Yee in the race

Ohlone College Trustee Garrett Yee has entered the race to succeed Assemblyman Alberto Torrico.

He and Fremont Councilmember Bob Wieckowski are the only two declared candidates. Milpitas Mayor Bob Livengood is still considering a run and Washington Hospital Trustee Jacob Eapen hasn’t been calling me back this week about his potential candidacy.

I’ll have short story about Yee next week. The election isn’t until June 8, 2010.

Wieckowski and Yee, who is an Army reservist, would appear to be the two favorites given their backers, their name recognition and the fact that they are from Fremont, which constitutes about half the district.

They even both went to Kennedy High School. Take that, Mission.

Yee said he would be an advocate for higher education and said he had a pro-environment record that rivaled Wiekowski’s. He also said he’s always been in sync with the Democrats when it comes to key issues even though he was a Republican in 2003 and switched from Decline to State to Democrat in 2007.

Matt Artz


  1. There are many Democratic politicians that were Republicans.
    It is a fact of life, that not many, if any, Republicans get elected. So they convert to Democrats.
    Think of how many Democrats, that are very conservative.

  2. Thanks for the history lesson… I just believe that our area needs to weed out these DINOs a little better.

    And these politicos need to grow a spine and represent the ideology they really agree with.

  3. You’re so right, Simple. City Council should have a big sign in their meeting room, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. Just to remind them.

    Time for some new faces, fresh ideas. Local politics has become the last home of the dinos, and I don’t mean “Democrats in name only” – I mean actual dinosaurs. People who’ve been there so long they’re starting to think they’re entitled and know better than those who put them there.

  4. from the Artz article today

    “Yee said his change of parties didn’t reflect a change of political philosophy, just a better understanding of which party best reflected his politics.”It sounds hokey, I guess,” he said, “but I’ve been a lifelong Democrat in deeds that I do and actions that I take.””

    If Mr. Yee couldn’t initially distinguish between the party of Reagan, Bush & Cheney and the Clinton & Obama .. does that speak volumes of his political intellect? How long did it take him to come to this conclusion … let me do the math, he’s 43 and if he registered to vote when he was 18, that means 25 years. It took him over 20 years to realize the Republican party didn’t share his same philosophy!

    Maybe Yee should stay on the Ohlone Board and take some history & political science courses at Ohlone before he decides to move up the political ladder.


  6. Once again we are not given good choices for the 20th Assembly District.
    Garret Yee, who does not know what his political affiliation is!

    He is backed by another Republican turned Democrat, Fremont’s political king maker John Dutra also was a Republican turned Democrat. (See post # 2)

    Bob Wiekowski is also running for the 20th Assembly District. He is a Fremont City Council member who has done nothing to distinguish himself from the other Council Members, who by the way, all belong to the Democratic Forum.

    He is backed by Alberto Torrico, The backer of Lexus lanes on our freeways that we have paid for several times with our gas tax’s.

    It is my hope that someone of Integrity runs for the 20th Assembly District, so far I do not like my choices…..

  7. I suppose there are those who regard party affiliation as the primary (no pun intended) reason to vote for a candidate. Personally, I look to the person, what they say, what others who know them say, and what they have done.

    I first met Garrett in the mid 90’s when we both served on the Fremont Library Commission. Even then I was impressed by his intelligence and ability to lead (and general niceness.) The past eight years I’ve watched him serve on the Ohlone College Board and have continued to be impressed at his leadership skills and ability to forge consensus among sometimes very fractious board members. I don’t believe I know any current or former members of that board who have anything but high praise for his abilities and, most important, his integrity.

    Garrett was on active duty in the army for several years recently, including a tour in Iraq. He has been involved and led several community organizations. He is open minded and always willing to listen to the concerns of others. It’s hard to imagine a better person to represent our city and area in Sacramento.

  8. Gees, dude, make up your mind. If you want to run for office, you’d darn well better at least know what your party affiliation is. Where does he think his funding will be coming from? What he chooses to be is entirely up to him, but he’d better pick fish or fowl if he wants to get anywyere.

    I’m glad he’s a nice guy, but nice only gets you so far, and sometimes we need someone on your side who’s not so nice. Like Perata – he’ll probably end up in jail, but he could drive a helluva bargain. Then there’s Wasserman, who manages to be both mean and ineffective. Lucky us. Perhaps Mr. Yee’s experience in Iraq will serve him well in State politics.

    And that “pro-environment record that rivaled Wiekowski’s” – Matt, give us a break. Bobby’s a sunshine environmentalist – he’s all for it as long as it doesn’t interfere with the plans of his developer buddies.

  9. Wieckowski seems like a real environmentalist to me. He tried to get Fremont to ban plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam food packaging last year. The effort failed, but it showed where people really stood on a real life environmental issue. Fremont staff members, who like to talk green, made clear they wanted no part of overseeing the bans, and the Chamber of Commerce, in the middle of its year of being “green,” was forced to show its true colors by opposing what would have been one of the geenest laws passed by the city.

  10. Is this the same Bobby Wieckowski who was quoted in the Argus a few years back as saying (and I’m quoting from memory here), “We’ve all already seen the hills, who needs to see the hills anymore?” while waxing poetic on his love for hillside and high-rise construction?

    Planting lettuce in your front yard does not necessarily make you an environmentalist.

  11. Oh, Matt – p u l e a z e –
    Fremont Lifer verbalizes the perspective of those who have been paying close attention over the life of this guys career.

    Bob W has been grinding the tired saw of his (failed) plastic bag/styrofoam proposal for some time now.

    Wouldn’t you think (??) that someone who was a real “environmentalist” would have at least one successful environmental initiative to claim for all those many years of hard work ???

  12. A politician is judged on his effectiveness to serve his constituencies . Bob , Wieckowski has failed, He has been completely ineffective.
    He knew that his Styrofoam and Plastic bags proposal would fail, but He wanted it on his resume.
    The Environmentalist that supported him in his first election, that He won, have abandoned him or rather He abandoned them.
    That is not to say that Bob is not a personable politician, He is very likable, just ineffective.
    Matt really likes him.
    I am going to be taking a very close look and a open mind at Yee for the 20th State Assembly District

  13. Bob Wieckowski is an example of someone who puts his ideals first, ahead of day-to-day wins. Isn’t our history filled with examples of people fighting for something that doesn’t finally happen until many years later? Does that mean they were completely ineffective or rather that they were undaunted by overwhelming odds, willing to keep fighting for something they believed was right?

    Take a look at Bob’s fights for restrictions on fast food restaurants. To my memory, he’s won quite a few of those battles, especially regarding hours of operation. To my mind we need people like Bob in public office.

  14. AMac, if memory serves, from some of your previous posts, it sounds like you haven’t been here in town very long. I’m glad that you feel that you have found an admirable person in our Bobby. However, I’ve been knowing this kid since he was in diapers, so my opinions about him have been based on more than just his political record. You see, our Bobby is the poster-child for situational ethics, so law school and politics were the logical direction for him to go, and I say that as a person with a fair number of attorneys in my own family. I’m sure he will do quite well as he moves forward with his political career because he always fits in wherever he finds himself, kind of like a sponge. There’s an old saying in my family, “ain’t nothin’ wrong, but somethin’ ain’t right”. That kind of summs up Bobby.

    I know you’ll stick around and keep your eyes and ears open. In time you’ll come to see the whole card on some of our local players.

  15. Well, twenty-two years may seem like a short stay in Fremont, but I’ve been attending Fremont city council meetings for just about as long, so I don’t believe I’m all that wet behind the ears. You say you’ve known
    Bob W. since he was in diapers. Then I guess you know all about his trips to Poland all those summers where he taught American business law, right? I guess you remember his two runs for city council prior to winning a seat when he was referred to by conservative elements as too radical for the office. How about his votes on the planning commission, you don’t think they reflect a consistent philosophy? Those who ran against him for city council thought they did. A few years back I served with Bob on a committee addressing affordable housing in the tri-city area. I already knew him from before but during that two-year period we had many conversations on housing and other subjects. At no time did I get the impression of the person you describe. So, what interactions have you had with him in the past ten years that makes you such an expert?

    Perhaps the truth is that you only knew him when he was in diapers. Try taking a look at his record, instead of relying on decades old memories of an infant.

  16. OK, that’s about what I expected. I’m not going to get into a lot of personal stuff that has no place on the net. As usual, you know what you know and I know what I know. Good luck and don’t let the glow from his halo blind you.

  17. AMac –

    I am less intersted in the various personality traits that you ascribe – I am certain that ALL of our city council are wonderful individuals.

    Anything more you want to add to the “environmental” credential that yourself, Artz and B.W. have been atempting to assert ?

    As I stated – I am surprised that an individual with so many years of experience in the public sector continues to restate this tired “loss” as his (seemingly) one major environmental “win”.

  18. I heard Vinnie Bacon had an insufferable case of colic when he was an infant. He’s a lot more mellow now.

  19. I believe the point has been made several times throughout this blog – Those who focus their comments on personality and personal traits, discredit themselves and the issues or individuals they choose to support.

