Alameda County, situated as it is in the Bay Area, is one of the most progressive enclaves of this country. Barack Obama received 79% of the county's vote in 2012. Barbara Lee got 87%. No Republican even ran against our Democratic State Senator, Loni Hancock.
Yet, like many other such cities and counties, when it comes to electing a Sheriff and a District Attorney, all such progressive bets are off.
We're trying to change that.
In what many might think is a quixotic quest, a group of progressives and radicals have come together to try to give the people a choice. Represent the People wants to run candidates for Alameda County Sheriff and District Attorney in June, 2014 (1).
In California, County Sheriff and District Attorney positions are officially non-partisan, but the current Sheriff of Alameda County, Greg Ahern, is a registered Republican. The District Attorney, Nancy O'Malley is at best a "law and order" Democrat in Name Only (DINO).
These positions have not had real elections held for them in decades. When the old Sheriff or Distrct Attorney resigns, typically some time before an election, a hand-picked successor is chosen by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors upon recommendation of the old office holder. The appointee then runs essentially (or in fact) unopposed in the next election.
In California, as per our Constitution, the elected Sheriff is not beholden to anyone. He or she has no boss; he or she reports to no one except the electorate, most of whom don't even know who the sheriff is or that the position is elective. The person holding the office cannot even be impeached. There is no statewide supervision of the fifty eight county sheriffs. All the same is true of District Attorneys. Yet both hold enormous power, especially over the lives of the least fortunate among us.
It is a gross understatement to say that our current Sheriff and District Attorney leave much to be desired. In a locale where progressive policies should be all but assumed, regressive policies and police-state tactics are in fact the norm. From jailing immigrants to racial profiling, from trampling on civil liberties to wrong-headed prosecutions, these "elected" officials do not represent what the people would vote for - if given a meaningful choice.
- Drone Wars! The ACLU and ACAD (Alameda County Against Drones) Fight Back.
- Alameda County Sheriff to People He Allegedly Serves: "It's My Jail." Go F*** Yourselves.
And I have written about District Attorney O'Malley, her incompetence, pettiness, and her trampling upon civil rights far too many times:
- Power Mad DA Charges Berkeley Professor & Students Beaten by UC Police.
- ACLU: "Nothing Short of Chilling." DA O'Malley Has To Go.
- Tell The Power-Crazed DA to Stay Away From Stay Aways, Drop the Charges and Read the Constitution.
- What Do You Do When the First Amendment is Under Attack?
- Free At Last. Alameda DA Finally Dismisses Absurd Hate Crime Charges Against Three Occupy Oaklanders
- This is How a Police State Operates.
- What Do You Do When No One With Power Will Stand Up For You? How Do You Go On?
The problem is that no one in their left mind who is qualified (2) wants the job, or even the longshot chance at it, at least as yet.
So we've come up with a quirky HELP WANTED ad we want to run in the local alternative press publication, The East Bay Express. It's home to many exposes of corruption, money politics, and crazy right-wing policies like the latest disaster, Oakland's Domain Awareness Center (C.f. here and here).
Take a look at our ad mockup:
We're raising money to run as big a version of the ad as possible via Indiegogo (similar to Kickstarter). If you would like to help (any amount will be more than useful!) donate here.
You might ask, "What possible hope do you have, even if you get a candidate?" And that's a reasonable question to ask. But you know me - I wouldn't suggest that you might ask such a question unless I had an answer, right? Even there you'd be wrong - I have two answers!
First, running a candidate will provide us with a means to project a progressive/radical message far beyond what we are capable of doing now. The lamestream press cannot help but cover bonafide candidates for these positions and our progressive platform planks will be front and center. Here's just a few of the fifteen or so potential planks we put together each for a progressive DA or Sheriff:
- No prosecution for drug offenses! End the War on Drugs in Alameda County!
- Real investigations into wage theft, abuse by creditors, and environmental crimes!
- A strong voice against the death penalty, curfews, stop and frisk, police in schools and solitary confinement!
- Independent investigations and real prosecutions of police perjury, abuse and murders!
- No evictions on behalf of banksters who have fraudulenty foreclosed on Alameda County residents' homes!
- No cooperation with ICE! No ICE holds!
- No drones!
- No arbitrary solitary confinement in Santa Rita jail!
- Keep those who are not yet convicted out of costly jail cells when reasonable using cite and release, GPS locators, other technology and more efficient bail policies!
Second, the recent victory of Kshama Sawant in Seattle should give pause to those who think that radically progressive candidates cannot win in heavily Democratic areas. An Occupier and Socialist who has spoken out against capitalism and advocated that workers take over Boeing's factory should it carry out it's threat to leave the State, Sawant pulled no punches in her race for City Council and still beat an establishment Democrat.
A race for City Council may not be the same sort of exercise as a Sheriff or District Attorney election. But if I were O'Malley or Ahern, I wouldn't be counting my giganormous compensation package for the next four years just yet. Who knows whether that ad will cause the next Kshama Sawant to appear?
Help Us Run Our Ad and Draw Attention to What a Progressive Sheriff and District Attorney Would Be Able to Do.
(1) The June, 2014 elections for Sheriff and District Attorney are actually primaries. However if one of the candidates gets 50% + 1 of the vote, no election in November would be held.
(2) To be qualified for District Attorney, one needs to be a member of the California Bar, and a registered voter of Alameda county. To qualify for Sheriff, one needs to be POST certified, as well as be a registered voter.