My 2024 Primary Voting Recommendations

It’s that time of year again when your retired elected official (me) sends out a voting guide. While many of you eagerly await it, I’m sure I’ll manage to rub a few of you the wrong way as well. Such is the nature of the beast. With my extensive tenure in East Bay politics, I’ve come to know most of the local candidates running in these races. I’ve had the chance to work with them, assess their work habits, personalities, and gauge their effectiveness. So, brace yourself for this long-winded guide—I hope you’ll find it somewhat useful in navigating your choices at the ballot box. I have marked with asterisks the more obscure races below. Be sure to skip ahead and read the longer version for further details.

The Short Version:

PROPOSITION 1: YES Treatment not tents for unhoused and/or mentally ill people.
Alameda County Measure A: YES Allow Alameda County to compete for a talented workforce.
Alameda County Measure B: YES Update outdated recall provisions in the County Charter.
Berkeley Schools Measure H:
YES Renew this measure to help fund Berkeley schools

President Joe Biden will safeguard our democracy.
United States Senate Vote for
Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, OR Adam Schiff for the special election and regular term.
US House: Lateefah Simon to make an effective splash in Congress
State Senate:
Jesse Arreguín to push a pragmatic progressive agenda in Sacramento
State Assembly:
Buffy Wicks one of the most influential Democrats in Sacramento

**County Supervisor, District 5: John Bauters has unparalleled experience in addressing chronic homelessness, affordable housing, and public safety. Find out why the East Bay Times endorsed him and said he is the standout in the race.

Superior Court of Alameda County, Office 12: Michael Johnson

**Alameda County Central Committee: Please read detailed description below.
Terry Taplin
Aaron Tiederman
Ana Vasudeo
Elizabeth Echols
Dyana Delfin Polk
Andy Kelley
Chip Moore or Alfred Twu



California Proposition 1: Yes

Treatment Not Tents. Help mentally ill, chronically unhoused people off the streets and into treatment.

The proposed measure allows the state to issue $6.38 billion in general obligation bonds to construct housing and treatment facilities catering to the behavioral health needs of homeless individuals and veterans. It also mandates counties to allocate a portion of the state’s current “millionaire’s tax” towards housing and services for those grappling with severe mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Additionally, it mandates early intervention services for children and youth. Read SPUR’s excellent analysis here.

Alameda County Measure A: Yes

A yes vote would change the notification period of civil service examinations from 25 to 14 days. The current 25 day posting period puts Alameda County at a distinct disadvantage in recruiting talented individuals. The current language is archaic and this is a minor housekeeping measure.


Alameda County Measure B: Yes

A yes vote would bring the county charter in line with state law concerning recall elections. Although opinions on recalls vary widely today, it’s crucial for voters to distinguish between their sentiments on ongoing recalls and the necessity of modernizing a provision that’s nearly a century old to reflect contemporary needs. This update is imperative. It will shield the County from potential litigation and establish sensible timelines for recalls.


Berkeley Unified School District, Measure H: Yes

Yes to fund smaller classes, teachers, libraries, and music in Berkeley schools.

Securing the renewal of the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) Measure is not merely important; it is absolutely essential. This measure serves as a fundamental pillar of funding, providing nearly 20% of our school district’s financial backing. Without BSEP, Berkeley schools would face staggering cuts of $38 million, severely compromising the quality of education for our students. This measure alone accounts for one-third of the salaries for our dedicated teaching staff, resulting in smaller class sizes – a pivotal element in cultivating optimal learning environments. Moreover, it sustains vital resources such as libraries and universal music programs, which play integral roles in the comprehensive development of our students. Let us not jeopardize the strides we’ve made. Let us commit wholeheartedly to renewing the BSEP Measure and safeguarding the future of our educational community.


President of the United States

Joe Biden

Vote for Joe Biden because he embodies experienced and steady leadership during a time of unparalleled challenges to our democracy. Unlike Donald Trump, Biden has consistently shown a dedication to unity and empathy, pledging to govern for all Americans and endeavoring to heal a nation deeply divided. With accomplishments such as the Inflation Reduction Act, which alleviated costs for everyday working families, and the successful passage of a bipartisan expansive infrastructure bill, coupled with the enactment of substantial gun violence legislation and initiatives to tackle student debt, Biden has proven his commitment to substantive change. Please cast your vote to uphold our democracy by supporting him.

