Political Climate with Mark Simon: CAA campaign mailer sparks controversy

Political Climate with Mark Simon: CAA campaign mailer sparks controversy

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

Two Redwood City Council candidates who received $1,000 in campaign contributions each from the California Apartment Association have donated those funds to charity in protest over a negative campaign mailing by the CAA.

Businesswoman Giselle Hale donated $1,000 to Emerge California, which works to elect Democratic women to office and trains them to run for office. Stanford community representative Jason Galisatus donated $1,000 to the San Mateo County Pride Center, a facility in San Mateo that provides support and services to members of the LGBTQ community.

The mail piece that went too far for Hale and Galisatus was a postcard titled: “Diana Reddy Is Wrong for Redwood City,” and cites her involvement and endorsement by Democratic Socialists of America, whose website describes it as “the largest socialist organization in the United States.” Reddy, a community organizer, is also running for one of three seats up for election this year.

The mail piece goes on to cite three DSA positions – the elimination of police and prisons, the abolition of capitalism and the elimination of private businesses. More on the piece and the CAA further on in this column.

The piece states that Reddy will “push for extreme policies that would hurt homeowners, raise taxes and destroy jobs.”

Hale said her protest is about the tone of the mail piece.

“I don’t know if it’s true or not true. I just object to the negative tone,” Hale said.

Similarly, Galisatus said, “I don’t agree with negative campaign tactics having been the subject of relentless attacks on social media, more so than other candidates.”

The CAA has emerged as a major factor in the City Council race, having spent $15,382 thus far on research and mail pieces targeting Reddy, which have been denounced by her supporters and by Reddy as “smears” on her campaign.

The CAA’s local organization also has received an additional $80,000 from the CAA’s Sacramento-based statewide political action committee, although officials from the local association say those funds are to support and oppose candidates in races throughout the Peninsula, including Redwood City, Daly City, Sunnyvale and San Jose.

A PROBLEMATIC PIECE: The latest mail piece from CAA relies entirely on Reddy’s association with the Democratic Socialists of America, states that she is endorsed by the DSA and cites information from the DSA website and news reports as support for the assertions that she wants to eliminate police and prisons, abolish capitalism and eliminate private businesses.

These are positions Reddy has not taken during the campaign. In an interview, she said the mail piece is a “hit piece.”

“I have no idea what they’re talking about,” Reddy said. “I don’t have any desire to get rid of capitalism,” she said, chuckling.

In fact, the piece exaggerates the relationship Reddy may have with the Democratic Socialists of America. She has been endorsed by two local chapters – Peninsula DSA and Silicon Valley DSA – but she has not been endorsed by the national organization, whose positions are the ones cited in the CAA mailer.

On the Peninsula chapter’s web page, it states: “Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few. Throughout the area of San Mateo County, California, our chapter fights for the many and not the few.”

Reddy said she agrees with the progressive views of the organization and “their point of view on supporting working families.”

The reference in the mail piece to the elimination of police and prisons stems from a 2017 DSA convention resolution that calls for the elimination, ultimately, of the need for prisons or police. It’s clearly an aspirational position and not a call for tearing down prisons as an immediate policy.

It’s an aspiration Reddy shares.

“We shouldn’t have more prisons than colleges in our country,” she said, adding that the great majority of prison inmates are minorities, and frequently they have substance abuse problems.

Nonetheless, representatives of the California Apartment Association defended the mailer as accurate and well within the acceptable parameters of campaign rhetoric.

“I think we avoided any type of name-calling,” said Rhovy Lyn Antonio, vice president for Public Affairs for the CAA’s Bay Area organization. “She’s being supported by this specific organization and we’re pointing out verbatim what the DSA stands for and asking the question: What does Diana Reddy stand for?”

Reddy publicly and assertively supports rent control, a position at direct odds with the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords and property owners. The CAA consistently asserts that restrictions on evictions and rent control are harmful to homeowners and will damage the local economy.

The information in the mail piece “is taken from her social media presence, her website, articles written about her and statements she’s made in public,” said Joshua Howard, CAA senior vice president, Northern California.

“She can complain about a comment that was made or a picture that was used but it’s just a distraction from the fact that she has questionable affiliations with groups that seek to undermine protections for homeowners and the addition of rental housing in our community,” Howard said.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.


  1. I think it is noteworthy that the DSA on any level does not have a platform of any kind, so saying it does demonstrates either ignorance or dishonesty

  2. Mark Simon, this is your best??? This is what is BEST for Redwood City??

    You, too, are a part of the Redwood City’s problem!! 🙁
    I thought you might share some of this and write about the WRONG but it is more of the same “Boloney” !

