California State Primary + San Francisco Municipal Election Guide

Fellow Californians,

I’ve been writing these for 14 years and I still get cranky every time. As I wrote in my last election guide (November 2015 in San Francisco), California’s proposition system forces voters to be burdened with what should be handled by legislators. But that’s the system we have, so we best be using it.

As usual, here are my positions on California’s statewide ballot as well as San Francisco’s municipal ballot. Both include propositions as well as several important offices, and then there’s the real reason most of you are voting: the Democratic presidential nominee! I consulted Ballotpedia, and for San Francisco only, I consulted and lifted some language from SPUR’s voter guide (PDF download), as well as the San Francisco Democratic Party’s official endorsement slate. For everyone else in other California counties, do your local homework!

For those who’ve already voted early, thank you! No need to read on. But if you haven’t voted yet and you’re eligible to do so on Tuesday: No excuses! Let’s make this a historical one. Polls are open statewide from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

The revolution starts on election day,



PROPOSITION 50: YES — This is an amendment to the state constitution that allows legislators to be suspended without pay and benefits once it has been determined that a legislator is involved in a criminal proceeding or has committed egregious misconduct. Legislators can already be suspended for these reasons (Calderon, Wright, and Yee were suspended after a Senate vote in 2014), but their pay and benefits continue during the suspension. This proposition would not change the existing suspension parameters other than to suspend pay and benefits as well. Interestingly, no one has spent any campaign cash to sway voters either way. This is unusual, especially for California. From CALMatters: “The lack of spending reflects a lack of big-money interests involved in this issue. There is no industry battle at play; no unions or corporations stand to win or lose.”


President of the United States: Bernie Sanders*

United States Senator: Kamala D. Harris

United States Representative, District 12: Nancy Pelosi

United States Representative, District 14: Jackie Speier

*I’ll take this opportunity to declare emphatically that I am NOT a member of the so-called #BernieOrBust camp and find the whole notion completely, utterly idiotic and deeply arrogant. I will proudly be voting for Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary, but I will also proudly support the ultimate Democratic nominee, be it Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. If you consider yourself a liberal or a progressive and that is not your plan, I suggest you take a step back and reevaluate your priorities for this gravely important general election in November, which stands to be one of the most consequential general elections in our nation’s history. Think Supreme Court appointments, for example.


State Senator, District 11: Scott Wiener

Member of the State Assembly, District 17: David Chiu

Member of the State Assembly, District 19: Phil Ting

Judge of the Superior Court, Office 7: Paul Henderson

County Central Committee, District 17 (vote for up to 14; my choices listed in ballot order): John Burton, London Breed, Francis Tang, Arlo Hale Smith, Scott Wiener, Zoe Dunning, Malia Cohen, David Campos, Tom Hsieh, Gary McCoy, Joshua Arce, Leah Pimentel, Rebecca Prozan, Alix Rosenthal

County Central Committee, District 19: Brigitte Davila, Sandra Lee Fewer, Hene Kelly, Leah LaCroix, Myrna Melgar, Eric Mar, Norman Yee

PROPOSITIONS (San Francisco only)

PROPOSITION A: YES — Provides up to $350 million to improve the earthquake safety and general functioning of health centers (including San Francisco General Hospital), safety and emergency response facilities, and homeless shelters.

PROPOSITION B: YES — Provides funding for San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department by extending until 2026 the existing property tax (approved by voters in 2000). This amounts to approximately $1 billion in funding for 30 years and is derived from existing taxes, not new taxes.

PROPOSITION C: YES — Increases affordable housing requirements for private developers who build new market-rate housing projects in San Francisco. For any new housing project in San Francisco, the developer must either build affordable housing on-site, or pay the city to fund affordable housing projects elsewhere. This proposition increases the requirements in order to provide a larger percentage of affordable housing.

PROPOSITION D: YES — Requires that the Office of Citizen Complaints investigate all incidents in which the discharge of a firearm by a police officer results in an injury or death in San Francisco. Currently, the OCC only investigates if someone files a complaint, and not when another police officer files a complaint. This proposition would require that an investigation is initiated immediately regardless of complaint whenever a police officer shoots someone.

PROPOSITION E: YES — Adjusts the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to parallel broader state law without reducing coverage. Note that this proposition did not receive any opposing arguments.

PROPOSITION AA: YES — Creates a $12 parcel tax in all nine Bay Area counties to protect and restore the Bay by reducing trash and pollution, enhancing wetlands and wildlife habitat, increasing public access and recreational areas, and protecting communities from flooding.