US Senate

In this race, there are two categories you must vote for: once for the six-year term starting in 2025 and once for the special election to complete Dianne Feinstein’s term. The top two vote getters advance, regardless of party affiliation.

Without delving too deeply into specifics, I urge you to cast your vote for Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, or Adam Schiff. California’s progressive legacy and leadership on critical Democratic issues must be upheld, and it’s crucial that Democrats stand united rather than cannibalize each other.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, with her long-standing progressive legacy, deserves recognition for her courageous stance as the lone dissenter against unlimited war powers after 9/11 and her legislation to create a plan for emergency AIDS relief, saving more than 25 million lives. Congresswoman Katie Porter, with her background in consumer protection law and staunch advocate for affordable health care and drug prices, is currently in a close race, neck and neck with the Republican opponent in second place, according to recent polls.  Congressman Adam Schiff, leading in first place, is widely known for his role in leading the impeachment trials of Donald Trump, highlighting his commitment to upholding the rule of law. Californians would be fortunate to have any of them represent us in the Senate. Unfortunately, a race like this highlights the inherent limitations of plurality voting, compared to other more sophisticated methods, but I digress…

US House, District 12

Lateefah Simon

I first met Lateefah when we were both students at Mills College. Even at that time, she was already destined for greatness. She possesses the charisma, leadership ability, and intelligence to make a significant impact in Congress. Lateefah is a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and social justice and has received a MacArthur Foundation grant for her work directing a program aiding troubled girls’ transition to stable adulthoods. With pivotal roles such as director of the re-entry division of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and executive director of the Bay Area Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, she demonstrates unparalleled expertise. Born legally blind, Lateefah ran for the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors in 2016 to be a voice for people with disabilities and working families who rely on public transit. She is undoubtedly the strongest candidate in the race, has swept the endorsements, and is poised for victory but she still needs your support. Having her represent us and continue Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legacy would be a tremendous asset to our community. You can read the San Francisco Chronicle’s endorsement here.

California State Senate, District 7

Jesse Arreguín

Jesse Arreguín is a proven progressive problem solver with whom I’ve collaborated for over a decade. We have stood together to advocate for housing affordability and defend higher public education to support our next generation of leaders. Jesse stands out as the pragmatic candidate in this race, capable of building consensus and enacting effective legislation. As Mayor, Arreguín prioritized local safety by investing in violence prevention measures, such as banning untraceable ghost guns, while also enhancing police oversight and redirecting responses to mental health and homelessness to trained social workers. His initiatives have contributed to a decrease in homelessness in Berkeley despite countywide increases. Moreover, he has been a staunch advocate for higher minimum wages, equal pay for women, and improved living standards for working families. Arreguín’s leadership in addressing the housing crisis is evident through his support of increased housing construction, including hundreds of affordable homes, and his championing of tenant protections to ensure stability for renters. Read The Mercury News’ endorsement of him here.

California State Assembly, District 14

Buffy Wicks

Since bursting onto the scene in 2018, Buffy has become a standout figure in Sacramento, championing critical issues such as housing affordability, child protection, and reducing homelessness. Not only is she highly effective in her role, she has an approachable demeanor and down-to-earth personality. She has been a steadfast ally to residents of the East Bay and she deserves to be re-elected.

Buffy’s legislative efforts have had a significant impact on Berkeley and beyond. Her law preventing judges from classifying future residents’ noise as an environmental pollutant (“people as pollution”), a response to a state appellate court decision, has been instrumental in addressing the housing crisis and prevent discrimination against affordable housing. Additionally, her work to make it easier for homeless residents to access permanent housing is critically important.

Moreover, Buffy has been a staunch advocate for protecting children from online abuse and holding social media platforms accountable for their actions. Her effectiveness and leadership skills have earned her the respect of her colleagues, culminating in her appointment as the Assembly Appropriations Chair for all of California. In this pivotal role, she oversees the funding of critical programs statewide, further solidifying her impact on California’s future.

**Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 5**

 John Bauters

John Bauters isn’t just a colleague but a friend, and I wholeheartedly support his candidacy for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in District 5. I encourage you to read the East Bay Times’ endorsement of his accomplishments here. Having served alongside him on the Alameda County Transportation Commission, I can attest firsthand to his remarkable effectiveness. The role of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors cannot be overstated, as it oversees critical social safety net programs, public safety services, and environmental initiatives vital to our community’s well-being. John’s proven track record, lived experience, and deep understanding of these issues make him a standout candidate for this pivotal position. 

His endorsements speak volumes, ranging from firefighters and small business owners to affordable housing advocates, showcasing widespread support for his candidacy. With backing from influential organizations like the Berkeley Democratic Club, Sierra Club, East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club and Equality California, it’s clear that John has earned the trust of diverse stakeholders. Furthermore, Vice Mayor Susan Wengraf, Councilmembers Mark Humbert, Terry Taplin, and Rashi Kesarwani, along with former Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli and Gordon Wozniak, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, all stand behind him.

For over two decades, John has dedicated himself to nonprofit services, aiding the unhoused, those with mental health conditions or addiction, and advocating for crime survivors. His leadership as an Emeryville Councilmember has propelled the city forward, notably in producing affordable housing and reducing homelessness—a feat few other cities in the region can boast. Additionally, his tenure as chair of the Bay Area Air District Board underscores his commitment to environmental stewardship, earning him prestigious accolades like the SF Bay Sierra Club’s Visionary Award.

With the seat open for the first time in 32 years, your vote in the primary election can truly make a difference in shaping the future of our county. It’s a packed race and I urge you to consider supporting John’s campaign financially if you’re able. Your contribution will help ensure that we propel a candidate towards the general election who has the dedication and experience needed to address the pressing challenges facing our county. Together, let’s rally behind John Bauters for a brighter future for Alameda County. 

Superior Court of Alameda County, Office 12

Michael Johnson

Honestly, I’m not deeply familiar with the Superior Court or its judges, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. Both candidates are clearly qualified for the position. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to address what I perceive as a momentary lapse in judgment  from another candidate in this race. In my view, it’s crucial for judges to demonstrate impartiality and fairness, which is why I’m throwing my support behind Michael Johnson.

**County Central Committee, AD14**

In races like these, I often find myself unsure how non-politicians decide who to vote for. Before delving into politics, I recall aimlessly searching names online and still feeling uncertain about what to do. Hopefully, this guidance aids in making a more informed decision.

The Central Committee’s purpose is to endorse and elect Democrats, engage Democratic voters, and uphold the California Democratic Party platform. Candidates tend to run on slates for these seats. When the County Committee endorses a candidate, they can say that the Democratic Party supports them. This is different than our local Berkeley Democratic Club.

The first slate is called “Climate Labor Progressives” and consists primarily of incumbents, except for Ana Vasaduo and Sarah Price. The Climate Labor Progressives are led by Alameda County Democratic Party Chair Igor Tregub.

The second slate is named “People Powered Progressives” and they run slates in almost every other Assembly District. The People Powered Progressives group at Central Committee are led by Pamela Price.

The third slate in our district is a reform minded slate called “Democrats for Affordable Housing” led by Berkeley Councilmember Terry Taplin.

I wholeheartedly endorse Councilmember Terry Taplin’s endeavors to bring order to the recent chaos within the Central Committee, which is evident in this video. Consequently, the majority of my votes are directed towards the Democrats for Affordable Housing Slate. My main criteria is to select Democrats who are more interested in governing and working hard to elect and support candidates in more conservative areas rather than fighting with each other over various political litmus tests.

I urge you to support:

  • Terry Taplin, Aaron Tiederman, Dyana Delfin Polk, and Andy Kelley on the Democrats for Affordable Housing slate.
  • Ana Vasudeo and Elizabeth Echols on the Climate Labor Progressives Slate
  • Alfred Twu or Chip Moore on the People Powered Progressives Slate

Finally, if you live in Assembly District 18 in Oakland, I encourage you to support the “Empower Oakland” slate.

While I appreciate the civic commitment of all the candidates in every race, our politics or approaches simply diverge if I haven’t endorsed them.

Kind regards,
Lori Droste