Diana Conti for Assembly

In the 10th Assembly District Race, the incumbent, Marc Levine, has lined up an impressive array of supporters and almost certainly will make it to the November election – and likely win that. The question here, though, is what other candidate do we want to know more about? Who deserves a much closer look and a louder voice during the run-up to the general election?

There are four candidates in the race besides Levine. Three are Democrats; one, Veronica Jacobi, has publicly endorsed the second, Diana Conti. The third is Erin Carlstrom. Gregory Allen, a Republican, completes the field.

Erin Carlstrom is the candidate from central casting; she’s a well-educated (Yale, Pepperdine Law) mom, with experience on the Santa Rosa City Council. If this were a pick in the NFL Draft, Carlstrom would be the “best athlete, regardless of position.”

Giving her an opportunity to serve in the Assembly could make her a plausible option for a statewide race. With her energy and drive, it’s easy to see the potential, as have the California Teachers’ Association and former Sonoma Valley School Board Trustee Sandra Lowe.

Missing, perhaps, is the sine qua non of government – a personal engagement with the circumstances and the challenges faced by constituents. Diana Conti’s been living in Marin for more than 30 years, she’s raised her children there, she’s committed her time and energy to a host of nonprofits, and she’s served multiple terms as a trustee of her local community college district. You can sense that her life and that of her community have become intertwined. And she’s lined up impressive endorsements, including Congresswomen Lynn Woolsey, Assemblyman Michael Allen and The Service Employees International Union.

Conti doesn’t glitter like Carlstrom; she’s not a unicorn. Yet she is familiar with the struggles and character of the district she represents, something Carlstrom, who had to move into the 10th Assembly District to be eligible for this race, lacks.

We wish Carlstrom the best. Her future is bright, particularly after a few more years of political seasoning as her energy and enthusiasm are tempered by practical experience.

What about Gregory Allen, the Republican candidate? By trade, Greg is a technical recruiter. In reviewing his responses to the League of Women Voters’ questions on education, he argued that introducing “software programming into student curriculum in K-12 with an emphasis on coding skills will lead California students into high paying, much sought-after careers.”

However, of course, we want to increase the supply of skilled software developers in order to reduce the premium they command, which would enhance California’s competitiveness. Understanding the connection between supply and demand in terms of educational credentials in the labor marketplace should be Allen’s forte; instead it reveals a lack of engagement with the issues faced by local businesses.

Now, please note, this isn’t about the November election, when we may indeed vote for Levine, whose two years in a relatively inexperienced Assembly class give him a running start to fulfill promises and potential.

Best case, the June vote sets up a four-month debate in which Levine can explain his record more thoroughly, and Conti may prove that the indicia of personal engagement accurately reflect reality.

That’s why we endorse Diana Conti in the AD 10 race.


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