San Francisco Chronicle
May 19, 2015
By John Wildermuth
Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer won a surprisingly easy victory over fellow Democrat Concord Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla on Tuesday night in what had been a nasty, hard-fought contest for an East Bay state Senate seat.
Although he was reluctant to declare victory before all the votes were in, Glazer expressed little doubt about the outcome.
“It looks very positive,” he said from his election night party in Orinda. “I’m gratified for the voters and volunteers who embraced my message of putting problem-solving ahead of partisan interests.”
While Bonilla didn’t concede the election when she came out to thank supporters at her Concord headquarters shortly after 10 p.m., she and her campaign staff knew they had come up short.
In a special election where the final turnout is likely to be around 25 percent, “it would have been a different outcome if this was a regular election in 2016 with Hillary Clinton on the ballot,” he added. Bonilla “would have won by 10 points.”
With all but a handful of votes counted, Glazer led 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent in the special election to fill the less than two years left in the term of Mark DeSaulnier, who was elected to Congress in November.
Glazer took an eight-percentage-point lead almost as soon as the polls closed at 8 p.m., and Bonilla could never gain ground.
The election showed that as more and more people cast their ballots by mail, it becomes increasingly difficult to catch the early leader on election night. In the March 17 state Senate primary, for example, mail ballots accounted for nearly 85 percent of the votes cast in an election where fewer than 24 percent of the voters turned out.
While Bonilla and Glazer are members of the same party, they are very different Democrats, and the endorsements and millions of dollars in independent expenditures that poured into the race highlighted those contrasts.
Glazer is a political consultant who for years was a close aide to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not endorsed anyone in the race. But in recent years Glazer has worked for the California Chamber of Commerce and other business-oriented groups often at odds with the unions that have long been a base of support for the Democratic Party. Most of his endorsements came from local political leaders.
Bonilla, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2010, is a former teacher and Contra Costa County supervisor with overwhelming support from labor and Democratic Party leaders. Her backers included the California Labor Federation and the California Democratic Party.
While Glazer won the primary with nearly 34 percent of the vote, well ahead of Bonilla’s 25 percent, third-place finisher Joan Buchanan of Alamo, a former Democratic assemblywoman, immediately endorsed Bonilla. The lone Republican in the race,Michaela Hertle, finished with 16 percent, although she already had dropped out of the race and endorsed Glazer.
In a late April television debate, Glazer described the race as a contest between “a centrist and a partisan,” saying Bonilla was too closely tied to the state’s unions to be an independent voice in Sacramento.
But Bonilla and her supporters argued throughout the campaign that Glazer was little more than a business-oriented Republican with a “D” after his name on the ballot. Campaign mailers sent out by her backers described the assemblywoman as “the only real Democrat” running for state Senate, charging that Glazer’s campaign was bankrolled by Bill Bloomfield, a wealthy Southern California Republican-turned-independent, and anticonsumer business interests.
That’s not the stop-the-conversation argument it would be elsewhere in the Bay Area. While Democrats make up more than 43 percent of the registered voters in the district — which includes Walnut Creek, Concord, Lafayette and Brentwood in Contra Costa County and the Alameda County cities of Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin — it’s anything but a liberal bastion like San Francisco or Oakland.
Contra Costa Times
May 17, 2015
It would seem that the best thing about Tuesday's special state Senate election is that voters will be able to reclaim their mailboxes. But there's actually a lot at stake, which helps explain why millions have been spent on the onslaught of misleading mailers.
For those who have not already cast their ballots by mail, it's time to make a choice between the two candidates vying for the seat vacated by Mark DeSaulnier when he was elected to Congress in November.
It's a choice between two Democrats who couldn't be more different -- one unwaveringly devoted to organized labor, the other a moderate who understands that the state can't write blank checks to appease special interests.
For us, as we've said before, this isn't a close call.
Steve Glazer, an Orinda councilman, California State University trustee and former political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, is by far the best choice. He's the moderate, the one who works across the aisle with Republicans, supports banning BART strikes and urges state leaders to get their financial house in order before considering tax renewals.
His opponent, Susan Bonilla of Concord, has been such a strong backer of labor in Sacramento that she could not identify a single vote she has cast during her four years in the Assembly that diverged from the union position. Not one.
