How to vote on the June 5 ballot

05/25/2018

My favorite part of the California voter information guide is the candidate statements. Each candidate for state office can buy a half-page to present his or her platform. It’s not cheap to buy the space, but most candidates do so. Yet I’m amazed that some people who fork out the bucks have so little to say. For example, one Republican gubernatorial candidate’s campaign statement consists solely of the hashtag “#cesp5.”      

I’m also intrigued by how obsessively focused some office-seekers are on a single issue. One candidate for U.S. Senate uses his entire half-page expounding on the topic “There is no such thing as ‘transgender.’ It does not exist.” A refreshingly different (if punctuation-challenged) statement was provided by a Green party candidate for governor: “Teach your children calculus And keep the planet safe Or feathered stones and empty bowls also be their fate.” (Google it.)

My favorite statement for why we should support a candidate was provided by Johnny Wattenburg, also running for governor. His statement reads simply, “Why not!”

Moving on to voting recommendations for the June 5 primary, the two most viable candidates for governor are Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa. The latter has sold out to libertarian-tainted charter school stridents in exchange for gobs of campaign cash, so my vote goes to Kentfield resident Newsom (although I do also like John Chiang). For lieutenant governor, it’s close to a tossup between Jeff Bleich and Ed Hernandez, but I give a slight edge to Bleich.

Running for re-election are Alex Padilla for secretary of state and Betty Yee for controller. Vote for them. I can’t say the same for Xavier Becerra, who was appointed attorney general in 2016 and is now running for a full term. The problem here is that his principal opponent, Dave Jones, currently the insurance commissioner, would be better. The two men are in lock step on the issues, but Becerra tends to grandstand a lot, while Jones is more the roll-up-your-sleeves type who will focus better on the details of the office and ensure that goals are actually accomplished, not just rolled out for sound-bite press conferences. 

For treasurer, I’m quite comfortable with Fiona Ma, but I’m also impressed by earnest, young Vivek Viswanathan and especially his “10 ideas,” which you can check out on his website). I endorse Malia Cohen for State Board of Equalization.

The front-runner for insurance commissioner is Ricardo Lara, but I’m not sure why when I dive into his website. He barely mentions anything about the office for which he is running, and I wonder if he regards it simply as a stepping stone to a future higher-profile office. In contrast, Mahmood Asif’s website addresses many important issues relevant directly to the California Department of Insurance. Asif is the better choice (but avoid Steve Poizner, who took some pretty nasty positions when he ran for governor as a Republican a few years back).

Dianne Feinstein and Jared Huffman get the nod for U.S. Senator and Congressman, respectively.

For our legislators in Sacramento, I’m impressed by the job the energetic Mike McGuire has been doing as our state senator. For the Assembly, I’m happy to find in San Anselmo’s Dan Monte a promising alternative to incumbent Marc Levine, who has a habit of picking really weird causes to waste his legislative energies on.

Lastly at the state level, vote for Tony Thurmond for superintendent of public instruction. I urge you not to take a chance on Marshall Tuck’s supposed conversion to strong supporter of public schools. He’s got a long background of flag waving on behalf of charter school initiatives, and I worry that putting him in charge of California’s public school system makes as much sense as naming Betsy DeVos to head up the U.S. Department of Education.

Turning to Marin County offices, I’m planning to cast my ballot for Matt Nagle for county superintendent of schools. His chances of winning are indeed slight, but the outstanding job he’s done as principal of West Marin and Inverness Schools deserves to be recognized locally. Also, votes for Matt might send a message to Shoreline Union School District’s bureaucracy and trustees that we support him and we insist that he is still at the principal’s desk in the fall.

My choice for assessor-recorder-clerk is Shelly Scott, whom I’ve endorsed in the past and who is the candidate with by far the most experience in this office’s multifold functions. For district attorney, all three candidates appear to be well qualified, but an important distinction is that only one of them supports bail reform. That’s Anna Pletcher, so she gets the nod from me.

On the state propositions, I am in favor of four of them—Prop. 68 for bonds for environmental protection projects, Prop. 69 to insure that transportation revenues get spent for transportation purposes, Prop. 71 that says that ballot measures don’t go into effect until all the ballots have been counted and the election certified, and Prop. 72 that protects the installation of rain-capture systems from triggering a Prop. 13 property tax reassessment.

That leaves the enigmatic Prop. 70. A core issue in this highly technical constitutional amendment is jiggering with how the legislature approves spending billions of dollars of cap-and-trade revenue. Under Prop. 70, expenditures of the revenues from cap-and-trade fees and auctions (whose expenditures must be for projects that reduce greenhouse gases) will require temporarily a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature, instead of the current majority vote. What’s more, all expenditures from the fund would be suspended after 2024 until such a two-thirds vote is obtained for any project. This sounds too much like a recipe for producing the sort of gridlock that hamstrung the California legislature during the decades when a two-thirds vote was required to approve the state budget. I see no reason why greenhouse gas reduction projects should be held hostage to a two-thirds vote requirement, so I urge No on Prop. 70.

Regional Measure 3 authorizes three $1 increases spread over six years in the tolls on state toll bridges, with the increased revenue to be invested in a grab-bag of specified highway and transportation improvement projects. This is a relatively painless way to raise needed revenue for improving the flow of traffic throughout the Bay Area. Vote Yes on Measure 3 (which applies to the Richmond Bridge, but not the Golden Gate Bridge).

In Stinson Beach, please approve Measure H, which simply authorizes the county water district to keep all the tax revenues to which it is entitled under Prop. 13.

 

Wade Holland has been involved in community affairs in West Marin for four decades. An Inverness resident, he volunteers as the Light’s copy editor.