Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 25, 2014

Tell them that it’s human nature

Filed under: Alameda, Election — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

On twitter someone asked a question about whether or not their were candidates that were going to oppose Marie Gilmore for Mayor come November which and about whether the lack of candidates signified a satisfaction in the direction the City is heading in.

Then there were some other global questions about metrics used by residents to judge the direction of the City and honestly while an interesting academic question, I’m pretty sure that’s not how most folks vote, at least in hyper local elections like for the City Council and School Board.

If I had to guess I’m going to go with two things that form the basis of most votes: Incumbency and Name Recognition.

Both of these things can be both positive and/or negative depending on how “happy” people are with the general “direction” of the City and/or School District.   Sure money and campaign spending has a small affect on the election, but not as much as it does probably in national elections.  “Direction” is a pretty vague statement because it can be no more than what people are feeling in their gut because honestly the platforms that most people run on in City Council and School Board elections are pretty fluffy.   But typically if people are not unhappy with the direction they’ll vote for the incumbent.   Also if they recall seeing and hearing a name somewhere, it more likely that they will vote for that candidate over a candidate that they have never heard about.

I just got added to this Alameda Peeps Facebook page and there’s a discussion on there from some folks who fall into the extremely discontented category and are trying to pull together a “slate” to run to change the direction.  And by “change the direction” I’m assuming that equals “stop all development” which I’m guessing they consider the “wrong” direction.  But the last time there was a concerted “slate” effort to change the direction of the City — in response to things like the Alameda Theater etc and so forth — the slate lost.  The problem when you only hang out with folks that agree with you — and no one who disagrees with you in necessarily willing to correct your misconceptions that the whole of the City of Alameda hates everything that is happening in the City right now — is that there is a continued assumption that people want some sort of sea change.

To “change” the direction of the City these folks will need to (1) find people interested in running (2) successfully run a slate based election and (3) remove an incumbent Mayor.  Good luck with that.   Just accomplishing number 1 will be pretty difficult.

On the flip side if enough people are truly unhappy with the direction of the City, then incumbency will be a detriment.  But since I’ve been watching Alameda elections, I cannot recall a time when an incumbent on the City Council has ever lost his or her seat.   Now the School Board is a whole other ball of wax and incumbency is never a guarantee there.  Voters will often punish an incumbent if they are unhappy with the “direction” they feel (feel is an important word because it’s most perception that guides this) whatever government body is going in.

Name recognition is much like incumbency where it can be a big plus or a big negative.   For Tony Daysog two years ago it became a huge plus.  He managed to win a seat on the City Council after a hiatus (and very little campaign spending) probably because people remembered his name.   We’ll see if name recognition back fires on Stewart Chen whose much publicized historic troubles could come back and haunt him, particularly if there are candidates with bigger name recognition fighting for the seat.

So in the end, it really is two things: name recognition and incumbency that make or break elections.



  1. Only a Fire Department scandal could stop Marie Gilmore from winning reelection.

    Comment by Puzzled — June 25, 2014 @ 6:21 am

  2. The last noteworthy “sea change” was in the early 70s at the time Measure A was passed and a new council majority entered the scene. There are some similarities between then and now – today there is a big jump in residential construction plans either approved or on the drawing board. But today it’s not good housing stock being replaced with apartment buildings. It’s obsolete industrial sites along the northern waterfront and at Alameda Point that are slated for replacement. The traffic issue is a similarity, but the type of development is not. I think it would be hard to win on a stop development plank today. Stop gridlock might get traction.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — June 25, 2014 @ 7:05 am

  3. I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank Matarrese runs again. He’s done a few opinion columns at late about the direction the City is headed.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 25, 2014 @ 7:43 am

  4. Leland Yee getting more than 300,000 votes in the primary election, despite the fact that he dropped out after being accused of gun running and political corruption (his name remained on the ballot), tells you all you need to know about name recognition.

    Comment by trow125 — June 25, 2014 @ 9:13 am

  5. I disagree that “the last time there was a slate, the slate lost.” The most recent de facto slate was Gilmore-Bonta-Tam & it crushed the opposition. As anyone who received the avalanche of negative endorsements about Jean Sweeney & Ann Marie Gallant, or noticed that the same personnel were running all three campaigns, will recall, this was the “SunCal Slate”.

