October 20, 2020

2020 Alameda Voter Guide

Note: The State of California calls it’s ballot initiatives Propositions”. Alameda County lists them as Measures”. I’m speaking to Alameda County here, so they’re listed as Measures.


  • President: Biden/Harris
  • 13th Congressional: Barbara Lee
  • 9th State Senate: Nancy Skinner
  • 18th Assembly: Rob Bonta
  • Judicial: Elena Condes
  • Peralta Trustee, Area 1: No Endorsement
  • AUSD School Board: Heather Little, Jennifer Williams, Megan Sweet
  • City Council: Malia Vella, Jim Oddie
  • Auditor: No Endorsement
  • Treasurer: No Endorsement
  • AC Transit Director At-Large: Victoria Fierce
  • Measure 14: Yes
  • Measure 15: Yes
  • Measure 16: Yes
  • Measure 17: Yes
  • Measure 18: Yes
  • Measure 19: Yes
  • Measure 20: NO
  • Measure 21: Yes
  • Measure 22: NO
  • Measure 23: edit No Endorsement
  • Measure 24: edit NO
  • Measure 25: Yes
  • Measure V: Yes
  • Measure W: Yes
  • Measure Z: Yes
  • Measure AA: Yes

The Weeds

President: Biden/Harris. Hopefully the Presidential choice is a no-brainer if you’re reading this. If you’re undecided, I’m confused. If you don’t like this democratic duo, then I hope you’ll join me in voting them in and committing to spending the next four years hell-raising to keep them moving left.

Congress: Barbara Lee speaks for me. That’s it that’s the tweet.

State Senate: Nancy Skinner Skinner has pushed for youth programs, criminal justice reform, and climate action. She is a solid advocate for this region and the state.

State Assembly: Rob Bonta Bonta continually pushes for civil rights, equality under the law, and programs that lift up the least enfranchised. His record would be impressive anywhere, and is doubly so for coming up through Alameda politics.

Judicial: Elena Condes I want as a judge someone who has seen what happens to people in the system, and has had to fight prejudice and injustice and systemic bias their whole life. Her opponent, Fickes, also seems like a standup advocate, but Condes has just that little bit extra that gets my vote.

Peralta Trustee No endorsement here because every time I’ve heard Bill Withrow speak I’ve been convinced that his eye is on Peralta’s bottom line, and not on students or faculty. I have trouble endorsing Heyman because there’s nothing about him in the voter guide.

AUSD School Board I am the son and grandson and great-grandson of public educators. I will always side with teachers, and the teachers’ picks. That means Heather Little, Jennifer Williams, and Megan Sweet

Alameda City Council Here’s the hardest one on this list. Reading my last post on what a City Council is would be good prep for this section.

Let’s start with the easy part of it. Malia Vella is a shoe-in. She is possibly the most dedicated public servant I have met, and has received nothing but garbage from the worst parts of this city. After the kerfluffle with the fire chief, she was served suits multiple times in an attempt to recall her, suits she had to defend out of her own pocket while trying to have her first child. It says something rotten about Alameda that she has received so much abuse while others get wrist-slaps in the press. Beyond that, her voting record and activist work speaks for itself in her tireless defense of the most vulnerable.

Jim Oddie is harder, for me. I like Jim. I want to get beers with Jim. I went to school with Jim’s daughter. But Oddie’s record is… not spotty, but confusing. He has a tendency to run towards the center when pushed, especially in oral statements at council. I wish he would commit more, and his handling of certain gaffes, like the Fire Chief kerfluffle, leave a lot to be desired.

But his opponents are awful, so he’s a comparatively easy choice. Gig Codiga is a Republican who, based on his campaign website, might be keeping a red hat in his closet. Amos White is a nice guy, but I can’t for the life of me tell what he stands for or what he plans to get done. Trish Spencer continues to fight tirelessly for the rights of the aggrieved money classes, the landlords and realtors of Alameda, and has a track record of making sure teachers in Alameda know their place at the bottom of the heap.

Vella, Oddie, in that order.

Auditor/Treasurer No endorsement. On the one hand its fun and small-town and cute and folksy that these two brothers have been doing this job for who knows how long. On the other hand, I like turnover in elected officials. Keeps everyone sharp.

AC Transit Director At-Large: Victoria Fierce Chris Peeples has been a thorough administrator and dedicated advocate for transit for decades, and there is a soft spot in my heart for him since we went to the same university and the same college in that university.

I wish Chris a long and well-earned retirement when Victoria Fierce takes his seat. I’m proud to be a friend of Fierce, and think she will do incredible things as a herald for a new age of transit centricity and advocacy. Fierce brought her activism from Ohio to Oakland, and the landscape looks different as a result. As one of the founding members of East Bay For Everyone, Fierce has helped raise the level of discourse around housing in the East Bay, while always remembering that transit has to be part of housing justice. I’m excited to see what she’ll do on the dais.

State Measures

Measure 14: Yes My family has a history of Alzheimers, you bet I want more brain disease research.

Measure 15: Yes See the note above about educators, now read it louder.

Measure 16: Yes The current system isn’t working, let’s try another one.

Measure 17: Yes When people have served their time, we should hand them a job, an aparment, and a ballot. These people are citizens, it was criminal that we took the right to vote away from them in the first place.

Measure 18: Yes I’m in favor of lowering the voting age to 16, so 17-year-olds voting in primaries seems like a step in the right direction.

Measure 19: Yes Our property tax law is broken and makes everything else we do harder. I wish this went further, but it’s a start.

Measure 20: NO I’m pretty sure we as a society want more restorative justice, not more prisoners.

Measure 21: Yes More rent control sounds great!

Measure 22: NO Hell no. Uber and Lyft treat their drivers like employees, and should have to actually provide them those protections.

Measure 23: No Endorsement Yes? No? I’m on a knife-edge for this one, but the way it’s worded it might be fine? Feel free to reject my endorsement here. Edited because some friends pointed out some things I missed, and now I think it shouldn’t even be on the ballot.

Measure 24: NO This isn’t a perfect privacy law. There is no perfect privacy law. This is at least getting people to think about it. Edited after some actual privacy experts changed me thinking.

Measure 25: Yes Cash bail is awful. The suggested replacement is only maybe less awful, but at least doesn’t fund the predatory bail bond industry.

County Measures

Measure V: Yes Yes? I guess? The unincorporated areas need services, so… they should collect taxes to pay for those services?

Measure W: Yes Half a percent sales tax to provide services to the homeless seems good? I wish it were a parcel tax, but you get what you get.

City Measures

Measure Z: Yes HELL YES. Alameda has to build housing. Stylish multi-family housing close to transit sounds way better than sprawling into the Navy Base forever.

Measure AA: Yes It’s a bunch of kitchen-sink charter changes for Alameda. Sure.

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