The Campaign Column: In their own words

The Campaign Column: In their own words

Michele Ellson

Assemblyman Rob Bonta scores what could be considered a Democratic pol’s ultimate selfie, with former secretary of state and potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Updated at 2:49 p.m. Friday, August 15

With Thursday’s close of the filing period for prospective City Council and mayoral candidates, campaign season has officially opened. In case you missed it, we’ve got two candidates for mayor – incumbent Marie Gilmore and school board trustee Trish Spencer – with incumbent Stewart Chen, newcomer Jim Oddie and former councilman Frank Matarrese running for a pair of open council seats.

Their ballot statements – basically, the quick-and-not-so-dirty rundown on what their qualifications are, what they stand for and why you should vote for them – are public for 10 days, so we asked Alameda’s ever-obliging city clerk, Lara Weisiger, for copies.

Today we're offering a totally unedited look at what your mayoral and City Council candidates have to say for themselves; we’ll have school and hospital board candidates’ statements next week. But first, here's some news from the campaign trail.


The Alameda Education Association successfully backed Trish Spencer for re-election to her school board seat in 2012. But leaders of the teachers' union are expressing disappointment over Spencer's decision to run for a new job - mayor of Alameda.

The union released a statement Tuesday affirming their support for Alameda's current mayor, Marie Gilmore, for whom they co-hosted a fundraiser with the Alameda Firefighters Association on June 10. They think Spencer should focus on her current duties, the release says, adding that this is a "critical time" for the school district, whose leaders need to hire a new superintendent and negotiate new worker contracts and may also have a $179.5 million bond program to manage if voters okay it.

"Alameda educators expect Spencer to fulfill her obligation to Alameda students and community and serve the remainder of her term on the School Board," the release says, noting that union members "invested heavily" in Spencer's run. "Trustee Spencer’s commitment is needed during this pivotal time while AUSD searches for a new superintendent, plans for implementing a possible school facilities bond and prepares for labor negotiations with its teachers and staff."

Cindy Zecher, a regional rep for California School Employees Association local 27, which represents non-teaching workers, expressed similar notes of disappointment regarding Spencer's decision to run for mayor on Spencer's personal Facebook page.

The teachers' union spent more than $14,000 to help Spencer retain her school board seat in 2012, campaign finance documents show.

Spencer, who responded to our request for comment on Friday afternoon, said the union's investment in her in the 2012 school board race is not lost. She says she'll take their issues to City Hall, where she'll forge a stronger partnership between the city and the school district.

"My mayoral bid is an opportunity for our entire community to benefit from my strengths that AEA so enthusiastically endorses," Spencer said.


Endorsements, take three: Over the past few weeks we’ve been reporting on labor unions’ early endorsements of local candidates. But as it turns out, they’re not the only ones who decided to get a jump on the endorsement process before all the candidates had declared.

We reached out to a rep for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club to follow up on a tip that the chapter had endorsed early, and indeed they had: the chapter’s legal chair, Norman LaForce, confirmed it endorsed Frank Matarrese for City Council on August 4 – three days before the filing deadline for candidates.


As promised, here are those candidate statements.


Marie Gilmore

I am running for re-election as Mayor to keep Alameda moving forward.

Since I was elected Mayor, we’ve strengthened our city government and enhanced the quality of life for business owners, seniors, children and families.

At City Hall, we’ve improved transparency and increased our budget reserve. We’ve worked with public safety personnel to address future pension costs. At no cost to Alameda taxpayers, we now control Alameda Point and planning is underway to transform it into one of our greatest economic development assets.

We are planning and actively seeking funds for new parks and usable open space. Transportation challenges are being tackled head on.

In the community, we’ve supported programs for seniors and preserved emergency room services at Alameda Hospital. We launched new events to promote Alameda-based producers and manufacturers.

In the midst of the recession, we protected city-funded after school activities, youth sports and public library services. The library has implemented widely popular new reading programs and we continue to work with the school district to restore funding cuts from the state.

I would be honored to earn your vote to continue as Mayor of Alameda. Together, we can keep Alameda moving forward.

Trish Spencer

Occupation: Attorney, Community Volunteer, Environmental and Children’s Advocate, currently serving as Alameda Unified School District Board Member

My education and qualifications are: B.A. (Sociology), U.C. Berkeley; Juris Doctor, Western State University. Masters in Governance, CSBA. Former Co-Chair Alameda Collaborative (35+ organizations), Alameda PTA Council President, and Substitute Teacher. I have raised four children in Alameda. I am the voice of reason on Alameda’s school board, putting children first. Too many City leaders’ decisions are driven by special interests, ignoring citizens’ best interests. Thousands of new homes have been approved without addressing infrastructure and transportation needs. I collected signatures to protect our golf course and Crab Cove. I signed the ballot argument against SunCal. I rejected City leaders’ multi-million dollar land “swap” with AUSD, done secretly without appraisals to maximize developer profits over our children’s future. As mayor, I will chart a new course for Alameda, putting citizens first. I will work to ensure Alameda does its best to serve all residents: protect parklands and reasonable development (avoiding traffic gridlock and overcrowded schools); promote local business; attract new jobs; support schools; manage City’s budget; and, ensure fiscal transparency. I am a dedicated, compassionate, detail-oriented leader, welcoming public input. Together, we will tackle the quality of life issues and fiscal challenges facing us. The time is now! Thank you for your vote.