  20. People call for candidates with integrity, is that not a personal trait? Are we not the product of the way we have lived our lives and of our life experiences? I don’t believe it is possible to separate the individual from the candidate. When I vote for someone I want to know who that person as best I can, not simply read position statements or articles in the Argus.

    I realize I am not the expert on Bob W., that Fremont Lifer is. After all, he has studied Bob since Bob was in diapers. But I do believe that watching Bob’s actions on the Planning Commission and on the City Council, serving with him on a committee and talking with him often through the past ten or more years does give some insight into his personality and how he performs in office.

    Obviously others disagree.

  21. AMacRae is right. Constituency desire integrity in their candidates for political office . . . . (and here’s my point) along with many other (far more critical) traits.

    Like *productivity* – – – –

    For an established and experienced Council member like B.W., I would value RESULTS over personality traits like INTEGRITY. Not that I do not value integrity, but given B.W’s tenure on the council, wouldn’t you place greater significance on what he had accomplished over his personality traits ?

    Here’s the point AMac – why should we be debating personality traits of an established and experienced council member like bob w. ? SHOULDN’T we be discussing and debating his myriad contributions AND positions to and on Fremont environmental concerns ?

    But what do we discuss ? His one failure at trying to get plastic bags and styrofoam banned ? ! And his *integrity* ???!!

    Something is amiss if these are the most significant contributions this individual has made to our community – – – – personal integrity and a *miss” on his ONE attempt at environmental activism. . . .

    Wouldn’t you think that someone who “served” our community for so long and was a self-professed environmentalist would have something else of greater significance to his/her credit ???

    Obviously – others DO disagree.

  22. I think people are trying too hard to find simplistic ways to ‘score’ candidates. Serving on a city council (or the Ohlone Board) is a collaborative role on a body whose primary function is policy setting, not legislative and does not lend itself to simple scoring. Take Steve Cho, for example. I believe he did a great job representing the people of Fremont during the eight years he was on the city council. But, for the life of me I cannot think of a single city ordinance that could be considered ‘his.’ Does that meant he was ineffectual or a failure as a council member? Of course not.

    Now, the California state assembly is a different kind of body. It is a legislative body, where members propose, sponsor, champion and fight against legislation and at the end of a term one can look at a member’s record and draw meaningful conclusions about their effectiveness. Unfortunately, when considering candidates for the assembly, it’s pretty much impossible to find like-for-like previous experience by which to judge them. Besides the state senate, is there another legislative body in California? Which means judging them in other ways.

    o How well does the candidate reflect the views the voter wants represented in Sacramento?

    o Does the candidate have the passion, commitment and energy needed to fight for those views?

    o What reputation has the candidate among those who have worked with them?

    Of course, these are not the only considerations I use, nor are they likely to match those of others. Just my two and a half cents worth (adjusted for inflation.)

  23. Interesting points Amac makes – and let’s circle back to the issue at hand – a Councilmember at the city level.

    I take exception with the notion that my suggestions are aimed at a “simplistic” approach to scoring a given candidate. Quite the contrary. . . . what I do not wish to see and my argument all along maintains that personality traits are subordinate to other more relevant matters when you evaluate a candidate – which suggests that there is a list of qualities that I choose to evaluate – some more important than others.

    AMac suggests (in the last three bullets of the previous post) that the priorities of 1. Voter represenation, 2. williness to fight for the needs of the voter, and 3. reputation amongst peers – are important.

    To which I inquire – what value are these personal qualities if they are ineffectual at producing tangible benefits for the community or the constituency ?

    First on *my* list of a candidates qualitifications are contribution and effectiveness. I establish theseas very important, particulary for an experienced politician – – – – and way down my list of priorities are qualities such as AMac empahsizes.

  24. BBox, can you give some examples of effectiveness by a city council member? It would help me understand your position better. (I am assuming you don’t mean anything like ‘voted x times at y number of meetings’ or ‘spoke for z number of minutes on average at each meeting during the past calendar year.’)

  25. AMac –

    Let’s try to stay on topic here –

    Matt Artz says – “Wieckowski seems like a real environmentalist to me. He tried to get Fremont to ban plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam food packaging last year. ”

    Now – a couple of observations that have been made throughout this discussion –

    1. The Styrofoam/plastic bag “initiative” failed – possibly for reasons having absolutely nothing to do with Bob being the proponent.

    2. This same reference to B.W.’s “environmental” activism has been made before by others – – – frequently using the styrofoam/bag ban as evidence of Bob’s comittment to all things environmental.

