OP-ED: East Bay Assembly Candidates in Exciting Contests


June 3rd is California Election Day. The new open primary system makes second place the more interesting race because state elections are now nonpartisan with the top two vote getters in the June primary facing off in the November election, regardless of party affiliation.



For example, the governor’s race will have Jerry Brown easily finishing in first place. However, the real fight is for the direction of the Republican Party. Will the second place winner be the new Republican who is trying to expand the brand and or the more conservative Tea Partyer who is appealing to the base, but excluding any new potential voters.

The new state election system is really the old local system, in which the races were nonpartisan, and the top two finishers faced off in a November runoff.

It changed the power of the parties and created a more diverse field of candidates. In many races Democrats of different stripes running against each other or moderate Republicans are appealing to undecided voters, hoping to squeeze into the runoff.

Two very different open seat East Bay assembly races are producing very exciting races. District 15 stretches from Richmond, Berkeley to Piedmont with northern part of Oakland. The party registration is 64.47 percent Democratic, 7.83 percent Republican, and 18.62 percent No party preference.

The demographics are 39.40 percent White, 16.31 percent Black, 21.71 percent Latino, and 19.89 percent Asian.

There are eight candidates, mostly Democrats, vying for the seat. Two candidates, Elizabeth Echols and Tony Thurmond, have raised the most money, but the real fight is to finish second for the November runoff.

Next door, District 16 is nearly the opposite. It runs from the Caldecott tunnel to Dublin. Its registration is 39.77 percent Democratic, 32.76 percent Republican, 21.25 percent No party preference. The demographics are 64.44 percent White, 2.71 percent Black, 10.95 percent Latino, and 20.10 percent Asian.

There are four candidates with the real fight between business Democrat Steve Glazer, former aide to Gov. Jerry Brown and proponent of a no strike at BART law, running opposed to union Democrat Tim Sbranti, an officer in the California teachers union.

This is turning out to be the most expensive primary assembly primary race in California.

The unions targeted Glazer, because he had the audacity to question their tactics during the BART strike and advocated for the riders. From nurses to city workers, they are pouring millions behind Mr. Sbranti, but with limited effect in a mild Democrat district.

Glazer is turning out to be a formidable candidate with a wide base of support.

The same fight is brewing in the California school superintendent race. Newcomer L.A.-based Marshall Tuck got involved in education by leading a task force to improve L.A. public schools.

His results have been impressive and he wants to bring his new ideas statewide.

The incumbent Tom Torlakson is the darling of the teachers union because he has yet to question the current school conditions and proclaims that California schools are doing just fine.

Clinton Killian, an attorney at downtown Oakland law firm Fried & Williams LLP and former public official, can be reached at [email protected]


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