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Congressional Candidates Stark and Swalwell Square Off

Rep. Pete Stark has been in Congress for 40 years, but Dublin's first-term City Council member wants his tenure to end.

Of all the Democratic primary battles for congressional seats in the country, it's hard to imagine there are many contests between two candidates more different than the one in California's new 15th congressional district.

Rep. Pete Stark has been a mainstay in Washington for a generation. The 80-year-old liberal has served in Congress since 1973. Only four congressmen have been there longer. One can debate if Stark is as sharp intellectually as he's always been, but physically the years have clearly taken their toll. He battled pneumonia last year and walks with a limp.

His challenger is 31-year-old Alameda District Attorney Eric Swalwell. The  moderate is serving his first term on Dublin's City Council, his first elected position. He's a former Division I soccer player and looks like he would still have no problem playing 90 minutes on the pitch.

The district they are vying for is new, after the California Citizens Redistriciting Commission made drastic changes to the state's congressional map last year. Stark is currently representing the inner-East Bay, from Alameda down to Newark. But the open district comes into the Tri-Valley, starting in San Ramon, going east past Livermore, west to Castro Valley and down to Union City.

Their differences were on display Monday night, when Stark and Swalwell spoke to the Tri-Valley Democratic Club at IBEW Hall in Dublin. There was a straw poll taken after the two talked, that Swalwell won 32-19, taking advangtage of the home field advantage. But the takeaway from the night was this campaign isn't going to be too friendly.

Swalwell spoke first to the packed hall. He sounded like the attorney he is, laying out his arguments as if he was making an opening statement to a jury — and he went right after the aging congressman.

"Pete Stark has been a congressman for 40 years, I respect that," said Swalwell. Though, what he said next, showed he didn't respect Stark's time in office all that much.

"However, 40 years is a long time. And if you do not stay sharp, if you do not stay engaged, you can become out of step, out of touch and out of sight."

With Stark listening in the audience, Swalwell argued that his opponet was not fit to stay in office.

"Congressman Stark has become disconnected to our area and ineffective in representing our people," Swalwell said. "You see, Congressman Stark lives in the state of Maryland, and I'm not talking about along the Washington D.C.-Maryland border, he actually lives closer to the capital of Maryland than he does the to capital of the United States, where we sent him to serve."

The council member didn't stop there.

He went on to say how Stark's only connection to the area is an address where he does not live, so he can register to vote; he said Stark recently didn't allow media into a public town hall meeting; he called Stark "a part-time congressman" who misses more than 20 percent of the votes.

"I will work every day to bring new jobs and new opportunities to members of this district," Swalwell said.

After Swalwell spoke, Stark slowly made his way to the front of the room, casually taking a seat on the table.

While Swalwell came across as a bit stiff, even robotic at times, Stark looked more comfortable in front of the filled room. If being publicly berated by someone who was born nine years after he had started his tenure in congress bothered him, he didn't really show it.

Instead of firing back, Stark needled Swalwell.

While talking about his family and his roots to area, Stark said, "My son is a more senior, experienced assistant district attorney than the previous speaker."

Much of the audience chuckled.

Stark did defend his record, saying he's worked tirelessly over the last 40 years for the Democratic party and helped people less capable of helping themselves.

He said the votes he has missed were due to a battle with pneumonia last year, though Swalwell said after the forum that Stark was missing votes before his illness. When it comes to where he lives, Stark said he stays in Maryland to spend time with his school-aged children but comes to his district often and said after the meeting that he spends about a third of his time in the area.

While Swalwell argued that Stark being in office for so long is a weakness, Stark argued it's a strength.

"If you needed a heart transplant, would you look for someone right out of medical school who had never done a heart transplant before?" Stark said. "Or would you like someone who has done 100 heart transplants and you know how many patients lived? I think you know the answer to that."

During the Q&A portion, Stark was reminded that back in 1972, he was the young politician who knocked off the older incumbent, and was asked why it's different now.

Stark smiled, and said it wasn't so much his age, but his substantive differences with his opponent that won him the election.

When it comes to the issues, the substantive differences between Stark and Swalwell weren't on full-display Monday night. Swalwell is more moderate, but was subtle in his speech that he would be willing to work with Republicans.

"We're all in this together," Swalwell said. "But unless we get a Washington D.C. that starts working for us, and politicians that stop working against each other, the future of that dream will never be realized."

Swalwell faces a significant challenge to unseat Stark. The congressman has the full backing of the Democratic Party and the endorsement of almost every influential politician in the area.

But after Monday night, it's clear Swalwell won't go down without a fight.

