Political Notes: Alameda Democrats back out East Bay candidates

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday September 21, 2020
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Berkeley City Council candidate Terry Taplin secured the Alameda County Democratic Party's endorsement in his District 2 race. Photo: Courtesy Terry Taplin
Berkeley City Council candidate Terry Taplin secured the Alameda County Democratic Party's endorsement in his District 2 race. Photo: Courtesy Terry Taplin

The Alameda County Democratic Party is backing a number of out East Bay candidates running in the November 3 election, several of whom would make LGBTQ political history should they win their races.

The party endorsed professional photographer and branding consultant Brittni Kiick, a bisexual married mom who is aiming to become the first LGBTQ person to serve on the Livermore City Council. She is one of two people vying for the city's newly created District 3 council seat.

Also winning the party' support was author and poet Terry Taplin, who is vying to be the second gay Black man to serve on the Berkeley City Council. He is one of several people challenging District 2 City Councilwoman Cheryl Davila, who defeated the first gay Black councilman, Darryl Moore, four years ago.

Alameda Democrats also endorsed Assembly candidate Alex Lee's campaign to become the first bisexual person to serve in the state Legislature. He is expected to easily defeat his Republican opponent, Bob Brunton, to succeed Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose). Chu, who is vying in November to become a Santa Clara County supervisor, represents the 25th Assembly District that includes parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Gay Alameda City Councilman Jim Oddie secured the party's endorsement for his reelection bid, as did lesbian Oakland At-Large City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, currently president of the council. Among the challengers vying to oust her is gay Black restaurant owner and political newcomer Derreck Johnson, who is backed by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Gay civil rights attorney Mark Fickes has the party's endorsement in his race for Seat #2 on the Alameda County Superior Court. He and lesbian trial attorney Elena Condes advanced out of the March 3 primary race to compete in the general election this fall.

In Berkeley, Andy Kelley, a gay man, and Xavier Johnson, who is queer, received the party's endorsement for their bids to be seated on the city's rent stabilization board. And although neither drew a challenger this year, lesbian BART board director Rebecca Saltzman, who lives in El Cerrito and represents the transit agency's District 3 covering parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and gay Emeryville City Councilman John Bauters both were endorsed by the county Dems.

Neither of the out candidates seeking the at-large seat on the board for the AC Transit regional transportation system received the party's backing. Victoria Fierce, a queer trans person, and Dollene C. Jones, a lesbian who once drove a bus for the system, are running against the incumbent, H.E. Christian "Chris" Peeples, who secured the party's endorsement.

And in a boost for gay Fremont mayoral candidate Justin Sha, the party did not endorse the reelection bid of Mayor Lily Mei, who switched her voter registration last summer from "No Party Preference" to Democrat. Their contest has become particularly contentious in recent weeks, with someone releasing video of Sha having an altercation with a Fremont police officer at a fundraiser last October over whether he had been drinking.

In a statement to the news website East Bay Citizen, which reported on the video earlier this month, Sha noted he was not attempting to drive home that night. He added that, "The incident referenced has no bearing on my ability to guide Fremont into a new generation of progressive leadership."

It was the second time since he entered the mayoral race that he has had to explain past behavior. As the Bay Area Reporter noted in August, Sha had erroneously claimed to be a lawyer when he ran for a Fremont City Council seat in 2018.

In fact, he was a law clerk and has not been licensed to practice law in the state. He chalked up the mistake to believing he was a lawyer for having graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law and would become an attorney after passing his bar exam.

Despite the two incidents Sha has been racking up endorsements in recent weeks from various Democratic clubs including the East Bay Stonewall Democrats, the LGBTQ political club in Alameda County; the Tri-Cities Democratic Forum; the South Alameda County Young Democrats; and the California Young Democrats. Sha also was endorsed by the B.A.R. this month.

According to Mei's campaign website, she has not been endorsed by any Democratic groups to date. She does have endorsements from a number of Democratic officials, including Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) and Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward).

As for the East Bay Stonewall club, in late August it also endorsed Saltzman, Oddie, Taplin, Kelley, and Johnson. And in contrast to the county Democratic party, the LGBTQ club threw its support behind Fierce's bid for the AC Transit at-large seat.

EQCA backs local candidates

The statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality California also recently endorsed several local out candidates. It too is backing Taplin in his race for the Berkeley council seat and, on Friday, endorsed Sha's mayoral bid.

EQCA also endorsed gay BART board director Bevan Dufty's reelection bid for his District 9 seat that covers a portion of San Francisco. Dufty, a former San Francisco supervisor, has long ties with the nonprofit and chaired its local awards dinner last year.

In the spring EQCA had endorsed Lee's Assembly bid, after snubbing him in the March primary by backing one of his Democratic opponents. And unlike the Alameda Democratic Party, EQCA is supporting Condes in her judicial race against Fickes.

The B.A.R. endorsed Fickes ahead of the primary and last week endorsed Dufty. Earlier this month the paper endorsed Kaplan, who also secured EQCA's endorsement for her bid for a fourth term.

On Friday EQCA threw its support behind Ben Fong, a gay man seeking the AC Transit board's Ward 1 seat in Contra Costa County. A foreign service officer in the Obama administration, Fong is running to unseat Joe Wallace, as is lesbian former Richmond city councilwoman Jovanka Beckles.

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

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