VOTING 101

Welcome to BAStA’s California June 5, 2018 Voter Information Guide! The goal of this guide is to get as many people as possible—especially first-time voters and youth—to VOTE in the June 5th California primary. You can also find information on Voter’s Edge and on many news sites. We encourage you to research as much as you can! Note that in California, the top-two primary policy means that any two candidates-regardless of party affiliation-can face off in the November election.

    We have not included ballot measures or races with only one candidate.

 

THE ISSUES/DEFINITIONS

Incumbent: they already hold that office & are running for re-election

Costa-Hawkins Act: A law that exempts certain kinds of residential rental units from rent control ordinances (limits on what the landlord can charge for rent) and allows landlords to reset the price on  previously rent-controlled rental units when a new tenant moves in.

Proposition 13: A 1978 state proposition that limited property taxes to 1% of their assessed value (with other restrictions on assessments and the approval of tax increases statewide and in municipalities).

Delta Tunnels Plan: Would construct two four-story tall underground tunnels to carry fresh water from the Sacramento River along the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Central Valley, in an effort to alleviate the agricultural water shortage. It would cost $15 billion, with an extra $8 billion used for habitat restoration. The plan does not need voter or legislature approval (so if you care about this one, this is definitely a deciding factor in choosing a governor) The plan is opposed by farmers along the delta who argue that their water is being diverted, as well as concerns that the plan would disrupt the salinity of the water. Proponents argue that the project would improve the delta and natural habitat and may help CA battle rising waters.

High Speed Rail: A proposal to make a high-speed train line going from LA-SF with stops all over CA, and in the future, up to Sacramento and down to San Diego. SF- LA would take approximately 2.5 hours.Construction has already begun (2015), with voter approval, but the project has been troubled since the beginning, with much opposition and a costly ($64 billion) budget.

Charter Schools: Charters are independently run and non-unionized. (So teachers have fewer rights) They often result in declines in enrollment for the surrounding school district. They are meant to provide an alternative to public schools for students.


California Governor

 

The governor is basically the president of the state of California. This is the primary, so when we vote for the governor in November, there will only be two candidates to choose from. The bolded names are considered the more serious contenders. Because the list is of candidates is so long, we have eliminated those who do not provide clear  information about their positions and candidacy. Governors serve 4 year terms and can serve up to 2 terms. Our current governor, Jerry Brown, is termed out.

  • John Chiang: Democrat, current State Treasurer. Likes single-payer health care but believes the state should incorporate it slowly. Helped to create $20 million emergency fund for health care when Affordable Care Act was threatened. Promises to use bigger portion of funds on affordable housing. Backs goal of California being 100% renewable energy powered by 2045, mandating all new cars be fossil-fuel free by 2035. Supports gas-tax increase if it is only used for transportation. Backs high-speed rail. Would decrease tuition by 40+% at CA state universities and provide two years of free community college for all state residents.

  • Delaine Eastin: Democrat, former Superintendent of Public Instruction. Backs single-payer health care and Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants. Wants to use taxes from cannabis sales to fund low-cost medications. Supports banning fracking and opposes delta tunnels plan. Interested in high speed rail but concerned about financial aspect. Calls for universal pre-school and mandatory full day kindergarten, and reducing college costs, as well as building new colleges in high unemployment areas. Supports banning assault weapons.

  • Gavin Newsom: Democrat, current Lieutenant Governor, former mayor of San Francisco. Favors single-payer healthcare but is concerned about the costs. Believes new housing should cluster around transit centers and that the state should incentivize housing instead of retail. Wants high-speed rail and supports gas-tax increase. Supports banning future but not present fracking, and wants to establish goal of zero diesel pollution by 2030. Supports delta tunnels plan. Has an F rating from the NRA and endorsed by Gabby Giffords, a prominent gun control advocate. Believes in making both public and charter schools available to every student.

  • Antonio Villaraigosa: Democrat, former mayor of Los Angeles. Supports banning assault weapons, as well as more mental health services and tighter background checks. Supports single-payer healthcare? but is doubtful the state can pay for it. Would prioritize clean water for low-income residents. Opposes delta tunnel plan. Supports gas tax plan, but says it is disproportionately difficult for low-income residents and those with long commutes. Supports high speed rail. Supports making charter schools more accessible and strongly endorsed by Charter Schools Association.Wants to offer bachelor’s degrees at community colleges and build more universities in the Central Valley.

  • Travis Allen: Republican, current State Assemblymember. Supports arming teachers and other school personnel, overturning gun-free school zones. Opposes single-payer healthcare as well as mandatory vaccinations and Medi-Cal benefits for undocumented immigrants. Wants to decrease regulation around housing. Wants to repeal gas tax completely and opposes high speed rail. Favors increased standardized testing in schools, and would encourage charter schools. Would freeze public university tuitions so that the amount could not increase.

