2018 California Mid-term Voter Guide (with a supplemental SF guide)

Oh god. It’s that time of year again. We have to wade through a sea of shitty propositions that have no business being on a ballot. Honestly, why do we do this to ourselves? Why don’t we just let politicians that we already elected take care of this. God, I hate direct democracy. Alright, let’s try to get through this together. We’ll start with the easy stuff, the actual people, the things we actually should be voting on.


Elected Officials

Governor: Gavin Newsom. No question. He’s the democratic candidate and he’s pro-housing. Plus John Cox is part of the reason we have the insanity of prop 6 this year (more on that tire fire later).

Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez. I don’t think either choice here is terrible. I’m gonna give the edge to Ed Hernandez just because he has more experience.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla. He has been doing a pretty good job at maintaining the integrity of elections in California and he’s helping expand voter registration.

Controller: Betty Yee. She’s the incumbent and has been doing a good job. Also a Democrat. Seems like an easy choice.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma. I don’t think Greg Conlon even has a remote chance of being elected here, and he’s republican. Just vote for Fiona.

Attorney General: Xavier Becerra. You know how you keep hearing that “California is fighting against the Trump presidency”? That’s because Xavier Becerra keeps leading that charge. He’s also the democrat running here. Pretty easy choice.

Insurance Commissioner: Steve Poizner. He actually has some experience in this position. Despite his past immigrant bashing, he seems to have turned the page.

Member, Sate Board Equalization Second District: Malia Cohen. I love the title for the editorial that the SF Chronicle wrote: “Chronicle Recommends: Malia Cohen, we guess, for tax board”. That’s pretty much the sentiment that I have as well. This position in the California State government is likely to be eliminated soon. So yea, Malia Cohen I guess.

United State Senator: Dianne Feinstein. Oh boy. This is one of the few spicy races in my mind. On the one hand, Feinstein is a seasoned veteran of the U.S. Senate. On the other, I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made that we need a fresh face from California in the U.S. senate. You can’t really go wrong with either one, as they’re both Democrats. At the end of the day I’m going with Dianne Feinstein because she’s endorsed by Scott Weiner who is my favorite current politician. Plus De Leon has endorsements from some of my least favorite politicians (Aaron Peskin is awful).

United State Representative District 12: Nancy Pelosi. This is one of those races where it’s kinda just sad that there’s a Republican running. There’s no way they’re going to get elected in SF.

United States Representative District 14: Jackie Speier. I’m not sure who the other candidate even is.

Assembly District 17: David Chui. He’s running unopposed. But more than that, he’s been doing an awesome job. There’s a reason he’s running unopposed.

Assembly District 19: Phil Ting. He actually has experience being an Assembly member, and the other person is really anti-housing.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Marshall Tuck. Holy cow. There is some serious spice this race. On the one hand, you’ve got the establishment a.k.a. Tony Thrumond. He’s got the connections. He’s with the teacher’s union all the way. On the other hand, the challenger, the outsider, the reformer, Marshall Tuck. This is a hard choice. In the end though, for me, Marshall comes out the winner with an endorsement from Scott Weiner.

All the Judges: Yes. They’ve all gone through a serious vetting process already.

The rest of these are going to be chosen due to their endorsement from Yimby Action. I trust Yimby Action implicitly, and the candidates they endorse. You can read their endorsements page if you want to understand their reasoning. The Board of supervisor positions are the most important here. It’s really really important that we get more pro-housing supervisors since SF is know for it’s terrible exclusionary zoning (which in my opinion is why rents are so damn high and makes us an inherently racist city).

District 2 Supervisor: Nick Josefowitz

District 4 Supervisor: Trevor McNeil

District 6 Supervisor: Sonja Trauss (this one is really exciting given that Sonja helped found the Yimby movement. If you live in district 6, please please vote for Sonja. She’s amazing and could do some serious good for SF).

District 8 Supervisor: Rafael Mandelman

District 10 Supervisor: Theo Ellington

Community College Board: Victor Olivieri.

District 8 BART Director: Janice Li

Board of Education: Michelle Parker

Assessor-Recorder: Carmen Chu

Public Defender: Jeff Adachi


Ballot Mesures

As a rule of thumb, I generally vote No on most ballot measures. This medium article gives a great explanation of why. In short, direct democracy is idiotic. In addition, once a ballot measure goes into affect IT CAN NEVER BE CHANGED OR ADAPTED EXCEPT BY ANOTHER BALLOT MEASURE. That doesn’t seem prudent. Furthermore, a lot of these ballot measures are nuanced and require a level of expertise in order to be truly informed on what is the best decision. For example, I, a random schmo, should not be deciding EMT break policy. That should be done by actual EMTs and people familiar with what they do. So when I talk about a ballot measure, I’ll be starting from a point of “No” and then working my way to convince myself that a “Yes” is actually necessary.

