Your Essential Look at the Top Local Elections this November
By Robb Korinke
I know all anyone cares about is the Congressional seats, but if you care about housing, homelessness, policing, cannabis, taxes, labor issues, pensions or potholes, welcome to the 350+ LOCAL races on the ballot. Here’s the top races I’m tracking ...
Off the top, a few dynamics make this a really interesting year for municipal races in particular. Namely, the ongoing trend of cities moving to district-based elections and the shift of cities from off-cycle/odd-year elections to the general election ballot.
In the Inland Empire and East Bay Area, districts are having a particularly dramatic effect, with many retirements and tenured officials now squaring off against one another. Also, mostly in L.A. County, the move to November generals is putting some longtime councilmembers into a wholly new electorate, and way down ballot.
It’s also probably the biggest year ever for cannabis on the ballot. By my own (incomplete) count there are more than 70 taxes and regulatory measures on city and county ballots all over the state. Many of these are threshold votes to see whether the city/county will allow any cannabis business.
Last thing to note, as non-partisan seats I find these races fascinating, but that’s not to say partisanship doesn’t play a role. In large city and County Supe seats it certainly does. It can manifest in small city races too -- though voters will often be hard pressed to tell if their council candidates are R, D or NPP. Small clues like how they talk about homelessness -- is it a housing issue or public safety issue -- are subtle tells.
Ok here we go.
Rent Control in National City
National City is one of a handful of cities with rent control measures on the ballot this November in a campaign that could be a preview of things to come if Prop 10 were to pass. The Union-Tribune has reported that the campaign is the most expensive in city history, with more than $300,000 raised for and against. Mostly against.
A report out in early October (timing!) showed countywide rents in San Diego are at an all time high, and have grown at twice the rate of inflation. Labor interests gave enough to get it on the ballot, but realtors and the California Apartment Association are putting it in a crater, basically outspending the proponents 6-1… and counting.
West Covina Council District 2
A lot of baggage here for the nominal frontrunners in District 2. Incumbent Mike Spence, once heir apparent in the 55th Assembly District, has battled substance abuse issues and was found unconscious in a Costa Mesa hotel room this summer. His primary challenger, former Assemblyman (and former West Covina councilman) Roger Hernandez left the legislature under a pretty serious cloud of domestic abuse allegations. They will vye for a district with just 10,000 registered voters.
A few other candidates are also running in this race. The newcomers include record exec Brian Gutierrez, city commissioner Leticia “Letty” Lopez, and former Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District board member Bill Robinson. Gutierrez is a Brown appointee to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Lopez nabbed the San Gabriel Valley Tribune endorsement.
Carson City Council
Has anyone ever seen a ballot argument for a city Charter signed by the mayor that openly hits two sitting councilmembers as guilty of nepotism? I have.
And this is Carson in a nutshell. There is a sharp 3-2 divide on the council, with Mayor Albert Robles heading a tenuous majority with Councilman Elito Santarina as his chief supporter, Lula Davis Holmes and Cedrick Hicks his principal opponents.
Add to the election mix Jim Dear, the former mayor who gave up the mayor’s seat to run for City Clerk (higher salary), only to be recalled a couple years later. In 2016, Dear ran for Mayor against Robles in a bitter contest won by Robles. Dear now seeks to return to the council where he would be the critical swing vote in an unlikely alliance with Davis Holmes. A contentious Charter City proposal is amplifying the dynamics here.
A few interesting candidates could win here. Mona Pimentel is Chair of the Planning Commission and nearly won a council seat two years ago. Dr. Sharma Henderson is a first time candidate who won the endorsement of the MLK Democratic Club and straddles the city’s demographics as an African American (the city’s electorate is at least 1/3 af. American, mostly in North Carson) and a South Carson resident, which is mostly white and Filipino. Louie Diaz is a Teamsters Organizer with other labor backing. Pimentel and Diaz will benefit the most from the city’s shift to Nov elections, as Latino vote share will probably quadruple, thoguh still be shy of Af american vote..
Rough hit pieces have been dropping all month on Dear and Davis Holmes, under the auspice of a pro Charter campaign.