Summer Hemphill March 03, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Tim's a moron,no oxy about it ! Everytime he opens his mouth another Independent voter becomes a vote for the Democrat's in the next election. If we can keep him yammering there won't be many Republicans on the ballot come November (and one is too many) !!!!
Tim March 03, 2012 at 04:03 AM
@ Summer..... can't wait till November.... we shall see
Ken Martin March 08, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Note to the pusillanimous commenters like "Brash Brazen", "The Obvserver", "RedDogLead", "Ordinary Joe", et al: If you have something to say stand up and say it without hiding behind some ridiculous phony name! I automatically discount comments that don't show the name of the author. Patch should not even publish comments that are anonymous or have an obvious made up name. If these people can't stand for what they say they should keep their cowardly mouths shut!!
Observer March 08, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Who is Ken Martin? There has got to be allot of them. Which one are you? Is Ken Martin your real name? I might be logging in as a Ken Martin and posting the above post. How do you know that my real name isn’t Observer? Check out my photo. Maybe I am a doppelganger for George Washington? Or maybe I am a George or a Ken. What is important is that I have a chance to say my piece without fear of retaliation. Who are you really? So stop posting as Ken Martin and use your real name.
Summer Hemphill March 08, 2012 at 07:10 PM
There are many reasons to use a pseudonym including fear of retaliation from the government or one's employer to name a few. Since you chose to make this the subject of your first comment you wouldn't be trying to locate these people to shut their mouths personally would you ? If you persist in viciously attacking other commenters you to might consider using an "anonymous" name lest you end up arguing your point on your doorstep with someone who vehemently disagrees at 3:00 A.M. !!! Irregardless of who wins the primary (it will be Pete Stark) one thing we can all agree on,come November this seat will continue to be held by a Democrat !!! Always remember that no matter how big one's mouth is (Tim,Ron,Red Dog Lead) & how often they comment they only have one vote like everybody else. Every time these great minds of conservative thinking share their repudiated & repugnant opinions with Patch readers another Independent voter joins the ranks of Democratic voters !!! Keep up the good work because the contrast between us lovers & you haters couldn't be any more clear to the intelligent members of our community !!! On the other hand if you can get that lazy kid of yours to help with the digging you can have your bunker finished by election day - good luck with that !!!
Ron March 08, 2012 at 08:31 PM
SH, there you go again pushing the crazy non-productive, dishonest liberal way! Are you telling me and the world that my "free speech" is "repudiated & repugnant"? This is the typical liberal program: You can have all the "free speech" you want, but if anyone opposes you, they get NO "free speech!" And, you don't like informed voters either, do you? An honest, well reasoned, rational and informed person will make better decisions than one who only hears your liberal party line. We've already seen the way "your" system works in the USSR, North Korea, Cuba, China, etc.... It DOES NOT work for freedom loving people, and never will! I am a lover, especially of our "free speech" in this great country! So, use all the "3:00 A.M." threats you wish SH, the likes of Mike, me and others will be here to help everyone seeking knowledge to see what a sham the liberal movement really is. BTW, did you know the Communists use your same liberal tactics when they go into new countries to set up governments? Check it out.
Summer Hemphill March 08, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Every election day East Bay voters reject your vile & repugnant rhetoric by electing Democrats by an overwhelming margin over the conservative right-wing Republican candidates you support ! Twice as many voters believe that aliens walk among us (20%) than think the Republican controlled Congress is doing a good job (9%). Yes,by forcing Senate Democrats to get 60 votes instead of a simple majority of 50 plus one no meaningful legislation is coming out of that body either. And President Obama now has an approval rating of over 50% ! So you'd better hope all those voter supression measures passed by Republican dominated state legislatures bear fruit or you'll be swept away by the Democratic tidal wave. The more voters are exposed to FOX News talking points & Rush Limbaugh's detestable & ill-conceived rants the bigger the victory for Democrats come November ! Hell, Pat Robertson wants to legalize marijuana now,another conservative sees the light ! And you know what they say "give them a light & they'll follow it anywhere !" Just in - New Hampshire House of Representatives votes 162-161 to decriminalize 1/2 ounce or less of marijuana as Republican Speaker Bill O'Brien abstains from voting to allow the bills passage !!! Another Republican showing a modicum of common sense he should be applauded !!!
Ron March 08, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I've really got to run, but tell me Summer, were you smoking a little something this morning?
Tim March 08, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Hey Summer... there's more to the state of California and the USA for that matter than "the bay area"... check this out... http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2004/countymap.htm Red - Republican, Blue - Democrat ...funny, not much blue on the map... even in CA!
