Here are the Pleasanton Weekly's endorsements of candidates for Congress, State Assembly, Alameda County Assessor and East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors that serve the interests of Pleasanton voters. We reached our decisions after meeting with the candidates or questioning them during a public forum.
U.S. House of Representatives
Incumbent Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) is seeking a fourth straight term representing District 15. His challenger is Rudy Peters (R-Livermore), a Navy veteran and owner of a systems engineering firm.
Swalwell is the strong voice the Tri-Valley needs in Congress.
The former Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor continues to be a presence throughout his district and is responsive to constituents.
He remains committed to Tri-Valley goals such as securing funds for the Valley Link rail service, supporting our innovation economy and modernizing schools. Though a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, Swalwell said he hopes to work with a more bipartisan House in the next term to complete bills that align with some stated Trump goals such as the trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, prescription drug costs, DREAM Act and reducing corruption.
Peters has a laundry list of priorities, locally and nationally, but with no prior elected service at any level, he lacks the experience and political clout needed of an effective legislator. He also argues Swalwell doesn't focus enough on improving his district and constituents' lives. We disagree and look forward to seeing what Swalwell can accomplish in the next two years.
Re-elect Eric Swalwell for Congressional District 15.
Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) is running for a third term holding a key seat for the minority party in the State Legislature. Challenging the incumbent is Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), whose resume is similar to Baker's pre-election -- an attorney from the opposite party with nonprofit and school volunteer service but no elected experience.
We prefer Baker for District 16.
Over her four years in office, Baker has been persistently active in the district while also being a devoted advocate for her constituents in Sacramento. She has worked across party lines on statewide issues like women's rights, gun control and coastal protection, but as importantly, she has achieved results to improve life in the Tri-Valley -- look no further than her helping find money for a new BART parking garage in Dublin, which broke ground last week.
Bauer-Kahan, who finished 13 points behind Baker in the primary but may well benefit from a blue wave in the general election, has proven herself knowledgeable on statewide issues but we worry about her finding her independent voice within her party and to what extent she will prioritize the Tri-Valley.
Re-elect Catharine Baker to the State Assembly.
Alameda County Assessor
The race to replace retiring Alameda County Assessor Ron Thomsen features two Alameda residents: Phong La, a real estate tax attorney whose practice is based in Newark, and Jim Johnson, chief of the Assessor's Assessment Services Division.
La's campaign centered on experience, affordability and transparency has resonated with us -- as it did with many voters in June, with La earning 38.86% to Johnson's 24.88% in the four-candidate primary.
With experience on the consumer side of assessments (namely confronting incorrect tax bills), La wants to see the county office be more proactive with residents and businesses, including introducing informal hearings before assessment appeals, opening a satellite office in the Tri-Valley and prioritizing digitalization of the backlog of paper files to finally bring the assessor into the 21st century.
Johnson's campaign is focused on experience, continuity and nonpartisan decision-making for the Assessor's Office. But his core message seems to be that he has worked there for 26 years and he has the backing of the outgoing assessor. We hoped to hear more original ideas from Johnson on how he would improve the office with his own, independent voice.
Phong La is the leader the Assessor's Office needs going forward.
EBRPD Ward 5
Longtime Board of Directors member Ayn Wieskamp from Livermore is seeking re-election to the Ward 5 seat, representing the Tri-Valley south to Newark and parts of Fremont. She is being challenged by Fremont small business owner Dev Gandhi.
We support Wieskamp.
With nearly 20 years on the EBRPD board (on top of prior service on the Livermore City Council and Livermore Area Recreation and Park District), Wieskamp remains experienced, knowledgeable and highly motivated to represent the Tri-Valley's interests.
She pointed to recent accomplishments in Pleasanton including opening the Castleridge Trailhead access point to The Ridge and solar panels at Shadow Cliffs. And we laud her top local priorities for the next four-year term, such as creating trail access at Doolan Canyon in Livermore and Niles Canyon.
Gandhi, who did not respond to requests for an interview, is a technology entrepreneur who said on his campaign website that he was inspired to run to fix (unspecified) problems with local EBRPD parks, primarily Mission Peak Regional Preserve. But his candidacy seems to us half-hearted and unfocused.
Vote Ayn Wieskamp for EBRPD Board of Directors Ward 5 on Nov. 6.