The 2020 primary election is upon us, with Alameda County election officials sending out vote-by-mail ballots starting this past Monday to mark the start of early voting ahead of Election Day on March 3.
While the presidential primaries will dominate headlines statewide in the weeks ahead, there are plenty of local representative seats and ballot measures for Pleasanton voters to decide in next month's election.
In addition to Pleasanton Unified School District's $323 million bond Measure M and the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors (previewed by the Weekly on Jan. 16 and Jan. 31, respectively), Pleasanton residents will help determine races for U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, State Assembly, Alameda County Board of Supervisors and superior court judge.
There's also a fire safety bond measure for unincorporated Alameda County, a proposed new half-cent sales tax countywide for childcare and early pediatric health care, county central committee members for Republican and Democratic parties and a $15 billion public education facilities bond measure statewide.
Oh yeah, and those presidential candidates too.
For those still needing to sign up, there is time to register to vote in the March 3 primary election as well as to request a vote-by-mail ballot. To learn more, visit www.acvote.org.
Here's a look at those other elected officials and ballot issues on tap for Pleasanton voters:
Pleasanton voters will join the rest of their peers in Supervisorial District 4 in casting ballots in a two-candidate election for their representative on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors: incumbent Supervisor Nate Miley and challenger Esther Goolsby.
Miley, who is running for a sixth consecutive term, points to a deep passion for public service and a strong record in elected office in his candidate statement in the voter information guide.
"I have a track record of successfully pushing for safe livable communities, living wage jobs, worker protections, healthy aging for elders, local emerging business opportunities, the cannabis industry, an end to illegal dumping, street and road improvements and environmental protections," Miley wrote, in part.
In a subsequent interview with the Weekly, Miley also highlighted some Pleasanton priorities for the term ahead if re-elected, including tracking the Alameda County Fairgrounds Strategic Plan, traffic improvements on the freeways, Highway 84 and Foothill Road and public safety in Castlewood, among others.
Goolsby, an environmental community organizer from Oakland, did not submit a candidate statement for the ballot and did not respond to the Weekly's request for comment. Goolsby's campaign website and Facebook page do not list specific priorities, but do list a slogan of "No to pollution. Yes to change."
In addition to Pleasanton, District 4 includes East Oakland, Montclair, Castro Valley, Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview and El Portal Ridge.
As the Weekly covered in-depth last week, voters in Livermore and Dublin will be among those in Supervisorial District 1 voting from among four candidates to succeed retiring Supervisor Scott Haggerty.
The candidates are Fremont City Councilman Vinnie Bacon, Dublin Mayor David Haubert, Dublin City Councilwoman Melissa Hernandez and State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, a Fremont resident who is being termed out at the state level.
Any candidate could win the District 1 position outright in the primary election if they earn more than 50% of the vote. If no one wins a majority in March, then the top two finishers would advance to a runoff to be held during the general election on Nov. 3.
A third Board of Supervisors seat is on the ballot as well, but out of the area. Incumbent Supervisor Keith Carson is facing off against Albany City Councilman Nick Pilch for District 5, which represents Berkeley, parts of Oakland and other areas.
Alameda County Superior Court
Three litigators are competing for the Alameda County Superior Court Department 2 seat opening up with the retirement of longtime Judge Carol Brosnahan -- trial attorney Elena Condes, civil rights attorney Mark Fickes and administrative law judge Lilla Szelenyi.
In her candidate statement, Condes pointed to her professional experience and diverse perspective as a "Latina, lesbian, mother, defender and small business owner" among the reasons she would be the best candidate to succeed Judge Brosnahan.
"My decades-long experience in Alameda County has provided firsthand knowledge of the struggles many face in our community and the people who come into court to resolve disputes. Everyone deserves respect, a level playing field and equal access to justice," she wrote, in part.
Fickes also touted his legal experience and diverse perspective in his candidate statement, saying he would become just the second openly gay male judge to serve currently on the superior court, as well as referencing that his grandparents immigrated to the U.S. to escape Nazi persecution.
"My life experience taught me to always stand up for the underdog and ensure that justice isn't reserved for the rich and powerful," he wrote, in part. "You have my solemn promise that I'll respect the rights and dignity of everyone who enters the courtroom."
Szelenyi, who did not submit a candidate statement for the voter guide, would also represent personal and professional diversity, according to her campaign website. A Hungary native who attended high school in Australia, Szelenyi moved to Alameda County in 1992 and has served as a workers' compensation administrative law judge in Oakland since 2005.
"I truly believe that 'justice delayed is justice denied.' (William E. Gladstone). If elected as Judge for Alameda County Superior Court, it will be my mission to manage my courtroom efficiently. Litigants have a right to an expeditious hearing and decision," she wrote on her site.
Like District 1 supervisor, the judge position could be won outright in March if one candidate earns over 50% of the vote; otherwise the top two finishers would advance to November runoff.
