Here are the Weekly editorial board's endorsements of candidates for State Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives positions representing the Tri-Valley. We reached our decisions based on email interviews on endorsements, and our review of past reporting and other research, including candidate forums where applicable.
Assembly District 16
The bulk of the Tri-Valley remains connected to much of Walnut Creek and the Lamorinda communities in State Assembly District 16 after redistricting last year. That continuity is key toward achieving shared local and regional goals, and incumbent Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan has our support to carry on that important work in Sacramento.
It has been invigorating to watch the Orinda Democrat grow into an effective legislator – to the point she had 15 original bills signed into law during the 2021-2022 session. That collection included legislation on big-picture priorities such as women's rights, mental health care, fire safety and the environment.
Bauer-Kahan's accomplishments this term also featured helping to secure funding for Tri-Valley priorities such as Tesla Park preservation (more than $31 million), Valley Link ($5 million), firefighting technology (over $3 million) and the all-abilities playground in Dublin ($1.4 million). She has proven herself to be a responsive and engaged elected official – increasingly rare traits at the state level these days.
Challenging her, for the second general election in a row, is Republican businessman Joe Rubay out of Alamo. (Bauer-Kahan defeated Rubay easily two years ago, and finished well in front in this June's primary.) We would have expected a more rejuvenated campaign from Rubay this time around, but again his candidacy seems centered on hammering home statewide and national talking points rather than inspired and detailed legislative proposals. Without specificity, it's hard to see much substance.
We recommend Bauer-Kahan for reelection to District 16.
Assembly District 20
With the redistricting process resulting in portions of western Pleasanton and Dublin being carved out and placed into the 20th Assembly District, the Tri-Valley finds itself with the unexpected but very exciting opportunity to finally again put a local resident with elected experience into the State Legislature.
And that's certainly not the only reason to support outgoing Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai for election to AD20 in his runoff against fellow Democrat Liz Ortega of San Leandro. The seat is wide open after incumbent Bill Quirk opted against a reelection bid.
Kumagai represents an experienced elected official with a demonstrated record of policy and project accomplishments at the local level in Dublin in vital areas like public safety, affordable housing and small business support, to name a few.
We have no doubt he would be able to make an immediate impact for the betterment of the Tri-Valley and the state as a whole if elected.
Kumagai faces an uphill battle though, with many unions and prominent state Democrats, including the California Democratic Party itself, endorsing Ortega – a union leader who finished nearly nine percentage points ahead of the Dublin councilman in the four-candidate primary election.
But Ortega's lofty campaign priorities of reproductive freedom, housing, neighborhood safety and environmental justice seem to lack the type of associated policy proposals necessary to achieve those goals that we like to see, especially from a candidate who has never held elected office before. We're also not confident in her institutional and community knowledge of Pleasanton and Dublin.
We recommend Kumagai, the Tri-Valley's representative, for District 20.
Congressional District 14
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore), who has strong ties to the Tri-Valley as a former Dublin High School student, city councilman and county prosecutor, is running for a sixth straight term representing this part of the Tri-Valley in the newly reassigned 14th Congressional District.
As one of the most prominent liberal congressmen in the country, thanks in part to his presence on social media and national TV interviews, Swalwell has become a lightning rod for some people in and out of his district. But regardless of criticisms of his persona or political approach, Swalwell is the only candidate with legislative qualifications and tangible objectives on this congressional ballot – and that is where we must draw the line.
We acknowledge in particular that during his current term Swalwell has advocated for key Tri-Valley priorities including pushing Valley Link, demanding an investigation into appalling abuse at the FCI-Dublin women's prison and securing federal funding for an Iron Horse Regional Trail bicycle-pedestrian overcrossing in San Ramon, Veterans Park in Livermore and the Axis Bridge mental health urgent care pilot program. He also told us his national agenda if reelected would be to "strengthen the economy for working families, protect reproductive rights, and keep our communities safe."
For the Swalwell detractors locally, we can't help but wonder: If Swalwell is truly so unpopular or so unfit to serve his district, then why does he never have a serious challenger? That's the question that intrigues us. There are plenty of current and former elected officials in the Tri-Valley who are registered Republicans (or Democrats), for example, who could come forward but never do.
Opposing him on the ballot this time is Alison Hayden, a Republican special education teacher from Hayward who also faced Swalwell in November 2020 and lost convincingly. Hayden, who has no elective office experience, returns in 2022 with a very similar campaign of ostentatious goals centered on national buzzwords and no actionable policy proposals to boot. Hers is not a viable congressional candidacy.
We recommend Swalwell for District 14.
Congressional District 10
In the northern part of the Tri-Valley, incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) now aims to represent more of the San Ramon Valley after redistricting in the newly reassigned 10th Congressional District that covers much of Contra Costa County.
DeSaulnier has proven himself to be an effective advocate for Contra Costa County priorities in Congress and has our support for a fifth consecutive term in Washington, D.C.
Of particular note, DeSaulnier helped secure $8 million in federal funding for projects in the county during the past year, including $1 million for Danville's townwide traffic signal modernization project and $350,000 for Iron Horse Regional Trail improvements in Danville. He told us goals for the next term would include a focus on "issues that matter most to families in my district like guaranteeing a livable wage, access to affordable and quality education, and ensuring government is accountable to the people." We are also struck by DeSaulnier's regular interactions with the public via town halls on a range of vital topics to better inform and engage with his constituents.
Challenging the incumbent is Michael Ernest Kerr, a Green Party candidate who finished well behind in second place in the primary. Kerr does not seem to be interested in running much of a serious campaign, offering no ballot statement and no 2022 candidacy website. What little messaging he has shared seems centered more on promoting absurd conspiracy theories rather than any real policy proposals. His candidacy is a nonstarter for us.
We recommend DeSaulnier for District 10.