Who should we vote for on City Council?

by Eric Strimling

The Alameda renters coalition does not endorse, officially or unofficially, any candidate for office. We do this because we are laser focused on getting measure M1 passed and do not want to spend energy explaining why we did or did not endorse any given candidate. Vote for M1 is our only statement for this election!

That said, many people have written asking our views on the candidates, so here is some historical background that will hopefully be helpful in letting people make up their minds.

Pre-petition drive for Measure M1 and the battle for rent regulation of any kind in Alameda-

In the year or more of negotiations and consultations that lead up to the decision to start the petition drive, many ARC members worked closely with the City Council to try and work out a solution to the rental crisis in Alameda. During this time Councilmembers Ashcraft and Oddie were particularly helpful. They offered good advice on organizing and politicking, they expressed real concern for the plight of tenants under an increasingly aggressive wave of rent increases and evictions. Oddie had been a tenants’ rights lawyer and advocate in the past, so he was especially helpful.

During the long City Council meetings when Ordinance 3148 (now Measure L1) was crafted, Ashcraft and Oddie were generally in favor of more tenant protections. Councilmember Daysog worked for half-measures, trying to weaken the relocation payments, further weaken the eviction controls, and get exemptions for smaller landlords. Councilmember Matarrese was generally opposed to any form of rent regulation, much less rent control. And Mayor Spencer moved around on the spectrum. Sometimes she spoke for stronger protections for renters, sometimes against them. City Council candidate Malia Vella often came to the City Council meetings to speak in favor of tenants’ rights and to propose strengthening protections in the proposed ordinance.

In the end, it was Mayor Spencer who was the crucial third vote, with Ashcraft and Oddie, that got the very first renters’ protections passed in Alameda. Daysog also voted for Ordinance 3148, but one had the clear sense that he did so knowing it would pass anyway and he wanted to be on the right side of history. Daysog immediately wrote a petition to get a measure on the ballot to weaken the law that he had just voted for! His petition failed to get the necessary signatures, and his attempt to make an end run around his own City Council was not appreciated at City Hall.

A landlord group also tried to get ballot measure to make rent control illegal on the ballot. For awhile there were three different petitions concerning rent control being circulated! But only Measure M1 collected enough signatures to qualify.

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Measure M1 petition drive and election campaign-

Once it became clear that whatever the city was going to pass it wouldn’t include rent caps or protection from No-Cause eviction ARC moved forward with writing and submitting a ballot measure that would truly protect the renters in Alameda, while also affirming a landlord’s right to a fair return on their investment. During the gathering of signatures the City Council members stayed pretty quiet about it, bidding their time to see if it would qualify. But, once it did qualify the gloves were removed. Both Ashcraft and Oddie spoke long and forcefully against The Alameda Renters’ Coalition and our ballot measure. Many of us were shocked to hear such vitriol coming from our former allies.

The idea was broached by staff to put one or more opposing measures on the ballot to fight Measure M1. This occurred during the same week that the Mountain View Voice published an article exposing the California Apartment Association’s influence on a similar move in Mountain View. According to polling done by the CAA having more than one measure about rent control, especially a half-measure against a true rent control measure, would confuse voters and increase the chance that both would be voted down. Full article. So now the Alameda City Council decided to do just that- put their weak form of rent regulation on the ballot against Measure M1. On July 19 all five council members voted to have staff prepare a draft of Ordinance 3148 to be put on the ballot against Measure M1.

At the August 8 City Council meeting Mayor Spenser and Coucilmembers Matarrese and Daysog voted to put Ordinance 3148 on the ballot against the ARC initiative. Matarrese had voted against the ordinance when it was proposed months before, but now was inexplicably in favor of it going to the voters. Daysog had actually tried to get a rival ballot measure against 3148, but now voted in favor of it. Ashcraft and Oddie voted against putting the rival measure on the ballot, but did so knowing it would pass anyway.

After the proposal to put Ordinance 3148 on the ballot was passed, both Ashcraft and Oddie immediately asked to be the ones to write the Argument in Favor for the official Voters’ Guide. They actively worked to overcome the efforts of Mayor Spenser and Councilmember Daysog to be the authors.

Ashcraft and Oddie were successful and this is why we see their names and faces on the mailers from landlord groups. Each Councilmember denies giving their permission for their likeness and quotes to be used by the California Apartment Association, but they each actively sought to be the public faces in favor of Ordinance 3148, now Measure L1.

In short- Councilmember Daysog has actively worked to protect landlords against tenants. Ashcraft has worked to protect tenants, but decided to throw her weight against the ARC initiative, Measure M1.

Other Candidates-

Of the other three City Council Candidates, only Vella attended City Council meetings to speak out for renters. She has attended ARC meetings and offered helpful strategic advice. She does not officially endorse Measure M1, but has spoken against Measure L1 as being too weak.

Jennifer Roloff opposes Measure M1, and endorses L1. She requested a meeting with ARC and we did meet with her. She is friendly and compassionate, but inexperienced and has only a superficial knowledge of Alameda issues. She seems to be “the new face of old Alameda” and under the strong influence of long time Alameda activists, such as Paul Foreman.

Lena Tam opposes Measure M1 and supports L1. She has not contacted ARC, we haven’t spoken to her.

 

School Board-

At a School Board candidates’ forum held by the City of Alameda Democratic Club the candidates were asked whether or not they supported rent control.

Ardella Dailey- Supports Measure M1

Gray Harris- Supports Measure M1

Matt Hettich-   Supports Measure M1

Anne McKereghan- Opposes Measure M1

Dennis Popalardo-  Supports Measure M1

Jennifer Williams-  Supports Measure M1, but with reservations

Hope this helps!

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