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Susan Bonilla declares state Senate candidacy

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla officially declared candidacy Tuesday in the special election that will be called to replace Mark DeSaulnier, now a Congressman-elect, in the East Bay’s 7th State Senate District.

Susan Bonilla“I’m running for Senate to continue working for Contra Costa and Alameda residents, families, and small business owners in the Legislature,” Bonilla, D-Concord, said in her news release. “Working with a broad, diverse coalition, I am proud of what we have accomplished; turning a historic budget deficit into a balanced budget with a rainy day fund; revitalizing our economy through job creation and economic development; and reinvesting in our schools. I will continue focusing on these efforts in the State Senate, building coalitions to deliver results for my constituents.”

Both Bonilla and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, have been widely expected to run in this special election. Both had already created state Senate campaign committees for 2016, when DeSaulnier would’ve been term-limited out. But Rep. George Miller’s retirement after 40 years in the House led to DeSaulnier winning that 11th Congressional District seat this month, leaving his own state Senate seat up for grabs earlier than expected.

The district’s voter registration is 43.5 percent Democrat, 28.6 percent Republican and 22.2 percent nonpartisan.

Republican Mark Meuser, a Walnut Creek attorney who ran unsuccessfully against DeSaulnier in 2012, announced Nov. 7 that he also will run to succeed DeSaulnier. He has not yet reported any fundraising.

Bonilla’s state Senate campaign committee had about $13,700 banked as of mid-October. Her Assembly committee, for the campaign she barely had to run in order to win re-election this month, had about $166,000 banked as of the same time.

Buchanan’s state Senate campaign committee had about $49,700 banked at mid-year, while her Assembly committee had about $30,800. Buchanan was term-limited out of the Assembly this year; Republican Catharine Baker of Dublin beat Democrat Tim Sbranti in the hard-fought election to succeed her.

But the list of candidates might grow larger still.

Orinda Vice Mayor Steve Glazer, a former political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown who lost the 16th Assembly District primary to Baker and Sbranti, said Tuesday that “a number of community leaders have encouraged me to consider running for this seat and I am giving it some thought.” Glazer, who already had rolled the leftovers from his primary campaign into a new Assembly campaign committee for 2016, has about $102,600 banked there.

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Susan Bonilla | 2 Comments »

Mark Meuser will seek DeSaulnier’s senate seat

The ink isn’t dry yet on Democrat Mark DeSaulnier’s win in the election to succeed Rep. George Miller in the 11th Congressional District, but the jockeying for DeSaulnier’s state Senate seat is already under way.

Walnut Creek attorney Mark Meuser, a Republican who got 38.5 percent of the vote in his 2012 run against DeSaulnier for the 7th State Senate District seat, announced Friday that he’ll run in the special election Gov. Jerry Brown must call to fill the vacancy.

Mark Meuser “Mark Meuser’s priority is to insure that your future, your children’s future, and California’s future is bright,” Meuser’s news release said. “The spirit of entrepreneurs in California is as strong today as it was during the gold rush. It needs an advocate in Sacramento, and Meuser wants to be that advocate. Ensuring that our communities stay strong—and grow stronger—requires a long-term vision for future generations, and Meuser has that vision. It is time to elect a representative to Sacramento who will fight for the citizens of Contra Costa and Alameda counties.”

Meuser’s declaration of candidacy isn’t so surprising, given his 2012 run and his creation earlier this year of the Bay Area Republican Political Action Committee, funded largely out of his own pocket.

Two prominent Democrats – Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, who just won re-election, and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, who is term-limited out this year – are interested in the 7th State Senate District seat as well.

If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in this special primary, he or she will win outright; otherwise, the top two vote-getters will advance to a special general election.

The district’s voter registration is 43.5 percent Democrat, 28.6 percent Republican and 22.2 percent nonpartisan. Even if Buchanan and Bonilla split the Democratic vote in what’s likely to be a super-low-turnout election, it’ll be quite an uphill climb for Meuser either to reach the majority needed to win the primary outright or to prevail against either Democrat in the general.