At the same time, voters should not let the mailbox stuffing dissuade them from voting. What's at stake in this election is the future of state politics. Without a doubt, Democrats will control Sacramento for years to come. The question is whether anyone can break organized labor's stranglehold on the party.
The 7th Senate District, which includes the Livermore Valley and most of Central and Eastern Contra Costa, provides a key testing ground. It's a moderate district in which Democrats hold 43 percent of the registration, but independents and Republicans comprise 51 percent. It's important that centrist voters are heard.
For those who have not yet voted, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Those with absentee ballots can take them to the polls or they can still mail them in. Under a new state law, they will be counted as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday.
May 12, 2015
By Keith Burbank, Bay City News
A preliminary investigation by BART lawyers and managers into campaign activities surrounding a state Senate race found that employees violated BART’s conduct code, according to BART.
BART officials released the preliminary findings Monday evening after state Senate candidate Steve Glazer accused the BART union Monday morning of campaigning against him illegally at BART workplaces.
A special election for the Senate seat will occur a week from today. Glazer is running against state Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, for the District 7 seat.
BART officials said they made conclusion after interviewing some of the individuals involved in meetings where campaigning took place. Glazer is demanding a full investigation.
BART’s employee code of conduct prohibits employees from being involved in political activity on BART property, according to BART. The meetings took place on or about April 29 or April 30, according to BART.
BART officials said that union leaders asked managers for time to meet with employees during break time, which is allowed by contract. But union officials did not tell managers what they would be talking about, according to BART.
“The Employee Code of Conduct makes abundantly clear that there is to be no campaigning allowed on BART property,” BART Board president Tom Blalock said in a statement. Blalock added in the statement that political activity is not allowed in maintenance shops.
Glazer claims that employees campaigned in maintenance shops and he provided photos to support the claim.
BART officials said they recognize employees’ rights to participate in politics, but employees cannot use public resources to campaign or campaign for a candidate on public property.
BART is a public agency.
May 4, 2015
By Allen Payton
I wasn’t happy with the way the field of candidates was cleared of all Republicans, before and after filing closed in the Special State Senate election in District 7, to help Democrat Steve Glazer, have a better chance of winning. I wrote a lengthy and scathing analysis of how it happened, which you can read on the Herald website.
But, I believe Glazer, who is the Mayor of Orinda, when he told me he had nothing to do with it. So, to sit out the election in protest, as I had considered doing, and allow others to choose for me was just the wrong approach.
I thus had to do make an effort and do some work in considering whom I would vote for and whether or not I would endorse either of the candidates in the General Election, on May 19.
While there’s not much difference between Glazer and State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, in her final of three terms, under the old term limits, on the moral issues, which are important to me, there are some differences on other issues, such as taxes and spending.
Bonilla’s record on both the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and in the State Assembly has been marked with irresponsible votes on spending, including giving herself and the other Board Members a 60% pay raise in one year, alone, and rich retirement packages to government workers, at the expense of us taxpayers.
While Glazer hasn’t been tested at the state level, he has proven to be responsible with spending as part of the Orinda City Council.
I was concerned he would be, in effect, a man without a country, by being a fiscally conservative Democrat in Sacramento. But, as one of only 40 State Senators, where the margin for a two-thirds majority is pretty slim, he can actually be the deciding vote on a variety of issues, which can benefit our county.
The final issue that did it for me was that if Bonilla is elected to the Senate, there will be a special election to fill the rest of her term in the Assembly. That, according to County Clerk Joe Canciamilla, will cost Contra Costa taxpayers another $1.3 million, assuming both a primary and a general election. That figure doesn’t include the costs in Solano County, which makes up the other part of the Assembly District. That’s on top of the $2 million he estimates we’re spending for the current special election.
Bonilla said she was already planning to run for the State Senate seat, next year, when Mark DeSaulnier would have been termed out. But, he started this game of political musical chairs, when he was elected to Congress, last fall, in the middle of his final term in the State Senate.
But, Bonilla didn’t have to run, this year and by doing so, shows that she places her own political career above the interests of the taxpayers.
She could have either waited, or backed former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, with whom Bonilla seems to agree with, more than she does Glazer.
Whoever wins this year will have to run, again, next year if they want to retain the seat. So, Bonilla can just wait until then to run, or run for something else. Better yet, she could take a break from public office for a few years and get a job in the private sector to see what it takes to create wealth and the impacts of the decisions she and her fellow legislators made.
