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Why the Race to Represent Eastern Alameda County is the Most Important Local Election

It's a dead heat in the contest to replace Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

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Bacon said he opposed SB 50 because it did not sufficiently address affordable housing. But Bacon's stances on housing often confuse. While he has also registered general support for high-density housing near transit hubs, he nevertheless voted against a 1,000-unit development at the Warm Spring BART station in Fremont. He believes that Measure A1 funds derived from a county bond for affordable housing are not fairly distributed to District 1. "I definitely think we need a supervisor that is going to be fair in those allocations," Bacon said.

But on the overall question of increasing housing supply, Bacon has been less specific. He argues that the regional problem could be solved by forcing places like Cupertino, which have an immense imbalance between creating a large number of new jobs with new housing, to do their share. Alameda County also needs to do a better job in creating new high-income jobs closer to home in order to alleviate traffic in the East Bay and limit pollution.

Over the course of the campaign, Bacon has often equated elected officials receiving campaign contributions from developers to a "pay-to-play" scheme. "I'm the only candidate in this race who does not take money from corporations or developers," he told the Alameda County Democrats last month, while referring to Wieckowski and Hernandez. "Are they fighting for the people or fighting for the people who give them money?"

While Bacon has been truthful to his word, this strategy has put a damper on his ability to raise anywhere close to the campaign coffers that Wieckowski and Hernandez have amassed. Through the most recent campaign finance reporting period on Jan. 18, Haubert topped the field by raising $151,427 during the contest, primarily from housing developers. Hernandez came in second, with $140,009, including large donations from police unions and Alameda County sheriff's deputies. Wieckowski raised $117,760, mostly from unions and statewide donors that also have contributed to his prior state senate campaigns. Bacon's $68,292 in contributions have consisted of large donations from family members and his own pocket.

How this race will shape up on Mar. 3 is literally anybody's guess. The one certainty among political insiders is a belief that no candidate will receive a simple majority of the vote, meaning that the top two candidates will advance to a runoff in November. But which candidates will appear on that ballot is a crapshoot. An argument could be made for every single match-up mathematically conceivable. 

Elsewhere on the Board of Supervisors

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is a bit long in the tooth. While Haggerty is retiring after serving 24 years, most of his colleagues on the board also have served almost as long or more. Supervisor Keith Carson has served since 1992. Supervisor Nate Miley has served since 2000. Both are up for re-election this March. Supervisor Wilma Chan has served since 2010, but also sat on the board for six years in the 1990s.

Thus, Haggerty's departure could be the first of several in coming years. The board's second and third-longest-serving supervisors are also up for re-election this March. Miley represents the crazy-quilt District 4 that snakes from Oakland to a large portion of unincorporated Alameda County, and Pleasanton. He faces a challenge from Esther Gooslby, an Oakland resident and member of Communities For A Better Environment.. Her campaign slogan is a direct reference to Miley: "No to the 20-year status quo." Goolsby is making the fight against climate change at the local level her main priority. One of her talking points often describes the impetus for her run for supervisor as a call from above. "My ancestors said, "Go claim that seat, because it is ours.'"

Like Haggerty, Carson has not faced a challenger this century. The District 5 supervisorial seat represents large portions of Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, and Piedmont. Carson's opponent is Albany Mayor Nick Pilch. Although his campaign has lacked many specifics for how he is better suited for the job, Pilch has highlighted one major flaw in Alameda County's election system — the immense financial barriers some underfunded candidates face just in getting their name on the ballot. In addition, to paying a $1,657 filing fees with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, Pilch paid an additional $6,224 to have his candidate statement included in the voters' handbook. For countywide offices, the fees are even higher. "If elected," he said on his website, "I will work to greatly reduce barriers like these to candidate participation in all elections in the County."

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