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By Tim Hunt

Election reflections

Uploaded: Nov 15, 2016

In this bluest of blue states thanks to the wealthy coastal counties, running simply as a Democrat did not work for former Pleasanton Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio. Republican incumbent Catharine Baker easily topped Cook-Kallio, garnering 56 percent of the unofficial totals.
That was much more comfortable than the 51.5-48.5 win over former Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti in the low turnout year of 2014.
That Baker built a larger lead in a presidential year with a much greater turnout is a tribute to the moderate record she has built as well as her consistent outreach to residents over the last two years. She has “showed up” a lot and that counts.
As I observed previously, Cheryl’s campaign managers seemed to have decided that the key strategy was making sure voters knew she was a Democrat.
Continuing the trend of never seeing a tax measure that they did not support, Alameda County voters overwhelmingly approved a more than $500 million bond measure for affordable and low-income housing. Since the elimination of redevelopment districts that requires a 25 percent investment into low-costs and affordable housing, it has gotten much more competitive to qualify for the tax-credit financing to build these projects.
The large bond measure will put a big chunk of money toward these projects, but it far from the solution. The Bay Area is in a housing crisis because the supply of housing has not kept up with the welcome and explosive job growth. The job growth has been in the technology sector, but that also has spurred plenty of growth in construction jobs.
Contractors have been struggling to find enough qualified workers in the trades. Put it all together and it results in longer, tougher commutes and a higher cost of living.
Thanks to San Francisco and Alameda County voters, BART’s ill-advised $3.5 billion bond issue received the two-thirds margin necessary for passage. San Francisco voters approved it by an 80 percent margin, while Alameda County voters backed it 71-29 percent. Contra Costa, the smallest of the three counties, rejected it with 62 percent, but the overwhelming margins in the other two counties put it over the top.
Sad. There’s no plan attached to this gob of money and it can be shifted to non-capital expenses instead of being used to rebuild the system. BART already pays its non-skilled (high school diploma is all that is required for train operators or station agents) extraordinarily well and its directors have routinely caved to union demands.
Management and the union cut a contract extension deal before the bond measure was placed on the ballot so there will be two years of labor peace, but what’s needed is backbone on the Board of Directors and the management team.
BART is the critical mass transit backbone for the Bay Area and deserves quality leadership. It’s also sad that the other two counties being served by BART (San Mateo and Santa Clara) were non-participants (they also do not have board members), but that would by spread the burden.