Alameda County has a few remaining precincts to count all mailed-in ballots, however, we can with confidence announce Primary Election winners. As of June 15, of the 939,402 registered voters only 32.80% (296,184) submitted a ballot. The large majority of the ballots submitted (96%) were Vote by Mail compared to Election Day voting. Low turnout resulted from:
- Lack of knowledge of the Primary Election as California moved the election from March to June
- COVID keeping people home from the polls
- Low motivation due to it being a non-presidential election. Unfortunately, key positions (such as judges, district attorneys, sheriffs, board of supervisors) are decided in non-presidential years, an intentional design to maintain the status quo.
- Voter fatigue and apathy from recall elections and from daily conditions
We know the importance of engaging low-propensity and new voters and our sister organization, Oakland Rising, held conversations with 1,120 East Oakland voters to educate and motivate them to get out and vote this June. These one-on-one conversations are key to increasing participation in the flatlands.
On the County and State level, we are excited to announce the following ORA-endorsed candidate wins:
- Alysse Castro, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools (53.17% of the vote – no General Election contest needed): Castro beat out incumbent L.K. Monroe, a clear message from voters who were fed up with the status quo push to shut down schools serving Black and Brown youth in Oakland. Castro committed to tilt public schools towards quality, equality, and justice by working with key communities most impacted by policy decisions.
- Rebecca Kaplan, Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 3 (top vote getter with 41% of the vote – moving forward to General Election): With two decades of experience in elected office, we will look to Kaplan to lead our county on issues of housing and homelessness, mental health services, and community safety. There’s a big opportunity on the Board of Supervisors to change how our public money is distributed: right now, vast amounts at the county level are given to the sheriff to lock people up and criminalize our communities. Kaplan is interested in changing that and has made a commitment to partnering with community on achieving these goals of community reinvestment.
- Pamela Price, Alameda County District Attorney (top vote getter with 43.2% of the vote – moving forward to General Election): Price knows that our current legal system is dysfunctional and that it disproportionately targets Black and Brown communities. By supporting Price, the majority of voters showed that they are tired of ‘law and order’ candidates, and the establishment’s addiction to incarceration. Price’s outspoken leadership in support of alternatives to incarceration pushed every candidate’s platform to the left, resulting in more conversations about diversion programs, ending the practice of charging youth as adults, and investing in community. As we move towards the November election we look forward to hearing about the concrete structural and policy changes, Price will work with community to achieve.
- Liz Ortega, Assembly District 20 (top vote getter with 32.17% of the vote – moving forward to General Election): Ortega, a longtime labor activist from an immigrant family, has dedicated her career to fighting the working-class people of Alameda County, and we know she will take that fight to the State Assembly. Ortega is committed to continuing to partner with progressive community organizations to challenge the status quo and push back on corporate stronghold and influence in Sacramento.
Yesenia Sanchez, Alameda County Sheriff (top vote getter 52.84% of the vote, – no General Election contest needed): Sanchez beat the incumbent, Gregg Ahern (held the position unchallenged for 16 years). ORA chose to not make an endorsement of the sheriff’s race because of the unconscionable record of violence, death, and corruption of the sheriff’s department and assessed that the level of corruption could not be overturned with an elected sheriff. The Sheriff-elect, Sanchez is a 25-year veteran of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and is the current commanding officer at Santa Rita Jail where there have been 59 deaths since 2014. We await to see the structural accountability and changes that she ran on, but are not holding our breath. As Jose Bernal, Organizing Director, Ella Baker Center said at Oakland Rising’s election results debrief, “I will argue and debate anyone on this – The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is a corrupt dysfunctional department. So (to the Sheriff-elect) how will you hold accountable that which made you? How do you hold accountable the same department that brought you?”