I didn’t think my political donations would be this interesting, after all the information is public and anyone with internet access can find it. But I am happy to provide more context to anyone who is interested.
I have made political donations for as long as I can remember. I work in San Francisco, and politics is closely connected to land use. You will not find a San Francisco law firm that specializes in land use law that would not have made political donations. As for my own campaign, my law firm supported my campaign in 2016 because we are supportive of all of our partners, attorneys and employees in various community and charitable endeavors. That is it. Not everything in life is connected to a financial return.
Sacramento legislature consists of 40 State Senators and 80 Assemblymembers, who collectively represent 37M people, 58 counties and 482 cities. Clayton is located in 7th Senate District, and Senator Steve Glazer is our representative. San Francisco is located in the 11th Senate District, and Scott Wiener has been the Senator from that District since 2017.
In 2016 when Mark Leno retired from State Senate District 11, two candidates ran for his seat. Both of the candidates were San Francisco Supervisors at that time, and as such I and other land use attorneys in my office had worked with both of them on legislation and projects. If you look at the donation database, you will see that my firm donated money to BOTH candidates. I too made a personal donation in my name.
One Senator does NOT make laws. Most State laws require majority vote, which means 21 votes in the Senate and 41 votes in the Assembly. It is naive to suggest that eliminating just one State Senator is going to change politics in California. Gavidia recently said: “Wiener is out of control and we need to stand up to him. We must do better, that’s why I am running for City Council.” Gavidia’s obsession with Senator Wiener makes me wonder whether Gavidia is running against Senator Wiener for District 11 seat or FOR Clayton City Council?
As a small city we cannot realistically advocate on every bill that is proposed in Sacramento or reach out to majority of the State legislators due to lack of time and resources. But there are many ways in which we can leverage our voice, and majority of the current (and past) Councilmembers do exactly that.
In addition to Council meetings and other activities in Clayton, most of the Councilmembers attend monthly Contra Costa Mayor’s Conferences, quarterly League of Cities East Bay Division meetings, and various other regional meetings. These meetings are where the real dialogue happens, where we can find out and discuss strategies used by our City Council colleagues in neighboring cities and explain to our State representatives how certain legislation would impact Clayton and/or advocate for alternatives. Only one of the current Councilmembers has been notably absent from these meetings and opportunities.
No single Senator, no single City, and no single Councilmember alone is going to create or change legislation, for better or worse. Relationships matter. Collaboration matters. Rarely does anyone reach their objective to change legislation when they lack the ability to connect with lawmakers, or the willingness to talk and negotiate. We can be at the various tables voicing our small city perspectives in a collaborative and constructive manner, or on the menu decided by other cities and the State.