Stewart G. Chen

Occupation: Alameda City Council member/Doctor of Chiropractic

As a healthcare provider and community volunteer, I have always believed in helping people by working together. As your City Council member, I have worked with the Mayor, my colleagues and countless members of the community to earn real achievements for Alameda.

We recently earned an AA+ credit rating, saving the City millions in bond refinancing. We have also successfully renegotiated pension contributions with out public employees. We have collaborated with AUSD to maintain city services for our students and the public, including the access to public swimming pools. We continue to keep police and fire staffing levels strong.

I have worked hard to protect parks and open space, helping secure grant funding for Jean Sweeney Park, and I continue to advocate for adequate parks and open space at Alameda Point.

Together, I believe we can continue this progress in the coming years and achieve significant results in local job creation, recreational opportunities, the quality of our schools and new solutions to traffic problems.

I have over 13 years of experience serving Alameda on the Social Services Human Relations Board, Alameda Healthcare District Board, and City Council. It would be an honor to continue serving your on the City Council.

Jim Oddie

Occupation: District Director for Assemblyman Rob Bonta

Age: 50

My education and qualifications are: I chose to raise a family here almost 20 years ago because of Alameda’s quality of life. During this time I’ve devoted myself to serving Alameda as a community volunteer and public servant.

As district director for our local Assemblymember, my job is to help solve problems for East Bay residents. I served as Chair of Alameda’s Open Government Commission and as a member of Alameda Hospital’s Finance and Management Committee. I volunteered for Alameda’s public schools, where my children attended, including serving on a Parcel Tax Advisory Committee, and for my homeowners association. As an attorney and CPA I know how to balance budgets and help individuals and organizations make informed and prudent decisions.

I am running for City Council to continue to make Alameda a special place for families, seniors and working people.

I want to keep Alameda a safe place for generations of families to live. We need to continue providing excellent schools and high quality police and fire protection. We need to expand recreational opportunities and protect open space. We need to ensure Alameda Point and other underutilized properties are planned sensibly, focusing on attracting innovative new employers.

I would be honored to earn your vote.

Frank Matarrese

Occupation: Consultant/Alameda Business Owner

Age: 59

As your councilman my priorities will be to keep Alameda thriving and funded by a sound budget. I will work with our schools, the park district and local agencies to pool resources to benefit Alameda. I will push for creating jobs and open space at Alameda Point.

I was privileged to serve as your Councilman from 2002-2010. I was a leader in efforts to build a new Main Library, to restore the Alameda Theater and to improve Webster Street. I proposed the Fiscal Sustainability Committee to address budget shortfalls. Because open government is vital, I held town hall meetings, listened to your concerns and kept you informed.

I am offering my experience to find solutions to the serious challenges Alameda faces. I will focus on commercial uses and establishing parklands at Alameda Point. I will work for sensible limits on residential development and to find ways to untangle traffic. With dwindling City reserves, I am prepared to make the forward thinking decisions needed for a structurally sound budget. I will use every available opportunity to maintain essential city services. I will keep you informed. I will listen and lead.

Your consideration and vote are appreciated.

Contact Frank: 510-759-9290


Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Wed, Aug 13, 2014

Can someone explain the vote count for the three candidates running for two council seats?

Is it two highest vote getters win? Or, some other count method?

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Wed, Aug 13, 2014

Hey Tom: It is the two highest vote getters who win.

What I'm trying to run down now: If three people run for two seats on the school board (a third candidate has filed papers, waiting for the ROV to say filing is completed) and Trish Spencer becomes mayor in the middle of her school board term, does that third candidate get the rest of her term (as Stewart Chen did in 2012, when Rob Bonta left the City Council)? I think the latter scenario was spelled out in the city charter if memory serves, trying to figure out how this works for school board.

More to come ...

Submitted by Mike McMahon on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

Michelle it does not apply to School Board as we are not governed by City Charter anymore. The Board would appoint a person to fill the unexpired term.
In other election news, the Secretary of State did her randomized drawing for assignment of ballot positions. Here is my placement of candidates based on reading of the release:

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

Thanks Mike! I was scrolling through your board policies (never heard back from ROV) and it did seem that the process to fill a vacancy would be an appointment unless the vacancy occurs a few months before an election.