Political Notebook: Lesbian seeks Marin college board seat
by Matthew S. Bajko
Stephanie O'Brien, a Marin County resident and local school board official, is running for a seat on the College of Marin Board of Trustees November 8. Should she win, O'Brien would be the second out lesbian to serve on the college board.
The College of Marin's main campus is in Kentfield and it has a satellite campus in Novato. Created in 1926, the two-year community college enrolls 10,000 students each year and helps to prepare them to transfer to a four-year institution. The board last fall hired a gay man, David Wain Coon, to be its superintendent/president.
O'Brien is running to fill the seat of Carole Hayashino , who is stepping down this year and recruited O'Brien to succeed her. Three incumbents on the seven-person board are seeking re-election, and there are a total of seven people running for the four open seats.
O'Brien, 52, lives in Woodacre, an unincorporated town in west Marin. Her 12-year-old son, Alec Levy-O'Brien , attends seventh grade in the Lagunitas School District, where O'Brien has served on the school board for 10 years.
Her current term is set to expire in 2013, when O'Brien had planned to run for college board. But she changed her mind after Hayashino informed her of her decision to step down.
"I had been thinking of running for this board for years and had intended to run in two years. But when Carole approached me, I realized the timing for me to run is good," said O'Brien, who owns her own consulting firm that advises community colleges. "I have a lot of name recognition in the public education environment, so that helps."
O'Brien, who divorced her wife after being together 16 years and is now single, is trying to raise upwards of $40,000 to pay for campaign mailers. She has put $8,000 of her own money into the campaign.
She is focusing her attention on those Marin towns and cities that have local elections this year as that is where the majority of voters live who are likely to cast ballots in the nonpartisan, countywide college board race.
By the luck of the draw, her name will be the second listed on the ballot, which could prove to be helpful as some people are likely to vote for the first four candidates.
Last month O'Brien won the endorsement of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. The fund has been a backer of her previous school board races and also has supported current Marin college board member Wanden P. Treanor, a lesbian attorney who first ran in 1996 and will be up for re-election in 2013.
But due to some negative comments about having two lesbians serving alongside one another on the college board, O'Brien said she has not asked Treanor to endorse her candidacy.
"Marin is pretty progressive but there are places in Marin where, when the fact I am gay is mentioned, some people have an issue with it," she said.
O'Brien is in the process of updating her campaign website at http://obrienforcomtrustee2011.com/.
Berkeley hires lesbian city manager
The Berkeley City Council has hired lesbian deputy city manager Christine Daniel to be its next city manager. Not only is Daniel the first lesbian to hold the post but also the first woman.
During a special executive session Monday, October 3 the council voted unanimously to hire Daniel for the position, which she will start December 1. City Manager Phil Kamlarz is retiring as of November 30 after 35 years in the job.
The city is still negotiating what Daniel's new salary will be. Her current pay is $195,000 and her new salary is expected to be less than the $250,000 Kamlarz was making.
Initially employed in the Berkeley City Attorney's office, Daniel left to work for the city attorney of Fremont. Kamlarz then hired her back as his second-in-command and had been training her to taken over the job.
Daniel did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Openly gay Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington , who made the motion to hire Daniel, lauded her skills in tackling controversial problems in the East Bay city.
"I didn't make the motion because she is lesbian. I made the motion because Phil Kamlarz was an excellent city manager, but Christine answered my emails even faster than he did. I like getting answers to my emails quickly," said Worthington. "Phil is an expert recruiter and trainer. He wouldn't just stick her out there after one month on the job and say. 'Here, why donŐt you make her city manager.' I think he brought her back from Fremont and gave her hard projects to work on."
Baum kicks off mayoral bid
Terry Joan Baum, a lesbian playwright and Green Party member running to be San Francisco's mayor, is hosting a campaign "kick off" this weekend. But the event, noted Baum, isn't exactly a kick off because "We've been campaigning full-time for a while."
One of only two LGBT people running for mayor, Baum is considered a long shot and has had trouble getting invited to debates. Had progressive Supervisor John Avalos gotten into the race earlier than he did, Baum has said she would not have entered the contest as they share a similar vision for the city.
Nonetheless, Baum remains on the ballot and has invited supporters to join her from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, October 9 at Mission bar Doc's Clock, 2575 Mission Street, to learn more about her platform and campaign.
Both lesbian pioneer Phyllis Lyon and peace activist Cindy Sheehan are scheduled to speak.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings around 11 a.m. for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reports on SF City Treasurer Jose Cisneros's being in line to be the first out president of the League of CA Cities.
Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes.
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.