board, notably both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Times, who clearly saw Stark for what he was. Notably, the recommendations for newspapers closely paralleled any Democrat slate card.
Congrats to Eric and batten down your helmet. Standing in the wings were the party loyalists who sat this one out—state Sen. Ellen Corbett, Pleasanton termed-out Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Silicon Valley lawyer and former Obama Commerce Dept. official Ro Khanna. All are queued up for 2014.
Barring some tectonic shift, the seat will remain Democrat for decades so it will always be an intra-party squabble.
I'M THANKFUL this morning for the two-thirds requirement on taxes that saw both the ill-advised forever extension of Alameda County's transportation sales tax go down as well as the parcel tax gift to the Oakland zoo that was simply horrible public policy.
That requirement also saw the $28 parcel tax for Las Positas and Chabot colleges fail. All received more than 60 percent of the vote, but failed to reach the two-thirds level.
In a county dominated by Democrats that rarely sees a tax that it doesn't embrace, it is a significant series of results. Personally, I think the argument for local support for the community colleges was a good one—the bloated bond issue coupled with a project labor agreement to pay off construction workers unions was not—even though it had made a significant difference at Las Positas.
That said, the politicians who put together the transportation measure reached way too far—not only did they want to double the sales tax to one-cent, but they wanted to make it permanent. I have advocated for every county sales tax measure, all of which had sunsets—therefore accountability to the people paying the bills. The measure would have given the county the highest sales tax in the state because we're also paying extra for BART and the mismanaged county hospital system.
People will pay if it's a reasonable measure.
As for the zoo, it was bad policy pure and simple—let the backers and the board raise the money to operate.