The other 30 Alameda County Superior Court judgeships due for re-election saw only the incumbents file, which is common. Those positions will not appear on the ballot.
State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) faces two candidates in his bid for re-election to a second full four-year term representing District 7 -- and his fiercest competition may well be from within his own party.
While Glazer boasts strong support from local elected officials throughout his district (endorsed by nearly every single council member), Democrat Marisol Rubio, a scientific research and health care provider from San Ramon, has been backed by many local and regional labor unions and progressive Democratic Party groups.
The other challenger, Republican Julie Mobley, is listed on the ballot as a community volunteer, but she did not submit a candidate statement and has no apparent campaign website.
In his ballot statement, Glazer points to his record on air quality, climate change, gun violence prevention, bank regulation, anti-vaping, education, PG&E accountability, minimum wage, equality and standing up to pressure from special interest groups.
Rubio, in her ballot statement, said she would focus on access to health care, public education, local and regional transportation, BART improvements, climate change and gun violence prevention if elected.
The top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party, will advance to a runoff in November.
State Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) is opposed by Republican, Alamo resident Joseph Rubay, in her bid for a second consecutive two-year term for District 16.
Neither candidate submitted ballot statements for the county's voter information guide.
On her campaign site, Bauer-Kahan calls attention to legislative accomplishments and priorities from her first term, including women's reproductive rights, securing state funding for local projects, public education, human trafficking prevention, a new law on food allergens, climate change and gun violence prevention.
Rubay, who lost a bid to unseat Glazer in the State Senate in 2016, is now running as the lone challenger against Bauer-Kahan.
His campaign Facebook page includes this statement, "Working everyday for our community, our children, our future. An established business owner and leader in the community with a diverse range of experience on issues that greatly impact our district. Proven success in unifying and problem solving."
Because Bauer-Kahan and Rubay are the only two candidates in the race, they will see each other again on the November ballot regardless of how many votes each receives in March.
U.S. Housing of Representatives
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) is on the ballot with six challengers in his bid for a fifth straight term in the U.S. House of Representatives for District 15.
The list of other candidates include Democrats Samantha Campbell, a Union City native who works for New Haven Unified School District; Austin E. Intal, a sales and real estate professional from Hayward; and Tuan Phan, a biochemist from Castro Valley; Republicans Peter Yuan Liu, an Oakland resident who works in San Lorenzo; and Alison Hayden, a special education teacher whose city of residence is not listed; and challenger Don J. Grundmann, a chiropractor from San Jose running without a party preference.
None of Swalwell's challengers appear to have previous elected experience.
Swalwell is coming off a whirlwind 2019 that saw him cast into the national spotlight with a four-month-long presidential campaign and a prominent role in impeachment inquiry hearings.
In addition to national priorities, Swalwell said his goals for the next term include "to keep doing all I can to improve CA15 residents' quality of life -- that means helping them spend less time stuck in traffic, helping them earn and save more, and helping ensure they have the health care, education, and federal services they deserve," he told the Weekly. "You all inspire me, and it's an honor to represent you."
Phan told the Weekly he is running for Congress with four top goals: "Making unionizing easier, breaking up monopolies, Medicare for All and the Green New Deal."
Liu, who previously campaigned as a long-shot candidate for governor and Oakland mayor, described priorities of his "Liu's community empowered safety plan," legislation to allow women to auction off newborns to avoid abortions and revamping dwelling building codes nationwide, among others.
Grundmann talked about three top priorities to "nationalize the private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve System and issue debt free currency," "save the children of the nation ... from the social engineering attack of 'transgenderism'" and "stop the race science/eugenics attack of Planned Parenthood upon the black community."
Campbell, Hayden and Intal did not respond with statements for the Weekly.
The top two finishers in the March primary will face each other in a runoff election in November.
Childcare advocates in Alameda County are back again with a proposed new half-cent sales tax countywide nearly two years after a similar measure fell just short at the ballot box.
This time around, proponents have added an early-age health care component to the tax measure in addition to childcare funding.
Measure C proposes to raise $150 million per year via a new half-cent sales tax across Alameda County for the next 20 years, with 80% of the funds supporting childcare, preschool and early education programs and 20% supporting pediatric health care.
"Your Yes vote on Measure C will help to provide all Alameda County children with high-quality health care and early childhood education programs during the most critical period of their development," according to the ballot argument in favor of Measure C.
There was no opposition argument filed.
It is similar in concept to Measure A that failed in June 2018, a proposed half-cent sales tax countywide for 30 years to fund childcare and preschool for low- and middle-income families that garnered 66.20% voter support -- just short of the 66.67% required for passage.
Now, the passage threshold for Measure C appears a little less clear.
In their ballot submittal form, Measure C proponents said the tax measure would need only a simple majority to pass, even though special taxes in California have typically required a two-thirds supermajority.
