ALAMEDA ELECTIONS '12: Introducing your City Council candidates

ALAMEDA ELECTIONS '12: Introducing your City Council candidates

Michele Ellson

Joana Darc Weber has lived in Alameda for eight years, but the Brazil native feels like she’s lived here her entire life. She wants to give back to the community she loves. So she’s running for City Council.

“Alameda looks like a huge family, is the place where everybody helps each other and I want do that,” Weber, a former communication director for the Department of Journalism and Press for the City of Goiania, Goias in Brazil, said Weber.

She is one of eight candidates for two – and possibly three – council seats up for grabs in November, with the third coming available if Vice Mayor Rob Bonta succeeds in his bid for an Assembly seat. Other candidates include incumbent Councilwoman Beverly Johnson and former councilman Tony Daysog, Planning Board member Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Alameda Health Care District Board Vice President Stewart Chen, Golf Commission President Jane Sullwold, former League of Women Voters president Jeff Cambra and Gerard Valbuena Dumuk.

Ezzy Ashcraft has served on Alameda’s Planning Board for six years, two of them as president, and is a former director of Alameda Hospital and member of the city’s Economic Development Commission. While on the Planning Board, she “actively promoted revitalizing the Webster and Park Street business districts and advocated high quality, environmentally-friendly commercial development,” she wrote in a press release announcing her candidacy.

An attorney and arbitrator with two adult children, she co-chaired successful campaigns for bonds to build a new main library and a parcel tax that kept Alameda Hospital open.

“My years of community service help me understand how to ensure that our local government works for everyone. I look forward to continuing to make Alameda a vibrant, livable community as an elected City Councilmember,” Ezzy Ashcraft wrote.

In addition to his nearly two years on the Health Care District Board, Chen, a chiropractor and father of adult children, served on the city’s Social Service Human Relations Board and Alameda County’s Human Relations Commission. He has chaired several committees, including Alamedans Together Against Hate, Friendship City Committee, Sight Savers Committee, Human Exploitation and Trafficking Awareness Committee, and the Community Relations Committee, and is also a co-founder of the Alameda Asian Pacific Cultural Festival and the Alameda Sister City Association.

“Now, I believe that I can be of better service to our community as a councilmember. I hope that my fellow Alamedans would see my dedication to public service and allow me to represent them and let me be their voice,” Chen said.

Chen, who touted his role in bringing new programs into the health care district in an effort to stabilize Alameda Hospital’s budget, said the primary goal of his council bid “is to preserve and improve the quality of life in Alameda.” He said his priorities include development of Alameda Point, revitalization of Webster Street, balancing the city’s budget and strengthening it aging infrastructure, expanding safety net services, creating a “culture of accountability” among public officials and maintaining citizen access to City Hall.

Sullwold, a Brown and Harvard Law School graduate, has been a member of the Golf Commission since 2005 and its chair since 2007. She successfully championed efforts to preserve the Chuck Corica Golf Complex in its current 45-hole configuration and to bring Greenway Golf in to operate it, and also to defeat efforts to swap a portion of the golf complex to developer Ron Cowan. Sullwold, who listed “preserving our heritage and securing our future” as goals should she be elected, called the city’s struggle to revitalize Alameda Point and to balance its budget “difficult but not insoluble.”

“I am running because I believe I can attack those problems using the same skills and approach that led to a successful outcome at the golf complex,” Sullwold said.

Daysog served on the Alameda City Council from 1996-2006, and he lists the city’s successful efforts to develop the Bayport housing project and a traffic safety toolkit he worked with local pedestrian safety activists and other residents to develop as his accomplishments. Daysog, an urban planner, said he’s detected an unusual amount of rancor between City Hall and the public over the last four years, a situation he believes he has the skills to reverse.

"I hope to strengthen the lines of communication between City Council and residents of our city, to try to keep all of us working together and, as much as possible, on the same page, as we tackle heady issues such as implementing impending pension reform plans that the city manager, city auditor and treasurer are right now preparing,” Daysog said.

Cambra, a businessman and retired assistant city attorney for the City of Hayward, has served as president of the local League of Women Voters chapter and has been active in a number of local activities, facilitating the efforts of the Sunshine Task Force, which developed Alameda’s sunshine ordinance; co-producing the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival; and chairing Alameda’s Bike to Work Day.

“I have always taken an active role in making Alameda a better place to live, work, and play,” Cambra said. “Becoming a member of the City Council is a logical next step in that commitment.”

He said he will be seeking to collaborate with residents to resolve major issues and that he will work to promote safety and security and economic development and to maintain existing city services.

Beverly Johnson has served on the City Council for 14 years, eight of them as Alameda’s mayor. Johnson, who Governor Jerry Brown recently chose to serve as deputy director of the state Office of Administrative Law. She did not respond to a request for more information for this story.

Gerard Valbuena Dumuk could not be reached for comment for this story. A web search found a Gerard Dumuk of Alameda who serves as a firefighter for CalFire.