Political Notebook: EQCA backs Perez in controller's race
by Matthew S. Bajko
The state's main LGBT advocacy group, Equality California, this week endorsed gay Assembly Speaker John A. Perez 's bid to be California's next state controller.
If he wins the race this fall, Perez would be the first out candidate elected to a statewide office and only the second known openly LGBT person to serve in one of California's eight constitutional offices.
The first is believed to be Tony Miller , a gay man and Democratic lawyer. He sought the secretary of state position in 1994 after he was appointed to fill the term of March Fong Eu when she was named an ambassador in the Clinton administration. In 1998 Miller again came up short in his bid for lieutenant governor.
Perez (D-Los Angeles) is running against longtime Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, whose seat on the state tax board covers large swaths of the central and northern coastal counties, including the Bay Area. Green Party member and Oakland resident Laura Wells is again seeking the controller's post, having run in 2010.
No Republican has yet entered the race. Under the state's primary system, where the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advance to the general election, it is expected that Yee and Perez will be battling each other for the seat through November.
"California is at the forefront of LGBT equality, and we owe that in large part to the efforts of Speaker Perez," stated John O'Connor, EQCA executive director, in announcing the endorsement Tuesday, February 18. "We know that his election as controller would break a glass ceiling for openly LGBT candidates for elected office. It would be both symbolic and impactful for LGBT people in California and across the country."
In 2010 Perez's colleagues elected him as the first openly gay speaker in the Assembly. This summer he plans to step down and turn over the gavel to Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the first lesbian lawmaker to hold the powerful post.
"I am honored to have the support and endorsement of Equality California in my campaign for Controller," stated Perez. "I look forward to ensuring LGBT Californians have equal rights and the tools to succeed in school, worksites and communities."
A number of LGBT leaders have also endorsed Perez in the race, including Congressman Mark Takano (D-Riverside); state Senators Cathleen Galgiani and Ricardo Lara ; and Assembly members Atkins, Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), and Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park).
But Perez's support within the state's LGBT community is far from monolithic, as Yee has also attracted endorsements from a number of LGBT lawmakers and leaders. Among them are state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco); Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan; Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske; and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.
Gay man pulls papers for Oakland council race
Oakland Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno , a well-known gay Democrat in the Bay Area, recently pulled papers to run for a city council seat in his hometown. But he did so to encourage another candidate to run.
After a well-known Oakland blogger reported on his entrance into the race for the city's District 2 council seat, Colbruno took to Facebook to explain his reasoning "before the rumors of me running for elected office get out of hand."
Stating that the current field of candidates lacks "the experience and qualifications to run," Colbruno wrote he hopes Peralta Community College Board of Trustees member Abel Guillen enters the race.
"If he does, I will withdraw my filing and throw my full support behind him," pledged Colbruno, a former planning commissioner for Oakland who once worked as an aide to lesbian former lawmaker Carole Migden.
Guillen, who identifies as Two Spirit and dates both men and women, lost a bid for a state Assembly seat in 2012. He currently lives in a different council district and would need to move in order to seek the District 2 seat.
"I am seriously considering running as I've received lots of encouragement to run from Oaklanders," Abel told the Bay Area Reporter Wednesday. "I plan on make an announcement either way next week at the latest."
Councilwoman Pat Kernighan, who currently holds the District 2 seat, opted not to seek re-election. She was appointed to the seat when her boss, gay City Councilman Danny Wan, resigned in 2005 to care for his elderly parents.
The seat represents Oakland's Chinatown, Grand Lake, San Antonio, and Trestle Glen districts. Several candidates have filed to run for the seat, including former KPIX news anchor Dana King .
Colbruno has yet to form a campaign committee or file the necessary paperwork to raise money. Urged to run by friends and community leaders, Colbruno told the B.A.R. that if any candidate he considers viable runs for the seat then he would drop out.
Meetings detail SF transit changes
San Francisco transit officials will be conducting meetings over the next several weeks to hear community feedback on proposed route changes to various Muni routes.
As the Political Notebook reported last August, significant changes are planned for Muni lines serving the gay-friendly Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods.
Proposed changes to the 37-Corbett serving Twin Peaks, Corona Heights, and the Haight would see the lengthy route be severed into two lines. The new 37-Corbett would solely service Twin Peaks and the Castro's two Muni Metro stations.
A new 32-Roosevelt route would provide service to Corona Heights and a portion of Cole Valley, but would no longer access the Haight.
The 48-Quintara/24th Street, which traverses the Mission through Noe Valley out to West Portal, would no longer service residents living along steep streets off Grandview, Hoffman, and Douglass between 24th and 21st streets.
To make up for the reduced service in the area, the 35-Eureka would be rerouted along Douglass Street and Hoffman Avenue via 24th and 21st streets. The bus line would continue to start at the Castro Muni station and would be extended to end its run at the Glen Park BART station.
While transit officials say the reroutes will speed up bus times, the changes will also eliminate bus stops riders have used for decades and impact parking spaces as bus stops are relocated.
Dubbed the Transit Effectiveness Project, it is the first major evaluation of the city's transit service since the late 1970s. Many riders on the impacted routes, however, remain unaware of the proposed changes.
To better educate riders, and gather the public's input, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is hosting meetings around the city to focus on the changes in store for specific routes in those neighborhoods.
The meeting for the changes on the 35 and 48 routes will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 3, at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street.
Two meetings on bus routes citywide are also planned, each to be held at the SFMTA Atrium, 2nd Floor, One South Van Ness Avenue. The first will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 6 and the second will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 8.
The public can also send in feedback online via the website http://www.tellmuni.com.
To learn about all of the proposed Muni route changes visit http://www.sfmta.com/node/97906.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on a recent training covering transgender issues held for state lawmakers.
Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes.
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.