San Francisco Chronicle recommends: Catharine Baker for Assembly
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Chronicle recommends: Catharine Baker for Assembly
After a costly and caustic four-way primary that devolved into “proxy wars” among various well-heeled interests, the November runoff has settled into “a more traditional race” between two major party candidates, suggested Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, the Democratic candidate.
He’s only half right.
Sbranti, a veteran classroom teacher, is very much a traditional Democrat — especially when it comes to toeing the party line in resistance to education reforms that intrude on the unions’ comfort zone. His engaging style and extensive contacts from a decade in elected office should make him an easy choice for the deep-blue partisans in the district that reaches from east of the Berkeley hills to the Tri-Valley.
But this district, with its affluent suburbs, array of high-performing schools and distinct independent streak, is ripe for a Republican seeking common ground with the 20-plus percent of registered voters who do not claim a party preference.
Republican Catharine Baker, a Pleasanton attorney, fits that bill.
“I have an ability to not be dogmatic and party-line,” she said. As examples, she cited her support of recently passed Democratic legislation on groundwater management, plastic-bag bans and legislation that strengthens the ability to prohibit certain people with mental illnesses from possessing guns. She accepts AB32, the state’s landmark climate-change law, as a settled issue — she would focus on reducing its cost to consumers.
Both candidates express a commitment to improving California’s business climate. Their answers on proposals to curtail abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act — one of the major business complaints about state regulation — are virtually identical: The law is valuable, but needs to be more transparent.
Even Sbranti acknowledged that “at the end of the day,” the differences between the two are not profound on most issues.
However, the distinctions are worth noting. Baker would ban strikes by BART workers; Sbranti would not. Baker has refused to fill out any secret questionnaires by interest groups, which are often a condition of endorsements and contributions; Sbranti has played that game. Baker agrees with a Los Angeles judge’s recent ruling that found that California’s overly protective rules on teacher tenure and the primacy of seniority undermine the civil rights of low-income and minority students; Sbranti sees no need to disrupt the status quo on that point.
Baker’s centrist sensibilities would provide a good influence on the Republican caucus and a potential partner for Democrats looking for bipartisan solutions. She is our choice in the 16th Assembly District.
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