The race for the 18th Assembly District, which includes San Leandro, Alameda and most of Oakland, has been called one of this year's most competitive state election contests -- perhaps because no incumbent is running.
Tonight at 7 pm the three leading candidates, all Democrats, will face each other in a debate at the on East 14th Street.
They are Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta; Peralta Community College District Trustee Abel Guillen; and AC Transit Director-at-Large Joel Young.
Guillen and Young are both from Oakland.
Rhonda Weber, a small-business owner from Alameda and a Republican, was invited but had not responded as of Tuesday afternoon.
Weber also missed a recent Q&A with the editorial board of the Bay Area News Group (BANG).
BANG political reporter Josh Richman summarized how Bonta, Guillen and Young responded to questions ranging from their track records to the state budget deficit.
Wednesday night's debate will give San Leandro residents a chance to see all three candidates on the same stage, said local political insider Charlie Gilcrest.
Gilcrest brought together several neighborhood groups to sponsor the event. He said San Leandro residents will be a minority constituency in the new 18th District.
Turning out at the debate would give them a chance to air their concerns and show the candidates that the city has electoral clout, he said.
The debate format will give each candidate three minutes for an opening statement. Candidates be asked six questions, some selected in advance, others chosen from cards filled out by voters at the Bal.
San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata will ask the questions and moderate the debate. Candidates will have two minutes to answer each question, and then two minutes for a closing statement.
If the process stays on schedule that would make the debate about an hour long. There will be a short break to let candidates and attendees mingle.
After the break, San Leandro Unified School District President Morgan Mack-Rose is scheduled to make a brief slide presentation on the district's finances in light of the worsening budget outlook in Sacramento.
The June 5th primary will be a new experience for voters and candidates.
According to the League of Women Voters, candidates for state or congressional office, regardless of party, will be listed on a single primary ballot. Any registered voter will be able to vote for any candidate. The top two vote getters, regardless of party, will face each other in November.
It is hoped that the new system will encourage competition and moderation in election contests.
Most districts are heavily tilted to one or the other party in terms of registration.
In the past, primaries that segregated Republican and Democratic voters are thought to have encouraged extreme candidates in both parties. They could win the primary by preaching to the choir and then count on getting rubber stamped in the general election because of the tilt in voter registration.
How the new primary system will work remains to be seen. But it is an attempt to shake up a system that has become increasingly gridlocked.