The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, June 11, will feature Craig Cheslog, our Club’s past president and current California Democratic Party Region 2 Director, leading a conversation about recent election results in order to start preparing for the 2016 elections.

The discussion will include an analysis of the recent Senate District 7 special election. What impact did the new top two primary have? Were you angered by the influx of mailers and phone calls—and want to learn why they are still an important part of voter outreach? Are you depressed by wins the Republican Party has had in other recent local elections?

Cheslog will also talk about how the Democratic Party is organized and how grassroots clubs like the LDC can have a larger impact and elect more Democrats in our communities, county, and region.

Cheslog was the LDC president from 2008-2013. He has been the California Democratic Party’s Region 2 Director since 2013. Regional Directors are officers of the California Democratic Party and are responsible for assisting the state party with developing, supporting, and coordinating the County Central Committees, Clubs, and other Democratic organizations within each region. Region 2 includes Assembly Districts 4, 11, 14, and 16. He maintains the Region 2 website, which includes a regional calendar of Democratic events, at

Cheslog is also the California Democratic Party’s Children’s Caucus Treasurer and the Rural Caucus’ Bay Area Vice Chair.  He recently joined Common Sense Kids Action ( as its Co-Director and Vice President for California Policy after serving as the Principal Advisor to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson from 2011-2015.

At the May 14 meeting, the Lamorinda Democratic Club approved new By-Laws.  This enables the club to endorse one Democrat over another Democrat in a top two candidate run-off.   With the new By-Laws in effect, the club members then endorsed Susan Bonilla by unanimous vote.

The Club also reelected the current slate of officers:  Katie Ricklefs – President, Craig Cheslog – Immediate Past President, Tom Duckworth – Vice President, John Hall – Treasurer, and Mike Rusk – Secretary.

After the short business meeting, Helen Grieco gave an update on the efforts by Common Cause to build a sustainable democracy.  She highlighted same day voter registration, on-line registration and increased registration at the DMV as immediate goals for improving voter participation.  With the current deluge of campaign literature sent by various PACs to influence the Senate District 7 special election, Helen’s comments about corporate campaign spending and “dark” money were very timely.  She said that Common Cause's long-term goal is public campaign financing.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s membership will be asked at the May 14 meeting to approve new Club By-Laws as recommended by the Board of Directors. (Click here to read the proposed By-Laws.) There were several factors that led to the Board’s decision to replace the By-Laws adopted in 2008.

First, in the nearly seven years since the Club’s last By-Laws revision, the Board found several provisions that needed to be made more explicit for the sake of clarity and efficient Club operations. For example, stating correctly that the Club is chartered by the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County and not affiliated with that organization, removing the office of Corresponding Secretary, and reducing the quorum requirement for Board meetings from 7 to 5 (or a majority of Board members, whichever is less).

Second, because of changes in the California Democratic Party’s By-Laws, the Club needed to conform to new rules for the party’s pre-endorsement conferences to be held in January 2016. In order for the Club to have voting representatives at the pre-endorsement conferences for State Legislative and Congressional races (1 vote for every 20 members in good standing in an Assembly District), the Club needed to define member in good standing and a process for selecting pre-endorsement conference voting representatives. The proposed revised By-Laws would allow a person to become a member in good standing 21 days after the payment of Club dues.

Third, a Lamorinda resident pointed out just a few hours before the Club’s April meeting that we had not updated the By-Laws to permit an endorsement under the state’s new top two candidate open primary structure when the top two candidates are Democrats. After a review of the situation, the Board agreed. President Katie Ricklefs explained this at the Club’s April meeting and committed the Board of Directors to offering a remedy for the Club membership’s consideration at the May 14 meeting. The proposed By-Laws would permit the Club to make an endorsement in these situations.

Drought and Urban Farming Kickoff

By Mike Rusk | Comments Off

Have you wanted to see a sustainable farm?  The CoCo San Sustainable Farm is a collaboration between Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD) in Martinez, CA and AgLantis, a non-profit.

Join Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and many others for the Farm Kickoff! This event is on Friday, May 8, from 2 to 4 pm and is located across the street from 5501 Imhoff Dr, Martinez.

Here is your chance to see it and hear about the trillion gallons of recycled water we throw into the greater SF Bay every year. Learn about the impact of the drought on bees and what you can do to help. We'll show you the plans for our HYDROPONICS GREENHOUSE. And learn how you can get FREE RECYCLED WATER from CCSD.

Mt Diablo Chefs are making salads. It will be fun! Wear a HAT!!

To RSVP on Eventbrite click here.

LDC Officer Recommendations for 2015-16

By Mike Rusk | Comments Off

In accordance with the Lamorinda Democratic Club’s By-Laws, the Club’s Nominations Committee has prepared a slate of officers for the Club’s consideration for the 2015-16 year.  The committee recommends Katie Ricklefs for President, Tom Duckworth for Vice President, John Hall for Treasurer, and Mike Rusk for Secretary. Craig Cheslog would remain as the immediate past president.

Under the By-Laws, these recommendations were announced as the April membership meeting with the LDC members voting for officers at the May 14 meeting. The terms begin at the June membership meeting.