Tim March 08, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Ron.... she sounds like she spends too much time high in front of the tv watching MSLSD and its lineup of freak shows.
Ron March 09, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Tim, I just got back in and was a little surprised that Summer didn't post another one of her classic non-sense replies. Maybe she's sleeping off whatever was clouding her mind? I must apologize Tim, when I wrote Mike, I meant Tim. Maybe some of Summer's smoke crossed my computer wires? :) While your map shows 2000 and 2004, it is pretty much the same each election year. The Dems do really well in the cities, but where people have to really work for a living and know where an egg comes from, it is pretty much Republican country. Everyone should learn from the statistics provided in those maps. They really are an eye-opener, at least for the people who want to see the big picture. I've got a great suggestion: maybe every high school student needs to spend 30 days or so before they are allowed to graduate in the country on a farm where real life is thriving so that they may learn how to deal with things, and know where things come from. They'd certainly learn that you can't harvest anything until you first plant the first seed. This is a law of life that many Dems and all liberals don't understand. Let us hope that Summer doesn't kill any more brain cells and comes to recognize that Media Matters has a big influence on what MSNBC and the others put out as "news". BTW, why haven't we heard from the local news about Media Matters taking orders from the White House about what "news" will be run on a given day?
Ken Martin March 09, 2012 at 04:00 PM
"Observer", you just displayed your ignorance of local happenings. I am Ken Martin, a real person. I wrote "CV Side Trips" in the Castro Valley Forum for five years (2002-2007), I am a member of the Castro Valley Chamber or Commerce. I am responsible for getting the recreation department to install bocce courts in Adobe Park, I am the Third Vice President of the Buon Tempo Club, I shop at Al's Market. I have lived in Castro Valley for 14 years with my wife of 59 years, Patty. I belong to the Buon Tempo Club in Castro Valley, the Fratellanza Club and the Colombo Club in Oakland. I have organized several charitable bocce tournaments in Castro Valley as well as hosting bocce sessions for Adults with Disabilities. I was instrumental in raising money for the donut shop operator that was injured in a robbery a couple pf years ago. I am a blogger for Castro Valley Patch. I am fairly well known in Castro Valley (ask around). I am not a phony hiding behind a phony name like you are. The structure and content of your comment regarding my name only serve to confirm that you are a spineless ignoramus. This is my last comment on the subject because you are not worth my time!
Observer March 09, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Dear Mr. X, I think you made my point. I responded to you with some humor. You than responded with a bit of anger. If I hadn’t used a “nom de plume” you (who ever you are) might have shown up on my front porch and beat me into pulp. I don’t know if you are a Ken Martin or a Psychotic Lunatic or perhaps both. At any rate it is not likely you will show up on my porch because of a “pen name”. Note: Samuel Clemmons = Mark Twain. Of course you may think, I am no Mark Twain and that would be true. You gave me a whole list of really good things that Ken Martin has done for the Castro Valley community and beyond. I salute, that Ken Martin, he is a good man. I have read all these things about him in the Castro Valley Forum. This is all public information and not proof of your identity. Observer
Ron March 09, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Ken, I know you've made your last comment and I don't blame you, but isn't it interesting that many Dems and all liberals will believe without question anything Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, Brown, Stark, Obama and the other "half steppers" tell them (oh, yes, let's not forget ObamaCare where Pelosi said you have to pass it before you can see what the details are...not that any of them read the bill in the first place!), but they doubt an honest man with facts! How can any rational person deal with these kinds of....well, what does one call them? Factless people? Integrity-less people? Careless people? I guess we can say that it is "more of the same" from the empty liberal mindset. For their own good, I wish all these folks could actually live in a world as they propose (without the rest of us, thank you), then we'd see some real "come to Jesus" moments as they find that this liberal doctrine isn't all that it is cracked up to be! It only works in dreams and in the minds of our friend Summer's smoke filled mind.
ordinary joe March 09, 2012 at 10:44 PM
If only all the liberals and democrats simply vanish - Ron will be singing like this: I see the liberals are gone, democrats too I see them gone for me and you And I think to myself what a wonderful world. I see states of blue and red and pocketful of gold The bright blessed election day, the dark scary primary night And I think to myself what a wonderful world I hear the liberals crying, I watch Romney glow I will never learn much more than what I know now And I think to myself what a wonderful world Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world
