Having all four candidates for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 3 seat on the same stage might’ve been the high point of this afternoon’s Alameda County Democratic Lawyers’ Club endorsement luncheon.
Former Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan of Alameda, San Leandro political activist Lou Filipovich, Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson and Oakland financial advisor Harold Lowe each said her or his piece, and then the panel took a few questions from the crowd in the back room at Everett & Jones near Oakland’s Jack London Square.
Filipovich, the lone registered Republican in the bunch, spoke about ensuring that taxpayers don’t continue subsidizing non-productive citizens, and so forth; boy, was this the wrong room for him, and he eventually acknowledged as much.
Lowe said current supervisors have no answer for the loss of jobs at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), no clear plan for the county’s economic development and job creation, no sense of how to capitalize on the county’s three major sports franchises. “Nothing is going to change unless we have real citizens pushing the envelope,” he said, warning that without good planning, “we are five years away from becoming Vallejo.”
(Vallejo just can’t get any love, even during its self-declared Tourism Month.)
Johnson touted Alameda’s economic development successes over the past dozen years (she was elected to the city council there in 1998 and has been mayor since 2002), including Webster Street’s bounce-back from the Naval Air Station’s closure, improvements on Park Street and the South Shore Center’s revitalization as Alameda Towne Center. With a $184 million county budget deficit, bringing new jobs to the area is more important than ever, she said.
And Chan billed herself as the one who can “hit the ground running, who doesn’t need any training,” having spent six years on the board before her six years in the Assembly. She noted it was legislation she authored that required Anthem Blue Cross to notify the state about its now-notorious, now-withdrawn rate hike proposal; she said she expects she would spend most of her first term working on a top-to-bottom restructuring of the county’s health care system, as tens of thousands of county residents newly insured under the federal health care reform law start seeking care.
Chan got the club’s endorsement.
Luncheon attendees also heard today from Justin Jelincic, the self proclaimed “conservative Democrat” and “Bible believing Christian” who’s taking on Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in the 13th Congressional District’s Democratic primary. He said he was there to represent “the other side of the big tent” in the party, and filed to run only when he realized nobody else would; Jelincic said Stark himself noted 38 years ago, as he ran to unseat a longtime incumbent, that 30 years in Congress was too long because a lawmaker would lose touch with those he represents. A contested primary is “an opportunity for us as a party to say to people, ‘We want the best and the brightest.’”
Stark staffer Jason Teramoto read a message on his boss’ behalf, saying he’d been a longtime advocate for seniors, workers, children and the disabled, especially when it comes to health care, and he wants to continue doing so for another term. Stark got the club’s endorsement.
And Fremont City Councilman Bob Wieckowski sought the club’s endorsement in his campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 20th Assembly District; opponent Garrett Yee wasn’t there. “My opponent is a nice guy, served in Iraq, has a wonderful family, but this is not about being a nice guy,” Wieckowski said – rather, it’s about being a forceful advocate for Democratic ideals. He vowed that if the oil-severance tax to fund education isn’t successful as carried this year by Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, he’ll reintroduce it next year because he’s “mad as hell” about cuts to state colleges and universities. Wieckowski got the club’s endorsement.
Others at the luncheon included Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro; Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley; and Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, all of whom are unopposed in the primary election.