Not enough space to explain Antelope Valley politics to the uninitiated, but suffice to say the “cactus curtain” is real, and it might cost Mayor James Ledford his gig of more thatn 25 years. You see, Ledford was quarelling with Lancaster Mayor R Rex Perris, an attorney. Perris decided he would do some pro bono work for the voting rights lawsuit *against* Palmdale. This gave him a chance to depose Ledford, and seems to have unearthed conflict of interest matters that caught the DA’s attention. Ledford has been dogged by headlines alleging corruption ever since. This is a pretty good breakdown.
Anyway, sitting councilmember Steve Hofbauer is challenging Ledford, and has picked up business support as well as both police and fire endorsements. Both are Republicans, as is most of the council, though Dems have a nearly 2-1 voter registration edge in the city
San Francisco Supes
There are five seats up on the SF Board of Supes, which basically has a one vote margin between mods and progressives. The usual flashpoint in the CIty of tenants rights are amplified by Prop 10 on the ballot, and its a key issues in several of the races. Whether the police department can use Tasers is another key issue, and several candidates have made opposition to tasers (and by extension, the police union) a central plank in their campaign.
“Moderates” vs “Progressives” is always a conflict in the City and can be difficult for outsiders to wrap their heads around -- Gavin Newsom’s last (only?) real challenge on the ballot was his first campaign for mayor against Green party candidate Matt Gonzales. Scott Wiener is a central figure among the moderates of city politics today, and frequently irked progressives while a County Supervisor. Moderates won back control of the board by a slim margin two years ago when Ahsha Safai won John Avalos’ seat.
How’s this playing out for November? In District 4 moderates including outgoing Supervisor Katy Tang and London Breed are backing Jessica Ho, but she’s been a resident of the City only about a year. Progressive pro-tenant Gordon Mar seems more likely to win. In District 2 there doesn’t seem to be a “progressive” candidate, appointed Supervisor Catherine Stefani and Nick Josefowitz are frontrunners.
District 6 where Matt Haney, a school board member, has a range of marquee endorsements, including Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris. He is a tenant rights activist and strong backer of Prop 10, while his chief challenger, Christine Johnson, is a former planning commissioner with a more measured aspect.
San Diego City Council Dist 2
San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, a Republican, is facing a re-election fight against Democrat Jen Campbell, a retired physician. The stakes are pretty large here, as a Campbell win would give Democrats a six member “super-majority” on the council, meaning they could override a veto by republican Mayor Faulconer. The Dem Party has lined up strongly for Campbell. She even boasts an endorsement from David Axelrod, in addition to several local Dem electeds past and present.
Notably, this District is largely nested within the County’s 4th Supervisorial District, which brings us to….
San Diego Dist 4 Supe
Term limits are catching up to San Diego Supes, with 20+ year vets Ron Roberts and Bill Horn both terming out this year. Robert’s District 4 has been the marquee race this year, and what a journey for Nathan Fletcher. The Iraq War vet and one time Republican Assemblymember is now a Democrat, married to Assemblywoman and appropriations chair Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, and he seems likely to beat Republican Bonnie Dumanis, the first openly LGBT DA in a major US metro.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, necessarily. The Lincoln Club and others put Fletcher on blast all spring, dropping several hundred grand trying to engineer a Dumanis runoff with former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana. Labor stepped up for Fletcher (recall Lorena Gonzalez previously ran the San Diego/ Imperial Counties Labor Council) and here we are. The seat is heavily Democratic, and as I said above overlaps with the City of San Diego’s contested 2nd Council District.
So whereas the City’s 2nd District race could give Dems a Supermajority on the City Council, a Fletcher win here gives them a foothold on the County Board.
Riverside Co Supervisor
This is another runoff that surprised many. The entirety of the SoCal business community was fretting a runoff between one of former Assemblyman Eric Linder or Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel against Penny Newman, a prominent environmental activist who was running as much for this Board seat as she was for the chance to land the County’s seat at SCAQMD. Newman disappointed in the primary, taking the Bronze medal as Spiegel edged her after a lengthy vote count that stretched towards the end of June.
Linder, though he placed first in the Primary, also disappointed with his fundraising numbers in the Spring, though he has stepped up for the General. This is as toss up race among the two Republicans in many folks’ eyes. Linder has the support of several law enforcement agencies, including Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, CAL FIRE L2881, and the CCPOA, as well as labor including SEIU. Additionally, he’s supported by Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. Spiegel meanwhile has garnered a lot more support from taxpayer groups and local and state elected officials, including three other Riverside Supervisors, most notably outgoing superivosr John Tavaglione, whose seat the candidates hope to fill.
