May 18, 2010

Democratic Committee Incumbents Face Numerous Challengers

The race for the 18th Assembly District Democratic Party Central Committee has been a quiet affair in the previous three elections, with seven candidates running for a total of six seats on the committee.

This year, Democratic voters will choose from 13 candidates for just six seats, the most candidates for the committee since 2002, when supporters of Lyndon LaRouche campaigned heavily for seats on the committee.

The committee represents the local arm of the California Democratic Party. One of its most important functions is to endorse local candidates for offices such as City Council, School Board, and County Supervisor.

This year, five incumbents and eight challengers will vie for the six seats.

The incumbents are Rocky Fernandez, Linda Perry, Diana Prola, Robin Torello, and Rick Trullinger.

Fernandez was elected to the Central Committee in 2004. In 2006, he was elected to the AC Transit Board and currently serves as President. He has served as a member of former Assemblymember Johan Klehs' staff.

Perry was elected to the Central Committee in 1980. She served on the San Leandro City Council from 1988 to 1996 and on the San Leandro School Board from 1996 to 2008. Perry previously headed the Halcyon Foothill Neighborhood Association.

Prola was elected to the Central Committee in 2006. In 2008, she joined the San Leandro School Board after running unopposed. Her husband serves on the San Leandro City Council and she has served as a delegate to the California Democratic Convention.

Torello was elected to the Central Committee in the early 1990s. She is the chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party and the Eden Area United Democratic Campaign.

Trullinger was elected to the Central Committee in 2000, lost in 2002, and was re-elected in 2004. He was previously president of the Hayward Demos Democratic Club and has served as a delegate to the California Democratic Convention

The challengers are Tom Kersten, Susan Kleebauer, Margarita Lacabe [editors' note: Margarita is my wife], Julie Lind, Jennifer Ong, Helena Straughter, Mary Warren, and Shelia Young.

Kersten was President of the Hayward Demos Democratic Club from 2007 to 2009. In 2008, he was selected to serve on the Hayward Citizens Advisory Committee. When asked why he was running, Kersten noted "a serious lack of communication between the Democratic Central Committee and the local democratic clubs" and that "it is time for some new voices to emerge and serve as voting members of the committee."

Kleebauer previously served on the Central Committee from 1996 until 2001, when she resigned "out of frustration with the Committee's inability to take positions on important issues." She served on the City of San Leandro's Library Historical Commission from 1995 to 2002 and the City of San Leandro's Planning Commission from 2002 to 2007. When asked why she was running, Kleebauer stated, "I am once again excited and encouraged by the changes in Washington and the chance to elect a democrat as Governor." Kleebauer also supports legalizing and regulating marijuana, ending the death penalty, and bringing "an infusion of new ideas and new leadership" to the committee.

Lacabe is a human rights activist that founded the human rights group Derechos Human Rights. Her work with Equipo Nizkor led to the unprecedented detention of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in England in 1998. Lacabe was one of the founding members of the San Leandro Community Action Network, which has been active in supporting progressive candidates for office in San Leandro. When asked, Lacabe said that she is running "to inject new blood and new ideas into what has become an old-boys-and-girls network" and "have a committee that is more in touch with the grassroots and the true concerns of Democratic voters."

Lind served on the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee from 2004 to 2008. She currently serves as a field representative for California State Senator Ellen Corbett and was on the City of Hayward's Human Services Commission from 2008 to 2010. When asked why she was running, Lind replied, "I want to make sure that young people have a voice in our County party, are part of the decision making process, and have a seat at the table."

Ong is an optometrist in Alameda and currently serves as Vice President of the Hayward Demos Democratic Club and the Eden Area League of Women Voters. Ong is one of the few candidates with a campaign web site. When asked why she was running, Ong stated that she wants to "contribute my efforts and experiences as a health care provider, environmental activist and advocate for underrepresented communities to further diversify the values represented in the Democratic Party."

Straughter is a member of the Hayward Demos Democratic Club and currently works as a real estate broker. She was elected as a delegate to the Democratic Party in 2009.

Warren previously served for more than 15 years on the Central Committee, including ten years as Chair. She was Vice Chair of the California State Democratic Party for two years and served on the Democratic National Committee for four years. Warren says she is "running to enhance the role of the Party in Alameda County and the State of California."

Young previously served on the Central Committee in the 1990s. Young was elected to the San Leandro City Council in 1996, elected Mayor of San Leandro in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. Young has served on the Physician Assistant Committee of the Department of Consumer Affairs since June 2007, when she was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. When asked why she was running, Young replied that "the Party needs to pay more attention to local issues and candidates and to demonstrate fairness and consistency in their activities on behalf of the Party."

More information about the candidates can be found at http://www.smartvoter.org/2010/06/08/ca/alm/race/016/

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at May 18, 2010 3:36 PM | TrackBack
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