Posted on Friday, November 7th, 2014
Under: California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Susan Bonilla | 6 Comments »

Buchanan & DeSaulnier battle over license plates

Their East Bay Districts overlap, but Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier certainly weren’t seeing eye to eye at Monday’s Assembly Transportation Committee hearing.

DeSaulnier, D-Concord, was there to speak on behalf of his SB544, which would require the California Department of Education to apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for creation of a specialized license plate program to generate funds for school violence prevention programs.

DeSaulnierThe problem is, DeSaulnier – who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee – earlier this year helped push through a resolution, SR28, that puts a moratorium on new license plate types until a task force made up of California Highway Patrol, DMV and local police can issue a report by July 2015 “on license plate designs appropriate for traffic safety and effective law enforcement in today’s environment.”

And that resolution essentially put the kibosh on Buchanan’s AB49, which would require the Department of Health Care Services to apply to DMV for a special license plate promoting breast cancer awareness – what supporters call the “pink plate” bill. AB49 now languishes in the Senate Rules Committee.

“Could you please explain to me why you should not have to follow the same rules as everyone else, and why this plate and any other should not be subject to the pending results of the study?” Buchanan, D-Alamo, asked DeSaulnier on Monday. “Because it seems to me that when we write a bill that kills one, it should apply to everybody, especially the author of that resolution.”

The difference, DeSaulnier replied, is that “the full-plate pink plate had a problem, in my conversations with the CHP” – police were concerned that the fully colored plate might be hard to distinguish from other states’ plates, especially under twilight conditions. His school-violence prevention plate, he said, merely has a logo on one side, not a fully different color.

But Buchanan insists SR28 applies to all specialty license plates. And “if we’re going to pass a resolution that clearly states it applies to all specialty plate types… we should be applying that equally to all license plates and not making special carve-outs,” she said.

Replied DeSaulnier: “If someone comes together with a plate that complies with our rules then it will get out of our committee.”

“Right now, my opinion is, your plate does not,” he told Buchanan. “In my discussions with CHP, they had some questions, so that’s why we’re doing the study. … My whole difficulty with your plate was whether public safety could see or not.”

Buchanan held her ground. “I believe for us to approve a bill that’s in conflict with an existing senate resolution that came out of the senate transportation department is not responsible,” she said. “I think that if they want to change it, it should be changed first.”

The Assembly Transportation committee voted 10-3 to advance DeSaulnier’s bill, which is now pending before the Assembly Education Committee.

The California Channel has video of the exchange here (starting at the 50-minute mark).

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 9 Comments »

CA11: The who-will-and-who-won’t roundup

Two days after Rep. George Miller announced he’ll retire at the end of 2014 after 40 years in the House, here’s the shakeout so far on who will and won’t try to succeed him in the 11th Congressional District:

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord: At almost the same instant Miller started his news conference in Richmond, DeSaulnier was telling a reporter in Sacramento that he would run; he issued his news release less than four hours later.

Walnut Creek Mayor Kristina Lawson: She’s “seriously considering” it.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo: “She’s still looking at what the options are,” spokeswoman Michelle Henry said Wednesday.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord: She is “is focused on her upcoming re-election for state assembly and not considering a run for Congress,” spokesman Luis Quinonez said Wednesday.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Tuesday.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia: Endorsed DeSaulnier on Wednesday.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield: Won’t run for the seat next to his.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin: Won’t run.

Former airline pilot and “Hero on the Hudson” Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Danville: Won’t run.

Watch for Lisa Vorderbrueggen’s story this weekend reviewing the whole scrum in much more detail; stay tuned, as the landscape continues to shift.

Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, George Miller, Joan Buchanan, Mark DeSaulnier, Susan Bonilla, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Money matchups: AD15, AD16, AD25 & AD28

There just wasn’t room in today’s campaign fundraising article for these juicy tidbits about some Bay Area Assembly seats.

As many as six Democrats might vie to succeed Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who’ll be term-limited out of her 15th Assembly District seat:

  • Elizabeth Echols of Oakland, former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration, raised almost $85,000 in the year’s first half and had almost $80,000 cash on hand as of June 30, but also had almost $18,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Sam Kang of Emeryville, the general counsel for an economic justice advocacy group, raised $74,000 in the year’s first half and had $69,000 cash on hand with about $4,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Andy Katz of Berkeley, president of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s board, raised about $56,000 and had about $49,000 cash on hand with $7,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond councilman and former West Contra Costa County School Board member, raised more than $52,000 in the year’s first half and had almost $36,000 cash on hand with about $12,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Peggy Moore of Oakland, who was the California political director of President Obama’s re-election campaign, raised $30,000 in the year’s first half and had $25,000 cash on hand and no outstanding debts.
  • Cecilia Valdez, a San Pablo councilwoman, also has declared her intent to run for the seat, but had not filed an electronic report of her fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, also will be term-limited out in the 16th Assembly District. Among those potentially competing to succeed her:

  • Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer, a Democrat who was political adviser to Brown’s 2010 campaign, raised about $245,000 in the year’s first half and with about $240,000 cash on hand but $2,000 in outstanding debts as of June 30.
  • Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a Democrat, raised about $112,000 in the year’s first half and had about $101,000 cash on hand but $10,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, raised $50,000 in the year’s first half and had $39,000 cash on hand but $7,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican from Dublin, also has declared her intent to run for the seat, but had not filed an electronic report of her fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is raising funds to run for the 10th State Senate District seat, leaving his 25th Assembly District seat up for grabs:

  • San Jose City Councilman Kansen Chu, a Democrat, raised about $170,000 in the first half of 2013 and had about $153,000 cash on hand as of June 30, with $1,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox, a Democrat, raised about $16,000 in the year’s first half and had about $15,000 cash on hand as of June 30, with almost $4,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez, a Democrat, also has declared his intent to run for the seat, but had not filed an electronic report of his fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • In the South Bay, Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Campbell, also is term-limited out of his 28th Assembly District seat in 2014. Those who might vie to replace him include:

  • Campbell Mayor Evan Low, a Democrat who works as an aide to Fong, raised more than $113,000 in the year’s first half and had about $240,000 cash on hand as of June 30, with about $3,000 in outstanding debts.
  • Both Cupertino City Councilman Barry Chang, a Democrat, and silicon chip processing engineer Michael Hunsweck, a Republican from Stanford, have declared intent to run for the seat, but neither had filed electronic reports on their fundraising as of Thursday morning.
  • Posted on Thursday, August 1st, 2013
    Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, campaign finance, Joan Buchanan, Nancy Skinner, Paul Fong | 1 Comment »

    Activists plan anti-fracking day of action

    Opponents of using hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – to access hard-to-reach oil and natural gas are planning actions Thursday at assemblymembers’ offices around California.

    Activists organized by MoveOn.org will deliver petitions in 13 Assembly districts, marking the launch of Californians Against Fracking, a coalition of 70 organizations advocating for a ban.

    “The gutting of Holly Mitchell’s fracking moratorium bill [AB 1323] and the blocking of Richard Bloom’s bill [AB 1301] by Assembly leadership ignores the will of the voters of California who have made their voices heard with thousands of phone calls and petition signatures. What we demand is a ban on fracking to protect our health,” said Aura Walker, a Culver City mother, whose petition on MoveOn.org’s petition platform has been signed by more than 35,000 people. “California is already earthquake prone. Additionally, poisonous gases will permanently pollute many precious aquifers, irreversibly poisoning our drinking water.”