Zachery Ramos is making a bid to be the state’s youngest mayor at the grand old age of 19 -- look out Michael Tubbs!. Ramos will have to beat Pat Nagy, a sitting council member elected back in 2009.
A Fox 40 report found that Ramos would be the youngest mayor in California’s history.
That same report quotes Ramos as adding he’d be the youngest Portuguese-American politician in history. Even better!
For the record, Thomas Ashby Laine of Alviso was elected Mayor at the ripe age of 24, way back in 1961. Alviso was annexed by San Jose a few years later... guess it didn't work out! Current Placentia Councilmember Jeremy Yamaguchi was elected to council, also at 19, back in 2008. He rotated to mayor at 22 which may make him the youngest to serve as mayor. Anyone? Kayle Jones, who is 24, is currently running for Mayor in Seaside.
OC Supervisor: 4th District
Im old enough to remember when this was Young Kim’s seat to lose, or maybe Joe Kerr’s. But, Ed Royce retired, Kim immediately grabbed his endorsement in her bid for congress, and Kerr fell just short in the primary... and here we are.
So it’s Mayor vs Mayor for termed out Supe Shawn Nelson’s 4th District seat, with Doug Chaffee (Fullerton) vs Tim Shaw (La Habra). Prob worth noting that Chaffee is a directly elected mayor while Shaw managed to rotate into La Habra’s mayoral chair just in time for the election, but hey, all looks the same on a ballot label.
The 4th District spans Fullerton, La Habra, Brea, Placentia, and parts of Anaheim and Buena Park. Despite a history of electing Republican supervisors, the 4th District has become one of the most Democratic in the county. Democrats hold a 10-point voter registration lead over Republicans in the district and this is a rare opportunity for Dems to gain a foothold on the County Board. In the district’s June primary, Democratic candidates cumulatively earned 62 percent of the vote. Democrats hope the competitive congressional races will spur a jump in turnout and boost down-ballot, while Republicans have similar hopes.
Shaw is endorsed by the four Republican Supes (including Nelson whose spot the 2 candidates are fighting for), while Chaffee is endorsed by a couple democratic political organizations along with Orange County Employees Association and other labor groups.
Chaffee has loaned himself over half a million dollars for the race
Fun side note, Tim Shaw is the father of -- count em -- SIX boys. Public comment is like a a vacation for this guy.
Another fun note: Chaffee’s wife, Paulette Chaffee, was running for council this November in Fullerton. “Was” until she was caught on camera stealing lawn signs. She’s since suspended her campaign. Notably, the caper footage was promoted by “Friends of Fullerton's” future… a blog with strong ties to Shawn Nelson.
Lake Forest Council
After undergoing a myriad of costly recall efforts, petition forgeries and public scandals in recent years, the drama continues in Lake Forest -- which is vying for the nastiest local race this cycle. Council candidate Neeki Moatazedi, who works for SoCalGas, has been on the receiving end of brutal independent attack mail, one using photos of her in a bikini and another with a woman in an orange jumpsuit alleging a criminal past and listing three Court cases -- one a traffic violation and other two couldn’t be found by the OC Register.
Neeki’s opponent Sonny Morper has called for a halt to the mail, which is traced to the same outside group who has been pushing the recalls in Lake Forest. OC Tax Chair (and former City of Orange Mayor) Carolyn Caveche called them “one of the worst attacks she’s seen in a local election.”
Fresno County’s auditor-controller/treasurer-tax collector
I’m just gonna paste this September 25 headline from the Fresno Bee: “Incumbent has 2001 child molest arrest. ‘I was exonerated,’ he says. Still an issue, challenger says.”
Still an issue huh? The incumbent, Oscar Garcia, pled no contest to the charge in 2001, and the case was dismissed a year later. Garcia was appointed in Fresno in 2016 after Vicki Crow retired, he previously served as an assistant in Tulare County. His opponent, David Keyes, has endorsements from the Fresno Assessor as well as Crow, Debbie Poochigian and a host of other local electeds.
San Bernardino Mayor
Incumbent Mayor R. Carey Davis will face off with sitting councilmember John Valdivia in a runoff from the June Primary. Davis was elected mayor in 2014, after the city went through its 2012 “reorganization” (bankruptcy). Notably Valdivia abstained on the bankruptcy vote in 2012 and has consistently voted against the council direction in fiscal reorganization matters since. Both are Republicans. Davis is a CPA.