Summer Hemphill March 09, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Isn't it ironic that these Republican morons can find time to criticize Democrats & their elected representatives,but couldn't be bothered to comment on Alameda County Republican Chairman Sue Caro's report in the Patch on the state GOP convention. Too busy complaining about things beyond their control while neglecting to support a viable candidate in the upcoming election ? Or do you just wait to see who draws the short straw & then snicker behind their back ? If it wasn't for all the lies,half-truths & repugnant rhetoric you'd almost feel sorry for these perennial losers. Why waste your time,money & energy working for a candidate who'll certainly lose when it takes no effort at all to attack the majority who reject you & your candidates year after year. Let's see how far smug,clueless & condescending take you & Mitt Romney in 2012 !!! Come on Sue don't you want to see what it feels like to vote for a winner for a change ? The fact that Pete Stark is an advocate for the reform of federal laws concerning marijuana is just icing on the cake ! I smoked half a joint,it made me so hungry I ate the other half !" - Rodney Dangerfield (Comedian & Proud Cannabis Patient)
ordinary joe March 10, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Well; SH, what do you expect from the defenders of Joseph Kony and the offenders of all women in the US? If you expect decency and intelligence, that is your fault! The poster-boys of the Republican Party would defend Joseph Kony thinking by doing it, they can defame President Obama! They offend all the women thinking that is okay in the US. None of these super-intelligent right-wingers have even criticized them. Santorum, Newt and Romney are playing the fiddle when the country is burning with hatred and divisiveness that these people propagate.
Tim March 10, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Romney will defeat Obama in November... just like I told you my New York Football Giants would send your no offense SF 49ers to an early golf season!!!
ordinary joe March 10, 2012 at 03:02 PM
It is no wonder Tim doesn’t want to talk about the support to Joseph Kony and the insult to women by the poster-boys of his party and changes the subject! Good Job, Tim.
Tim March 10, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Why don't we talk about Obama's support of Syrian murdering dictator Bashar al-Assad. The guy has murdered countless civilians and nothing but words from Obama. Obama has no problem throwing a pro-American Egyptian president under the bus but when it comes to a rogue, murdering scum bag, he gets Obama's support. Here's the point.... Obama assaults religion by insisting that the churches buy a prostitute her contraception but murdering dictators, you're okay.
Ron March 10, 2012 at 09:12 PM
OJ, you've got to be kidding! You and your associates over the last several weeks have been the ones who have not wanted to "...talk about..." and were the ones who "changes the subject!" Aren't your comments considered a position of "selective integrity" when someone does what you've done? Any honest, rational and independent thinking person reading all these posts will clearly see that you and your associates have promoted the liberal agenda of confusing the conversation so that the average person can't make a well informed decision! The liberal position is making life worse in Amerca, not better. Is this really what you are all about? Is this really what you want other people to see of you? Answer these questions OJ without changing the subject! Again, I welcome all the truth (honest view of what is really happening based on facts, not dreams, wishes, or political position) so that I may decide for myself what needs to be done. That's the beauty of living in a Constitutional Republic (you know we're not a Democracy, right?). Why don't you and your associates want the same thing? Once again, I think that Mr. Rodney King had it right: "...can't we all just get along...?"
Brash Brazen March 11, 2012 at 07:55 AM
Thank goodness the right-wing John Birch faction of the Republican Party has such eloquent spokesmen ! After being subjected to their ridiculous & repugnant rhetoric no one could possibly vote for anyone unfortunate enough to have their support !
Ron March 11, 2012 at 09:04 AM
BB, have you and your associates noticed that you share so much of the same little vocabulary and same attack tactics? May I ask, did you learn your "skills" at the Obama/Pelosi/Boxer/Feinstein/Stark Community Organizing and Disinformation classes? I am sure you've seen by now the very revealing video tape of PO while he was praising a radical professor at college. PO sounded like he really didn't like America back then, but that was before he spent 20+ years in Rev. Wright's anti-American church taking notes on the Rev's sermons, which he later disavowed/forgot. Didn't they give you any more of a vocabulary than what we've seen? Didn't they tell you that there would be rational/honest/concerned/thinking people out there who wouldn't believe all the trash you'd be putting out? What did your instructors give you for your Plan B? Remember, when you (and your associates) are so FAR to the Left of life, anyone near the CENTER would naturally seem "far right" to you! I don't understand why you and your associates don't want to "just get along" with the rest of the world? Instead of harboring all of this hate you have inside of you, you might like it. Sleep tight....
Brash Brazen March 11, 2012 at 04:46 PM
