Culture

Editorial: Bauters standout of nine candidates for Alameda County supervisor


 

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One member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors knew when it was time to call it quits. Sadly, another did not.

The last-minute, surprise announcement by Supervisor Keith Carson in December that after 32 years he would not seek election to a ninth term provides an opportunity for much-needed change.

Voters should not squander it.

Carson selfishly timed his announcement to allow just five days for interested people to decide whether they wanted to mount a potentially costly campaign for an open seat on the county Board of Supervisors. Nevertheless, nine candidates rushed to fill the void in District 5, which includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont and north Oakland.

The standout, and our recommendation, is John Bauters, who has repeatedly demonstrated his thoughtful leadership skills as a member of the Emeryville City Council and chair of the boards of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Alameda County Transportation Commission.

Unlike Carson, Supervisor Nate Miley, who is in his 24th year on the Alameda County board, opted to seek reelection. He’s running in District 4, which stretches from southeast Oakland through Castro Valley to Pleasanton.

Miley’s refusal to step down and his power of incumbency kept out good candidates with proven leadership. His only opponent is Jennifer Esteen, a nurse and union negotiator for one of the labor organizations that represents county employees. In this race between two troubling choices, we make no recommendation.

Change needed

We’re hopeful that Carson’s replacement will bring a much-needed examination of county operations. Currently, rather than set the agenda, members of the Board of Supervisors repeatedly defer to their staff and then use that as political cover when controversies arise.

We’ve seen it, for example, with the supervisors’ 2019 sweetheart deal with the Oakland A’s that transfers the county’s rights to the Coliseum without assurances the team stays in the East Bay.

And, more recently, after the horrific 2022 death of 8-year-old Sophia Mason, when supervisors sat back as county attorneys tried to block media access to public documents. Two years later, supervisors have yet to provide a public accounting for how social service workers allowed the child to remain with her mother, who had a history of drug abuse and prostitution, despite repeated reports of abuse.

The good news is that the Board of Supervisors is in transition. After 24 years, Scott Haggerty opted not to seek reelection in 2020. The subsequent tragic death of Wilma Chan, who had served two stints totaling 17 years, and the passing of Richard Valle, who had served for 10 years, also led to change at the top.

But thus far, we haven’t seen the shift in mindset that we’ve been hoping for — one that critically evaluates whether the county is being fully transparent and is most efficiently and equitably delivering social services, aiding the homeless and overseeing the jail and county law enforcement.

We’re hoping that, with Carson gone, his replacement and the three other new supervisors — David …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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