Valdivia, who is Latino, grabbed 35 percent of the vote in the primary election to Davis’ 28 percent in a field of seven. Valdivia also significantly outraised Davis in that Primary, he’s looking to ride those tailwinds into the general and has endorsements from former state GOP Chair Jim Brulte and the local fire union. Davis is supported by several of the current council members, as well as receiving bipartisan support from senators Mike Morrell and Connie Leyva.
Stanislaus Supe D4
State Senator Tom Berryhill is in a runoff against Frank Damrell III, but poor health has kept Berryhill off the campaign trail. So much so the Modesto Bee ran an article headlined “Race for Stanislaus supervisor takes a strange turn; one candidate can’t be found”.
The two are vying for the seat of retiring Supervisor Dick Monteith, himself a former State Senator and a fixture of Modesto politics since the early 90s.
Damrell is a senior aide to Sen Cathleen Galgiani, and the son of a prominent retired federal judge. He is also a Democrat, in a seat where Dems and Reps are almost evenly split in voter reg.
Berryhill was widely thought to be a frontrunner for Board of Equalization, and health may have played a role in his decision not to seek that office. Beneficiary of a heart transplant before his time in the legislature, Berryhill was recently diagnosed with early stage parkinson's and has also recently suffered a broken hip.
Simi will lose its longest serving councilmember, Glen Becerra, to retirement this year. Becerra was elected way back in 1998 at the age of 31. He remains the city’s youngest ever elected, as well as its only latino. He also was a president of SCAG and influential at the League of California Cities Board, where he helped organize the California Civic Leadership Institute. Becerra now professionally serves in a senior position at Metro.
Simi also loses Mayor Bob Huber this year, who won a seat on the Ventura Board of Supervisors in June. Sitting Councilmember Keith Mashburn is running for Huber’s spot against 4 others, including District Director to Julia Brownley.
Nine candidates round out a field vying for Becerra’s open seat and to challenge incumbent Mike Judge. Among these is Fred Thomas, who politicos may recognize as one of the larger direct mail printers in SoCal.
There is also a “progressive slate” running in the city, consisting of Ruth Luevanos and Phil Loos for council, and Dawn Gray for Mayor. Together the three are running in the aftermath of the city’s lawsuit against SB 54, the state’s Sanctuary law. Simi Valley has not elected a Democrat to council as long as I’ve been tracking such things, which is awhile now.
Probably the one to watch in the council race is Bill Daniels, a school board member and 30 year Simi Valley police officer.
There are five candidates for two open council seats in Dublin, plus a sitting councilman, Arun Goel is challenging the mayor Haubert. Haubert has the endorsement of three other council members, majority of the school board (on which he formerly served) and several neighboring mayors.
But this is a “traffic and over-development” kind of election. Goel, along with council candidates Jing Firmeza and Bobby Khullar want to slow development, and that’s the kind of issue that can catch fire in bedroom communities, and Dublin is pretty badly impacted by the interchange at 580/680.
While we’re on the 680 corridor, worth pointing out it’s becoming a center of South Asian and especially Indian American political power. Dublin elected Abe Gupta in 2014 and Arun Goel in 2016, and now sees challengers Khullar and Firmeza (who is Filipino). In San Ramon a pair of city commissioners -- Aparna Madireddi and Sridhar Verose -- are challenging for council. In Danville Ram Namburi challenges longtime incumbents Karen Stepper and Robert Storer, though that’s an uphill climb.
Livermore Measure U & Palo Alto Measure F
SEIU Healthcare West has put measures on the Livermore and Palo Alto ballot that would limit healthcare charges to “115 percent of the costs of direct patient care”, and tasks the city’s Community Development Departments to enforce this.
Okay then. Livermore’s impartial analysis says “This appears to be the first ordinance of its kind” and the city has sued to see if its legal. Every member of the council signed the argument against, and the Palo Alto weekly called Measure F "a wolf in sheep's clothing.”
It appears this may be a new tool in the toolbox for labor, as Palo Alto Weekly notes “Critics of the measure say the real motive of the union's aggressive attempts to place these initiative measures on local ballots is to intimidate non-union hospitals to consent to unionization in exchange for the union not using the initiative process to impose price controls. The union denies that is its strategy and says its goal is to improve patient care and control out-of-control health care costs”. If the 115% figure sounds familiar, might be because it’s the same as si proposed in Prop 8, the Dialysis measure on statewide ballot.
