Race for 15th: Dan Kalb touts Capitol experience in East Bay Assembly run

Oakland Councilman Dan Kalb, a candidate for State Assembly in the 15th District, at Lois the Pie Queen café in Oakland. Photo: Guy Marzorati/KQED

This story is part of a series of profiles of candidates running for the 15th Assembly District. See all the profiles and news about the race.

More than half of the 11 candidates running for the open 15th Assembly District seat in the East Bay currently hold elected office — an impressive level of combined experience for a local legislative race.

When Oakland Councilman Dan Kalb makes his pitch to voters in the district, he emphasizes another level of experience: a decade already spent working at the state Capitol.

Kalb lobbied for environmental policies as the California policy director with the Union of Concerned Scientists from 2003 to 2012.


“Throughout those 10 years I crafted legislation, negotiated amendments, pushed back on opponents, and I know many of the lobbyists up in Sacramento,” Kalb said. “I’ll be the person who can hit the ground running right away.”

In Sacramento, Kalb was a leading force behind Senate Bill 2 (First Extraordinary Session), the 2011 legislation which required a third of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.

“I support SB 100, the bill that puts us on a pathway to have virtually all of our electricity come from clean renewable energy sources and I could actually argue it,” Kalb said. “You want someone who understands those complexities and can go toe-to-toe with the other side.”

Kalb is a self-described policy wonk who touts his work on the council pursuing campaign finance reform and greater police oversight.

He has represented North Oakland, including the city’s Temescal and Rockridge neighborhoods, since 2013.

In a crowded field of elected officials, that policy savvy doesn’t always capture voters’ imagination or attention. And without major backing from organized labor or an established donor network, Kalb has struggled to fundraise on par with his opponents.

Many of those contestants in this Assembly race share Kalb’s policy priorities, including pushing for more funding for education and affordable housing.


The difference, Kalb argues, is that he is the best equipped to turn those priorities into law.

“Everybody who running here for the most part is going to vote the right way on most things and that’s great,” he added. “But you have to have certain expertise to really push something through.”

KQED pointed the microphone at Dan Kalb. Listen: