My recommendations for the California Democratic primary

First, you may want to check out Voters Edge to get your own customized list of candidates on your local ballot, as well as comprehensive information on all the items on the ballot. (Full disclosure: this is produced by the non-partisan group Maplight.org, a group I support financially). Another helpful source is CrowdPac, which can tell you more about the candidates’ fundraising.

PROPOSITION 50: YES

A tough call on this as you can make arguments for either viewpoint. I came down on the side of YES. While I’d prefer corrupt lawmakers be expelled, the presumption of innocence means they should only be kicked out after actually being found guilty, not just charged with a crime. However, if there is enough evidence to suspend them, it should be done without pay. It’s ludicrous to think this authority could be abused to punish those with wayward views since it requires a 2/3 vote to implement. If anything, it makes it harder to target a fellow lawmaker, since currently the requirement for suspension is only a simple majority (that changes with this legislation).

PRESIDENT: HILLARY CLINTON

I laid out my reasons for supporting Hillary here: https://medium.com/@dougmn/berned-once-twice-shy-d70f0c9e9969#.vdowyi888 so I won’t go over all that again. However, it is important for those who think Trump would be a disaster to consider reality. Even without any super-delegate votes, Hillary will win the nomination. If you want her to defeat Trump, now’s the time to moderate your Bernie enthusiasm with a dose of practical politics and help her come out of California with a strong wind at her back.

US SENATE: KAMALA HARRIS

The only real contender other than Harris is Sanchez, and what I’ve heard of her hasn’t impressed me. Here’s a nice profile of Harris from the Washington Post: https://goo.gl/08NDUu. She’s endorsed by everyone from Jerry Brown to Elizabeth Warren and seems ready for the job.

US REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 18: ANNA ESHOO

Eshoo has been a very solid Representative and deserves to return to the House.

MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY: MARK BERMAN

Mark Berman is really annoying me. I’ve received more mail about him in the past couple of weeks than I’ve ever seen for any campaign. That’s because independent expenditure (IE)groups have spent about a million dollars promoting him and smearing his opponent Vicki Veenker. When I go back through the mailers, only 2 are from his actual campaign, which is one more than I received from Veenker (though I got 3 from Silicon Valley Progressive Women PAC supporting her). My natural tendency is to vote reactively for the candidate not being forced down my throat, especially when it’s being done with outrageous hit pieces against an opponent.

Those IEs seem to represent real estate developers and charter schools, which would normally set off loud alarm bells for me. However. Berman claims he doesn’t have anything to do with the IEs and doesn’t know why they’re supporting him. He has also come out in favor of the Disclose Act and repealing Citizen’s United. If that’s true and you just look at him in absolute terms, he is a fairly attractive candidate, endorsed by the Mercury News, and most prominent democratic office holders.

Veenker is less experienced and her biggest contributors are the teachers’ and nurses’ unions. I like unions (my wife is busy starting one at her college), but I do feel the CTA exerts undo influence in California on occasion. Veenker is also supported by the Sierra Club and womens’ groups and in the event of a tie, I lean toward more gender balance in office. Still, I can’t quite pull the trigger for Veenker. She does have less experience than Berman, who seems to be one of those driven Silicon Valley types who throws himself into everything and gets a lot done. The endorsements he has received are pretty glowing and wide-ranging.

So… I’m holding my nose and voting for Berman. I won’t be terribly upset if he loses, sending the message that outside money is not welcome, but given that I have donated to campaigns in other states (but not SuperPACs), it would be hypocritical of me to condemn him solely for the actions of others ostensibly out of his control. If he wins however, I will be watching closely to see how his votes align with those of his donors as opposed to his constituents.

STATE SENATOR: JERRY HILL

Jerry Hill is the Democratic incumbent. I can find very little on his Republican opponent Ric Ciardella, but what I did find paints him as a fairly typical Tea-Party(ish) candidate. No thanks.

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: JOE SIMITIAN

Incumbent and well-respected as being an effective office-holder serving the interests of his constituents. No reason to change.

COUNTY MEASURE A: YES

The measure reads:

To continue protecting and preserving local parks; improving access to natural areas, open space, trails and recreational opportunities; keeping restrooms and facilities clean and safe; and maintaining, operating, acquiring and improving local parks, shall the Santa Clara County Park Charter Fund, established in 1972, be extended by an annual general fund transfer estimated to equal 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of all property for 15 years, without increasing taxes and all funds benefitting Santa Clara County parks?

Not much info about this measure other than this article, but that’s enough to convince me to vote YES.

DISTRICT MEASURE AA: YES

The measure reads:

To protect San Francisco Bay for future generations by reducing trash, pollution and harmful toxins, improving water quality, restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife, protecting communities from floods, and increasing shoreline public access , shall the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority authorize a parcel tax of $12 per year, raising approximately $25 million annually for twenty years with independent citizen oversight, audits, and all funds staying local?

Again, not much about this, but it’s endorsed by all the major environmental groups so it should be pretty much what it seems. If you’d like a better Bay, and think it’s worth $12 a year, vote YES.

COUNTY COMMITTEE (VOTE FOR SIX):Members decide which candidates of their party to endorse, communicate policy issues to their local electorate, and fundraise for their local candidates and causes.

This is an election for the Democratic Party committee. I don’t know any of these folks personally and you can vote for 6/7. Not sure how to pick the one to eliminate and not sure it matters. Your choice, but I’ll probably sit this one out unless someone informs me that one candidate is worse than the others.

Otto Lee: Navy commander/patent attorney

Gilbert Wong: Incumbent

Alyson Abramowitz: Incumbent/Mgmt Consultant

Peter Chiu: Physician/Environmental Engineer

Diane Rolfe: Incumbent/retired teacher, administrator

Emily Thurber: Democratic community volunteer, worked in Senate for Alan Cranston

Bill James: Incumbent

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