Meet the Candidates

Come join us on this exciting night to meet a majority of the candidates, two of which may soon be representing you!  Assembly District 15 in California and City District 2 in Oakland.  We’ve got a good group of dynamic candidates for you to meet and after hearing from them, you get to participate in a straw poll.

 6:30 pm –Pizza and schmoozing

 7:00 pm – Candidates for Assembly District 15 of California and Candidates for Oakland City Council District 2 speak and take directed questions, followed by a straw poll for both seats.  Night ends with a raffle of great prizes around 9 p.m.



We currently have SEVEN candidates committed to introducing themselves on our Meet the Candidates night!


Elizabeth Echols served as an Internet and e-commerce advisor to Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton Administration. Most recently, President Obama appointed Elizabeth as Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Senior Advisor on Clean Tech and Energy Efficiency Initiatives.

Locally, Elizabeth was elected to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee in 2006 and has served as a delegate to the Democratic State Central Committee each year since.  She is an Executive Board Member of the National Women’s Political Caucus Alameda North Chapter, and Board Member of the Alameda County Democratic Lawyers. (Registered Democrat) ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: California Democratic Party, Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner, Tom Bates

Sam Kang leads the legal team at the Greenlining Institute, a prominent civil rights advocacy organization that fights redlining, the illegal practice of keeping wealth out of diverse communities. As part of that role, Sam organizesGreenlining's statewide coalition of community organizations, churches and business leaders.

He also currently serves on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)'s Civil Rights and Environmental Justice Committee. In 2012, Sam was appointed by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones to serve on the State Insurance Diversity Task Force. He previously served on the Alameda County Parks, Recreation and Historical Commission. (Registered Democrat) ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: California Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus, Dave Jones


Rich Kinney managed several businesses in the Bay Area, owned his own business, coached high school basketball and tennis, and served as Chaplain for the San Pablo and Richmond Police Departments and the Contra Costa County Sheriff. In 2012 he was elected to the City Council in San Pablo, California.  (Registered Republican)  ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: Alameda County Republican Party


Pamela Price is a survivor of the juvenile justice and foster care system, later to get a full scholarship at Yale, where she joined a landmark case, Alexander (Price) v. Yale, the first sexual harassment case brought under Title IX.  She has been working all her life for justice of everyday people, opening her own law firm in 1991.  For the past 22 years she has worked as a civil rights attorney successfully arguing against racial harassment in the United States Supreme Court, fighting for ground breaking changes with the California Department of Corrections to stop sexual harassment of female officers, and handling dozens of other important cases to advance and protect civil rights.   (Registered Democrat)  ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: Angela Davis, Tony Santos, Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times


A veteran and grandfather for peace, Eugene Ruyle is the Peace and Freedom Party write-in candidate. Gene is a retired Anthropology professor who supports the Peace and Freedom Party Platform and Occupy Oakland. A Cal graduate, he wants to help build the movement to democratize and de-militarize the University of California, provide free education and health care for everyone, defend personal freedoms, and protect the environment. (Registered Peace and Freedom)  ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE


Tony Thurmond  has served roles as a non-profit leader, school board member, city councilmember and mentor where he has been making progress on the economy, education, crime and safety, and the environment. 

Tony served on the Richmond City Council from 2005-2008. He served as Council Liaison to Richmond’s Youth Commission and Workforce Investment Board and the Council Liaison to the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Tony was also a member of the California League of Cities Environmental Policy Committee and the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee. He was a Fellow in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship program.

Tony also served on the West Contra County School Board from[masked], at which point he focused on his work with CEO Youth at the Lincoln Child Center and mentoring youth in the community. (Registered Democrat) ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: California Nurses Association, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, Kamela Harris, Gavin Newsom, George Miller, Mark Desauliner, Van Jones



Bernt Wahl is a mathematician, entrepreneur and author. He served as CEOFactle Corporation, CEO Datahunt, CEO Dynamic Software, and is part of theUC Berkeley Faculty. He teaches Engineering, where he serves as an Industry Fellow at the Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology and an Executive in Residence at the Skydeck. In 2002, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Malaysia.



We currently have three candidates committed to introducing themselves on May 22!


Abel Guillen is currently serving his second term as a Trustee for the four Peralta Community Colleges – Laney, Merritt, Berkeley and Alameda –which bring hope and education to thousands of young people in the East Bay.


As Vice President of an East Bay school finance firm, he has improved educational opportunities for students across the state.  During the last 10 years, he has helped to raise more than $2.5 billion to build and modernize California’s public schools and community colleges.  ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: Rob BontaSandre Swanson, Betty Yee, Rebecca Saltzman, Chris Peeples, Aimee Allison


Dana King is a retired, five time Emmy award winning broadcast journalist.  For fifteen years, she served as an anchor for KPIX, the San Francisco CBS affiliate keeping her finger on the pulse of news and issues throughout the Bay Area.  She has faced down war lords in Afghanistan and Tribal Chiefs in Africa. She has listened and witnessed stories of hope from the survivors of genocide in Rwanda.  Dana has been in war zones and tense situations where she had to negotiate safe passage for herself and her crew.