    In the South Bay, activist Ann Benson of Portola Valley will lead the delivery of a local petition at noon to the Los Altos office of Assemblyman Richard Gordon, urging him to support a fracking ban. At the same time, Dorothy Hann of San Ramon will lead the delivery of a similar petition to Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan in San Ramon.

    And the nascent Californians Against Fracking group plans a noon rally outside the state office building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco, as well as one at the same time in Los Angeles. Both will be delivering petitions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s offices.

    Environmentalists have taken Brown to task after the governor in March said California should examine fracking to capitalize on the Monterey shale deposit, which the U.S. Energy Department has estimated could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil — about 64 percent of the nation’s shale oil resources. As some legislative Democrats sought bans, Brown had said the technology shouldn’t be rejected out of hand.

    “We want to get the greenhouse gas emissions down, but we also want to keep our economy going. That’s the balance that’s required,” he said at the time. “The fossil fuel deposits in California are incredible; the potential is extraordinary. But between now and development lies a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

    UPDATE @ 5:07 P.M.: The California State Senate voted 27-11 this afternoon to pass SB 4 by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas, which would require public noticing before fracking can take place, permits, disclosure of chemicals and an independent scientific study of fracking and its risks to California, among other provisions. “I am pleased my colleagues want to hold oil well operators accountable and answer critical questions about groundwater quality, water supply, earthquakes and air quality,” Pavley said in a news release. “We must protect California from risks to our economy, public health and safety and environment.”

    Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, energy, Environment, Jerry Brown, Joan Buchanan, Rich Gordon | 5 Comments »

    New laws signed on prostitution, child car seats

    Gov. Jerry Brown signed several bills by Bay Area lawmakers today, including one that lets juveniles convicted of prostitution seal their records without proving they’ve been rehabilitated, and another that aims to boost infant car-seat safety.

    AB 2040, by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Oakland, “provides that an adult who was previously adjudicated to be a ward of the juvenile court because he or she committed a prostitution offense may petition the court to seal the records of the offense, regardless of the person’s criminal record or proof of rehabilitation,” according to the most recent legislative analysis. This relief isn’t available to those minor “johns” who paid or offered to pay a prostitute. The Assembly had passed this bill 49-21, and the state Senate approved it unanimously, 36-0.

    AB 1452, by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo “requires hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers, when discharging a child, to give the parent or the person to whom the child is released specific contact information for organizations that provide assistance with the use, law, and installation of child passenger restraint systems,” the analysis said. The Assembly passed this bill on a 61-14 vote, and the state Senate on a 31-6 vote.

    See what other Bay Area bills the governor signed into law today, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012
    Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Jerry Brown, Jerry Hill, Joan Buchanan, Sandre Swanson | 15 Comments »

    New chairmanships for Bay Area lawmakers

    Some Assembly members from the Bay Area were given influential committee chairs as Speaker John Perez reshuffled his leadership yesterday.

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, takes over as chair of the Education Committee, on which she has served since her election to the Assembly in 2008; earlier, she’d served on the San Ramon Valley school board for 18 years.

    “I look forward to working with my colleagues and with stakeholders in the education community on legislation that will make the best use of our resources to benefit California’s students,” she said in a news release issues this morning. “We are currently facing unique challenges in funding education in our state, but we will hold steadfast to our mission of preparing students to be the workers, leaders and innovators of tomorrow’s global economy.”

    Bob WieckowskiAssemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, takes the Judiciary Committee’s chair; a bankruptcy attorney by trade, he has served as the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee’s chairman.

    Wieckowski issued a statement saying he has enjoyed serving on the Judiciary Committee under chairman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles and looks forward “to working with the Judiciary consultants in this new position. I appreciate the Speaker giving me the opportunity to lead this important committee.”

    Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Redwood City, will Chair the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee.

    Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, now chairs the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee, and also steps up as Assistant Majority Floor Leader. (I love the Majority Floor Leader’s job description: “Represents the Speaker on the Floor, expedites Assembly Floor proceedings through parliamentary procedures such as motions and points of order and promotes harmony among the membership.” Harmony!)

