Alameda County — Tri-Valley voters will have a choice of whether to return several familiar names to Congress and the state Legislature on this November ballot.
Some voters, however, especially some Dublin residents, might find themselves in new federal or state districts as a result of the required redistricting process that follows the latest Census in 2020.
In addition, a hotly contested battle for Alameda County District Attorney pits a veteran prosecutor against a civil rights attorney wanting to bring reform from the outside.
Here’s a guide to some key races affecting the Tri-Valley:
Most Tri-Valley voters will still find U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Livermore, on their ballots to represent them in Congress. Elected to the District 15 seat in 2012, Swalwell is seeking his sixth term, this time in the newly drawn 14th District, which includes Livermore, Pleasanton, most of Dublin, Hayward and Fremont.
Swalwell’s opponent is Alison Hayden, a Republican he defeated 71% to 29% in 2020.for the same job.
Swalwell, a Livermore resident, serves on the House’s Intelligence and Judiciary committees, and was chosen as an impeachment manager during former President Trump’s second impeachment trial following the Jan. 6 insurrection.
An outspoken Democrat who ran for president in 2020, Swalwell has been appointed to the House Homeland Security Committee and its Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee, which work to protect America against violent extremism and domestic terrorism. He previously worked as an Alameda County deputy district attorney and served on the Dublin City Council before his election to Washington.
Swalwell’s platform includes banning military-style semi-automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines, implementing comprehensive immigration reform, protecting women’s reproductive rights and addressing the climate crisis.
Hayden, a special education teacher who formerly worked in the banking industry, has a platform that includes securing the border; completing former President Donald Trump’s border wall; opening pipelines to return to energy independence; safe mining of minerals; building nuclear power plants; and cutting taxes and regulations to promote business and innovation. She is strongly pro-life.
Some Dublin residents living north of the 580 Freeway shifted north from Swalwell’s district to Mark DeSaulnier’s 10th District seat under the newly drawn congressional boundaries. A Democrat, DeSaulnier was first elected in 2014 to the formerly named 11th District that represented Concord, San Ramon, Danville and much of Contra Costa County.
DeSaulnier’s opponent is Michael Ernest Kerr, a Green Party candidate who identifies himself as a social justice advocate.
Kerr’s website says he believes big money and corporations control the mainstream media and most government officials. A progressive, Kerr said he intends to be a “bullhorn on issues that corporate politicians and media don’t want you to either know and talk about.”
DeSaulnier serves on the House Education and Labor, Oversight and Reform, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rules committees. His platform includes fighting for equality, battling climate change, reducing gun violence while preserving the 2nd Amendment, expanding affordable housing, preserving reproductive rights, and serving veterans.
DeSaulnier previously was elected as a Concord City Councilman, a Contra Costa County Supervisor and a California state senator and assemblyman.
Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, is seeking her third term representing a district that spans Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including Pleasanton, Livermore and parts of Dublin.
Bauer-Kahan serves on a number of committees, including Banking and Finance; Environmental Safety; Public Safety and utilities and energy. An environmental attorney, she serves as chair of the Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife. Bauer-Kahan fought for years to preserve Tesla Park.
Legislation promoted by Bauer-Kahan during the recent term that was signed into law includes creating a mental health and suicide prevention phone line, protecting reproductive rights, increasing nursing home inspections, and prohibiting the use of ratepayer funds in criminal or civil settlement agreements where a utility has been deemed negligent in starting a fire.
Bauer-Kahan’s challenger is Republican businessman Joseph Rubay, an Alamo resident she defeated 67% to 33% in 2020. In June’s primary, where they were the only two candidates, Bauer-Kahan garnered two-thirds of the vote.
On his website, Rubay said he believes “good leadership comes from common sense and a spirit to help everyone in the community.” Rubay advocates making sure police are well-respected and properly funded; protecting families and fighting to ensure children have the best education possible.
Two Democrats will square off in the 20th District, where Democrat Bill Quirk is retiring after 10 years representing the area that includes Hayward, Castro Valley and parts of Dublin.
The race pits Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai against Liz Ortega, a labor council executive. Kumagai, a military veteran and Dublin’s first openly gay city councilmember, touts his experience bringing affordable housing to the city, helping small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic; expanding union jobs and making the city safer.
Ortega lists her priorities as reproductive freedom, affordable housing, job creation, climate change, public safety and homelessness.
Quirk endorsed Ortega to replace him.