Incumbent Mayor Libby Schaaf is defending her turf against a field of nine candidates this fall., but activist Cat Brooks and civil rights attorney Pamela Price present the strongest challenge. A recent poll paid for by the Oakland CHamber (and run by FM3) showed Schaff with a 20 point margin -- but shy of 50 percent, which matters a lot given this a Ranked Choice Voting scenario. As is common in these races, Brooks and Price are running as a slate and angling for second and third-place votes to try and edge Schaaf. Jane Kim and Mark Leno tried the same trick across the Bay in June, didn’t work there though.
If you don’t think Oakland politics can surprise you, ask Don Perata. If Schaaf wins in November, she will be the first mayor of Oakland since Jerry Brown to serve two terms.
Anaheim Mayor & Council
Term limits and district elections are changing Anaheim, a lot. Tom Tait is terming out after eight years at the helm of the happiest city on earth, and 8 candidates are lined up -- but the three front runners are former councilmembers Harry Sidhu (R) and Lorri Galloway (D) as well as Ashleigh AItken (D). For the first time in over a decade of hardball council fights over the city’s tourism industry, police shootings and a protracted redistricting battle, voters will have their say and could reshape the city.
Aitken is the daughter of Wiley Aitken, trial attorney and long-time Democratic King Maker in OC. Ashleigh has vastly outraised Galloway and has the labor fed and most (all?) local dem electeds.
On the other side there is roughly a million dollars spent by the hotel industry supporting Harry Sidhu.
Who's Disney backing? That's the right question. They've hedged giving modestly to both Galloway and Sidhu -- but their traditional PAC vehicle, “SOAR” (Support Our Anaheim Resort Area) and the hotels are taking the bark off of Aitken, who is also being targeted by the Lincoln Club. SOAR is also supporting a slate of candidates running for City Council, including Caldwell, O’Neil and Jordan Brandman -- who very narrowly lost his council seat when he first had to run in a districted election.
The hope for Sidhu is a split between Galloway and Aitken divide democratic votes enough for Sidhu to win and Republicans to hold the city which until districting they had a pretty iron grip on. Dems likely to have a 10 -12 point cushion so some splitting would be ok, any of the ‘lesser’ candidates drawing significant R votes a big problem from Sidhu.
In District 6, small business owner and Republican front-runner Trevor O’Neil has secured the slew of Republican backing and is the Disney candidate. Standing to his left is Grant Henninger, a local businessman who similarly secured all of the Democrat endorsements. Current Mayor Tom Tait, in addition, also recruited one of his own - Patty Gabby - as the third candidate for this district.
Costa Mesa Council
In addition to transitioning from at-large to district elections the city will also be electing its first directly elected mayor -- and that’s a fight. This is overall a watershed election for Costa Mesa, which has been ground zero for major fights in OC around labor issues, sanctuary cities and various other partisan fights.
The Mayor seat pits incumbent councilwoman and appointed Mayor Sandy Genis (R) against incumbent councilwoman Katrina Foley (D) a favorite of the local Dem party. Republicans are concerned with the prospect of electing a Democrat Mayor in a Republican majority city, evident by the council’s move in November of 2017 to bypass Foley’s appointment to Mayor by pushing in Sandy Genis instead.
Both District 3 and District 4 feature challengers vying for one of the two hotly contested open seats. District 3 tracks similar to the Mayor race with Brett Eckles as the conservative candidate and Andrea Marr working in tandem with Katrina Foley. In District 4, Michelle Figueredo-Wilson is touted as the business friendly candidate while Manuel Chavez allies with Katrina Foley; there is also a third candidate in District 4 running as a business candidate by the name of Steve Chan.
District 5 represents the only race where a sitting incumbent, councilman Allan Mansoor, is vying for one of these new district seats. He faces fellow Republican Rebecca Trahan and Arlis Reynolds who aligns herself with Karina Foley.
Fremont, like Duarte, will expand its council to seven seats, though in Fremont they’re going with a six member council and directly elected Mayor. The city has a $450 million shortfall in retiree health and pension costs, so the new members will be put the test starting… right away.