    I would amend your observation to note that a grass-roots, self-proclaimed “slate”, has little chance if it has no backing from some sort of Big Money.

    The only way to be successful running as a slate is to be sneaky about it. Don’t announce it; just use the same campaign manager, treasurer, attract the same financial backers.. Pull the wool over Alameda’s eyes before anyone notices…soon the election will be over & you’ll be in.

    Comment by vigi — June 25, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  6. Slate. noun. Any set of candidates that one doesn’t support. Commonly observed in threes, though can be any number from two on up.

    Comment by Ambrose Bierce — June 25, 2014 @ 9:52 am

  7. Not so, Vigi. Beckham, Corica and Herwitz ran as a slate. They were quite open and above board about it. Comparatively, a nice clean campaign and election it was. “I remember it well.” as has been said.

    Comment by Li_ — June 25, 2014 @ 9:57 am

  8. I found that Alameda Peeps page a couple months ago, and I must say, it has been great fun trolling some of them over density and parking issues around Del Monte, et al.

    Comment by BMac — June 25, 2014 @ 10:03 am

  9. # 5 – “I would amend your observation to note that a grass-roots, self-proclaimed “slate”, has little chance if it has no backing from some sort of Big Money.”

    Maybe what Vigi is suggesting is that the new slate is being backed by “Big Money”.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 25, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  10. I still have lawn signs for deHaan-Bail-Thompson, backed by Bail’s “big money.” Back in the days when Don Roberts has the only blog in town (a man before his time) and reported that Bail spent $130K of her own money to win a seat on the council. It shows in Alameda that money can’t buy elections.

    Comment by BarbaraK — June 25, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  11. if you remember can’t remember her name prior the slate to ran 2 times the first time I believe her husband donated I believe $120,000. Then when she ran with the slate in 2006…of course she lost both times. She use to always be on they Don Roberts show the is before they had blogs Pretty much anyone who went on these before they had blogs. Pretty much when Action Alameda which started around the time. Action Alameda started and the same thing anyone Action Alameda supported lost my vote. Tom Pavletic who ran for Hospital Board

    Comment by Joseph — June 25, 2014 @ 11:46 am

  12. #11 it was her name Pat Bail

    Comment by Joseph — June 25, 2014 @ 11:48 am

  13. Perhaps Alameda voters have gotten more sophisticated but in 2004 Election there was a candidate named Vernice Boone. He filed in three races: City Council, School Board and Hospital Board. He did not spend any money yet because of ballot position, listed occupation he got more votes than the sitting Board President.

    Here is the candidate statement submitted by him typos and all:

    Vernice Boone
    Age: 71
    Occupation: Substitute Teacher
    My education and qualifications are I am Vernice Boone a native Califorian educated in public schools of Oakland and Peralta College District, A.A. in Business and A.B. in Liberal Studies from California State University Hayward, and I am studding for a M.A. in Liberal Studies with Trinity Southern University. I have worked as a teacher in the Oakland Public School, and the Alameda Unified Schools as a Substitute teacher. I drove a Cab, was a security guard, worked as clerk for the Peralta College, was a Book Store worker, at Alameda College. A census taker for the U.S. Department of Commerce. I managed a small apartment building, and I am a active member of the Alameda Church of Christ and just duly elected to the Board of Directors of the West Oakland Health Center I have worked all my life to make it a better world. I have a good relationship with my co-workers and the school districts. I have made a difference in the lives of many children and some adults. I am a good christian and seek to better serve the people I meet in my life as good Christian Teacher. Thanks Sincerely.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — June 25, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

  14. 10

    The firemen buy elections regulalrly.

    Comment by dave — June 25, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

  15. 14 It didn’t buy Pat Bail elections regularity…it all came out during her second run with the slate. I think this will be the case with Stewart Chen also. Pat Bail tried to buy a seat election a seat is it is all brought up again during their campaign when she ran with the slate two time defeated she didn’t run again. There are so many bloggers out there now people are easily reminded come election time.

    Comment by Joseph — June 25, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

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