Editorial: B.A.R. recommendations in local races

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday May 25, 2022
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Illustration: Courtesy CA Secretary of State's office
Illustration: Courtesy CA Secretary of State's office

There are numerous local races on the ballot in Bay Area counties outside of San Francisco where qualified LGBTQ candidates are seeking election or reelection in the June 7 primary.

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Courtesy the campaign  

Alameda County Board of Supervisors

District 3: Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan has long served on the Oakland City Council, where she is the body's first lesbian elected official. After the death of Supervisor Wilma Chan last November, this seat, which includes part of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro, will have a new representative as Dave Brown, Chan's former aide whom the board appointed to serve out her term ending in January, said he would not seek the position.

Kaplan has a lot of good ideas for the county. She has long been an advocate of the need for a regional approach to public transportation. She stated in her Bay Area Reporter endorsement questionnaire that she will expand on her experience and legislative record to provide better coordinated housing for the homeless, ensure healthy food in all communities, build stronger partnerships for public safety, and remove trash and blight. Unhoused people in Alameda County is a big concern, as the recent point-in-time count found there are about 9,750 of them, the vast majority living on the streets.

Kaplan also stated that "it's very important that our housing strategy includes affordable housing for working people and families," and that it needs to take multiple communities into account, including transition-age youth and LGBTQ+ and other seniors. She supports strengthening displacement protections and the enforcement of anti-displacement policies "so that families don't get pushed out of their homes." While on the City Council, Kaplan passed a public lands policy in Oakland to prioritize affordable housing. She also passed an affordable housing inclusion and fee policy and has pushed for significant affordable housing in new developments.

The Board of Supervisors oversees an $8 billion budget though, as Kaplan noted, not all of that money is "flexible," meaning that it must be spent on specific items as opposed to being part of the general fund. Kaplan, who identifies as a butch lesbian and a gender-nonconforming woman, would bring fresh ideas to the county board and she would advocate for the LGBTQ community on a body that has never had an out elected member. Kaplan is well-qualified for this position, and we endorse her for District 3.

Laura Parmer-Lohan. Photo: Courtesy the campaign  

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
District 3: Laura Parmer-Lohan

Laura Parmer-Lohan, who identifies as a lesbian, has served on the San Carlos City Council for the last four years. Now there's an opening on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and she would be a good fit for that position as its first out female member. She stated in her endorsement questionnaire that she brings the multi-faceted perspective of a working mom, small business owner, corporate manager, and elected official to the diverse district that includes Atherton, southeast Belmont, Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos, and Woodside.

As a councilmember and mayor (the City Council elects one of its members to serve as mayor), Parmer-Lohan has helped guide the city through the COVID pandemic; prioritized emergency preparedness in case of wildfires, severe flooding, and sea-level rise; and increased affordable housing stock to support teachers, firefighters, essential workers, and future generations.

As a supervisor, she supports consolidating county-owned corporate yards to free up land for the development of affordable housing. She wants to expand the work underway at the county level to house homeless people through Project Homekey, a state-funded program that works to develop a broad range of housing types. She would build upon the new Navigation Center now being developed in Redwood City, and pledged, "I will not stop until the unhoused are housed."

Parmer-Lohan noted that trust between residents and the San Mateo County Sheriff's office has eroded with the killings of mostly community members of color and stated that greater transparency is needed. She has endorsed Fixin' San Mateo County, a grassroots organization working to enact effective civilian oversight of the sheriff's office.

We think Parmer-Lohan would be an effective supervisor and endorse her for District 3.

Ken Carlson. Photo: Courtesy the campaign  

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
District 4: Ken Carlson

Ken Carlson, a gay man, was elected in 2012 to the Pleasant Hill City Council and serves as mayor (the council elects the mayor). As mayor, he initiated the recognition of Pride Month in the East Bay city and the raising of the rainbow flag. He served on the board of the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County, where he worked to improve services and housing for vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth.

On the City Council, Carlson has worked on the economic development, housing element update, general plan advisory, and budget committees. In Pleasant Hill, Carlson has supported three projects for low-income/affordable housing and he advocated for 484 units of workforce housing that was approved.

Carlson previously served as a police officer for 29 years, retiring as a sergeant in Concord. He stated in his endorsement questionnaire that he has "a deep insight of police policy and procedure." He served on the mental health forensic team where he worked with chronic offenders suffering from addiction or mental health issues. "So many areas of our police services can be realigned to better serve our communities," he stated.

Like Alameda County, Contra Costa County has never had an out supervisor. We think Carlson would be a productive member of the Board of Supervisors and endorse him in the race.

Omar Torres. Photo: Courtesy the campaign  

San Jose City Council
District 3: Omar Torres

We're impressed with Omar Torres, a gay man who, if elected, would bring LGBTQ representation back to the City Council of the Bay Area's largest city. He is the only candidate in the race with experience in elected office, as he serves on the board of the San Jose Evergreen Community College District. His campaign website states that he would work to remove barriers to secure more permanent supportive housing and supports Project Roomkey, a state program to convert underutilized motels/hotels into temporary housing, and Project Homekey.

Torres noted he got his start in neighborhood organizing following a brutal drive-by shooting in his neighborhood that resulted in working with police officers to build a neighborhood youth center. He would advocate for more community policing and for violence prevention programs separate from police.

Torres would be a good addition to the City Council and we recommend him.

Devin Murphy. Photo: Courtesy the campaign  

Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder
Devin Murphy

Devin Murphy, a gay man, won election to the Pinole City Council four years ago and is now running for the open seat of county clerk-recorder. He would be the first LGBTQ person of color, first African American, and the youngest, at 29, to hold the position.

While on the City Council, Murphy stated in his endorsement questionnaire that he has championed a more transparent, citywide, participatory budgeting process, driven the city's strategic plan centering economic development, and promoted regional climate action.

The clerk-recorder is responsible for recording deeds, deeds of trust, court decrees, and other documents affecting real property in the county. Additionally, the clerk-recorder does the official recording, filing, and preserving of vital records in the county, including marriage licenses and death certificates.

Murphy is a democracy reform advocate and collaborative leader. We endorse him for clerk-recorder.

Amie Carter, Ph.D. Photo: Courtesy the campaign  

Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools
Amie Carter

Amie Carter, Ph.D., a lesbian, stated in her endorsement questionnaire that she's the only candidate running who has experience working for a county education office. She currently works for the Marin County education office as its assistant superintendent of education services. In her questionnaire, Carter stated that she has a reputation for candor and "does not shy away from confronting policies which do not serve children's best interests. I lead with transparency."

A former high school English teacher, Carter's also taught at the junior college and graduate level. She has experience leading through crises, such as the recent North Bay wildfires and teen suicides. She stated that she's dealt with bomb threats, teen pregnancy, rape, murder of a student, sexual harassment, gang violence, drug overdoses, medical emergencies, floods, earthquakes, social media bullying, hate speech, layoffs, and many other issues.

Carter stands out in the field of three candidates, and we think she'd be a great choice to lead the county education office.

Nancy Magee. Photo: Courtesy Nancy Magee  

San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools
Nancy Magee

Nancy Magee, a lesbian, is unopposed in her reelection and we support her. She's done a good job during her first term.

Joaquin Rivera. Photo: Courtesy Joaquin Rivera  

Alameda County Board of Education
Area 1: Joaquin Rivera

Joaquin Rivera, a gay man, is unopposed for reelection and his name won't appear on the ballot. First elected in 2010, he has said this will be his last term on the county board. We endorse him.

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