Echols vs Thurmond Just Posted at

Assembly Dist. 15 Election Decision: Echols or Thurmond

echols_eIf you missed the packed League forum on Oct 7 with Democratic candidates, Elizabeth Echols and Tony Thurmond, who arethurmond_t competing to represent Berkeley and other East Bay communities along the I-80 corridor from Hercules to North Oakland, you can listen to their closing statements in two minute spots or watch the whole hour-long forum–or sample it–at  [All LWVBAE forums and spots for contested Berkeley races are posted there.]

Your can read Berkeleyside’s press report of the current state of the campaign–including a heated exchange between the candidates that was also part of the League forum at this link.  You’ll also see photos of the two candidates with State League President Helen Hutchison and LWVBAE president Nancy Bickel.

The 275 person auditorium at Berkeley City College was packed for the event.The candidates showed a command of the wide-range of issues raised in nearly 20 questions posed by the audience and the League in the course of the one hour forum.

The President of the California League of Women Voters, Helen Hutchison, moderated the discussion. The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville and a broad group of co-sponsors, including the Berkeley NAACP; the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce; BOCA, Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action; the Berkeley PTA Council and the Berkeley AAUW, American Association of University Women. The Civic Engagement Club and the Political Science Department of Berkeley City College are also co-sponsoring the event. Berkeleyside, the local on-line news source, has signed on to co-sponsor as well.

Both candidates are Democrats; they have strong but rather different backgrounds and experience.

Echols, in her responses to League queries on, describes her occupation as Presidential Jobs Advisor. She served as President Obama’s Regional Administrator of the Small Business Administration and Senior Advisor on Clean Tech and Energy Efficiency and worked in the Clinton White House on internet policy and closing the digital divide. As major accomplishments, she says that she passed legislation to protect the environment and create jobs and trained low-income youth for jobs in the tech industry with an 80% success rate.

Thurmond describes his occupation as Youth Education Director in his statement.   He is a former Richmond City Councilmember and West Contra Costa School Board Member. As major accomplishments, he points to leading a campaign that reduced school suspensions by 27% and helping raise over $300,000 to create 300 jobs for young people. He served on the California League of Cities Environmental Policy Committee.

The candidate elected on November 7 could serve for as long as 12 years in the Assembly, under the new term limits, passed as Proposition 28, in 2012, which permit a combined total of 12 years in both the Assembly and Senate. The November 4 election will be the first time in six years that voters can choose a new representative, since, under the previous term limit rules, Assembly Member Nancy Skinner has termed out after six years.

The candidates point to similar goals as their top priorities if elected—improving and expanding educational opportunities and schools and creating good, well-paying jobs—as well as somewhat different ones. Echols puts the environment in her list of top three goals; Thurmond points to increasing public safety. In their responses to a specific League policy question on dealing with the drought and water issues, Thurmond pointed to “responsible water management, ” such as recycling gray water and minimizing water waste.   Echols suggests “more environmentally sensitive approaches, ” such as improved water efficiency, better use of recycled water and storm water capture.

Questions posed by the public and the League may sharpen the differences between the two candidates and help voters decide which candidate they want to vote for.

Doors open at 7:00 pm; the Forum will begin promptly at 7:30 pm. The Auditorium is on the lowest floor of the Berkeley City College at 2050 Center St. Berkeley. The Forum is free, open to the public, and accessible for wheelchairs via ramp and elevator.

For more information, please visit the League’s website, www.


For Elizabeth Echols’ full comments on Smart Voter

For Tony Thurmond’s full comments on Smart Voter

thurmond_t echols_e

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