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Who Will Replace Barbara Lee in Congress?

For the first election in more than 25 years, Barbara Lee will not be a candidate for United States Congress. She has held a seat representing the East Bay since she was elected in 1998 to succeed Ron Dellums after his resignation in 1998 and has been reelected 12 times. During the period that Representative Lee, a noted progressive within the Democratic Party, has held the seat, District 9 became District 13 in 2013, and then District 12 in 2023. Now, because she is running for U.S. Senator, she is not allowed to stand for reelection to the House of Representatives.

Alameda Post - a graphic that says "United States House of Representative District 12 Candidates CA Primary March 5, 2024"

Nine candidates have qualified for the ballot to replace Lee in the House, including seven Democrats and two Republicans (see table). Four of this year’s candidates ran unsuccessfully against Lee in 2022. The field of candidates includes a BART Board Director, two professors, a bar owner, a retired driving instructor, Alameda’s Vice Mayor, an Electrical engineer, a nonprofit employee, and one candidate who did not list an occupation.

2024 Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, District 12

As with other local races, the Alameda Post sent each of the candidates three questions about their candidacy: What is the priority or focus of the campaign, which unique skills and qualities would the candidate bring to the office, and what are the challenges and opportunities the candidate sees for the city of Alameda now and in the future?



Unfortunately, for this race, we received answers from fewer than half of the candidates on the ballot. Notably, Alameda Vice Mayor Tony Daysog did not respond to multiple requests for information, although his campaign website highlights an article published in the Alameda Post on the first page. Editor’s note, Feb. 27, 2024. We received Daysog’s answers afterwards, with a message from the candidate saying he had sent them previously and they got lost on the way. Read Daysog’s answers.

The Post did receive responses from Democratic candidates Glenn Kaplan, Lateefah Simon, and Dr. Jennifer Tran, and Republican candidate Steven Slauson. We have included basic information from campaign websites, when available, for candidates who did not respond.

Alameda Post - photos of all the Democratic Candidates for District 12 House of Representatives
Democratic Party candidates for U.S. House of Representatives District 12. Top row, left to right: Tony Daysog, Glenn Kaplan, Abdur Sikder. Bottom row, left to right: Lateefah Simon, Andre Todd, Dr. Jennifer Tran, Eric Wilson. The Wilson photo is from Ballotpedia.com, and all other photos are from the candidates’ respective campaign websites.

What is the focus of each campaign for U.S. House of Representatives District 12?

In his response, Kaplan did not directly address the focus of his campaign. Instead, his response touched on his background as a teacher and business owner, the fact that he is not seeking endorsements, and the troubles of a binary party system that doesn’t represent his views. He did declare that “it’s past time for a new day of a crime-free, economically balanced, 12th district where everyone is given the opportunity to thrive.” He also mentioned issues such as income equality, education, healthcare, personal safety, and campaign finance reform. His only concrete proposal was to undertake “an extreme tax overhaul,” suggesting a 99% rate for those earning more than $5 million per year.

Simon’s responses were submitted by political strategist Tausif Khan, a senior associate at Bearstar Strategies. Khan wrote that Simon “is running to be a voice for those who are all too often left out of the conversation in Congress.” He spoke of her becoming an organizer at the age of 16 as a teenage mother, working with other young women and children, and stated that her campaign is focused on the issues of public safety, affordable housing, reproductive rights, and climate change.

Slauson’s response concerning priorities was short and direct. He listed stopping all foreign military aid (especially to Israel), recalling all American troops, illegal immigration and closing the border with Mexico, reducing crime by adding police, increasing affordable housing, and support for Veterans.

Dr. Tran outlined what she called her signature piece of legislation. She envisions what she titled the Modern Cities Act, or MCA, which “creates a federal standard for all American cities to be safe, clean, equitable, and commercially thriving.” It would include mandates to address public safety, homelessness, and small business growth.  “Lastly,” she wrote, “The MCA will create a software application for every citizen to use on their phone that can track government spending in real time at every level—city, county, state, and federal.”

Daysog’s website listed three top issues: peace, fairness and justice, and climate change. Ned Nuerge focused on promoting general welfare, finance, Infrastructure, and restoring “our sovereignty.” Abdur Sikder chose education, healthcare, public safety, the future, environment, and social justice, and civil rights as his priorities. Andre Todd called out small businesses, education, affordable housing, protecting democracy, Medicare for all, and LGBTQIA+ issues on his campaign website. Eric Wilson’s campaign focus is unclear because no information was available regarding his positions.

