Contra Costa Times / East County Times / San Ramon Valley Times / Tri-Valley Times
Sunday, February 8, 2015 (printed editions)
Our state legislators usually lack political courage, unwilling to buck special interests that effectively control their parties. But the special election to fill a vacant East Bay state Senate seat features two candidates who display impressive independence.
Of the five names will appear on the ballot, the only Republican has dropped out of the race. Of the four Democrats, Terry Kremin offers no compelling reason for his candidacy, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord simply toes the labor line.
That leaves former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, of Alamo, and Steve Glazer, an Orinda city councilman and California State University trustee. We endorse Glazer, but we emphasize that both deserve recognition for unusually thoughtful and politically courageous positions.
The March 17 primary will be the first step to fill a state Senate seat vacated by Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who replaced the now-retired Rep. George Miller in Congress. If no one receives a majority, the general election between the top two finishers will follow May 19.
The Senate seat includes the Tri-Valley and most of Central and East Contra Costa. While Democrats comprise 44 percent of registration, half the voters are Republicans or independent. Consequently, this district provides an excellent venue for an open primary that rewards candidates able to bridge political lines.
Glazer has positioned himself as the centrist candidate. He was Gov. Jerry Brown's political adviser until 2012 but has since tried to distance himself. He opposes Brown's plans for high-speed rail and Delta water tunnels, supports teacher tenure reform, and opposes extension of the governor's temporary sales and income taxes that will phase out starting in 2017.
Glazer angered labor leaders by calling for prohibiting BART strikes, working to elect business-backed Democratic candidates and crossing party lines last year to back Republican Catharine Baker, who replaced Buchanan in the Assembly.
Buchanan, forced from the Assembly by term limits, previously served for 18 years on the San Ramon Valley school board. She enjoys support of the California Teachers Association but fell out of favor with local public employee unions for her 2012 bill that curbed pension spiking in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The bill closed a gaping loophole in Brown's "pension reform" package and stopped some of the most egregious abuses in California. Her actions represented a principled stand in the face of great political risk.
This endorsement was not an easy choice. We often disagree with Buchanan, but she has continued to impress us with her intellect and independent thinking. We back Glazer because we agree with him on more issues, and he offers thoughtful centrist positions generally lacking in the Legislature.
[Contra Costa Times circulates in Clayton, Concord, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Pacheco and Walnut Creek.]
[East County Times circulates in Antioch, Bay Point, Byron, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Oakley and Pittsburg.]
[San Ramon Valley Times circulates in Alamo, Blackhawk, Danville, Diablo and San Ramon.]
[Tri-Valley Times circulates in Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and Sunol.]