Public Comment

New: Echols Not as Bad as All That!

Raymond Barglow
Saturday May 31, 2014 - 08:46:00 AM

The editorial in the May 23 issue of the Planet, endorsing Tony Thurmond for California Assembly over another candidate, Elizabeth Echols, is based on a mistaken premise.

The editorial criticizes a “push poll on behalf of Elizabeth Echols.” I too am very much opposed to such manipulative campaigning. But neither I nor anyone else I know who follows East Bay politics closely has heard of any such Echols-supported poll. When I asked the manager of the Echols campaign, Jamila English, about this matter, she told me that the campaign has done no polling, let alone push polling, whatsoever. 

The Planet editorial gives the impression that Echols is a top-down Democratic Party politician – a technocrat endorsed by local Party insiders who has no grassroots support. This is a very misleading picture. I am active in the local Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, and have observed first hand over the past decade that Echols is a savvy advocate for progressive causes – e.g. firm opposition to fracking, increased funding for our schools, and creation of good jobs. She was elected to, and has for years served on, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. She is an Executive Board member of the National Women’s Political Caucus in Alameda and is active in other progressive Dem. groups as well.  

It’s true that Echols has been active nationally as well as locally. She advised Al Gore during the years of the Clinton Presidency and Pres. Obama appointed her to advocate on behalf of green energy initiatives. In all of these positions, national as well as local, she has acted, to my knowledge, in a thoughtful and principled way. 

Echols understands fully that the well-being of our local communities is closely tied to national funding priorities, and that these priorities must change. There are many ways in which state legislators can work with federal officials as well as with grassroots activists to respond to the true challenges that our communities face. I believe that both Echols and Thurmond understand this, and both of them favor the same causes, although Echols has more experience in dealing with political issues on a national level. 

In brief, Echol’s record as an advocate of good causes that are dear to grassroots progressives is an impressive one.