Assemblymember Skinner Forces Debate Cancellation


For Immediate Release
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Eugene Ruyle
Candidate for State Assembly, 15th District
Peace and Freedom Party
cuyleruyle – at –
6603 Whitney Street, Oakland, CA 94609

The League of Women Voters of Oakland (LWVO) was forced to cancel its Forum for Candidates for 15th Assembly District due to incumbent Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s refusal to participate. The Forum was to have included both of the “Top Two” candidates, incumbent Skinner and challenger Eugene Ruyle of the Peace and Freedom Party. Originally scheduled for Sept 6, the event was re-scheduled to Oct 2 because Skinner was not available for the earlier date. LWVO’s procedures require that both candidates participate in a two candidate forum.

The 15th State Assembly District runs from West Contra Costa County to Northern Alameda County and includes Hercules, Pinole, San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington, Albany, Berkeley, Piedmont, and Emeryville, and North Oakland. Much of the district was formerly in Assembly District 14, but the area was re-gerrymandered after 2010 to make it even more of a Democratic Party stronghold. Skinner ran unopposed in 2008 and received over 90% of the vote in the Alameda County portion of District 14 in 2010 against Republican Ryan Hatcher. No Republicans even bothered to run in the June 2012 Primary. This permitted Peace and Freedom Party activist Eugene Ruyle to run as a write in candidate and obtain enough votes to be placed on the November ballot under the new “Top Two” rules created with the passage of Proposition 14 in 2010.

Disappointed by the news, Ruyle stated that, “It is indeed unfortunate that Assemblymember Skinner has refused defend her views and her record in what was likely to have been the most important public forum in the 2012 race for the Assembly seat in District 15. Has the Skinner campaign decided that it is better not to let the voters know her views and her record? Does the Skinner campaign not want voters to know they have a choice in November: politics-as-usual with the incumbent or a truly independent candidate who wants to support the people, not the rich and their corporations.”

Skinner’s refusal came days after a striking defeat for her campaign at the Berkeley Citizens Action Endorsement meeting on Sept 16, when she narrowly outpolled Ruyle: 18 votes to Ruyle’s 17. No endorsement was made since BCA has a 60% threshold for endorsement. Skinner did not attend the meeting but was represented by an aide. She also failed to attend the NAACP forum on Sept 8.

Running with the slogan, “End the Wars, Tax the Rich, Power to the People,” Ruyle supports the working class, socialist, and feminist platform of the Peace and Freedom Party. A 1963 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (Anthropology), Eugene Ruyle is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Long Beach. While at Long Beach, Ruyle was a union activist with the California Faculty Association and a member of the Academic Senate. He also worked closely with the local Gabrielino/Tongva Indians in their struggle to save Puvungna, a sacred creation center on the CSULB campus. Administration plans to lease the land for commercial development were ultimately blocked by an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of the Native American community.

As a lifelong educator, Ruyle wants to help build the movement to democratize and de-militarize the University of California, in the heart of the 15th Assembly District.

After learning of Assemblymember Skinner’s decision, Ruyle re-affirmed his willingness to discuss the issues at any time and in any forum.

Ruyle noted that Assemblymember Skinner has plenty of time to meet with wealthy supporters, as in her $2500-a-kiss “Birthday Party” on September 19 in Emeryville (birthday hugs for on $1000 and love as low as $100), and her $2500 “Iron Chef” fundraiser in Berkeley on March 29 (“Ticket/donations are $2,500 Executive Chef, $1,000 Chef de Cuisine, $250 Foodie and $100 Friend.”).

Ruyle noted in his response to the League of Women Voters Oakland:

I was disappointed to learn that Assemblywoman Skinner refused to participate in the scheduled October 2 League of Women Voters Oakland Forum, thus forcing the event to be cancelled. As you probably know, this would have been the major, and perhaps the only, opportunity for voters to hear directly a debate between myself and the incumbent.

As you know, with the passage of Proposition 14 and the new “Top Two” rules, all partisan general elections in California (except for the Presidency) will be between two and only two candidates. By thus restricting voter choice, Proposition 14 made an already severely flawed electoral even less democratic. Now, when the incumbent can prevent debate simply by not participating, the ability of voters to make informed decisions is even further eroded.

Candidates like myself, who lack the patronage of wealthy donors and the corporations, have long looked to the League of Women Voters and your forums as an opportunity to put our views directly to the voters. Because of this, I urge the League to reconsider its policy of cancelling forums simply because one candidate cannot, or will not, attend.