    And within the powerful Budget Committee, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, will Chair the subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation.

    Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, steps up as Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore until Sept. 1, when she’ll become Speaker Pro Tempore (responsible for presiding over floor sessions in Speaker Perez’s absence). Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, will be Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore.

    Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, continues chairing the Rules Committee.

    Posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2012
    Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Fiona Ma, Joan Buchanan, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, Nora Campos, Rich Gordon | 3 Comments »

    Help is on the way for Mt. Diablo’s beacon

    Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed into law an East Bay Assemblywoman’s bill to fix the Eye of Diablo, the beacon atop Mt. Diablo in Mt. Diablo State Park.

    AB 1916 by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, authorizes the state Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into an operating agreement with the nonprofit Save Mount Diablo to use volunteers and licensed professionals to rehabilitate the beacon. The Assembly and the state Senate both passed it on unanimous votes.

    The beacon’s lighting for almost 50 years has been the centerpiece of an annual Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony, hosted by Save Mount Diablo and the Sons & Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. But the light has fallen into such disrepair that it won’t be ready for this year’s ceremony unless it’s fixed. Save Mount Diablo will raise the money needed for the repairs and organize volunteers.

    “During these difficult budget times, it is critical that these types of public private partnerships are encouraged whenever possible,” said Buchanan. “We all want the repairs to the beacon to move ahead swiftly and cost effectively. I know that Save Mount Diablo will be an exceptional partner for the Parks Department to work with on this project.”

    Save Mount Diablo executive director Ron Brown said he wants to move quickly to iron out a deal with the state “that will address the important historical and mechanical issues, and still have the beacon be operational in time for the December 7 ceremony.”

    Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
    Under: Assembly, Joan Buchanan | No Comments »

    Scandal can’t slow Assembly fundraising

    Even a key supporter’s scandal can’t slow the hustle and bustle of a contested campaign.

    Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer – now in rehabilitation for undisclosed addictions after a former lover allegedly attacked her in a Newark motel room early this month – and her husband, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, had been scheduled to hold a fundraiser tonight at their home for Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk, who’s running for the 20th Assembly District seat.

    Quirk, who’s tight enough with the Lockyers that he served as the treasurer for Nadia Lockyer’s 2010 supervisorial campaign, emailed supporters Sunday to announce that the event – for which tickets cost from $50 to $1,000 – had been moved to an Italian restaurant in Oakland Hayward. (My apologies; I frequent Buon Appetito myself, and misstating the city was a careless error on my part.) “Nadia and Bill Lockyer will have an event at their home sometime in the spring,” Quirk wrote.

    You’ve got to wonder whether that’s wishful thinking, given that family’s unfortunate disarray.

    As Quirk competes with Democrats Jennifer Ong and Sarabjit Cheema and independent Mark Green (while Republican Adnan Shahab has dropped out) in this top-two primary, the fundraising beat goes on even in districts with incumbents.

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is still calling for RSVPs to her wine-and-hors-d’oeuvres reception with Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, next Tuesday, March 6 at Alamo’s Round Hill Country Club. Tickets start at $50 while a “leader” package of 10 tickets plus signage and special acknowledgement costs $3,900, all going to buoy Buchanan’s bid for a third and final Assembly term serving the newly drawn 16th District. Among her challengers will be Republican David Haubert of Dublin.

    UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M.: Per the comments below, I neglected to mention Estes Albert “Al” Phillips of Livermore as a Republican contender in the 16th Assembly District. I’d noticed a statement-of-intent in the Secretary of State’s database under the name Estes Phillips, but didn’t know he goes by Al and so couldn’t find his campaign’s website earlier. My apologies.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
    Under: 2012 Assembly election, Assembly, campaign finance, Joan Buchanan, John Perez | 5 Comments »