Your guide to the June 7 ballot

05/26/2016

It’s a pleasure again this year to share my views on the candidates and issues on the June primary ballot. Let’s start right at the top of the ballot, at least as far as West Marin is concerned: District Four Supervisor.

At the candidates’ forum held a few weeks back at the Dance Palace, I was appalled by the stream of misinformation and factual errors that spewed from the table where the eight people running to succeed Steve Kinsey were sitting. The only three hopefuls who demonstrated a passing score on understanding the actual office for which they are running were (in ballot order) Wendi Kallins, Dominic Grossi and Dennis Rodoni. The real race is most likely between those three, two of whom will face off in the November general election. There’s no point in wasting space here on the other five candidates, whose performances ably demonstrated why they, collectively, will turn out to be the also-rans. 

My support goes to Wendi Kallins, who impressed me with her political acumen and her record of in-the-trenches experience getting things done. Once she commits to something, she’s an unstoppable force. I appreciate Dominic’s earnestness and his lasting contributions to maintaining Marin’s agricultural heritage, and I acknowledge—note that I avoided saying “appreciate”—Dennis’s fundraising prowess and how fluidly his campaign spawns glossy mailers and roadside placards. Only Wendi seems to have a gut understanding of the realpolitik challenges that will confront whoever takes over the office on Jan. 1. We in West Marin have become a bit spoiled over the past 44 years because we’ve been represented—over-represented, really—on the Board of Supervisors by two extraordinarily strong, capable leaders. Wendi Kallins is our premier hope to continue that enviable tradition.      

As I backtrack to the top of the ballot, I must say that I have a long-standing admiration for Bernie and most everything he stands for (and Vermont was my mother’s home state).  But he can’t get elected without the party’s nomination, and regardless of what California does he isn’t going to get the nomination. I think it is critical, given the obscenity that’s emerging on the other ticket, to unite early behind the Democratic candidate whose name will appear on the November ballot. It’s a tough-love choice, but I’m voting on June 7 for Hillary Clinton.

If you want to see some bizarre stuff, skim through the candidate statements for the 34 (!) people contending to succeed Barbara Boxer for United States Senator; there’s even a candidate who has a second home in Inverness. I recommend you mark your ballot for Kamala Harris, our state’s Attorney General. 

For United States Representative, I continue to be in awe of our incumbent, Jared Huffman. He has been there steadfastly for us on the Coast Guard housing project, and at the same time he has been making a mark on the national scene. Get the House back, and I predict that Jared will emerge quickly in the Congressional leadership ranks.

For State Assembly, I contend that after three-plus years the incumbent, Marc Levine, could be doing a better job, especially comparing his first years with Jared’s first years in Sacramento. I was hopeful that his Democrat opponent, Veronica Jacobi, might be a viable replacement, as suggested by her positions and record on the Santa Rosa city council. But watching her stumble through a debate with Levine that he dominated quite impressively, I became convinced that Jacobi could not hold her own in the cauldron of Sacramento’s politics. We’re better off this year voting for Marc Levine. (The third candidate, Gregory Allen, did not show up for the debate and his website is notably uninformative.)   

Nine candidates are seeking an open seat on the Marin Superior Court bench, and deciding on one to vote for is not easy. Sheila Lichtblau has an impressive list of endorsements, and with only three female judges (out of 12), there’s merit to replacing retiring Judge Faye D’Opal with another woman. Yet I’m more impressed by Michael Coffino, whose background as a public defender would counteract the bench’s tilt towards former District Attorney prosecutors. Mike has been endorsed by several West Marin notables, and he touts a family connection to West Marin.   

On the measures, I recommend YES on Prop. 50, which will enable the state legislature to suspend members without pay and benefits while they are facing serious charges of wrongdoing. Currently they can be suspended, but they still collect their paychecks and benefits. 

Regional Measure AA is another YES vote for me. It will set a modest tax of $12 per parcel per year throughout the Bay Area’s nine counties to fund a 20-year program for restoration and cleanup of San Francisco Bay. The arguments in opposition are nonsense.

Finally, there’s a bond issue to fund the second round of upgrading and modernizing the College of Marin’s two campuses. I observe that the college district has been doing what it promised to do with the first round of bonds voters approved in 2004, so it deserves to get the funding needed to finish the job. I recommend YES on Measure B. (Interestingly, the only signatory on the voter pamphlet opposing the bonds is a guy who appears to live in Los Angeles County and represents an organization headquartered in San Diego County. Go figure!)

It is important to note that there are issues of critical importance to West Marin that could be impacted significantly by the outcomes of races in other parts of the county. Among these issues are the lawsuit that appears to be the opening salvo of a campaign to quash ranching in the seashore (and then elsewhere throughout West Marin?), the affordable housing crisis in general, the acquisition for affordable housing of the Coast Guard site in particular, short-term vacation rentals and sea-level rise. It would be much to our benefit in West Marin that Katie Rice in the second supervisorial district and Kate Sears in the third supervisorial district be re-elected. If you have friends in these districts, urge them to consider their vote from a countywide perspective and to vote for them.   

 

Wade Holland has represented West Marin on the Marin County Planning Commission since 2004. He is a 46-year resident of Inverness and a retired general manager of the Inverness Public Utility District.