Updates on local and state elections from the KALW News team.
It was a good night for Bay Area labor interests. It started shortly after the California polls closed, when major networks began declaring a Barack Obama victory. Then San Francisco’s Measure A, a bond that will help fund City College and the teachers who work there, passed. State Proposition 32, which would have limited how unions could contribute to political campaigns, was defeated. Proposition 30 also passed, meaning Californians taxed themselves more than $7 billion to help pay for public education. It played out perfectly for Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, which represents more than 100 unions in the public and private sector.
“This is what happens when workers really want to get together and protect their rights at work and their civil liberties,” said Paulsen. “We’re very excited about where it’s moving. It’s not over yet and America has not changed enough yet, but I think when we organize, we win.”
This morning students at the University of California announced they’ll continue organizing, to push for reversals to tuition hikes and campus cutbacks. They’ve scheduled a walkout at Berkeley and other campuses for Thursday.
San Francisco G.O.P.
Now let’s focus in on San Francisco, where just over 50 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Not surprisingly, they supported the Obama/Biden ticket with nearly 83 percent of the vote.
Former speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi and fellow representative Jackie Speier were both overwhelmingly re-elected. All told, it made for a short and frustrating night for Republicans. Local G.O.P. head Harmeet Dhillon ran against incumbent Mark Leno for his state senate seat and got only 15 percent of the vote. She reflected on her loss by remembering another Republican, Abraham Lincoln, who also lost many elections.
“He knew he's not going to win when he ran, but he ran out of principle,” said Dhillon. “And we run out of principle here in California. I ran because I am an American, I'm a taxpayer and I cannot accept out current leadership. So I ran as a citizen who wants to see a different leadership. I might not win this time, I might win in the future.”
In the state assembly, Tom Ammiano easily won re-election, and San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting will now take a seat alongside him as a new Assemblyman.
In fact, Democrats are on their way to securing a supermajority of the state House and the Senate. That means holding two-thirds of the seats in each legislative house. The supermajority would give them the ability to pass legislation to increase taxes and would also mean the legislature could override a veto by the governor. It could change a political landscape that’s been extremely divided – and often stagnated on stalled legislation. Currently there are only two senate seats needed to achieve the supermajority status, they currently hold 25 of the 40 seats in the state senate.
Results are still being counted, and democrats are winning seven of eight critical districts in the Assembly and three of five contested Senate seats.
San Francisco local politics
Eric Mar retained his supervisorial seat in a hotly contested battle with David Lee. Board president David Chiu, and progressives David Campos and John Avalos all won handily (if they even had opposition). They’re joined by Norman Yee and London Breed, who defeated Mayor Lee appointee Christina Olague in District 5.
San Franciscans were feeling pretty good about their ballots. They accepted almost every one, beginning with Measure A,a City College Parcel Tax that will fund the school with more than $14 million. Will Walker is a student trustee at CCSF. He was relieved the measure passed.
“I think that City College is a lot happier tonight. And I think that San Franciscans stepped up to the challenge of funding public education here in SF, something that has not been a priority for our state,” said Walker. “We’re gonna be in a situation where Prop 30 is funding that goes directly to the classroom, and we have administrators that aren’t so happy, a new leadership team at City College that aren’t so committed to directing Prop A funds into teaching. That’s gonna be the next challenge at the board level – to demonstrate whether or not we’ll be able to keep the level of classes that we expect for spring.”
San Francisco voters also passed a parks bond and a housing trust fund. They passed a gross receipts tax that will change the way businesses are charged for operating in San Francisco – that one had the wide support of the city’s burgeoning tech industry. They even rejected the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling with a symbolic vote “opposing corporate personhood.”
In fact, the only ballot measure San Francisco voters turned down was F. That was the idea of restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley by exploring ways to take down the O’Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite National Park. Nearly three-quarters of city residents turned that one down. But Restore Hetch Hetchy executive director Mike Marshall said in an email to his supporters that he was actually encouraged. The campaign, he wrote, gained national attention and educated San Franciscans about the impact of the water system on Yosemite. So we can expect more from this group.
East Bay politics
Berkeley voters narrowly defeated Measure S. It would have made it illegal to sit on a commercial district sidewalk between 7am and 10pm. Violators would have faced a $75 citation after a warning. And subsequent violations would have resulted in a misdemeanor charge. San Francisco currently has a similar sit/lie law in place, but Berkeley, now, will not follow suit.
Bob Offer-Westort is the campaign manager for No on S. He says the defeat of Measure S makes Berkeley a national leader against laws criminalizing the homeless.
“We know they don’t work, we know they’re hurting our communities, we know they don’t help businesses, we know they’re a distraction from creating strong communities, from creating strong local businesses. And it’s time to push back and Berkeley is the first place in the country where that’s happening,” said Westort.
North of Berkeley, in the city of Richmond, Measure N, was not approved. It would have charged one cent more per ounce of any sugar-sweetened beverages sold within city limits. The vote was rejected by a large margin and would have brought the city an extra $3 million in revenue.
Councilman Jeff Ritterman, who wrote the measure, said, “It’s really a new era around sugar-sweetened beverages. I predict that there’ll come a time when you pick up a can and on the side of the can it’ll say ‘warning, regular consumption of this beverage will increase your risk for a heart attack, stroke, and diabetes,’ ‘cause that’s the truth.”
The sugar-sweetened beverage industry put millions of dollars into the No on N campaign, in what is one of the opening salvos in the battle against Big Sugar.
In Alameda County, voters considered two ballot measures that would require two-third votes. One dealt with transportation, and would have levied a one cent sales tax hike. The other was a parcel tax that would have supported the Oakland Zoo. While both received support from a majority of voters, they did not achieve the supermajority, so both votes failed.
City Council races were up for grabs in Oakland, including an at-large seat. That was taken by Rebecca Kaplan who defeated former council president Ignacio De La Fuente.
Tune in to KALW News tonight at 5 for a live election roundup. News director Holly Kernan will be joined by a panel including USF political science professor Corey Cook, East Bay Express editor Robert Gammon, and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Marisa Lagos.