    3. Bob has been on the council for many years.

    Some questions emerge –

    Wouldnt you think that an environmental activist with as many years in public service as B.W. would have a much longer list of accomplishments in this important arena ? Dont you think those who watch this individual much more closely than I – Matt for example, you perhaps – might be familiar with the myriad other contributions he has made – if they exist ??

    Do you find it all peculiar that the one example of environmental activity that consistantly is mentioned on behalf of this individual was a failed attempt ?

    P.S. – these observations and questions have nothing to do with personality traits of the individual.

  26. Well, I can’t speak for Bob nor his campaign for a seat in the California Assembly as I have no association.

    For me the topic is how does one evaluate the success or failure or the effectiveness of a member of the city council member. I joined the debate when it was asserted that Bob W. was, I believe the words were, totally ineffective and a complete failure as a council member.

    I would argue that those making such claims should provide some examples of council members who have been successful and effective and why they think so. Otherwise, how can we, who know less than they, evaluate candidates ourselves?

  27. In other words, how can one declare a council member’s term a failure without defining what constitutes success?

  28. Perhaps we need to expand our vision a bit beyond Mr. Wieckowski.

    Does anybody want to cite ANY instances of effectiveness or accomplishment on the part of ANY of our current City Council members? The water park? Their behavior around the recent stadium proposal? The continuing “no response to burgular alarms” policy? The budget season where they swore they were out of money and then “found” a few million squirreled away? The repeatedly-voted-down utility users tax?

    As distasteful as it may be to continue to beat a dead horse, in this instance I will, on the theory that it relates back to Council effectiveness. Anybody notice the difference in how San Jose is handling their stadium proposal as opposed to our City Council’s approach?

    From the Merc:

    “The San Jose City Council on Tuesday took the city deeper into its pursuit of the Oakland A’s, enthusiastically approving a set of principles meant to guide any future negotiations with the team.
    Atop the city’s list is a pledge that any stadium be privately built and actually make the city money — a hoped-for millions of dollars, Mayor Chuck Reed said, in sales, hotel, parking and other tax revenues.

    “These principles help us know where we are headed,” Reed said. “We are not proposing to build the stadium.”

    That commitment is considered especially key to council members, who later Tuesday heard from a parade of residents and workers upset about the city’s plans to close a $77 million operating deficit for the fiscal year that starts in June.”


    Which is precisely why we knew that we could not depend upon our City representatives when it came to negotiating with the A’s. They were hopelessly outclassed and dazzled, afraid to insist on assurances up front because they might all lose their box seats.

  29. I take your point AMac –

    I dont think mine was an intent to state B.W. “a Failure” – frankly, I haven’t researched his contributions sufficiently to charcterize one way or the other – That said, I continue to wonder why his supporters continue to use the baggie/styrofoam failure as evidence of his environmental awareness. . .. . just seems like you’d want to claim something that was a success as opposed to wishful thinking. . . seems like slim pickings for a load of years in his position – that’s as far as my observations go.

  30. Irvington writes… Does anybody want to cite ANY instances of effectiveness or accomplishment on the part of ANY of our current City Council members?

    Let’s expand it even further. We have just over fifty years of city history. Can anyone cite whom they believe to be a successful city council member since 1956, and explain why they have that view?

    My view is that some people are using the wrong measures to find success or failure of individual council members. (Which is why I regard Steve Cho’s recent tenure as a success.)

    Suppose I were to state the San Francisco Giants were a failure as a team since their moving from New York because they have not scored a touchdown in all that time. Well, the answer to that is that I’m using the wrong measure of success, right?

    Suppose people are unable to come up with individual council members success in fifty years. Is it possible the wrong measurement is being applied?

    Of course all this is made more complicated since those who are declaring failure cannot or will not provide an example of success.

  31. AMacRae we get it, you are a very strong Y-Kow-Ski supporter and that is OK, you do not have to apologize for it.
    I just renewed my suscription to the Argus in support of this blog.

  32. Hmmm, objecting to Bob’s tenure on the council being characterized as a failure and completely ineffective is all it takes to be considered a strong supporter of his. You do realize that had you characterized Steve Cho in the same way, (or Bill Pease, or Judy Zlatnik, etc) I would have answered the same way. I guess, in your mind that makes me a strong supporter of all of them, right?

    So, had you objected to that characterization, how would you have argued against it without being declared a ‘strong supporter’ instead of someone who dislikes such instant and erroneous judgments?

  33. AMac –

    How did Bob vote on the Water Park ?

    Do you feel that the Water Park would be considered (by most environmentalists) as a “green” use of energy and space ?

  34. I don’t know how he voted though I don’t recall any no votes being cast. Again, I’m not part of his campaign or anything else, just someone who objects to the characterization (on this blog) that his tenure has been a failure.

