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Santa Rosa Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom ‘taking a look’ at Assembly seat


Santa Rosa Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom, who until recently was a candidate for state Senate, now is weighing a bid for the 10th District Assembly seat held by Marc Levine.

“It’s something I’m taking a look at, but I’m not ready to make any announcements,” Carlstrom said this week.

Carlstrom confirmed that she has moved from her rented house in Santa Rosa’s junior college neighborhood to a house in Kawana Springs on the city’s southeast side.

Santa Rosa Vice Mayor Erin Carlstrom, right, lets out a yawn while her husband Nick Caston hands her a notepad as she follows a City Council meeting from her iPad and takes care of her 10-day-old son at home in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. (CONNER JAY/ PD)

Santa Rosa Vice Mayor Erin Carlstrom, right, lets out a yawn while her husband Nick Caston hands her a notepad as she follows a City Council meeting from her iPad and takes care of her 10-day-old son at home in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. (CONNER JAY/ PD)

That places the 30-year-old attorney and first-term councilwoman within the 10th Assembly District spanning Marin County, part of Santa Rosa and portions of western and southern Sonoma County.

Levine, D-San Rafael, is seeking a second term. The primary for the Nov. 4 election is June 3, with the top-two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advancing to the November general election.

Levine Thursday said it wasn’t “really worth commenting on potential candidates at this point. It’s pretty early.”

Carlstrom announced her candidacy for the 2nd District Senate seat held by Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, on Oct. 8, three days after she became a new mother.

“I always knew that my advocacy and votes impacted future generations, but looking at my son, that knowledge is now personal,” Carlstrom wrote in a news release announcing her Senate bid.

She said she planned to kick off her Senate campaign with a listening tour in three North Bay counties focused on job creation, public education and sustainability.

Less than a month later, Carlstrom announced that she was dropping out of the race, citing concerns that she and Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire, who had entered the fray, would split the Sonoma County vote and potentially hand the Senate race to someone else.

Rumors swirled that Carlstrom was planning to enter the race for McGuire’s supervisorial seat. Instead, she’s positioned herself for a state Assembly bid.

Carlstrom this week denied that she is seat-shopping. “I don’t think that’s the case,” she said.

She said that she and her husband, political consultant Nick Caston, were forced to move out of their rental on Denton Way after the couple discovered the house has “some lead problems.” She also conceded that living within the 10th Assembly district was a “consideration” for where the couple chose to relocate.

She said people she declined to identify are encouraging her to enter the Assembly race. She said she would not make an announcement until after the first of the year.

Levine, who said he plans on running a “strong campaign” for re-election, has already collected $350,000 for the campaign, according to his consultant.

Levine scored an upset victory over Michael Allen in 2012 to earn the Assembly seat.

David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University, said Carlstrom, should she decide to enter the Assembly race, could try and distinguish herself as the more progressive candidate to appeal to labor groups that heavily supported Allen’s losing bid.

“She also can make an appeal as a woman and mother that will give her a boost with many voters in that district,” McCuan said. “But her resume is much leaner than Levine’s.”

He said Carlstrom’s perceived political opportunism could hurt her, but maybe not enough to damage her chances at winning. He said state legislators are most vulnerable to being tossed out of office on their first try at re-election, as Levine is attempting to do.

“If Levine wins, he’s golden for the remaining time allotted under term limits — 12 years,” McCuan said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.)

16 Responses to “Santa Rosa Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom ‘taking a look’ at Assembly seat”

  1. Mitch says:

    O.K. I support the homeless and like all of the wandering homeless, Carlstrom needs to find a political home where she can show us what she has got. One of the sins of being smart is being bored and she does not believe in boring Santa Rosa.

    Its the big lights for here.

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  2. Show Me The Money says:

    Carlstrom is not as good at politics as her ego has led her to believe. She needs to be bored and warn that little city council seat dealing with the little small issues in Santa Rosa before the voters will even consider her for a bigger fish tank.

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  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Oh, and I’d be in favor of endorsing Levine over Carlstrom any day. He needs to up his game in Sacramento though if he wants my union’s endorsement. We supported Evans and expect him to support small businesses, California workers and their families fully.

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  4. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    CARLSTROM’S RECORD-Erin WAS backed by the public unions for her first run but she won’t be backed for any future runs. She fooled us into thinking she was a progressive. Likely the safety unions will continue to back her because of the special deal they were given over the rest of the city employees that she voted for. I want to take back my vote and I’m not the only one.

    If she had treated all the city employees equally then she might have had a chance.

    It’s doubtful she will even win her city council seat if she runs again. I certainly will be voting NO on any endorsement of her in my union.

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  5. Margret Gonzales says:

    Whatever happened to the idea of staying home and raising your children? Seems like this lady wants to dip her toe into the political waters when she should be home taking care of her baby.

    I know that’s an old fashion idea, but a good one.

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  6. Grapevines says:

    Hey Erin!! There should be an assembly seat or something available in Topeka. Why don’t you take your classless act over there and see if they will put up with the snake oil your peddling here.

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  7. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I’m wishing I could take my vote back from her. She came off as a progressive but I guess she’s really a DINO.

    The fact that she can’t make up her mind is really telling people. She has ambition but isn’t willing to stay in one place long enough to get the experience she needs to go to higher office. I doubt she’d even get reelected to city council if she ran again.

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  8. Mac E. Velli says:

    HEY, ERIN! WHY NOT RUN FOR PRESIDENT? IT’S OPEN SEASON, SOON! If you can’t get that there’s always dogcatcher…
    (she may be a lawyer, but has she had a client?)

    I heard they’re grooming the kid for Senator…

    Mac E. Velli sayin’: “Politics…it beats working for a living.”