The Measure C documents in the county's voter information guide don't clearly address that threshold question, and an Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office representative said they could not specify on Monday.
First 5 Alameda County, which would be the administrator of the Measure C childcare program, provides some additional context on its website, saying the threshold for approving a voter-qualified special tax is unclear (simple majority or two-thirds supermajority) in light of multiple court cases pending appeal in California. "Consequently, the threshold will be determined in future court decisions."
Voters in unincorporated areas in Alameda County, including parts of Pleasanton that are outside of the city limits, will decide a $90 million fire safety bond measure proposed by the Alameda County Fire Department.
The Measure D bond, and its associated new property tax of $16 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, will fund projects "to repair/replace outdated stations, thereby maintaining services in unincorporated communities (including medical emergency lifesaving services, fast 911 response, wildfire protection and disaster response)," according to the ballot question.
The bond proceeds could not be used on salaries, benefits or pensions, and would be subject to citizen oversight and audits. As a fire safety bond, Measure D would need approval from more than two-thirds of voters in order to pass.
Measure D is only on the ballots of residents in unincorporated Alameda County, except for the Fairview area.
As a result, only projects for ACFD facilities within the unincorporated county could be funded through Measure D, including the potential new ACFD fire station in the Greenville area of Livermore -- but not projects in incorporated cities served by ACFD by contract, such as Dublin.
Pleasanton residents registered members of the Democratic or Republican parties will have their chance to vote on their representatives on the Alameda County Central Committee for the 16th Assembly District.
And there are some familiar names among the locals on both sides.
The Republican committee features 11 candidates for six available positions: Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne, Zone 7 board candidate Hugh Bussell, Doug Miller, Leslie Jones, Chung Bothwell, Karan Healy, Debra Del Conte, Frederick B. Volking Jr., Sara Volking, Harry Briley and Suzanne Tringali.
The Democratic committee includes six candidates for four positions: former Pleasanton city councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, Dublin teachers union president Roberta Kreitz, Judy Tomic, Jeffrey Nibert, Brittni Kiick and Jacqueline Tarin-Rankl.
One statewide measure appears on the March ballot, Proposition 13, a proposal from the State Legislature seeking voter authorization to issue $15 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund construction and modernization projects at public education facilities across California.
The proposal calls for $9 billion dedicated to support projects at local preschools and K-12 campuses and $6 billion for public universities and community colleges. State officials estimate the costs to repay the bonds (principal and interest) at $740 million per year for 35 years.
The "quick reference" argument in favor of Prop 13 in the state voter information guide contends, "Yes on Prop 13 funds essential repairs to make California public schools safer and healthier. Removal of toxic mold and asbestos from aging classrooms. More school nurse facilities. Cleaner drinking water. Fire and earthquake safety upgrades. Strong taxpayer controls. Endorsed by firefighters, doctors, nurses and teachers. For California's children. YesonProp13.com."
The "quick reference" argument against Prop 13 states, "This measure authorizes $15 billion in borrowing, costing taxpayers $27 billion including interest, to build and repair schools. Borrowing is nearly twice as expensive as paying for school construction from the regular budget, which has a huge $21 billion surplus. This is just more government waste. Vote no."
Prop 13 needs a simple majority statewide to pass this March. The full arguments for and against Prop 13, as well as the entire text of the measure and other relevant details, can be found in the printed voter information guide or online at voterguide.sos.ca.gov.
Note: This Proposition 13 has nothing to do with the well-known 1978 California initiative measure by the same ballot designation number on property tax rate limitations.
With the state's primary election moved to earlier in the year, California voters are expected to have more of a say in who their party's presidential nominee will be -- compared to when the primary was in June and many other states had already voted.
Registered members of six political parties can vote on which candidate from their party should advance to the general election: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, Green and American Independent.
California voters registered under "no party preference" can cast a ballot in the presidential primary for either the Democratic, American Independent or Libertarian parties, which are allowing non-party voters to participate in their primary. To vote for the Green, Peace and Freedom, or Republican parties' presidential candidate in the primary, voters must be registered to that specific party.
President Donald Trump will appear on the Republican primary ballot with six challengers from within his party, including former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh.
The Democratic Party primary ballot is a crowded list that includes marquee candidates such as former vice president Joe Biden, sitting U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), former South Bend (Indiana) mayor Pete Buttigieg, New York City entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and billionaire political figures Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.
The list of 20 candidates also features less-heralded candidates like U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado) and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) as well as some candidates who have already suspended their campaigns but remain on the ballot, such as U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (New Jersey).
To learn more about presidential candidates across all six parties, as well as other details about the presidential primary, visit HowToVoteForPresident.sos.ca.gov. For more information about all issues on the ballot, contact the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office at 510-272-6973 or visit www.acgov.org.