State Senate special election today

Four Democrats vie to represent Pleasanton, rest of District 7

Today's special primary election is underway, with polls open until 8 p.m. in a four-way contest that could decide the new state senator for Pleasanton and the rest of State Senate District 7.

Four candidates, all Democrats and all from Contra Costa County, are vying for a top spot in the primary or, if receiving more than 50% of the vote today, outright election to the State Senate.

If that doesn't occur, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff scheduled for May 19.

The candidates are current State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, former Tri-Valley Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer and Concord resident Terry Kremin.

A lone Republican, Pleasanton resident and political newcomer Michaela M. Hertle, also qualified for the ballot, but she announced her withdrawal from the race and endorsed Glazer in early February.

However, Hertle's name remains on the ballot because the deadline to remove it passed before she opted to drop out.

Almost four-fifths of the 7th State Senate District is in Contra Costa County, with the remainder in parts of Alameda County, including Pleasanton.

The seat in California's upper legislative house has been vacant since early January, when officeholder Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) resigned after being elected to Congress.

Bonilla, 54, of Concord was re-elected to a third term last fall representing the 14th Assembly District, which includes parts of northern Contra Costa County, plus Vallejo and Benicia in Solano County. She is due to be termed out of the State Assembly next year.

A former high school English teacher, Bonilla began her elected-office career on the Concord City Council. She later served on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors before winning an Assembly seat in 2010.

Buchanan, an Alamo resident, could have the name-recognition advantage in the primary, having represented more than half of the senatorial district as its assemblywoman for the 16th Assembly District. She was termed out of the Assembly last year after serving six years.

Prior to her time in Sacramento, Buchanan, 62, sat on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education for 18 years, which included four turns as board president.

Glazer, who has served on the Orinda City Council since 2004, made more of a name for himself regionally last year when he campaigned to succeed Buchanan in the Assembly. He finished third in the June primary, failing to qualify for the fall runoff election won by attorney Catharine Baker (R-Dublin).

Also a California State University trustee, 57-year-old Glazer is a small business owner and a former adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Seeking his first-ever seat in elected public office, Kremin is a Concord scientist with a Ph.D. in psychology: behavioral neuroscience and also a part-time faculty member at Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

Kremin, 50, is no stranger to the election ballot though, having run unsuccessfully for the Concord City Council three times, including last November.

The winner of the State Senate special election will fill an abbreviated term, the remainder of DeSaulnier's four-year term set to expire in 2016.

The 7th District includes Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol at the south end, Brentwood, Antioch, Pittsburg and Concord to the north, Orinda, Lafayette and Walnut Creek to the west, and the San Ramon Valley.

The senate district consists of all of Buchanan's former Assembly District and a portion of Bonilla's Assembly District as well as parts of the 11th Assembly District (represented by Jim Frazier, D-Oakley) and a sliver of the 20th Assembly District (represented by Bill Quirk, D-Hayward).

In advance of today's primary, the Weekly asked the candidates to submit a statement explaining their views and why Pleasanton voters should cast ballots in their favor.

Susan Bonilla

I'm running for State Senate to continue working to get our state on the right track, keep the budget balanced, invest in our schools, protect small businesses, and create more opportunities for middle and working class families.

As a classroom teacher and local mayor, I saw firsthand how political bickering and misplaced priorities in Sacramento were holding back middle-class families.

I ran for State Assembly to break the cycle of partisan gridlock and bring new priorities to the legislature that put middle-class families, schools and small businesses first.

I've worked with Gov. Jerry Brown and brought leaders from both parties together to create solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing California.

As Chair of the Education Budget Committee, I passed groundbreaking legislation that modernized funding for K-12 schools -- giving parents more control over their schools.

I championed legislation to make college more affordable, secured over $1 billion for training and technology to prepare students for jobs, and delivered tax incentives to help small businesses create and keep jobs in our communities.

I've given East Bay families, small businesses and seniors a strong voice in the Capitol.

"Susan has shown an unmatched ability to bring people together, create common-sense solutions, tackle the toughest issues, and deliver results. Susan Bonilla is the best candidate to represent us in the State Senate," said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Sher also has the support of former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern and the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Association.

Joan Buchanan

From our rolling hills to our thriving small businesses, the Tri-Valley is a very special place that I have been honored to call home for the last 30 years.

It has been a privilege to have represented this area in the State Assembly for the last six years, and before that, on the San Ramon Valley School Board for nearly two decades; and it would be an honor to continue representing you in the state senate.

My campaign is called "Positively for Us," rejecting all negative tactics because I think we're all tired of the negativity and misrepresentations that have unfortunately become the recent standard of campaigning. Instead, I'm focusing on my goals for the future and how we can accomplish great things together.

