Moving Ahead in Alameda
Alameda has been doing pretty well recently. Within just the last few years, we've seen remarkable improvements to Park Street, Webster Street, Southe Shore Centre. Plus our gorgeous new library just opened. You can't buy that kind of good will with any campaign budget. And this is naturally associated with the city's current leaders. Unlike the change that has swept the national elections, people here are happy with the incumbents and want that to continue.
Of course, that only accounts for Beverly Johnson and Frank Matarrese. I think that Lena Tam probably won for several reasons. One is that she appeared in many aspects along with Johnson and Matarrese. The three of them were endorsed by the Alameda Democratic Club as well as the dem party at the county level, so they were featured together on a lot of literature. Tam also ran a good campaign and supported the kinds of issues that many Alamedans support. And because the slate members were tied together for better or for worse, it made the choice easier for people who didn't want to support the slate. Of the remaining candidates, Lena Tam easily stood out. Ash Jones and Mike Rich just didn't have that big of a campaign to get them on the radar for people. (I'm guessing that Jones did better than Rich because he's just better known in the community. He certainly didn't have much of a campaign!)
There was certainly some negativity in this campaign. YouTube videos of Pat Bail's nasty sentiments and lampooning the slate's anti-everything stance. Personal attacks on those who have been outspoken in their distrust of the slate. And so forth. But now that the election is done, we need to move forward and get past that. I hope the negativity can come to an end.
I'll be happy to take a step toward building that bridge by stating some things I believe in, which might come as a surprise to slate supporters and opponents alike:
- I haven't been particularly impressed with Mayor Johnson. She just isn't a strong leader. I only supported her at a minimal level because she was certainly a better choice than deHaan. I really wished that there had been a stronger third candidate.
- The slate was against too much traffic. Well, so am I. In fact, I'm an activist in favor of bicycling, walking, and transit rather than the use of the automobile. I'm very concerned about how development on Alameda Point will affect traffic in and out of and around Alameda. (In fact, it's out of that concern that I want to see Measure A not apply to the Point, so that some intelligently planned neighborhoods can be built with facilities in walking distance so that people don't need to drive to Oakland or other parts of Alameda for their basic needs.)
- The slate advocated open government. Well, so do I. (I'm especially glad to see Debra Bowen win as Secretary of State; she has produced some amazing legislation in California along those lines.) I don't think that Alamedans bought into the accusation that there was wrongdoing on the City Council since deHaan was there, and never filed any charges if he saw something illegal.
- The slate was opposed to big-box, overdevelopment. Guess what, so am I! I don't like big chain stores. I don't like the sensation that almost every city I go to looks the same with their shopping centers and chain stores. I'm not particularly fond of a Target going into Alameda, especially a gigantic one. I was against the "megaplex" that the city council approved (though I would like to see the Alameda Theatre restored, just more tastefully). And if a Wal- Mart tries to come to town, I'll be first in line to oppose that.
- The slate was in favor of measure A and protecting historic structures. Well, so am I — but just not for Alameda Point. I'm glad Measure A passed, but in 1973, Alameda did not have Alameda Point. There are no victorians that I know of on Alameda Point. There is, however, some great historic housing that will have to be torn down if measure A applies to the point. (Doesn't anybody find that particularly ironic?) Alameda point is, for the most part, a blank slate that can be built intelligently, and I don't feel that we should be building suburbia out there.
- Many slate supporters have complained about the influence of Don Perata on local politics. I agree completely. I don't like it when powerful politicians throw their weight around and muddle in local affairs. It didn't happen just here, either; it happened in Oakland this year as well. However, just because I don't like what he does, I don't buy the conclusions that slate supporters came up with that made it sound as if the developers had the Johnson, Matarrese, and Tam (but not Daysog) in their pockets.
So there you have it. It's amazing how much I agree with the slate. But I didn't vote for them, and neither did a lot of Alamedans. But maybe we have more in common than we think if you strip away the conclusions that slaters have reached and just look at the underlying values.