When your "knowledge" on political issues consists of the malarkey that Sean Hannity,Bill O'Reilly & Rush Limbaugh constantly spew it's no wonder that your own hateful rhetoric has no factual basis ! As for Obama,Pelosi,Boxer,Feinstein & Stark the voters have repeatedly spoken & they continue to throttle every conservative Republican candidate you support. Obviously the vast majority of California voters prefer the Democrats that I support,your irrational & factually dubious ranting just reminds them why they do so ! Wouldn't your time be better spent attempting to restrict women's reproductive rights or surpressing the voting rights of Democratic voters ? American's can see that it's the obstructionist tactics of the Republicans in Congress that are impeding our recovery from the near depression caused by the last Republican administration ! You don't see Romney,Santorum or Gingrich clamoring for George W. Bush to join them on the campaign trail because he's poison to them. I thought I saw Rush Limbaugh the other day,but it was just a large trash bag filled with rotten cottage cheese !! I don't believe that President Obama hates America,but it's pretty obvious that you hate most Americans because they disagree with you. Get along ? It's not the Democrats who are unwilling to compromise ! What's so funny about peace,love & understanding anyway ? Your comments make the voters choices more abundantly clear on a daily basis,so keep up your fine work. We Democrats thank you !!!
Tim March 11, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Speaking of poison, you didnt see senate and congressional democrats clamoring for Obama to join them on the campaign trail in 2010.... I did see Senator Joe Manchin take a shotgun to Obama's healthcare bill/law in one of his tv ads. Whats funny about you libs is that you think the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia represents the heart and soul of America, and that is a joke.
Ron March 11, 2012 at 06:08 PM
BB, once again we see all you have to offer is the same old lame liberal propaganda (just keep repeating it over and over and over and over again...and one of these days even YOU may get tired of hearing this useless, negative, harmful, hateful, failure oriented trash). We're still waiting for you to show us where a liberal/socialist/Communist government has been successful anywhere in the WORLD! Show us please! Have you considered living in Cuba or North Korea? No "free speech" there which would stop your posts, but you'll get used to it. Do you think you could get used to having a central government tell you EVERYTHING to do? You'd be told where to live, how to travel, what to eat, how many children you may have, if you can own property, what job you'd be working, etc... Can you imagine that, you wouldn't have to do any thinking at all! Is "malarkey" your new big word for the day? "Irrational & factually dubious ranting" is straight from your Community Organizing & Disinformation Play Book. Please use some new words with some fresh ideas next time, OK? I'd like NOT to see what Obama acts like if he really liked American and Americans! Certainly you know the word "radical." Again, if you want to see a future Obama's America, just look at Greece, France, Cuba or North Korea. I really get a kick out of reading your disconnected posts BB. It is like batting practice :) More of the same old lame liberal chanting BB, it is just another day.
gato pelon March 16, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Observer, I don't see another way but to use a nom de plume on boards like this one. The very number of delusional irrational non thinkers posting here say's enough! I wouldn't want any of these pistol backing dido heads to know where I live. These were the very same people who were pissed off because they weren't aloud to carry bullets in their guns when they all met to eat fry chicken and drink coffee. Thankfully sanity prevailed in that regard!
Tim March 16, 2012 at 04:53 PM
No one carries "bullets" in their guns. We all carry ammunition.... and soon thanks to Democrat Senator Joe Manchin who just introduced HR 822 to the Senate, we'll be carrying loaded, concealed handguns legally here in CA.
Ron March 16, 2012 at 06:54 PM
"GP", hairless cats don't have anything to hide, but why do you? You should be thankful that there are others with different opinions so that just in case one of these days you finally see you're on a dead-end route, you'll be able to find your way back to reality. The rational, honest, sincere, faithful, concerned, loving, honorable and patriotic individuals will be more often found in our ranks than yours. The best example of this, is the Occupy flakes compared with the honest, law-abiding, peaceful, respectful and determined Tea Party folks. Now be honest "GP", have you seen any Tea Party (many are in agreement with this group although they may not be attending members) members spray painting buildings, breaking front business windows, starting fires, using illegal drugs, illegally stopping traffic, prohibiting private and government employees from going to their jobs (to earn money for their families), causing millions of dollars of additional and useless costs to cities and counties around the country, or anything like the anarchy we've seen on the news? Now if you are really honest "GP", you'll respond appropriately. Let's see what you do. Why do you only want the crooks to have guns? Personal gun ownership lowers crime. You want to be careful about the "projection personality" that liberals exhibit here. We know what you're about by what you irrationally accuse others of, again, another good old propgaganda tactic.
Tanya Rose April 12, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Hey everyone, there's a new story up today about this race: http://sanramon.patch.com/articles/stark-swalwell-pareja-congressional-debate-proves-feisty

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