    I get it!! You support Jason and Giselle so you write this in a way that continues to “SMEAR” Diana and makes it out the JG & GH did something of clear value! NO!! Time went by before they came up with the idea to best suit their campaigns and then did not RETURN the money with the CLEAR reasoning of “NOT ACCEPTABLE” behavior to CAA!!
    Even after they decide to donate CAA’s contributions, have they actually let CAA know about the $$ going on to other causes and the reason for that decision??? NO, I think not!

    I am disappointed, Mark Simon, that YOU, who called for civility, is still not what is best for Redwood City!

  3. Oh for goodness sake. There are two sides to every story and I tried to tell both of them and let people make up their own mind about who to believe. I am not in the same position you are — you actively support specific candidates. I’m trying to inform votersabout all candidates and the circumstances that at driving this campaign. I’m not supporting anyone.

  4. Hale and Galisatus should have done the ethical thing and returned the donation with a very polite note saying thanks but no thank you. But they did not, instead they paid it forward as a donation to their chosen causes.
    This was to be an artical about Reddy, but you still had a way making Giselle and jason come across as being so benevolent at the same time slamming Reddy. This seems to be your MO on the certain candidates and contributors in many of your “unbias” stories.
    Yes there is always two sides of any story. Then tell the facts as they pertain to your article without mudding the water with your personal input or preference.

  5. I wouldn’t say they came up with the idea. I personally asked Galisatus to return the funds. However I never spoke to Hale or Howard.

    I’m a little annoyed that they keep bringing up social media attacks. Whenever I post a link to a Planning Commission video or in fact a news article I get accused of smearing when I’m simply stating fact. I’m not even stating it I’m posting a link with no commentary from me. If you can’t deal with people on social media you might not be able to deal with people in politics. But this poor me someone said something I didn’t like online is frustrating especially in light of the fact that these flyers were sent to thousands of homes of Diana’s neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family.

    I’m not at all surprised that in this article about the smear campaign against Diana she continues to get smeared and the two other candidates who returned the funds, at the request of several people, get propped up.

    Your bias is showing whether you’re aware of it or not. This is officially the last click I will give to climate magazine. Even at the Forum Mark you said you wouldn’t ask any rebuttal questions until it was your time but you did and only to Diana. Then when you asked a question and the candidate wouldn’t address the question just say whatever the heck they wanted you didn’t intervene as moderator. I don’t know what the deal is but it makes me feel uncomfortable and certainly disappointed. You may think you’re treating all the candidates the same but that is not the case.

    • Stasha — please be careful not to misrepresent what has been stated plainly in my columns. I didn’t say it was there idea. I said they gave the money away. If you think they should have sent it back to CAA, well, that’s your opinion and I opted to report only what happened and not speculate on what should have happened.
      As for being smeared for simply reporting facts, I certainly understand how that feels.
      I reported an inaccuracy in the CAA piece. I quoted Diana saying it was inaccurate. I reported the response from CAA. I’m sorry if you didn’t want to read both sides of the story, but I that’s what I strive for. I have never stated a preference in this council race and I have tried to report all candidates fairly and accurately. If you perceive a bias, I suspect it’s your own layered over what I’m doing. My intentions are to play it straight with everyone.

  6. Climate rwc will be Climate rwc and I think by now we all know what Climate rwc’s purpose is. Anyone enjoying what our city has been drug through the last 8+ years, let Mark and Adam spin you around and happily direct you to their preferred candidate. I’m thinking their preferred are not going to make muster and Climate rwc is going to be on a much tighter budget come 2019. It is nice to have a selection of candidates of whom at least some are desirable.

  7. Oh , and Dianne Howard has such stellar track record within the community. It amazes me she has the audacity to comment on anybody for anything. Then again, I guess I’m not so amazed as she seems it appropriate to run for office again. Over the many years Dianne Howard has managed to finagle her way into our city goverment, I’ve observed unbridled support for outside interests with complete ignorance to the effects her decisions have on our communities. Special interest and pet projects with the occasional recusal for conflicts and conveniently out of town on critical votes.

  8. Mark Simon,
    Unfortunately, in your article, you neglected to report that the assertions made by the CAA in their direct mail advertising, about Diana Reddy, are not true.

    • Julie — Actually, I did. Please look again. I also printed Diana’s assertion they’re not true. And I printed the CAA’s response that they are accurate. That’s journalism. Provide the facts and let people decide for themselves.

  9. The continual drumbeat of assertions that I favor one candidate over another are untrue and are reflective of the preferences of the author. Saying it over and over doesn’t make out any more true, although it is a classic political dirty trick.
    I have endeavored in all my columns simply to provide information. Some of it you like. Some of it you don’t. Don’t layer your own opinions on top of my reporting.

  10. Climate magazine is garbage— steered by garbage cowards like Adam Alberti. I make sure to promptly throw any copies I find in the recycling bin.

  11. Looks like the Redwood City Residents Say What crew found their way to the comments section! I see all of the usual suspects, repeating all of their usual garbage…

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