2018 Election / California

Election 2018: My Endorsements

Below is my outline of how I intend to vote on Tuesday.  Many of the races are not heavily contested or controversial, but I generally spell out why I am voting a certain way.  On the judges, there are a few judges I urge you not to approve for reappointment.

FEDERAL RACES


Senator – Dianne Feinstein

Seniority matters in Congress.  At a time when the administration is openly at war with the state of California (and even Republican members of the Congressional delegation refused to endorse calls for emergency aid during last years fires), the state needs an able champion.  I do not always agree with her, but the left’s caricature of her ignores that this is the Senator who gave us the assault weapons ban and exposed the Bush administration’s torture program as Chair of the Intelligence Committee.

Feinstein is a pragmatist, not an ideologue.  Kevin De León, however, was the author of California’s single-payer legislation that passed the California Senate without any thought for how it would be paid for.  As the Los Angeles Times noted in their endorsement headline, “California doesn’t need a provocateur in the Senate. It needs a leader. Reelect Dianne Feinstein.”,

ted lieuCongress 33rd District – Ted Lieu

Taking over Henry Waxman’s seat after 40 years, Lieu certainly had big shoes to fill.  He’s is now the most retweeted Democrat after Barack Obama and has become a forceful voice in Washington.  Mission accomplished Ted.

 

STATEWIDE RACES


Governor – Gavin Newsom

I went out on a limb in 2009 in Politics Magazine endorsing Newsom over “Brownosaurus Rex“.   I stand by that choice and will vote for Gavin Newsom in November.  The Los Angeles Times praised Newsom:

Newsom, by contrast, has a broad and deep understanding of California’s policy challenges, from the looming problems in public employee pensions to the changing nature of the labor market to what it will take to reach the state’s carbon emission goals. His grasp of the granular facts and figures of government is impressive.

Lt. Governor – Eleni Kounalakis

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This was a difficult choice between two Democrats.  I did not support former Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis or State Senator  Dr. Ed Hernandez (D – West Covina) in the primary.  While my friend Betsy Butler made an impassioned endorsement for Sen. Hernandez, he is, as the San Diego Union-Tribune noted “very much a member of the complacent, sluggish Capitol establishment.”  I like the fact that Eleni has the endorsement of President Obama and Senators Feinstein and Harris, but ultimately it came down to Hernandez’s being MIA on fracking and investigating the methane link at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in Los Angeles County.  This may explain why the League of Conservation Voters supports Eleni.

Secretary of State – Alex Padilla

Padilla, the former LA City Council Chair, is virtually unopposed in his bid for reelection.

Attorney General – Javier Becerra

Prior to taking over as Attorney General, Becerra had a distinguished career in Washington and made it to some short lists for Vice President.  As Attorney General, his stature has made him an effective force in the battle against Trump.  I see no reason to change.

State Comptroller – Betty Yee

Controller Yee has no meaningful opposition.

State Treasurer – Fiona Ma

Ma, who currently is on the Board of Equalization, has the experience and broad support.

Insurance Commissioner – Ricardo Lara

I did not support either candidate in the primary.  While former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (now running as an Independent) has won many editorial board endorsements; after he ran what the Sacramento Bee called an “odious” anti-immigration campaign when he sought the Republican nomination for Governor in 2010 I simply cannot support him.  Instead, I will support Democrat State Senator Ricardo Lara.

Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tony Thurmond

Assemblyman Tony Thurmond has the support of the teachers versus charter school businessman Marshall Tuck.

SO CAL RACES


Assembly District 50 – Richard Bloom

While there are many good things I could say about Richard, there is no need to since he is unopposed.

Ben-AllenSenate District 26 – Ben Allen

I have seen Ben Allen in action in Sacramento and in his district and he is an effective State Senator.

State Board of Equalization (3rd District) – Tony Vazquez

I support Tony Vazquez in spite of his service on the dysfunctional Santa Monica City Council.  HIs opponent, C. Rick Marshall, is a Howard Jarvis anti-tax ideologue.

County Assessor – Jeffrey Prang

Prang is endorsed in his bid for reelection by the LA Times and major Democratic groups.

Sheriff – Jim McDonnell

I supported Alex Villanueva in the primary as a reformer who fought corruption under Sheriff Baca.  But I am persuaded by the Los Angeles Times endorsement of the need for someone like Sheriff Jim McDonnell who has both “command experience” (he is the former No. 2 man at the LAPD and chief of the Long Beach Police Department) and is an outsider.  Villanueva, in contrast, is described by the Times as “a long-tenured and recently retired sheriff’s lieutenant who never rose past the middle ranks and offers a limited record of leadership.”