I like Susan Bonilla, and have been on friendly terms with her. But, this is not about personality. It’s about whom we are going to rely on to vote in our best interest in the areas of spending and taxes.
I don’t know Steve Glazer and have only spoken with him on the phone a few times.
But, I believe he is the better choice, this year. If there’s a better candidate, with whom I agree more, next year, I’ll consider them, then. For now, Glazer is the best choice to represent us in the State Senate, offering a fresh perspective and an independent voice.
I’m voting for him for Senate on May 19 and recommend you do the same.
May 4, 2015
By Michelle Orrock
The National Federation of Independent Business, California’s and the nation’s leading small business association, today announced the endorsement of Steve Glazer for Senate District 7.
“NFIB is proud to endorse Steve Glazer for the State Senate,” said John Kabateck, NFIB/CA executive director. “He believes, as do our members, that government needs to live within its means. Unlike his opponent, Steve opposes extending Prop. 30 small business taxes, wants to protect Proposition 13 property tax protections, and is committed to stopping the powerful special interests have dominated the State Capitol for too long.”
Judy Lloyd, NFIB/CA Leadership Council member and owner of Altamont Strategies in Danville, agreed. “Steve will be a reasonable voice in Sacramento. There are not enough legislators who support small businesses and we create 67% of the jobs in California. I look forward to working with him to ensure that small business owners can grow their businesses, create jobs and thrive.”
Cliff Luengo, NFIB/CA Leadership Council member and owner of RB Construction in Fremont, said, “Steve has set himself apart from the typical union-backed Democrat and has taken a stand against out-of-control pensions and government spending. He will be a strong advocate for businesses in his district such as mine.”
NFIB has more than 21,000 dues-paying members in California representing a cross-section of the state’s economy. The endorsement comes from NFIB’s SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, the organization’s political action committee, and is based on positions regarding key small-business issues including health care, taxes, labor and regulatory issues.
Small business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for actively recruiting friends, family members and acquaintances to go to the polls.
April 24, 2015
The 60-minute debate, which features candidates Susan Bonilla and Steve Glazer, was put on by the Contra Costa Times, Contra Costa Elections Office, League of Women Voters and CCTV. Click on the below link to watch the debate.
Contra Costa Times
April 24, 2015
By Jennifer Modenessi
ORINDA -- Lawmakers locally are crafting tough new rules restricting where smokers can light up.
City leaders agreed this week to develop an ordinance to stamp out smoking in outdoor dining areas and public events, and create smoke-free housing in existing apartments and condominiums.
If approved, the ordinance would restrict smoking in areas beyond those regulated by state law including most workplaces, inside residential multiunit common areas and within 25 feet of playgrounds. State law also prohibits smoking in schools, foster homes and day care facilities.
Currently, Orinda only ban smoking in parks, nature areas and trails. The city's municipal code also forbids advertising and promoting tobacco products to minors. But that's where current restrictions end.
Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, who suggested updating the city's existing smoking laws in February, said he hopes to see the smoking ban extended to dining areas, public events and sidewalks.
"We want to do everything we can to ensure the health of our citizens," he said.
According to the American Lung Association in California, Orinda is one of eight Contra Costa cities with the worst tobacco control. The poor ratings come despite Lamorinda having a very low prevalence of smokers, said Serena Chen, an advocacy director for the Association.
Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, El Cerrito and Richmond have all adopted comprehensive smoking ordinances.
Orinda's proposed guidelines are welcome news to the Association, which has advocated for clean, smoke-free air for more than a century.
"We are glad to see that Orinda is looking at how they can better protect residents and visitors," Chen said.
At least one city leader is cautioning against too much regulation. Councilwoman Eve Phillips questioned whether the city should include electronic cigarettes in its ordinance.
"The second hand smoking issue, at least from the data I've seen, does not seem to be nearly as big of an issue with electronic cigarettes as with the traditional ones that produce smoke," Phillips said.
A study last year by the University of Southern California found that despite containing less carcinogenic material than regular cigarettes, secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes has increased levels of certain toxic metals, including chromium and nickel.
City Manager Janet Keeter said the ordinance could be ready for council consideration in an couple of months.