  • John Cox: Republican, current State Assemblymember, endorsed by President Trump. Opposes single-payer healthcare, backs increasing competition for health care. Does not believe people cause climate change and believes a warmer planet might actually be better. Opposes renewable energy and delta tunnels plan. Does not support high-speed rail. Wants a review of state school system, to provide vouchers to low-income families to use at charter/private/religious schools, and supports increasing state university professors’ workload to cut costs. Strongly believes in 2nd amendment and that gun control doesn’t work.

  • Amanda Renteria: former staffer for US Senator Dianne Feinstein, former (unsuccessful) candidate for California’s CD-21, in the Central Valley). Wants to change the culture of politics and address sexual misconduct in Sacramento. Supports declaring a state of emergency around homelessness in CA, and defunding private prisons.

  • Michael Shellenberger: author and environmental policy expert. campaign website

  • Klement Tinaj: Supports single payer, investing in public education. campaign website

  • Juan Bribiesa: former doctor. campaign site

  • Robert Newman: Republican, social conservative. Against abortion and wants to “turn back the government to America’s founding fathers’ ideals”

  • Josh Jones: Green party. Abolish private prisons and mass incarceration. campaign website

  • Zoltan Istvan: Libertarian, founder of Transhumanist party, 2016 presidential candidate.candidate website

  • Nickolas Wildstar: libertarian, recording artist. campaign website

  • Gloria La Riva: Peace and Freedom party, community activist. Ran for president in 2016. website from presidential run

  • Shubham Goel: 22-year-old virtual reality manager. campaign website

  • Hakan “Hawk” Mikado: campaign website

  • Desmond Silveira: Pro-life, believes marriage is one man, one woman. website


Lieutenant Governor

 

If we’re thinking of the governor as California’s president, the lieutenant governor is the vice president- the 2nd ranking officer of California’s  executive branch. If anything happened to the governor, they would take over the role- so you want to trust this person to do the governor’s job! Serves as a UC regent and a trustee of CSU. Tie-breaker in case of a state senate tie vote. They also have a 4-year term with a 2-term limit. Our current Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom, is termed out and now running for governor. Candidates have spent record-breaking amounts of money on the Lt. Governor race this year.

  • Jeff Bleich: lawyer, Ambassador to Australia under the Obama administration, Democrat. Endorsed by Sierra Club. Promises to work with legislature and CSU/UCs to increase affordability and access to college, and to find ways to create sustainable and affordable housing.

  • Cameron Gharabiklou: Democrat, LA area attorney. Prioritizes education and environment.

  • Ed Hernandez: current State Senator from SD-22 (West Covina), in SoCal, Democrat, former optometrist. Supports debt-free college, public schools, DACA, affordable healthcare.

  • Eleni Kounalakis: former US Ambassador to Hungary under the Obama administration, Democrat. Endorsed by state Senator Kamala Harris, and minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Vows to lower CSU & UC tuition and fight against offshore drilling.

  • David Fennell: Republican, Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Supports 2nd Amendment rights, and emphasizes gun safety and mental health over gun control laws.

  • Cole Harris: Republican, endorsed by CA Republican Party. Wants to cut “red tape” for small businesses, and loosen regulation for building new housing. Prioritizes government efficiency, especially financially.

  • David Hernandez: Republican, Vietnam veteran, formerly on San Fernando Valley chamber of commerce, retired business owner. Supports gun rights and Prop 13. Slogan is “Make California Great Again”.

  • Lydia Ortega: San Jose state economics professor, Republican. Supports Me Too movement, believes in affordable college where students can think freely. Denounces “communist thugs” in Berkeley.

  • Tim Ferreira: Libertarian, does not believe in Lt. Governor position and would work to eliminate the role if elected.

  • Gayle McLaughlin: non-partisan, former Green Party mayor of Richmond 2006-2014. Reduced crime in Richmond as mayor, while imposing stricter regulations and taxes on the municipality’s main employer, Chevron. Favors single payer,  free college, and public schools.

  • Danny Thomas: dental surgeon, no party affiliation. Prioritizes government transparency and accountability, encouraging all citizens over age 18 to vote and run for office.


Attorney General

 

The Attorney General advises the Executive branch of state government (which they are considered a part of) and defends actions and proceedings on behalf of the state. They are the chief legal advisor and law enforcement officer. Basically, California’s top lawyer.

  • Xavier Becerra (incumbent): Democrat, appointed by Governor Brown in 2016. Considered a leader of CA’s “resistance” after several legal battles against President Trump on immigration, health care, and environmental issues.

  • Dave Jones: Democrat, current Insurance Commissioner, former state assembly member and legal aide.