Alameda Post - photos of all the Republican Candidates for District 12 House of Representatives
Republican Party candidates for U.S. House of Representatives District 12. Left: Ned Nuerge. The photo is from candidate’s campaign website. Right: Stephen Slauson. Photo courtesy Stephen Slauson.

What sets each Congressional candidate apart?

Dr. Tran opposes “the toxic confinement of the two-party system.” She cited her experience as a professor of ethnic studies as her qualification to lead a national conversation about race and ethnicity. She wrote that she “understands complex social systems and has the clarity to explain how simple solutions fail in the face of systemic issues.” Mentioning that she is president of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, she stated that she is pro-business and has also fought for labor movements. Overall, she stated that she wants to bring people together in compromise, rather than succumb to “either/or premises [that] contribute to the division of American voters.”

Slauson also answered this question with a long list of many political and social campaigns he has advocated for and against, including his opposition to the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, support for Alameda’s Measure A, which regulates housing density, and his support for BIPOC businesses. He also listed memberships in the Alameda County Taxpayer Association and Alameda Citizens Task Force, his previous runs for Assembly and this congressional seat, and that he is from a third-generation Alameda family.

In response to our questions, Simon’s representative cited experience in then-San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office, specifically a program called Back on Track, which Simon created to promote academic achievement for underserved children in the city. She also spoke of working with Governor Gavin Newsom on policing issues and directly with California police chiefs to improve departmental accountability. And she cited her experience as president of the BART board, improving BART police response time, adding officers, and increasing their pay. “Lateefah knows how to get things done and is the only candidate in this race who has gotten results for her community year after year,” strategist Khan wrote.

Kaplan’s lengthy response to this question spoke of his professional experience in journalism and teaching, and as a bar-owner during the COVID-19 epidemic. However, he said he considers his positions as a moderate a disadvantage: “The two-party system often ensures that necessary change won’t happen and usually sends a moderate like me packing.” He stated that his candidacy was inspired by the recent passing of a close friend: “Since I have been swimming upstream for the past four years trying to save the business, its jobs and community,” he wrote. “I decided why not swim a bit further and see what else [was] possible.”

What do the candidates see as Alameda’s challenges and opportunities?

Simon’s strategist stated the candidate will fight for housing affordability, address the mental health crisis, and hold corporate polluters accountable. Specifics included providing Federal rental assistance, strengthening fair housing rules, and expanding home ownership opportunities to help “families in Alameda who raised their children here to stay.” The response also included a promise to clean hazardous sites near Alameda to provide clean air and water. In what might come as a surprise to Alameda Municipal Power, Simon’s rep also wrote of providing federal support for the city “to transition to 100% clean energy in the next decade,” something the utility accomplished in 2020.

Alameda resident Dr. Tran “cherishes the small-town culture and friendly neighbors that give such a reprieve from the nearby cities.” She views crime overflowing from nearby Oakland as one of the city’s greatest threats and pointed to her proposed Modern Cities Act as the way to combat the issue. She is also concerned with sea level rise from global warming and proposes heavy investment in new green technologies to capture greenhouse gases and preserve “our ability to grow food on large swaths of the planet.”

Kaplan’s answer to this question was much shorter than his responses to our other questions. He wrote, “Public safety. Public safety. Public safety. Income inequality. Public safety. Hostile small business climate. Public safety. Public safety. Inept politicians.”

Slauson also kept this answer short and specific. His response was, “Keeping our family neighborhoods’ historic character; developing affordable housing in the old shipyard area and the old Naval Air Base; increasing security and decreasing crime; stopping the flow of illegal drugs; supporting Alameda businesses; completing the veteran’s project at the old Naval Air Station.”

Choose your candidate and vote on or before March 5

The top two vote-getters will face off in November. To learn more about the candidates who are vying to represent California’s District 12 in the U.S. Congress before the primary election on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, check out their campaign websites, which are linked in the table in this article. Find out their positions and see who has endorsed them. Get election and voting information from our 2024 Alameda Election page. Read KQED’s U.S. House of Representatives, District 12 voter guide. And watch the video below of the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on February 7, 2024, which includes candidates who did not respond to our questionnaire.

Adam Gillitt is the Publisher of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected]. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Adam-Gillitt.

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