I am committed to ensuring that California stays on a path of fiscal responsibility by passing on-time, balanced budgets and paying off our debt. I will continue to support performance-based budgeting to keep government accountable.

I have been endorsed by over 80 locally elected leaders because they understand the importance of having a strong partner in Sacramento to strengthen our local communities and support local businesses.

I will fight to protect school funding and to make college more accessible and affordable. As an Assembly member and school board member, I worked with the entire education community -- parents, teachers, and leaders -- to pass major reforms to give local communities more control over our schools, streamline the teacher dismissal process and implement the nation's toughest student internet privacy laws.

You also can count on me to protect the environment and our open space and oppose the construction of the twin tunnels, which would destroy the Delta.

I'm looking forward to working with you to tackle these and other important issues should I be fortunate enough to have your support and vote.

Steve Glazer

I'm a fiscal conservative with socially progressive values who has been endorsed by Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne and Councilmembers Arne Olson, Kathy Narum and Jerry Pentin.

I have a record of proven independence to stand up to the powerful special interests that dominate the State Legislature.

I was the first elected official to oppose the 2013 BART strikes and support a permanent ban on transit strikes, as in New York and San Francisco. I oppose high-speed rail without a sound financial plan because it drains money from local transportation needs.

I'm a local mayor who is a problem-solver, not a partisan. As a local elected official, I balanced 10 straight budgets without ever taking a salary. As Trustee of the 23-campus California State University system, I fought for affordable and accountable higher education.

I'm a married father of two daughters who have gone through our public schools. I believe we need education policies that put students first and allow local school boards to ensure quality teaching in classrooms regardless of seniority.

A lifelong environmental advocate, I am proud to have been recognized by the Trust for Public Land and Save the Bay for my conservation leadership. We must protect open space and our natural resources, like Pleasanton Ridge, for future generations.

The state government needs to live within its means, make your tax dollars work harder and hold the line on new taxes. Our legislators exercise poor financial discipline that contributes to billion-dollar deficits and tax increases. The best way to ensure budget stability is to create jobs and grow our economy.

I support comprehensive public pension reform that creates a sustainable financial model and ends abuses, especially "spiking."

My opponents used a loophole to collect thousands in tax-free "per diem" income for being in Sacramento on weekends and holidays even when they were not there.

It's time for smart priorities that focus on education, job creation, infrastructure improvements, the environment and caring for those in need without new taxes.

Terry Kremin

I am the only independent Democrat who has not been in the system, and we need culture change. Rearranging pieces inside the system is not change. I believe in the citizen legislator where people step up, do their jobs and go back to a career. Change requires change.

I am the only candidate who brings science to the Senate: I have a Bachelor of Science from UCLA in psychobiology, a Ph.D. in psychology: behavioral neuroscience (Boston University).

I am the only candidate fully and currently vested in our public education system.

I have a kinder and a 4th-grader in the school system. Sitting on site council and Mt. Diablo parent advisory board, I see the actual results of what Sacramento is doing, and it is not good. I have taught statistics, and I taught myself information theory and MatLab programming in about a month to do that. I am the only candidate who has that depth of analytical understanding.

I am the only candidate who brings an in-depth knowledge of mental health and pharmacology to the Senate floor. I have researched and taught pharmacology. I know how bad our system is, especially the foster care drug scandal. I am the only candidate who brings an in-depth knowledge of pharmacology to the floor of the senate and does not have to rely on others.

I am the only candidate currently and actively teaching (Dominican University). I am the only candidate with current experience at both ends of our education system, and it is not pretty. Not only are we getting college-bound students graduating with high school diplomas totally unprepared for college level work, they do not even know they are not prepared for college level work.

I have political experience. The last 17 years of my life has been pure politics. Nothing happens in academia without politics. Imagine Sacramento politics, but with everyone having Ph.Ds. I can hold my own in any political setting.

There is a real choice in this election that does not simply perpetuate a failing system and cronyism. That choice is Terry Kremin.

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6 people like this
Posted by Carolyn Phinney, PhD
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Joan Buchanan has represented our community as our Assemblywoman for 6 years with great integrity, hard work, fiscal responsibility and values that reflect our community. For 18 years before that, Joan served on the San Ramon School Board working to bring these schools from struggling to top performers. Prior to that, Joan was a mom raising 5 children and working in business in fiscal accounting and oversight capacities. We all know that Joan is honest and very hard-working. Unlike most who rely primarily on staff summaries, Joan actually reads very carefully all legislation on which she is voting and she finds errors. Joan watches our dollars. She saved the state from another fiscal disaster when she found a loophole in pension reform legislation that would still have allowed pension spiking. As Chair of the Education Committee, Joan fought against the low funding formula for our schools proposed by the governor that would have damaged our high performing schools and she brought our schools a bigger share of the pie so we could maintain our amazing standards. Joan shares our values. She has always been a supporter of equal rights for all, including women and LGBT. Equality California has proudly endorsed Joan Buchanan for State Senate. Joan has been overwhelmingly endorsed by 4 major local Democratic clubs with approximately 600 members. As your elected representative on the Contra Costa County Democratic Party Central Committee, I know the differences between the candidates very well. I ask you to join me and vote for exceptional integrity; conscientiousnes; fiscal diligence, oversight, and caution; proven excellence, and the candidate who has always supported women's rights and equal rights. Please vote for Joan Buchanan for State Senate.

