Democracy is not a spectator sport — an adage that is especially true in the East Bay — where the average voter isn’t your average voter. The folks in Assembly District 15 are rigorous and thorough when vetting their candidates. That’s why we’re confident voters will see past the recent submission to Berkeleyside, unfairly attacking Assembly candidate Buffy Wicks for the success of her campaign. That piece was a bridge too far, and was written by a supporter of an opponent’s campaign with an agenda — to mislead the voters of AD15.

Much was made of the “very wealthy people” who have made contributions to Wicks’ campaign, but these are donors who also support progressive leaders like Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom and others. And every candidate in the race is trying their hardest to raise as much money as they can.

The op-ed neglects to mention that many of the AD15 candidates have also contributed tens of thousands of dollars of their own money to their campaign, outside the limits imposed on ordinary citizens, and relied on outside Super PAC spending that’s far exceeded actual campaign donations. Additionally, it was baselessly speculated that because a donor to Wicks’ campaign — who has also donated to other progressive champions like Nancy Skinner, David Chiu, Scott Wiener and others — had donated to a pro-charter school candidate, it meant she shared that other candidate’s views. Not only is that an absurd and illogical leap, Wicks has made raising taxes on corporations to vastly expand funding for public education a pillar of her candidacy, and she’s called for greater restrictions on and accountability for charter schools. You can see her platform. And to be clear, Buffy has taken no money from any charter school associations.

What is true and obvious to someone who doesn’t have an agenda: Buffy Wicks has received broad support because she’s an inspiring and talented woman with deep policy knowledge, longstanding progressive values, and a commitment to actually getting results. Anyone who’s spent five minutes in a room with her knows that.

What the submission didn’t mention, unsurprisingly, is what truly distinguishes Wicks’ campaign is her commitment to grassroots organizing. Buffy has held over 130 house parties in living rooms across the district (in addition to the countless community events and candidates forums), inspired over 500 volunteers to join her team, and is organizing volunteer teams to knock on thousands of doors every week.

She was also the only candidate to get on the ballot by collecting over 1,300 in-district voter signatures instead of writing a big check. She’s a grassroots organizer, and it shows. And at a time when corporations exercise way too much control over our politics, Buffy is one of very few candidates in the race not to have accepted corporate donations — another, ironically, being Jovanka Beckles, whose supporter we’re responding to here.

Buffy Wicks for Assembly isn’t a campaign of “me;” it’s a campaign of “us.” She’s not a politician looking for the next best elected office — she’s an organizer who understands change happens from the bottom up, and she’s working hard to build a movement and bring real progress to California and the East Bay.

Wicks has a long history of fighting for progressive causes: organizing the Bay Area’s anti-Iraq War protests, working for Howard Dean, campaigning against Walmart, helping invent Barack Obama’s organizing model right here in the East Bay, helping pass the Affordable Care Act (which got insurance for 5 million Californians), launching a national women’s economic policy initiative, and leading the California Kids Campaign to fight for more funding for public schools.

Wicks has been attacked by Glenn Beck, Breitbart (long before most of us even knew what Breitbart was), and the conservative hit machine — and came out even stronger. Recently, she was endorsed by the East Bay Express, who joined countless progressive champions like Senator Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, BART Board Director Lateefah Simon, Gabby Giffords, Howard Dean and hundreds of community leaders, us included.

We’re deeply moved by Wicks’ deep-seated progressive values and accomplishments and inspired by her personal story, but what qualifies her to be our Assemblywoman is her ability to get things done and actually help people. She works well with everyone, she works harder than anyone else, she’s done it before, and she’ll do it again. She has a 20-year track record of working for progressive change. She’s organized at the most local level, and she’s led at the highest levels. If we’re going to tackle our toughest challenges like housing and homelessness, education and inequity, gun violence and criminal justice reform, and climate change, we need Buffy Wicks representing us.

Laurie Capitelli is a former Berkeley City council member; Champagne Brown is a Richmond resident; Pat DeTemple is a Berkeley resident; Teddy Grey King is Piedmont Vice Mayor; Uche Uwahemu is a Richmond resident; and Stephanie Walton is an Oakland resident.
Laurie Capitelli is a former Berkeley City council member; Champagne Brown is a Richmond resident; Pat DeTemple is a Berkeley resident; Teddy Grey King is Piedmont Vice Mayor; Uche Uwahemu is a Richmond resident; and Stephanie Walton is an Oakland resident.