She is also an Honorary Board Member for Sunny Hills Services, helping vulnerable and at-risk youth.  Dana also volunteers for the Alameda County Juvenile Probation Department’s Positive Communications Practices teaching incarcerated young people to express themselves through art. ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: Kathy Neal


Sokhom Mao has been a long advocate for foster youth and has served noteworthy appointments such as a member of the County of Alameda Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Alameda County LGBTQ Task Force and the Citizen’s Police Review Board in Oakland.  ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: John Burton 


Andrew Park manages the Physical Education Program at UC Berkeley, as well as co-run an Oakland-based, youth-focused non-profit organization called TRYBE.   He graduated with a BA from UC Davis, after transferring from Laney College, and a Doctor of Ministry from Transformational Leadership for the Global Urban City, which is a joint program with American Baptist Seminary (GTU) and Bakke Graduate University.  ENDORSEMENTS INCLUDE: Gus Newport


Wow!  An opportunity to meet and hear from the majority of the candidates running for both seats there to represent you.  This will be a night to remember!  So please RSVP for this fantastic night!

(Biographies from above are taken mostly directly from the candidates’ websites)

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  • Liberty C.

    Because of so many candidates and only two hours to hear from them, I would have liked a better and simpler format. Yes, have all in front of the audience and ask more pointed questions going down the line so that a comparison could be made, e.g. qualifications (past experience), top 1-2-3 priorities, vision, how would stimulate/inovate, etc. Then open to audience for questions. Thought the straw poll was kinda silly as some of audience were already supporters of a candidate.

    May 23

  • Vincent C.

    It was exciting to see so many people come out to meet the candidates with less than two weeks before the election. Seeing virtually all the candidates for both Assembly District 15 and Oakland Council District 2 really gave a view of the breadth of the fields and the passion for service of the candidates.

    May 23

  • Julie L.

    It was great to have the opportunity to hear the candidates. I would have preferred to skip the table talk and to have had more time to hear the candidates, as that is what we came for. I think the whole panel should have been up in front from the beginning, and each candidate should have been allowed to answer each question. It also would have been better to allow each candidate a little longer for an opening statement and/or a closing statement. Also, since there were so many candidates for District 15, more time should have been allocated for that portion of the evening. In all, it could have been better organized, but it was definitely a worthwhile event.

    1 · May 23

  • Rachel

    Thanks, Theodora; I didn't know the Murdoch connection. At first blush she sounded good (doesn't everybody on Oprah?) and I guess I wasn't paying attention beyond that.

    March 27, 2014

    • Theodora C.

      Thanks okay. It's difficult to keep up with everything. Education is one of my main concerns and I'm a huge fan of Diane Ravitch (who had courage to change her opinions). You might really enjoy the documentary "Heist"...DVD available on line I assume. It's fascinating and when I saw it I finally was able to connect a lot of dots.

      March 27, 2014

    • Bobbie S.

      And, Rhee is married to Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento.

      May 19

  • Bobbie S.

    Been a member since the days of MeetUps for Howard Dean. Just updated with my new address. Thanks, Vincent, for organizing the forum. I'll be there!

    May 17

  • Theodora C.

    FYI folks, Michelle Rhee was unwelcome in Washington DC and has moved to Sacramento where she represents Rupert Murdoch and his education venture "Amplify", which provides hard and software for education starting in elementary school. Joel Klein and other "educators" are also on board. The apparent purpose is to privatize public education in California by first, undermining teachers! As Murdoch said, there is so much public tax money up for grabs it could fund his media empire. Bad paraphrase but the intent seems obvious. My profound concern is the attack on education; it is one of the last mainstays to go before our democratic system crumbles around us. And, it seems California has been chosen as the primary battlefield. I assume that has something to do with technology and a lot to do with our diverse ethnic population.

    1 · March 26, 2014

  • Theodora C.

    Looking forward to update on elections...hope there's something on public education and exposing Michelle Rhee and Students First!

    March 25, 2014

    • Rachel

      curious how you say "exposing"...S­he's not one of the good guys?

      March 25, 2014

    • Liberty C.

      not really!

      1 · March 25, 2014

  • AliceW

    Wish I could make it! Thanks for organizing this and for the invite.

    March 23, 2014

  • Jane C.

    Thanks for organizing this, Vince!

    March 23, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I live in San Diego now - for the past 3 years

    March 23, 2014

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