9 people like this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2015 at 8:03 am

Steve Glazer is the only candidate in this race who's different than 99% of other California politicians. Please read the bios and campaign statements from Joan Buchanan, Tim Sbranti, etc. ... don't they all sound the same? Steve is the only candidate that will stand up to Sacramento special interests - the established union-backed political machine that has held, and continues to hold, this state in its grip.

9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 16, 2015 at 8:22 am

I don't care who wins, I just want it to be over already! Every day my mailbox is filled with dead trees that these idiots are able to mail at a cost of nearly nothing. My porch is littered with their garbage. My phone rings constantly with their robocalls.

I went through the registrar to remove my name as a voter. Done with it, forever. Maybe now they will stop selecting me for jury duty every stinking year. It no longer matters who is elected, they are all useless.

8 people like this
Posted by J
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 16, 2015 at 9:00 am

Finally, I'll stop getting junk mail from Glazer bragging about being anti-labor and getting republican endorsements!

4 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:06 am

Well at least, if the wrong person wins the election (Joan) it will be short lived!!

3 people like this
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2015 at 10:04 am

The ContraCosta/Tri-Valley Times and the SF Chron support Steve Glazer. They know the candidates very well. Newspapers track voting records and SCANDALS of incumbents, misdeeds, and interview candidates with probing questions. Both of the largest papers in the greater Bay recommend Steve Glazer.
Our out-of-control public unions are fighting dirty to defeat Glazer because he wants to stop BART strikes and other union actions that harm the public.
Our Pleasanton Mayor and 3 of 4 of our Council members support Glazer, as do many elected officials, both Democrat and Republican. I've received calls and flyers from both parties endorsing Glazer.
Do vote today for the good of all of us.

3 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 17, 2015 at 10:57 am

They are all dems aren't they? "What difference does it make?"

7 people like this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2015 at 11:58 am

Most Dems would label Steve Glazer as a DINO (Democrat in Name Only) because he doesn't automatically vote the party line when it comes to unions, public pensions, etc.

1 person likes this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm

I used to be a democrat but no more. Now a libertarian. I used to be so proud to be a democrat and then the kind and radicals took over. JFK was my first vote. If he was in today's environment with his views he would be a moderate conservative. Tike have changed I guess.

2 people like this
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Dems usually do just vote as they're told to's easier than thinking or researching. However, preventing public union strikes, i.e.BART has always been a crusade of Glazer.
Sadly Glazer's name was the very last name on my ballot.
Somehow, the guy who just popped up 2 weeks ago, and has never been elected to anything, although has run for office many times, had his name on top.
I just went straight to Glazer, and was gone!
Not busy, all very fast, and I did it over lunch hour.

3 people like this
Posted by Anti-Public unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Now, I'm really angry. Late election day I find a Joan B flyer in my box, again! Endorsed by TEACHERS ! duh ! There are union teachers who stand together to protect in abuse cases. Joan B chooses the UNION members OVER students. There is no flyer in my box that says STUDENTS endorse JoanB!!! A judge has overruled that students interests should come first.
Joan B should have learned from sbranti's election loss.

Like this comment
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Pete, I think most of us started out as Democrats because of the party's affinity with youth. (Specking of this, I'm going to make another post regarding the latest "youth" movement in SF.) A college professor introduced me to Libertarian ideas, and I realized that they embraced everything I thought I saw in the Democratic party up to that time, but even more so. I've been there ever since.

I'm realistic enough to see that the best we can hope for in the short term are candidates who are socially liberal and economically conservative. I think the Republican party will come around eventually, once the old guard dies off and embraces the ideas of liberty regarding marriage, abortion, etc. I think it's far more likely for the Republicans to reverse course on social issues, than it is for the Democratic party to reverse course on its desire to further the welfare state. In the meantime, though, I vote Libertarian when I can, and for folks like Steve Glazer and Catherine Baker when I think the vote is close enough for mine to make a difference.

Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm

I think they should have 12 year term limits in the house and the senate. I also think their assets should be frozen for the time they are in office except for COLA. I can say this because I am in the range but anyone over 70 should not be allowed to run and if in office can finish out their existing term and no more.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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