Join us at 7 pm Thursday, March 12, in the Lafayette Library Community Room for an informative, challenging evening.  Ramsey Thomas, a retired Acalanes High School AP social studies teacher, will make a presentation on Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  There will be a post-talk discussion of how you can get involved locally to address income disparity.  A $5 donation is requested to cover meeting expenses.

Income inequality has grown to become one of the key public policy issues of the decade.  It was the subject of our April LDC Movie Night when we saw Robert Reich in the documentary “Inequality for All” and heard his eloquent description of rising inequality in the United States.

Our March meeting will provide an introduction to what Paul Krugman has called, “the most important economics book of [2014] and maybe the decade. “  Krugman says that Piketty, “makes a powerful case that we’re on the way back to ‘patrimonial capitalism,’  in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent.”  Piketty’s conclusions are based on over a decade of research by a small group of economists and data collected from 20 countries and reaching back three centuries.

Ramsey will give an insightful and engaging synopsis of Piketty’s 700+ page book featuring an overview of Piketty’s data, conclusions, and controversial recommendations.  The presentation grew out of a Bay Area Piketty study group in which Ramsey participated.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club is joining the San Ramon Valley Democratic Club, Diablo Valley Democratic Club, the Democrats of Rossmoor, and the Contra Costa Young Democrats to host a Senate District 7 Candidates Forum on Wednesday, February 4.

The forum will begin at 7 p.m. at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center’s Community Room, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. This will be the Lamorinda Democratic Club’s February meeting. There is a suggested $5 donation at the door to help cover meeting expenses.

The election of the Honorable Mark DeSaulnier to Congress left his senate seat vacant. As a result, Governor Brown has called for a special election to fill the remainder of DeSaulnier’s term in the Senate. The primary will be on March 17 and the general election (if necessary) will be on May 19.

As of the close of filing on Friday, January 23, four Democrats have filed. All four have been invited, and at the time of writing this article Assemblymember Susan Bonilla and former Assemblymember Joan Buchanan have accepted the invitations.

The Lamorinda Democratic Club will host a Brunch Reception to Honor Our Past Legislative Champions on Saturday, January 10, from 10 a.m.-12 noon, at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, in Lafayette.

The event will honor recently termed out State Assembly members Joan Buchanan and Nancy Skinner, retiring Congressman George Miller, and outgoing State Senator (and incoming Congressman-Elect) Mark DeSaulnier.

Skinner represented Lamorinda prior to California’s last legislative redistricting in 2012. Since 2012, Buchanan represented our area until she termed out of office at the end of the 2014. Miller has represented Lamorinda, depending on redistricting, during portions of his 40-year career in Congress. DeSaulnier has represented our area in the State Senate since 2008, and will continue to serve our area as our new Congressman beginning in January 2015.

There will be limited seating for this special event, so please RSVP as soon as possible with John Hall at The event will be free, but a $5 (or more) donation is requested to help cover the club’s costs in hosting this meeting.

Following the club's endorsement process, the Lamorinda Democratic Club's membership has voted on the following endorsements for the 2014 general election:

Local Candidates:

  • Moraga Town Council: TERESA ONODA and KEN CHEW
  • Pleasant Hill City Council: SUE NOACK and MICHAEL HARRIS
  • Orinda City Council: CARLOS BALTODANO, DEAN ORR, and AMY WORTH
  • Moraga-Orinda Fire, District 1: KATHLEEN FAMULENER
  • CC Board of Education, Area 2: RAYMOND ANDERSEN
  • Acalanes Union High School District: ROBERT HOCKETT
  • Orinda Union School District: HILLARY WEINER and CAROL BROWN

Federal and State Candidates:

  • 11th Congressional District: MARK DESAULNIER
  • 16th Assembly District: TIM SBRANTI
  • Governor: JERRY BROWN
  • Lieutenant Governor: GAVIN NEWSOM
  • Secretary of State: ALEX PADILLA
  • Controller: BETTY YEE
  • Treasurer: JOHN CHIANG
  • Attorney General: KAMALA HARRIS
  • Insurance Commissioner: DAVE JONES
  • Supt. of Public Instruction: TOM TORLAKSON
  • State Board of Equalization 2: FIONA MA

State Propositions:

  • Prop 1: Water Bond. Funding for Water Quality, Supply, Treatment and Storage Projects: VOTE YES
  • Prop 2: State Budget. Budget Stabilization Account: VOTE YES
  • Prop 45: Healthcare Insurance. Rate Changes: VOTE YES
  • Prop 46: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors. Medical Negligence Lawsuits: No Recommendation
  • Prop 47: Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties:  VOTE YES
  • Prop 48: Indian Gaming Compacts: VOTE NO

The Lamorinda Democratic Club membership approved the following endorsements at the Club's September 11 meeting:

Tim Sbranti for Assembly
Yes on State Proposition 2
Yes on State Proposition 45
Yes on State Proposition 47
No on State Proposition 48

The LDC Endorsements Committee has not completed its analysis of State Proposition 1. The Club takes no position on State Proposition 46.

At the September 11th meeting the Club also heard from eight Democrats running for local offices. Eight more candidates are schedule to speak at the October 9th meeting.  Additional endorsements will be presented to the membership for approval at the October meeting.