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  9. Reservation Shopping says:

    Geez, I guess Erin’s hubby and meh campaign manager Nick Caston either can’t help his wife to just settle down into only one seat (like, her first term on SR council), or he’s pushing her to run for something in 2014, anything.

    If this is the best that Nick and Erin can do, it seems like other candidates should stay away from his ‘services’.

    This dynamic, overreaching, self-centered and self-important political tag team needs alot more experience than just political reservation shopping.

    Seems like a terminal case of folie a deux.

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  10. homegirl says:

    All About Erin

    Reports from well-informed Sonoma sources indicate that in the coming June’s first round primary election, Marin and parts of south and central Sonoma County will see a contested race for the California State Assembly. If true, Incumbent Democrat Marc Levine will be opposed by a fellow Democrat, Santa Rosa Councilmember Erin Carlstrom.

    The 31 year-old Carlstrom was first elected to the Rose City’s council just last year. She ran and won positioning herself as a bridge between the city council’s pro business, public employee labor and “guided growth” environmental factions.

    Up until earlier this month she was a candidate for the open North Bay/North Coast state senate seat being vacated next year by one-term senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa). When she abandoned that race, the councilwoman, attorney and brand new mother mulled a run for an open seat on Sonoma’s Board of Supervisors. Now she’s looking south and is apparently poised to challenge Levine, the first term assemblymember from San Rafael.

    Carlstrom is reportedly backed by Sonoma public employee unions. They’re still smarting over the 2012 upset by Levine of former Assemblymember Michael Allen, past chair of the North Bay Labor Council.

    Despite being a life-long Democrat. Levine has been consistently criticized by some progressives and parts of organized labor as being “too moderate,” a taunt that’s brought him considerable Republican and independent support.
    - See more at: http://blogs.marinij.com/spotswood/2013/12/05/erin-carlstrom-to-run-against-marc-levine-for-assembly/#sthash.UaUDsUfh.dpuf

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    Carlstrom, who graduated from law school, managed to get caught up in a controversy over whether or not the City Council she serves on violated the law this year by concealing from the public a $327,000 legal bill for a case they lost in court. The Press Democrat’s Columnist Pete Golis said she should be held accountable for trying to dance around her responsibilities to her constituents to keep It’s doubtful at this point whether or not she could even get re-elected to the Santa Rosa City Council much less move up to the Legislature.

    Here’s one reason: she is essentially applying for a job to draft and pass new laws for California. But if she can’t even follow a simple law passed by the Legislature meant to require disclosure of information to the public and provide her own colleagues with leadership on matters she should be familiar with because it is her own profession, why should anyone think she should be in Sacramento making new law? She should learn the basics first. One should learn to walk before attempting to run.
    See below:
    “GOLIS: Santa Rosa council had a bad, bad week
    The lawyers were busy last week with the usual back and forth about whether the Santa Rosa City Council broke the law by failing to disclose a $327,000 embarrassment.
    …Having lost in court — twice — the council met in private earlier this year and instructed its lawyer to complete the paperwork and pay court-ordered legal fees to the lawyers who successfully sued the city.
    The council did not disclose the payment — for reasons all of us can understand. The council had screwed up; the outcome was embarrassing.
    …A Press Democrat editorial aptly described the city’s imaginative etymology as “the nonsense of the city’s games and word parsing.”
    Yes, government will, from time to time, dance around its responsibilities to make full disclosure. Sometimes, the obligations prescribed by law are judged to be inconvenient. It’s such a bother to keep the public informed.
    Other times, the obligation requires disclosures that government would rather keep to itself. To choose an example at random: How about the loss of $327,000?
    It remains that government is not a disinterested party when it comes to interpreting its responsibilities under the law — and its responsibilities to the governed. This is true in Washington, it is true in Sacramento, and it is true in Santa Rosa, California.
    This episode also reminds us that elected officials try hard to be invisible when embarrassments come along. Fowler did all the talking, as if she were the only person in the room when the city decided it was saddled with a lost cause. But Fowler didn’t make these decisions; the City Council did; and the City Council should be accountable for them.
    In case you forgot their names, here are the current members of the Santa Rosa City Council: Mayor Scott Bartley, Vice Mayor Erin Carlstrom, Julie Combs, Ernesto Olivares, Jake Ours, Robin Swinth and Gary Wysocky. (Politicians love to get their names in the paper.)

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  12. every seat but congress says:

    Let’s see, first it was the state senate, then, possibly, the fifth supervisorial seat if Efren were recalled, then the fourth supervisorial district and now the assembly.

    This woman is in her first term on Santa Rosa city council; shouldn’t she finish her term before she aspires to higher office?

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  13. Arthur Diamond says:

    Maybe her friends, if she has any, in the state legislature can throw her a bone and put her on a garbage or sewer board and get her out of the county. Let her work her magic in Sacto with the other liberals.

    This woman is like a submarine without a periscope or radar moving around on the bottom and lost.

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  14. Steveguy says:

    Oh wait, maybe she will run for the Judge opening !

    Seems as though she is not interested in a lowly City Council position. The thrill must be gone.

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  15. PapaESoCo says:

    Oh Puleeze! And her qualifications for running for the Assembly are? Um, “crickets”. Well, she does have an overlarge ego, clearly extremely ambitious for “higher Office, willing to “carpet Bag” to another District(“Oh, The place we were renting has ‘lead problems), she is a Lawyer(red flag). Real experience? Less than a year in first elected office. Cannot think of another Candidate that is less qualified!

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  16. Reality Check says:

    When has ambition looked more naked and self-serving? Seat-shopping? No, never.

    Remember, it was barely a year ago when Ms Carlstrom was telling city voters how much she wanted to accomplish on the council. That commitment didn’t last long.

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