CA State Ballot Propositions

I’m going to go a little out of order here because in my opinion, there are really only two important CA Ballot measures this year, 5 & 6. And I’m begging you to vote No on them. These two props have the potential to do enormous damage to all of California.

Proposition 5 expands the carnage wreaked by the disastrous Prop 13 passed in 1978 (which freezes the property tax someone pays on their house to the levels when they originally purchased the house). It allows super rich homeowners who get tax breaks on their houses to take those tax breaks with them if they move to a new house. The tax breaks from this proposition are estimated to cost over $1 billion per year in perpetuity. I don’t think we should sacrifice school funding just so we can give rich homeowners a tax break (on top of the tax break they’re already getting!). Please, vote no on Prop 5.

Prop 6 is John Cox’s sour grapes. He’s mad that our duly elected state legislature passed a gas tax to help fund CA transportation infrastructure. If you think California’s roads are shitty and that BART is awful, think about what will happen when we take away all the money that was set aside for fix them. Also, this measure will require all future gas taxes to be passed via Ballot Propositions. Do you want more ballot measures to vote on? I don’t. Fuck this noise. No on 6.

Alright, let’s go through the CA Ballot measures 1-by-1

Prop 1: Yes. This measure was actually placed on the ballot by the state legislature because apparently they need voter approval for this thing they wanted to do anyway. Let’s let them do their job. Also, more housing, yay!

Prop 2: Yes. Remember how I said you need other ballot measures to change previous ballot measures? That’s what this one is, it changes a ballot measure that the legislature had to put on the ballot back ing 2016. Let’s continue to let our elected officials do their job. Also, more housing, yay!

Prop 3: No. I don’t really understand this measure and it wasn’t initiated by the state legislature. So I’m voting no to be on the safe side. But do whatever you feel here.

Prop 4: No. I don’t really understand this measure and it wasn’t initiated by the state legislature. So I’m voting no to be on the safe side. But do what ever you feel here.

Prop 5: NO! Oh my god no. Please no. See reasoning above.

Prop 6: NO! Sweet jesus no. No more tax breaks for the rich.

Prop 7: Yes! This allows the legislature to potentially get rid of daylights savings time. Daylights saving time is deadly. Let’s let our elected officials do their job here.

Prop 8: No. Neither you nor I should be helping write dialysis regulation. There’s no possible way you or I, the average Californian, could have an informed opinion on this. Let’s let legislature take care of this if it’s really a problem.

Prop 10: No. I’m pretty torn about this measure. On the one hand, it has the potential to provide relief for a lot of the people already living in California. On the other, it really does nothing to help build new homes (e.g. help people who are currently being excluded from living in California due to high housing costs). At the end of the day, Prop 10 doesn’t really solve California’s housing woes. In fact, it’s likely to make them worse. So, no on 10.

Prop 11: No. Neither you nor I should be helping write EMT regulation. There’s no possible way you or I, the average Californian, could have an informed opinion on this. Let’s let legislature take care of this if it’s really a problem.

Prop 12: No. Neither you nor I should be helping write “new standards for Confinement of Farm Animals”. There’s no possible way you or I, the average Californian, could have an informed opinion on this. Let’s let legislature take care of this if it’s really a problem.

SF Ballot Propositions

Prop A: Yes. We really need to replace that sea wall.

Prop B: No. Neither you nor I should be helping write “personal information policies for businesses”. There’s no way the average San Franciscan can be truly well informed on this. Let’s let the Supervisors take care of this if its really a problem.

Prop C: No. This is the one issue where I’m breaking with Yimby Action. And I’ll admit, I’m pretty town on this measure. On the one hand, it’s going to be directly responsible for creating thousands of more homes. On the other, I don’t think our housing problem is going to be solved by just throwing more money at it. As Breed, Chiu, and Weiner have pointed out, while this might generate funding for housing, it has no safeguards to ensure the money is actually spent effectively. Normally I’m all in on anything that creates housing, but on this measure I’m unsure. So, as I say, if you’re unsure, vote No. If you’d like to see a pretty comprehensive discussion of the pros and cons of prop C, I recommend this curbed article. Mayor London Breed also outlined why she is against it in this Medium article. I find her argument regarding the lack of consensus building and the dangers of taking on the entire homelessness problem in the bay area to be particularly compelling.

Prop D: No. I don’t know why I’m voting on what specific taxes should be placed on specific SF businesses. This is ridiculous. No. This is a decision for the people I elected to figure out.

Prop E: No. This is not for you or me to decide. This is basically saying “instead of letting the officials I elected control the city budget, I would like direct control over certain line items in the city budget.” Why am I even voting on this? I voted for certain Supervisors specifically so I wouldn’t have to deal with exact control of the budget.


Well there you have it folks. The Kurtis Nusbaum slate for San Francisco in 2018. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions please let me know. I’m trying to keep an open mind on most issues and could be persuaded to change. I hope this was helpful, and if you take nothing else away from it, please just remember: No on Prop 5 and Prop 6.