14 candidates are running in four new council districts this year. District 4 is probably the most interesting, at least it has the most candidates. Frontrunners are thought to be attorney Debbie Watanuki and PhD chemist Yang Shao. Two incumbents, David Bonaccorsi (appointed last year) and Rick Jones will be tested in their seats.
I guess we have to share this video of Bonaccorsi, taken from a doorbell camera as he **attempts** to leave campaign lit behind. It’s been called slapstick, I find it a sorta endearing slice of life on the campaign trail.
Incumbent Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer is facing off against two Councilmembers, Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Frank Matarrese. Cannabis is a key item here in the shadow of Oaksterdam. Herrera, a cancer survivor, has been an outspoken advocate while Ashcraft has been probably the most reluctant on the council regarding pot, and recently penned an oped calling for the city to go “slow and small” on the issue.
Spencer was also caught in a dust up recently, where it seems she (or her husband) had been pocketing checks intended to pay for monthly League of Cities Division dinners.
A pair of retirements could tilt the balance of Chico’s council this year, and potentially open the door for cannabis business in the city. Reanette Filmer and Mark Sorensen, both Republicans, are stepping down, and another republican Andrew Coolidge, is up for election. This puts the 4-3 Republican majority in Chico at risk, and there are seven candidates running. The Dem slate includes Alex Brown, Scott Huber and Rich Ober -- and labor is going to bat for all three.
Cannabis is a major issue here as well, the council having been traditionally opposed. Huber and Ober are up front in their campaigns as being pro-pot.
LA County Sheriff
I guess I should mention the LA County Sheriff’s race, because people keep asking me about it. Incumbent Jim McDonnell, fmr Long Beach police chief, took over from now jailed Sheriff Lee Baca. He’s challenged by former Deputy Alex Villanueva, who does have the backing of the savvy Deputies union, ALADS. McDonnell has almost anyone else you can name in LA politics.
This despite Villanueva being a Democrat (McDonnell is a Republican), and the fact that a Democrat has not won the LA Sheirff’s race in over 130 years.
Also, this is LA County, where you have to build a case, and name ID, among what, 3 million voters? That takes A LOT of money, and/or ink. McDonnell has outraised Villanueva 10 -1.
Villanueva is latino, and that does help as well, but I think it would help a lot more if there were more target races in LA or other top of the ticket items driving LA latinos to the polls. I think this race is getting lots of press honestly due to lack of other interesting races in the County.
Rancho Cucamonga - Council Dists 2 and 3
Add this to the list of cities holding their first District elections in 2018. Marc Steinorth’s decision to leave the legislature has shaken up politics pretty substantially in this neck of the woods. His loss to Janice Rutherford in his bid for Supervisor in June stung badly and fractured the County Board of Supervisors pretty much down the middle. Things will get even more interesting when they try to fill the seat left vacant by James Ramos, who will almost certainly take Steinorth’s seat in the Assembly.
Rumor has it Steinorth was encouraged this summer to run in Diane Williams’ open District Two council seat. But for whatever reason he chose to vye for the Third District seat, where he is pit against Ryan Hutchison, considered a rising star of local Republican politics. Hutchison has been running for a year and has endorsements from the Sheriff Deputies, the local realtors as well as Councilwoman Lynn Kennedy, Congressman Paul Cook and others, though Steinorth picked up the local paper’s endorsement.
In the 2nd District, Diane Williams was elected to the Rancho Council in 1990 and this year decided enough was enough, or that running is a districted election was enough. Williams has endorsed Kristine Scott, a Public Affairs Manager for So Cal Gas and chair of the influential Inland Action group. She was the first Latina to chair that group, and I believe she would be first Latina to serve on the Rancho Cuc council as well... the city previously had at least one other latino councilman, Rex Gutierrez.
Bakersfield 4th Dist Supe
Court-ordered redistricting has also altered the landscape for Kern County’s supervisors, and incumbent 4th District Supe David Couch has moved from a predominantly white Republican seat, centered around Taft, to one that is more Democrat and Latino and takes in Shafter, Delano and Wasco. Couch was supposed to have until 2020 in his current term, but the redistricting bumped him up.
Delano Mayor Grace Vallejo is in the runoff against Couch and looks well positioned to claim the seat. There is however a third candidate in the race, also Latino, Lamont Chamber of Commerce President Jose Gonzalez, so there could be a split among the latino vote, though it accounts for nearly ⅔ of registration. Turnout is key, as they say.