Fox & Hounds
April 14, 2015
By Joel Fox
A Democrat will be elected in the Senate District 7 special election next month but depending on which Democrat is elected the result could change the course of California political history.
Steve Glazer, the Orinda mayor and former Jerry Brown advisor is a life long Democrat who stands for many issues the California Democratic Party endorses. He was the campaign manager for Jerry Brown’s return to the governor’s office after a three-decade absence, and he helped promote the Proposition 30 tax increase in 2012.
Yet, Glazer is more than a candidate for office. He could become a symbol of change in state politics.
Glazer has dared to stand up to the powerful public employee unions who have great influence over elected Democratic officials in the legislature. If Glazer wins his election he opens up the possibility of others challenging some of the unions’ orthodoxies in quest for improved governance.
Glazer’s challenge to the union support for tax extensions, pension reform, and his opposition to BART employee strikes places him in many public union cross hairs. They are campaigning hard to defeat him.
Yet, a Glazer victory could produce change that allows the majority Democrats to address some of the state’s pressing problems. As former state treasurer, Democrat Bill Lockyer, told a legislative hearing a few years ago, “It’s impossible for this legislature to reform the pension system and if we don’t we bankrupt the state. And I don’t think anybody can do it here because of who elected you.”
Lockyer was clearly referring to the public unions. A Glazer win would change the atmosphere under the Capitol dome. Thus, this special election is more significant that simply electing a senator to fill a term. That is why the race has attracted so much outside interest in money and reporting. It is a classic battle between the status quo and potential change.
Union sponsored mailings have attacked Glazer with charges that he is an oil and tobacco front man because he once did work for the state Chamber of Commerce whose PAC, with some funds from those industries, support Glazer’s campaign. During the primary election, a union backed effort tried to draw votes from Glazer by funding a mailer from an organization which had previously supported Democrats to encourage voters to vote for a Republican who had dropped out of the race.
There is a trace of desperation in the union campaign actions.
Some would say that the attacks against Glazer over the course of the campaign are political business as usual – the kind of stuff that turns off casual observers to politics. Maybe that’s the point. Discourage the independent-minded voter from casting a vote because they are disgusted with the political invective.
However, should Glazer withstand the onslaught he would be a reliable Democratic vote in the legislature. But, he would also be a trailblazer – independent from most Democrats who gained their seats with heavy backing from the unions — and, perhaps, opening the door for others to follow the same path.
If such a transition comes to pass, Glazer’s election might eventually be talked about along with the election of early 20th century governor Hiram Johnson, who successfully broke the grip of the railroads on the California legislature.
April 6, 2015
If you are a voter in Walnut Creek or Concord, San Ramon, Livermore or Pleasanton, you might not want to support Democrat Steve Glazer for state Senate. Maybe you support the right of transit workers to strike, or you don’t want to reform teacher tenure or government pensions. Maybe you just want to support the candidate who will always vote labor’s position on every issue.
Those are valid reasons to oppose Glazer, Orinda mayor and Gov. Jerry Brown’s longtime political strategist, and to support Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, the other Democrat in the May 19 run-off election in Senate District 7.
What, however, are utterly fabricated, hogwash “reasons” to do so are that Glazer has “sold out” to big tobacco, “sold out” on women’s rights or that he “says one thing and does another” – all lies being told to smear Glazer by a group of labor unions determined to punish him for being an independent Democrat.
Sludge Bucket Charges The principal (fabricated) charges against Glazer are based on the fact that he – like a number of other Democratic consultants – worked for the California Chamber of Commerce in support of business-friendly Democrats that ran in primaries against union-backed Democrats.
Glazer hasn’t taken money from tobacco companies; they did contribute to the Chamber. Glazer has always been vehemently pro-choice on abortion and a supporter of women’s rights; some of the candidates the Chamber has backed aren’t. And, sin of sins, he’s received financial support from individuals and organizations that prefer him as a business-friendly Democrat to candidates seen as in the pocket of labor unions.
Moreover, if being backed by “special interests” is the charge – and Glazer benefited from nearly $600,000 in spending from various interests — Bonilla has a lot to answer for, too. In addition to nearly $240,000 in direct support from labor unions (not to mention independent expenditures), she’s pulled in more than $276,000 from business and corporate interests including the healthcare, big pharma, oil and gas, development and gambling industries.