Alex Lee became the youngest Asian American legislator and the first openly bisexual state legislator in California to be elected to the Assembly in 2020. He is seeking his second term in a district that includes Fremont and Newark, the unincorporated Sunol area and Milpitas in Santa Clara County.
Republican small businessman Bob Brunton is challenging Lee for the seat.
Lee, now 27, serves on the Assembly’s Education, Transportation, Business and Professions and Rules committees, and chairs the Select Committee on Social Housing. He previously worked for State Senator Henry Stern of Calabasas and Assemblymember Evan Low of Cupertino. Gov. Gavin Newson recently signed Lee’s bill to relieve U.S. military veterans from paying tolls on bridges and highways.
A Milpitas High School graduate, he has lived in Milpitas and San Jose.
Brunton’s platform includes restoring public safety and trust in government; ensuring excellence in education, economic vitality and environmental stewardship; accountability of public officials, and lower taxes.
The contest to replace District Attorney Nancy O’Malley pits civil rights attorney Pamela Price against veteran prosecutor Terry Wiley, who serves as O’Malley’s chief assistant. O’Malley is retiring after three terms running the office with a $90 million budget and 440 employees.
The winner will become the first African-American to serve as Alameda County’s top prosecutor.
Wiley touts his 32 years of experience, including prosecuting criminals and police officers, overseeing the agency’s human resources department and training colleagues in diversity, equity and inclusion policies.
Wiley’s policies include a preference to not prosecute teenagers as adults, except in severe circumstances for 17 ½ -year-olds; balancing the system to hold violent criminals accountable while finding alternatives for nonviolent offenders who commit crimes because of mental illness, addiction and poverty.
Price said it’s time for someone from outside the District Attorney’s Office to bring reform. Price has accused O’Malley’s office of the “overcriminalization (of) black and brown people,” prosecuting residents with misdemeanor offenses that lead to felony convictions and mass incarceration.
Her platform includes finding alternatives to imprisoning people, including promoting neighborhood courts, where citizens impose community service penalties for lesser offenses. Price believes most defendants should get a chance at parole, and wants to root out bad police officers and hire prosecutors to change lives and not destroy them.
This measure will allow for larger structures for agriculture, and increases the size for equestrian arenas on unincorporated land.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom will be seeking a second term against Brian Dahle, a Republican state senator who represents a district along the Nevada and Oregon borders; Democratic Lt. Gov. Elena Kounalakis is running for a second term against Republican Angela E. Underwood Jacobs; Democrat Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, who was appointed to her position by Newsom in December 2020, will seek a full term against Republican businessman Rob Bernosky.
In addition, Democratic Treasurer Fiona Ma will face Republican Jack M. Guerrero, a councilmember in Cudahy, for another term; Attorney General Rob Bonta, who was appointed to his post in March 2021, will face off with Republican Nathan Hochman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney; Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will seek re-election against Republican Robert Howell, a longtime president of a cybersecurity equipment manufacturer in Silicon Valley.
For Controller, Republican fiscal adviser Lahnee Chen will face Democrat Malia M. Cohen, a member of the Board of Equalization.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, elected in 2018, will face challenger Lance Ray Christensen, an education policy executive.
Voters also will choose either Democrat Sally J. Lieber, a Mountain View city councilwoman, or Republican fiscal advisor Peter Coe Verbica for the state Board of Equalization’s 2nd District seat, which includes the Tri-Valley.
Senator Alex Padilla, who Newsom appointed to his position in 2021 to replace hen-Sen. Kamala Harris after she was elected to the vice presidency,, is on the ballot against Republican Mark P. Meuser. Voters will find their names twice, first to fill the seat until the term expires in January, and then to fill the seat for a full six-year term.
California voters must choose whether to retain four California Supreme Court justices with yes or no votes. Patricia Guerrero, Goodwin Liu and Martin Jenkins are seeking 12-year terms. Joshua Groban is seeking a four-year term to finish the term of his predecessor, Associate Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, who retired in 2017.
Nine California First District Court of Appeal judges are on the ballot for retention votes. The First District appellate court handles cases in 12 Northern California counties, including Alameda County.
California voters also will find seven ballot initiatives: Measure 1 protects abortion rights; Measure 26 allows in-person gambling on tribal lands; Measure 27 allows online and mobile sports wagering outside tribal lands; Measure 28 provides funding for arts and music education in schools; Measure 29 requires on-site licensed medical professions at kidney dialysis clinics; Measure 30 provides funding for programs to reduce air pollution and prevent wildfires by taxing wealthy residents; and Measure 31 is a referendum on a 2020 law that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products.
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