    As to whether or not the park is regarded as green, you should probably ask someone in that field. The Tri-City Ecology Center might be a good place to start. They were founded in 1971 and have a great reputation and record.

  35. I spent a little time browsing through the archive of city council meeting minutes and found there are many meetings in which votes regarding the water park took place. I looked at a half dozen, most are concerned with accepting funding from one source or another (including a million from the Fremont Bank foundation,) all appear to be unanimous (including when Steve Cho was on the council.)

    Here’s an example from March 27, 2007. It starts with the rejection of all bids for the construction. Apparently, the city held out for a better deal and got it (saw that in another set of minutes from another meeting.)

    On a motion by Councilmember Natarajan, seconded by Councilmember Cho, the City Council:
    1. Rejected all bids received for the Family Water Play Facility, City Project Number 8464 (PWC), and directed staff to revise the contract documents as described in the staff report and to re-bid the contract as soon as possible.
    2. Authorized the transfer of the State Park Bond Act of 2000 Per Capita program grant funding of $1,338,000 (State Project Number 00-01-061), currently appropriated to 506PWC8464 (Family Water Play Facility), to 506PWC8065 (Warm Springs Community Park) (State Project Number 00-01-072).
    3. Authorized the transfer of $336,592.92 of the Park Benefit (Undesignated) Fund from 182PWC8065 (Warm Springs Community Park) to 182PWC8464 (Family Water Play Facility) to replace the State Park Bond Act of 2000 Per Capita funding in PWC8464 Family Water Play Facility.
    4. Authorized the transfer of $115,175 of the Park Dedication (Quimby) from 530PWC8065 (Warm Springs Community Park) to 530PWC8464 (Family Water Play Facility) to replace the State Park Bond Act of 2000 Per Capita funding in PWC8464 Family Water Play Facility.
    5. Authorized the transfer of $886,232.08 of the Park Facility Impact Fee from 540PWC8065 (Warm Springs Community Park) to 540PWC8464 (Family Water Play
    Facility) to replace the State Park Bond Act of 2000 Per Capita funding in PWC8464 Family Water Play Facility.

  36. Not sure of dates, but the initial vote on the water park was 3-2, Cho, Wasserman, D. Dutra yes, Pease and Morrison no.

    After a series of votes over several years, the final vote to build the project was 4-1, Wasserman, Wieckowski, Harrison, Natarajan yes, Cho no. Cho thought it had gotten too expensive.

    Tri City Ecology did not take position pro or con on the project.

  37. Thanks, Gus. Reminds me that, if you’re patient enough to wait until the people with good sense aren’t in a position to vote anymore, you can get any dumb thing passed in this town.

    I’d still like to hear our Bobby try to justify the water park as a “green” use of energy and space (thanx B for that inspired question). Or does he no longer defend his own actions, relying on his supporters and Tri-City Ecology speak for him? With that attitude, he’s clearly qualified for higher office.

    Come on now, Bobby – if you really want to move on up to the big show, it’s time to cowboy up and speak to the people who put you in office in the first place.

  38. Guys, which is a more greener option:
    option1: Kids playing in Water Park
    option2: Jerks driving gas guzzling GM/Chrysler “muscle” cars

    My opinion is that the city should impose pollution tax/fine on anyone who owns these muscle cars.

  39. I’m with you on the guzzlers, Andy – can we impose such a tax/fine at a local level? You know we had one during the gas crisis back in the ’70’s (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-gas-guzzler-tax.htm).

    Can we double the fine if you use your “muscle” car to drive your kids to the water park during a drought? Triple it if you’re smoking on the way? We gotta make some money somehow.

  40. Lifer, what if you’re eating a granola parfait while driving that muscle car? Discount? Is there a penalty if you bought it at McDonalds vs Whole Foods?

    What if the driver parks that GTO in an apartment carport? Should he pay more than the Prius driver who parks in the garage of a 3000 sq ft Atherton home?

  41. Marty, I noticed you make the Atherton dweller/prius versus Newark/ GTO. Things will be better if it was the other way around.

    1. AAtherton dweller is probably the only one who can afford the gas on the guzzler
    2. Not many Atherton dwellers, so we will have more priuses on the roads.

  42. Marty, btw I am a centrist. I support the waterpark since to me its a kids fun place. Yes, its wasting water but I am willing to relax my rules.

  43. I hope Garrett is elected. He has served this country well. I do not care what party he is. The main concern anyone should have is can he do the job. People like Torrico, Danielson, Wieckowski and Pelosi are just egomanics. They love to hear themselves talk.

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