My choices, and some commentary, for the 2018 election. State of California / San Mateo County / City of East Palo Alto. I am a registered Democrat and usually vote straight-ticket. But not always.
I am generally against most ballot measures, because I believe legislating should be done by the Legislature. I’m generally against most bond measures, because as a homeowner, they impact me directly — in the form of “extra” assessments on top of my property taxes — so the measure has to be really good for me to support it.
When I am ambivalent or don’t have enough information about a candidate or ballot measure, I look at which groups or people have written supporting or opposing statements. If leaders of the Democratic party are in favor, I’m probably (but not always) in favor. If the Jarvis foundation is in favor, I’m probably against. I use the official Sample Ballot, and KQED’s Voter’s Edge voter guide.
Governor: Gavin Newsom. Newsom was the San Francisco Mayor who made early progress in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As Governor, he’ll represent California’s vigorous resistance against the current President. As for his opponent, I think we’ve had enough of the “businessman wants to run government like a business” theory. It doesn’t work.
Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis. Democrats Kounalakis and Hernandez seem equally well-qualified, but the former’s endorsements by President Obama and Senator Harris were enough for me.
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla. This was an easy call. Republican Secretaries of State seem to exist mostly to stop people from voting, even when they themselves are on the ballot. While Republican candidate Mark Meuser is not currently in office, it’s important that he, or any Republican, not ever be in a position to affect California’s election laws and procedures.
Controller: Betty T. Yee. Yee is the Democratic candidate in a statewide office opposed by a Republican candidate. In today’s political climate, I am not voting for any Republicans.
Treasurer: Fiona Ma.
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra. Even if I weren’t certainly going to vote for Becerra as the Democratic candidate, Bailey’s statements are completely disqualifying for potentially California’s chief law enforcement officer. For example:
Stop the continued dismantlement of California’s criminal justice and public safety institutions such as the ‘sanctuary state’ charade and the elimination of cash bail
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara. Poizner has done a creditable job in this role, but Lara has endorsements from Lt. Governor Newsom, Senator Harris, and current Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Member, State Board of Equalization, 2nd District: Malia Cohen.
United States Senator: Kevin de León. Senator Feinstein has been a solid advocate and champion for California’s interests, for the most part, during her years of service in the Senate. However, I’m not at all comfortable with her record and positions since the 2016 election; she’s voted with the Republican majority rather than help reinforce the Democratic resistance on several occasions. It’s time for a fresh perspective and a strong commitment to resistance against the current administration.
U. S. Representative, 14th Congressional District: Jackie Speier.
Member of the State Assembly, 24th Assembly District: Mark Berman.
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court: Carol A. Corrigan and Leondra R. Kruger. These are non-competitive offices for re-appointment; if these two sitting Justices are not retained, new Justices will be appointed. I have no reason to believe either of these Justices should not continue in their work. Both are endorsed by the Los Angeles Times.
Presiding Justice of Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: James M. Humes.
Associate Justice of Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Sandra Margulies.
Associate Justices of Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: James A. Richman and Marla Miller.
Presiding Justice of Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3: Peter John Siggins.
Associate Justices of Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4: Jon B. Streeter and Alison M. Tucher.
Presiding Justice of Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5: Barbara Jones.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony K. Thurmond. The advertising for this race is particularly bitter and, frankly, I don’t feel comfortable voting for either candidate. One (Thurmond) is endorsed by Senator Harris, the other (Tuck) is endorsed by President Obama’s Education Secretary. They both have impressive resumes, lists of organizational supporters, and near-identical statements of goals. I’ll go for Thurmond, but both campaigns should be ashamed of their behavior.
Ravenswood City School District, Members, Governing Board (3): The local school district has been broken, corrupt, useless and worse-than useless for as long as I’ve lived in East Palo Alto. My only selection on this ballot is to vote out the incumbents, particularly Charlie Mae Knight.
City of East Palo Alto, Members, City Council (2): Seven candidates, three of them incumbents, are running for two open seats. Quality of life has improved for the most part in EPA and I’m pretty satisfied with the course the current City Council has set.
