Editorial: East Bay voters face an unusually long list of critical races

Click here for a complete list of our election recommendations.

For East Bay voters, this is no ordinary primary election.

The list of critical local races is exceptionally long. Residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties should carefully review the unusual abundance of important contests on the June 7 ballot.

Over the past two months, we have rolled out our recommendations. Here are highlights:

California Legislature

State Senate District 10: Term limits will force Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, into retirement after 12 years in the Legislature. In the six-candidate field, Fremont Mayor Lily Mei brings the broadest elective-office experience.

Assembly District 20: Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, who could have served one more term, opted not to run. Shawn Kumagai’s experience on the Dublin City Council, day job as district director for a member of the Assembly and 20 years in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve have shaped his thoughtful and pragmatic politics — and made him the best pick for the job.

Assembly District 24: Voters in Alameda and Santa Clara counties can do better than incumbent Alex Lee, D-San Jose. The 26-year-old won two years ago on a fluke because eight Democrats split their party’s primary voters. Lee’s inexperience has been glaring in Sacramento. Attorney and former San Jose City Councilman Lan Diep is the best-informed candidate and will better represent the district.

Contra Costa County

District Attorney: To reform our criminal justice system and hold bad cops accountable, reelect Diana Becton. Her office successfully prosecuted a deputy sheriff who shot and killed an unarmed motorist. Now police unions are seeking payback, supporting her opponent who claims, despite the jury verdict, that the deputy should not have been charged. And don’t believe campaign hype about rising crime: Data doesn’t back it up, especially not for Contra Costa.

Sheriff: Benjamin Therriault, who has nearly two decades of law enforcement experience, would bring much-needed change. Incumbent David Livingston continues defending his convicted deputy and lambasting the district attorney for charging him. Livingston runs roughshod over those who question him and stonewalls requests for public records about transgressions of his deputies. He needs to go.

Assessor: Seven terms of incumbent Gus Kramer’s personal and professional antics, his misuse of his office and his abusive behavior toward his employees is enough. He has faced weak or no opposition since 1994. This year is different: Elect Floy Andrews, a member of the county Assessment Appeals Board, who will bring integrity to the office.

Clerk-Recorder: For the first time in county history, no incumbent is running for clerk-recorder. Kristin Braun Connelly is the standout of four candidates in an era when our election systems are under attack.

County supervisor, District 4: Incumbent Karen Mitchoff is retiring after 12 years on the board, setting off a five-way race to replace her. Pleasant Hill City Councilman Ken Carlson, a retired cop, is the standout choice.

Alameda County

District Attorney: Incumbent Nancy O’Malley is retiring, setting off a four-way race to replace her. Only Terry Wiley, who worked his way from a legal research assistant to the office’s first African American chief assistant district attorney, has the combined managerial and prosecutorial experience for the job.

Sheriff: As incumbent Greg Ahern completes his 16th year as sheriff and seeks yet another term, he faces opposition for the first time — and residents are learning about the deplorable conditions that have festered for years at the county’s Santa Rita Jail. It’s time for change. Elect Yesenia Sanchez, a 25-year veteran of the office who had the courage to take on her boss.

Superintendent of Schools: Voters who care about the financial solvency of their local school districts should reelect L.K. Monroe. She has admirably carried out the pressure-cooker responsibility of presenting the unvarnished truth about the budgets of the county’s 18 school districts. She faces a teacher-union-backed opponent who spouts falsehoods about Monroe.

County supervisor, District 3: There’s no incumbent in this race because Wilma Chan died in November after she was hit by a car while walking her dog. Her appointed replacement is not eligible to run for a full term. Of the four candidates, David Kakishiba stands out as best-prepared to continue Chan’s work on children’s issues, equity, health care and social services.

Board of Education, Area 7: Incumbent Yvonne Cerrato is retiring after two decades. Candidate Eric Dillie pleaded no-contest to a 2016 misdemeanor charge of failing to report suspected child abuse. Kate Dao seemed fuzzy about why she was running and unclear about some responsibilities of the job. That leaves former Pleasanton Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio as the best pick.

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