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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Election season heating up

Uploaded: May 13, 2014

Now that the June primary season is officially in the voting mode (early voting started May 5), candidates will be working hard to increase their profiles.
Some races likely are little more than an earlier popularity contest with the serious contests coming in the fall. That's likely the case in two Bay Area congressional races because of the open primary system that pits the top two finishers in November.
In the 15th, Eric Swalwell of Dublin faces a couple of primary challengers, but only termed out state Senator Ellen Corbett is significant. Their Democrat vs. Democrat showdown will come in November, just like it did two years ago when Swalwell upset 20-term Congressman Pete Stark—who incidentally has vowed to do all he can to help Corbett take out Swalwell.
There is also an interesting dynamic in the 17th district where long-term incumbent Mike Honda faces a spirited challenge from 37-year-old Silicon Valley attorney Ro Khanna. Khanna initially worked to mount a challenge to Swalwell, but decided to take on Honda instead. The two are the favorites to make the run-off in the fall, but there also are two Republicans in the race that could split up the votes.
Khanna received a key endorsement last weekend when the San Jose Mercury recommended him over Honda. The editorial board had complimentary words for Honda, but referred to the 73-year-old him as "venerable." Not exactly a label you want when being compared with a dynamic young man who first ran for Congress at the age of 27.
It would be an apt description for either of California's senators—Dianne Feinstein (81) has served for 22 years, while Barbara Boxer (74) has been there 21 years.
The contrast is the heated primary for the Assembly seat that Joan Buchanan of Alamo has held for the last six years--she is termed out. Democrats Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, Danville Councilman Newell Arnerich, Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer and Pleasanton attorney Catharine Baker, a Republican, are running with two advancing to the general election. The spirited race offers voters a range of choices in governing philosophy and probably show off the open primary at its best.

It's a good season to be a school trustee and superintendent in the Dublin Unified School District.
District voters renewed the $96 per year parcel tax overwhelmingly in a mail-in election that was concluded last week. The measure won 75-25 percent when it was last renewed and received 79 percent of the votes cast last week—26 percent of registered voters mailed in their ballots. Clearly, Dublin citizens trust the board members and Superintendent Stephen Hanke.
The tax has been raising $1.2 million annually—a number that will increase as additional parcels are developed. The city grew 7.1 percent last year driven by new homes on the east side—an area that has been little activity since the recession hit in 2008. As the city moves toward built-out, the parcel tax revenues could reach $2 million a year. The factor that the trustees cited as so important is that Dublin's revenue per student from the state will not grow because of the new funding formula that allocates more to districts with students living in poverty.
Over the next month, the Livermore school district will learn the fate of its renewal of its parcel tax. For years, Livermore has received significantly less revenue per student than the Pleasanton and Dublin districts, but that will change as the new funding formula kicks in over the next few years. At current levels, Livermore would receive $14 million more per year at Dublin's per-student rate and $10 million per student at Pleasanton's rate.
The $138 per parcel tax for seven years will generate about $3.8 million annually for Livermore schools.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Richard Winger, a resident of another community,
on May 13, 2014 at 9:15 pm

This article would be better if it didn't refer to California's election system as an "open primary." California has a top-two primary. Neither Prop. 14 in June 2010 (which passed, and created our current system) nor Prop. 62 in November 2004 (which failed, and would have done the same thing) was on the ballot as an "open primary." A Superior Court in Sacramento ruled in 2004 that it couldn't be called an open primary, because "open primary", for over 100 years in political science textbooks and since 1972 in US Supreme Court opinions, has been defined differently. An "open primary", used in 18 states, provides that each party has its own primary and its own nominees, but on primary day, a voter can choose any party's primary ballot. By contrast, in California's system, there are no party nominees and no party primary ballots.

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