Glazer has pledged to accept no gifts, meals or beverages from lobbyists; to disclose his answers to any special interests questionnaires; not to pay family members from campaigns contributions; to refuse tax-free per diem expenses or Senate work on weekends and holidays, and to eschew campaign contributions in the final 60 days of the legislative session.
That would make him one of the squeakiest clean legislators in Sacramento. But he would not necessarily vote with the teachers, prison guards or public employees on every measure that comes before the Legislature. If that’s the kind of Democrat you want, Glazer is not your guy.
Insiders and Outsiders For a long time in California, there have been two kinds of Democrats: those who labor unions can count on for support on any issue; and those who don’t vote the union line every time. Most insider Democrats in Sacramento, sadly, are captives of Big Labor. Most outside Democrats in California support labor most, but not all, of the time.
Merit pay for teachers, limits on pay and retirement benefits for prison guards, restrictions on public transportation employees’ right to strike and controlled growth policies limiting new construction in cities and counties are just a few issues where a strong, independent Democrat might have principled differences with unions representing various workers.
Steve Glazer is a lifelong progressive, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-working class, Jerry Brown Democrat. The campaign to brand him as a traitor to Democratic values is beyond scurrilous.
San Mateo Daily Journal
March 31, 2015
By Jonathan Madison
In a previous column, I discussed that in politics, you and I — the American voters — are an external force that has the capacity to fundamentally influence the success of candidates and public policies that navigate the direction of our nation. I also discussed the need for voters to vote for what is best for their communities, rather than feeling bound by allegiances, or concerns about who is most right, rather than what is most right.
Some have called me naive for suggesting that this should make voters feel empowered to make a difference in the policies that govern our nation. After all, we know that interest groups play a key role in influencing our political system through their large-scale financing power. However, the goal of influencing the American voter is often the same, which means that power is still ultimately vested in the hands of the American voter.
On March 17, Bay Area voters reaffirmed their belief in that power in the special election to fill the state senate seat representing the East Bay counties of Contra Costa and Alameda — a seat that was formerly held by democrat Mark DeSaulnier. Many thought this was a typical election that would be determined by the strong arm financing power of labor unions. Oddly enough, this time labor unions targeted resources to defeat Steve Glazer — a moderate democrat and former aide to Gov. Jerry Brown.
You may find yourself questioning why labor unions would use big money to defeat a democrat on the ballot, particularly when the candidate has been an aide to a governor who is an avid supportive of big labor. The answer is quite simple. Just two years ago, you may recall two historic strikes by Bay Area Rapid Transportation (BART) employees that cost the region nearly $73 million in worker productivity and delayed about 400,000 BART commuters for weeks.
While most labor-friendly democrats refused to stand up to the labor unions, Steve Glazer — then a candidate for Assembly — ardently condemned the transit strikes. He should be commended — not for speaking out against the transit strikes, but for having the courage to advocate for commuters in the face of intense pressure from big labor and other liberal advocates to act in the contrary. To many, this was no surprise as Glazer is known to be a pragmatic business friendly candidate.
Labor unions did not take his words lightly, to say the least. In fact, labor unions successfully rallied to defeat Glazer in the June 2014 primary. To my pleasant surprise, voters acted in their own best interests in the March 17 special election, despite being barraged by advertisements from left-leaning groups via the radio, primetime TV and direct mail. Glazer successfully utilized the support of many to successfully defeat three of his five opposing candidates. He will now face a runoff against democrat Susan Bonilla on May 19.
Just after the election, Glazer released a statement calling the election results “positive evidence that voters want a fiscally responsible bipartisan problem solver who is independent from powerful special interests.” I think we can all agree that this is what all of us crave in a candidate. The problem is that candidates like Glazer are a diamond in the rough, particularly in this day in age, when too few of our public servants are willing to break party lines to advocate for the betterment of the lives of the constituents that elected them.
I urge all of you to keep an eye on Glazer’s runoff election as the results may further jolt the political landscape. The results of this special election are proof that beyond the present historically low rate of voter turnout and disengagement, at least some voters are deciding to vote for their interests rather than a special interest yes man. This is what our system ultimately depends on — you and I working to elect those that truly represent us. I hope you will stand with me in working to make informed voter turnout the determining tide in every election going forward.