Crowds cheer Sbranti as he starts Assembly race | July 5, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Column - July 5, 2013

Crowds cheer Sbranti as he starts Assembly race

by Jeb Bing

With a cheering crowd packing an Alamo restaurant to capacity and local and state leaders at his side, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti last week launched his campaign for election to the 16th State Assembly District in November 2014. He is now one of three seeking to succeed Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, a Democrat, who will be termed out next year after six years of service. The other announced candidates are Danville mayor Newell Arnerich and Orinda mayor and gubernatorial adviser Steve Glazer.

Sbranti counts 15 years as a teacher at Dublin High School, eight years of holding key positions in state education organizations and 10 years of elected service in Dublin, including the last seven years as mayor, among his credentials for seeking election to the state Assembly. If the support shown at the kickoff rally continues, he could be the candidate to beat.

Buchanan, who is chairwoman of the Legislature's Education Committee, opened the rally by endorsing Sbranti for office. She said he is well-known and liked by business groups, labor leaders and, "most important, he's an educator." He's been a statewide leader in education, particularly in his role as the political chairman of the California Teachers Association and president of the nonprofit foundation Californians Dedicated to Education. Those credentials distinguish Sbranti from the other two candidates, Buchanan said.

Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, followed, telling fellow Sbranti supporters that the Dublin mayor's "whole trajectory in life has been to help other people and to lead." Calling him a teacher's teacher and coach's coach, Torlakson recalled the days Sbranti walked precincts when he was campaigning for an Assembly seat, himself.

Adding to the campaign fervor, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-15th) made a special trip from Washington, D.C., to boost Sbranti's candidacy. The two have had a long relationship, with Swalwell at one time Sbranti's student at Dublin High. "I'll keep calling him 'Mr.' Sbranti as long as I live," Swalwell quipped.

Swalwell talked about Sbranti's support through the years, steering him to an internship on Capitol Hill, later encouraging him to come back to Dublin and a position in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, then onto several Dublin city commissions and finally to election to the Dublin City Council. Sbranti, "at great personal risk," then campaigned for Swalwell, who defeated longtime Congressman Pete Stark in the congressional race. "It's payback time, and I'm here to help," Swalwell said to loud applause.

Sbranti wants to bring the same pro-growth agenda he's championed in Dublin to the state, along with the same positive business environment and good labor relations. With his family roots in Contra Costa County dating back five generations, he's aware of what many call "the glory days of California." Being an eternal optimist, Sbranti said California's best days are ahead and he wants to be part of that forward-thinking momentum.

Dublin has put solar panels on every municipal building, has a jobs-housing balance second to none and has forged strong and successful partnerships with business, labor and environmental advocates. He said he would do the same as a state assemblyman.

Acknowledging praise from Buchanan and Torlakson, Sbranti agreed that his passion is education. He wants to work with Torlakson and legislators to broaden the curriculum in public schools to include more elective courses, such as shop. While it's important to prepare students for Stanford, Berkeley and Harvard, schools must also meet the needs of those who will attend community and state colleges, or no college at all.

Sbranti also cited the urgency to find solutions to the Bay Area's transportation needs. Looking outside together from the Dublin Civic Center onto a crowded Interstate 580 one afternoon, a businessman told him that state taxes and regulations, often touted as barriers to business in the state, aren't the horrendous problem facing commerce. It's the gridlocked freeways which are taking his employees many hours of commute time each week to reach their destinations at a tremendous loss in productivity, the businessman said, along with regular stalls in moving goods to and from the ports of Oakland and Stockton.

These and other problems facing California can be solved, Sbranti said. Having worked successfully with constituents and organizations with various agendas, Sbranti told supporters that he will work to bring the same good government practices at the state level as he's achieved in Dublin. His rally in Alamo was a good start.