  • Steven Bailey: Republican, retired superior court judge. Prioritizes reversing “soft on crime” policies and sanctuary state. Endorsed by CA Republican Party & LAPD.

  • Eric Early: Republican, attorney/business owner. Favors repealing Sanctuary State and focusing on mental health, homelessness, and drug abuse.


Secretary of State

 

This role differs slightly from state to state, but in California, the main role of the Secretary of State is to oversee all federal and state elections in California and maintain a database of registered voters. They also maintain business filings.

  • Alex Padilla (incumbent): Democrat, former state senator and LA city councilmember. Has worked to make voting more relevant in CA by moving the 2020 presidential primary to March, sponsoring the Voters Choice Act, and encouraging 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote, so that more Californians are registered voters.

  • Ruben Major: Democrat, Paramedic. Aims to better protect CA from voter fraud and increase political transparency.

  • Mark P. Meuser: Republican. Will prioritize updating certain aspects of voting, such as pin codes instead of signatures for mail-in ballots (to decrease number of rejected ballots), and purging voter lists of deceased and moved people.

  • Raul Rodriguez Jr.: Republican. Army veteran. Zero information to be found about him.

  • Michael Feinstein: Green Party, former Santa Monica Mayor. Against top-two, and big money in politics. Wants to prohibit secretary of state from endorsing candidates in elections.

  • Erik Rydberg: Green Party. “Native American Bernie delegate”.

  • Gail Lightfoot: Libertarian, retired nurse. Against the current top-two primary system in California.

  • CT Weber: Peace and Freedom Party. Also advocates against top-two system, and to take money out of politics.


California Controller

 

The Controller is the state’s primary accountant/ bookkeeper, controlling & tracking the state treasury money, and reviewing and auditing school districts, lottery, state agencies, local governments and more.

  • Betty Yee (incumbent): Democrat. Widely considered the only serious contender in this race. Has worked as the state controller since 2015, and previously served on the State Board of Equalization.

  • Konstantinos Roditis: Republican, entrepreneur/CEO.  Wants to “root out waste, fraud, and abuse”. Also promises to cut funding to high-speed rail and to implement a plan called “Trickle Up Taxation”.

  • Mary Lou Finley: Peace and freedom party, retired educator. Promises to forgive student loan debt, and to use taxes to make education and medical care free, as well as housing and food more affordable.


Treasurer

 

The state treasurer is the state’s lead asset manager, banker and financier and serves on many boards and commissions. They receive and deposit state monies, manage investments and keep track of budget surpluses and deficits.

  • Fiona Ma: Democrat, current member of the Board of Equalization from District 2 (see below), former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Promises to hold corporations accountable for their actions, and make sure that everyone pays their taxes. Endorsed by high-profile Democrats such as Kamala Harris.

  • Vivek Viswanathan: Democrat, worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, special advisor to Governor Brown. Campaigns without “big money” so that the treasurer works as an independent office, strongly supports progressive measures such as universal preschool, accessible healthcare, free community college.

  • Jack M. Guerrero: Republican, economist. Vows to work on pension reform, reduce state debt and taxation, and testify before legislative committees as California’s financial voice.

  • Kevin Akin: Peace and Freedom Party. Wants publicly-owned state bank to improve efficiency, reduce taxes on poor, and focus efforts on the working class.

  • Greg Conlon: Republican, businessman.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is the head of the California Department of Education. They carry out the policies made by the state’s Board of Education and oversee the operation of the California public school system.

  • Tony Thurmond: Current Assembly member from District 15, former West Contra Costa County school board member. Endorsed by teacher’s unions and incumbent. Supportive of public schools, while against for-profit charters. Believes that school should do more than “teach to the test”.

  • Marshall Tuck: supported by charter school advocates. Wants to prioritize educators and fund modern classrooms.

  • Lily (Espinoza) Ploski: Educational administrator and teacher, advocates for funding of K-12 schools as well as community colleges, “safe and healthy schools and communities”, and closing the achievement gap.

  • Steven Ireland: Wants to add more funding for mental health specifically to protect against school violence, and put money towards fixing school buildings to update them.


Insurance Commissioner

 

The Insurance Commissioner is in charge of the California Department of Insurance. They regulate insurance in California. There is limited information about the candidates because this is a pretty low-profile race.

  • Nathalie Hrizi: Peace and Freedom Party, public school teacher.

  • Asif Mahmood: Pakistani immigrant, doctor, Democrat. Prioritizes healthcare, eliminating fraud and disaster prevention. Endorsed by Controller Betty Yee.

  • Steve Poizner: running as independent, former Republican Insurance Commissioner (2007-2011), businessman.

  • Ricardo Lara: current member of the State Senate from SD-33, Democrat, LGBTQ caucus, chair of the Senate Appropriations (fiscal) Committee.