Menlo Park Fire Protection District, Members, Board of Directors (3): I have no selection for this office.
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Member, Board of Directors, Ward 5: Greg Scharff.
San Mateo County Harbor District, Members, Board of Commissioners (2): I have no selection for this office.
San Mateo County Board of Education, Member, Trustee Area 1: I have no selection for this office.
Statewide Ballot Measures
See above for my general feelings about ballot measures.
Prop. 1 — Affordable Housing Bonds: YES. California suffers from a well-documented housing shortage, especially for those on the lower end of the income spectrum. This ballot measure authorizes bonds to pay for affordable multifamily housing, down payment assistance, infrastructure, and farmworker housing, plus $1 billion in home loans to eligible veterans.
Prop. 2 — Mental Health Housing Program: YES. This seems like an accounting measure at its heart. Authorizing the use of Prop 63 funds to pay for bonds to build housing for mental health housing. No budget impact.
Prop. 3 — Water Bonds: NO. Seems like this is on the ballot every other election. I would like to see efficient use of the funds already allocated before approving more.
Prop. 4 — Children’s Hospital Bonds: YES. This continues an existing, successful program to rebuild and improve the state’s children’s hospitals.
Prop. 5 — Property Tax Rules: NO. California’s property tax system is broken and this isn’t the way to fix it. Instead, Prop. 13 should be amended to exclude commercial/industrial property.
Prop. 6 — Transportation Taxes and Fees: NO. This subversive measure is written so that voting NO actually means YES, keep an existing fuel tax and registration fee, all of which goes to state transportation projects; but a YES vote means NO, cancel this tax and fee, thus yanking funding from projects already in progress and canceling vital work planned to start soon.
Prop. 7 — Daylight Saving Time: YES. It allows the Legislature to vote to make changes to the state’s implementation of DST rules. California’s system of ballot measures means that because this was decided by popular vote (in 1949), the voters must approve changes. The measure doesn’t make any immediate change; it just returns legislative control over this issue to the Legislature.
Prop. 8 — Kidney Dialysis Clinics: NO. This seems to be a measure in search of a problem. Any changes to California’s enforcement of insurance premiums or prices charged to dialysis patients would seem to be regulated by the Insurance Commissioner and the Legislature. It’s not a fit subject for a popular ballot measure.
Prop. 10 — Local Government and Rent Control: NO. This measure would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, by popular ballot instead of by legislative action. This issue should be addressed by the Legislature. If individual legislators are not willing to take up the matter, they can be voted out.
Prop. 11 — Ambulance Employee Breaks: YES. This seems reasonable and puts ambulance employees on par with most other classes of employees; if you’re subject to being called in to work while on a break, you are at the pleasure of your employer and should be paid for your time.
Prop. 12 — Farm Animal Cages: YES. This clarifies and expands on a 2008 ballot initiative which established minimum standards for caging farm animals. Prop. 12 further codifies those standards.
County of San Mateo / City of East Palo Alto Ballot Measures
Measure HH: YES. This is a City of East Palo Alto parcel tax on commercial properties, with funds allocated to affordable housing and science education programs. East Palo Alto is experiencing a business boom, with many new office buildings and recognizable tenants. I find it reasonable that the city and its residents should realize some small amount of this new prosperity.
Measure W: YES. San Mateo County certainly needs to continue to maintain its highways, improve and increase its transit systems, and enhance bike and pedestrian safety. This is a half-cent sales tax which is dedicated to these projects. The measure language includes the usual caveat that “the state cannot take these funds” but somehow the state usually manages to do so anyway. Still, the projects need to happen and this is how they are funded.
For a mid-term ballot, this one is extensive — perhaps excessive — and continues to show the problem with legislating by popular initiative. If you don’t have time to read up on all the issues, and I don’t blame you, at least please take the time to vote for a slate of candidates who will oppose and resist the current presidential administration.