Duarte City Council
If you were going to district a city of 21,000 residents, how many seats would be enough? Not five if you’re Duarte, who is bumping up to seven council seats and will rotate their mayor -- the “two terms until it's your turn” model. Incumbents Margaret Finlay and Tzietel look set to keep their seats, and no one filed against Samuel Kang. But the two new districts bring a set of relative unknowns to local politics -- which is saying something in a town of 21,000.
As an example, in DIstrict 7 Jarrett Stoltzfus, and exec for Foothill Transit and former DOT official, is impressive but has only lived in the city just over 6 months. In District 6 Bryan Urias, a Hilda Solis staffer and Director from the Upper San Gabriel Municipal Water District picked up the County Dem party endorsement, the only candidate in the city to do so. He was previously a city commissioner, but in Baldwin Park.
San Francisco Proposition C
“Known as the Our City, Our Home initiative, the measure would levy a 0.5 % in gross receipts tax on corporate revenues above $50 million. It would raise estimated $300 million to fund homeless services and permanent, supportive housing.
It was placed on the ballot by homeless housing advocates through the initiative process, but it’s caught the eye of Cal Tax who contends this is a special tax that should have a two-thirds vote requirement, not a simple majority. Sharpen the lawyers! It's also notable as a gross receipts tax, which is becoming the norm for cannabis taxation but is still exotic for localities in California...though San Francisco already has one as does the City of LA.
Bay Area Housing Bonds
Housing Bonds are popular in the Bay Area this November, with San Jose, Berkeley, Sonoma, Emeryville and Santa Cruz County all asking for bond money to build housing. These are all ⅔ measures, generally tough to hit but most have pretty broad support. A few other cities are pursuing TOTs for a similar purpose, but the bonds interest me.
Ballot language for these strikes all the poll tested notes, such as San Jose’s “working families, veterans, seniors, teachers, nurses, paramedics, and other workers; and helping homeless residents get off of local streets and out of neighborhood parks and creeks.” or Berkeley’s similarly worded Measure O, for "low-, very low-, low-, median-, and middle-income individuals and working families, including teachers, seniors, veterans, the homeless, students, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations." Business and labor groups have lined up for most of the measures, though some taxpayer/republican groups have groused that lack of housing is due to lack of supply from lack of permitting. They’re not wrong!
Sonoma’s Measure N is a little less of a kumbaya story. The “Santa Rosa Housing Recovery Bond,” will create a $124 million bond to fund the construction of approximately 1,200 affordable housing units within the city limits. The chamber has supported it, but the North Bay Labor Council said in September they would “actively work against it.” Eek. Sounds like somebody didn’t get their local hire provisions.
Hon Mention and Miscellania
Mentioned Steinorth, Roger Hernandez, Berryhill and Nathan Fletcher are seeking local office above, but there are plenty of other “higher” office holders and alums seeking a return to where the rubber meets the road. Gloria Negrete McLeod is running for Chino City Council’s District 2, after twice coming up short against Curt Hagman in bids for County Supervisor.
Also former Assemblyman Russ Bogh seems very likely to step into Marion Ashley’s Riverside District 5 Supervisor seat. PS, Russ’ cousin, Greg, is the Mayor of Yucaipa and had no challenger for his District 2 council seat this November, so he got a free four years.
LA County Assessor Jeff Prang is in a runoff against a guy who had his name legally changed to “Lower Taxes” -- because that was cheaper than paying for a candidate statement.
The Riverside Sheriff race has split the County Board, with Jeffries, and outgoing supes Tavaglione and Ashley backing incumbent Stan Sniff, while Chuck Washington and V Manuel Perez backing his challenger.
Christopher Cabaldon may have a real race in West Sac for the first time in awhile, Joe DeAnda works for CalPERS and has garnered a host of labor and public safety endorsements, as well as the Yolo County Dem Party and a chunk of change. Tough to see Cabaldon losing, he was elected to the West Sac Council in 1996, and was the city’s first, and thus far only, directly elected mayor going back to 2004.
LA County’s 3rd largest city, Santa Clarita, has three incumbents up and a typically large field of candidates -- 15, including former councilman TimBen Boydston. Hard to see longtime fixtures Laurene Weste and Marsha McClean losing, and Bill Miranda [an appointed incumbent] is the clear establishment choice for the third seat. Boydston is hard charging, though his fundraising seems to have been lacking.