Political Notes: Gay Alameda supe candidate Bauters ramps up Pride Month events

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday June 24, 2024
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Alameda County supervisor candidate John Bauters. Photo: Courtesy the candidate
Alameda County supervisor candidate John Bauters. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

Gay Emeryville City Councilmember John Bauters is taking advantage of Pride Month to ramp up his fundraising efforts for his bid to be the first LGBTQ supervisor in Alameda County. It follows speculation about the viability of his candidacy in early June by an East Bay political columnist who had noted the lack of such events being hosted by the candidate.

In the March 5 primary Bauters came in second place behind Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas for the open District 5 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Because no candidate received more than 50% of the vote, Bas and Bauters advanced to a runoff election on the November 5 ballot.

They are vying to succeed Supervisor Keith Carson, who made the surprise decision to retire at the end of his current term. Emeryville being one of the smaller cities in the district, and thus having a smaller pool of voters, has been see as one disadvantage Bauters faces as he tries to defeat Bas.

His lack of high-profile campaign events in the spring, and third-place primary finisher Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett throwing his support to Bas, led East Bay political watcher Steven Tavares to report that the race was slipping out of Bauters' grasp. Earlier this month Tavares contended various developments in the race were looking to be the "makings of a rout" for Bas come November.

In his June 7 East Bay Insiders Newsletter Tavares noted that Bauters "seems to have disappeared from the campaign trail. Perhaps, because Bas is securing so much support that it's forcing Bauters to darken the doors of less-than-moderate funding sources. Bauters needs to figure something out quick."

Because, Tavares warned, "as of today, few think he can win the District 5 seat to replace Supervisor Keith Carson."

But that was before a main ally of Bas, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, learned last week that she faces a recall on the November 5 ballot. Two days later FBI agents raided Thao's home along with agents for the IRS and U.S. Postal Service, reportedly due to a probe tied to a junket she took to Vietnam last July.

Also part of the federal probe is Andy Duong, a co-owner of Oakland's curbside recycling vendor California Waste Solutions. He is also tied to the Vietnamese American Business Association that paid for the overseas trip last summer for Thao and other East Bay officials.

Duong, his family, and company were the focus of an investigation into illegally laundered campaign contributions to Shao and other Oakland elected leaders in 2020, as the news site Oaklandside was first to report. California Waste Solutions has also been a political donor to Bas, Tavares noted in his coverage of the raids.

Meanwhile, progressive Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is also facing a recall on the fall ballot. While the recalls of Price and Thao could bring out supporters of the two progressive politicians to the ballot box this fall, potentially providing a boost to Bas in the supervisorial race, it is just as possible that the more moderate Bauters could see a boost in support because of them.

Bauters didn't respond to the Bay Area Reporter's interview requests by the deadline to do so Friday.

Last Thursday, his campaign announced he had been endorsed by fourth-place finisher in the primary, Alameda County Board of Education member Ken Berrick. The announcement noted it signaled "yet another surge of momentum" for his candidacy.

Earlier in June, the same day that Tavares' newsletter with its item about the supervisorial race hit East Bay politicos' email inboxes, Bauters took to the social media platform X to invite supporters to a June 13 drag karaoke fundraiser at gay-owned nightlife venue Fluid510 in downtown Oakland. He had already announced it in a June 1 email marking the start of Pride Month. (Those not signed up for his emails may have missed it since the events page on his campaign site hasn't been updated since February.)

"As I campaign to become the first openly gay supervisor for Alameda County, I am thankful for the LGBTQ+ champions who came before me and made running in this race possible," wrote Bauters.

This Wednesday, June 26, he is co-hosting an evening reception in Emeryville starting at $99-a-person with the Housing Action Coalition, gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), the Nor Cal Carpenters Union, California YIMBY, and YIMBY Action. The event takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with the location given to attendees who RSVP online here.

The next night Bauters and Warren Logan, a gay man running for the District 3 seat on the Oakland City Council, are teaming up for a "Back On The Block 3 Boots the Block Down" event to celebrate Pride. The LGBTQ bar crawl begins at 7 p.m. at Town Bar and Lounge in downtown Oakland at 2001 Broadway.

From there the stops will include Fluid510 and FeelMore then Sessions on 15th and the Nectar Social Club. RSVPs and donations can be made online here.

"Join me and John Bauters, our amazing candidate for Alameda County Supervisor, for a night dedicated to uplifting our community and our LGBTQ-owned businesses," wrote Logan in an emailed invite to the event.

Wrapping up the week a day prior to San Francisco's Pride parade, Bauters will be co-hosting an afternoon reception Saturday, June 29, in Oakland with a host of Democratic officials. Among them are lesbian BART board member Rebecca Saltzman, gay Alameda school board member Ryan LaLonde, and lesbian former Berkeley city councilmember Lori Droste. (Saltzman announced last week that she's running for an open seat on the El Cerrito City Council in November.)

Others serving as co-hosts include former state controller Betty Yee, a straight ally running for governor in 2026; Piedmont Mayor Jennifer Cavenaugh; Alameda County Firefighters Local 55, and Berkeley Firefighters Local 1227. Tickets begin at $99 for the event taking place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Uptown Body and Fender located at 401 26th Street in Oakland.

RSVPs can be made online here. Bauters aims to raise $200,000 ahead of the next financial reporting deadline on June 30 for candidates running in fall races.

"Reaching this goal will show the strength of our campaign and set the momentum to win in November," he noted in an emailed invite sent to his supporters.

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Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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