JUDICIAL RACES


One could take a partisan view of these appointments, with Democrats choosing to block future terms for judges appointed by Republicans.  At the same time, however, as the Los Angeles Times points out, however, “[r]etention votes support independent courts that make decisions based on the law and not on popular sentiment or political partisanship.”

I recommend retaining most but not all of the judges

Supreme Court Justices – No on Corrigan

Opposition to Justice Carol Corrigan centers on her votes against gay marriage in the Marriage Cases (2008) and in upholding Proposition 8  in Straus v Horton (2009).  The LGBT was furious, especially since she was gay herself.  As a result, Corrigan was outed and the LGBT community (including Greg Louganis) is calling for a no vote on Corrigan.

Court of Appeal Reappointment  – No on Arthur Gilbert

There are 17 Court of Appeal Judges up for retention votes and I will vote for all except Arthur Gilbert the Presiding Justice of Division 6 of the California Court of Appeal, Second District.  Gilbert is 80 years old and should retire.

Superior Court Races

Superior Court No. 4 – A. Veronica Sauceda

Sauceda currently serves as a Court Commissioner, she is rated well qualified by the LA County Bar and has the support of a number of Democratic groups.

Superior Court No. 16 – Patti Hunter

Hunter is a prosecutor with support from the LA County Democratic Party.

Superior Court No. 60 – Holly Hancock

Public Defender  Holly Hancock is endorsed by the LA Times.

Superior Court No. 113 – Javier Perez

Deputy District Attorney Perez has broad Democratic support.

PROPOSITIONS


I do have a bias on propositions, as I think there are some matters best left to a legislative body.

Prop 1 (Housing Bonds): Yes

Allows the state to sell $4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund veterans and affordable housing.  Supported by Democratic Groups and the Los Angeles Times which notes:

This bond is a worthy effort to alleviate the state’s housing crisis. It would finance mortgages at low interest rates for veterans to buy homes or farms, and it would help fund construction of apartments and houses for approximately 30,000 lower-income apartment dwellers.

Prop 2 (Mental Health Housing): Yes

Allows the state to use existing county mental health funds to pay for housing for those with mental illness who are homeless.  Supported by the Democratic Party and the Los Angeles Times.

Prop 3 (Water Bonds): No

Allows the state to sell $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds to fund various water and environmental projects.  As the Los Angeles Times explains

Not all water bonds are created equal. This one would have all Californians pay for projects that would benefit only a few interests or regions, chiefly Central Valley agriculture.

Prop 4 (Children’s Hospitals): Yes

Allows the state to sell $1.5 billion in general obligation bonds for the construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of certain hospitals that treat children.  As the Los Angeles Times explains

The state’s low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates make it close to impossible for children’s hospitals to upgrade their buildings to meet state seismic standards. Proposition 4 helps fill that gap while also enabling hospitals to expand capacity to meet a growing need.

Prop 5 (Property Tax): No

The proposition removes the so-called “moving penalty” that currently hurts Seniors (55+) and severely disabled Californians.  Democratic groups and the Los Angeles Times oppose this measure which the Times calls  “a gift to wealthy homeowners who want to move to new homes yet keep their old (lower) property taxes.”

Prop 6 (Gas Tax Repeal): No

The proposition would eliminate fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the Legislature, which would reduce funding for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit program.  Democratic groups and the Los Angeles Times oppose this measure which the Times describes as:

This latest tantrum from the anti-tax crowd would ensure that roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure keep deteriorating. It’s a ballot measure only a pothole could love — and anyone who believes that a $130-billion maintenance backlog can be fixed by magic.

Prop 7 (Daylight Savings Time): Yes

Gives Legislature the ability to change daylight saving time period by a two-thirds vote, if changes are consistent with federal law.  The bill permits debate on the issue and nothing would change without Congressional approval.

Prop 8 (Kidney Dialysis Costs): No

Kidney dialysis clinics would have their revenues limited by a formula and could be required to pay rebates to certain parties (primarily health insurance companies) that pay for dialysis treatment.  The Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle all oppose this measure.  Such a life and death issue for so many should be dealt with in Sacramento, not the ballot box.

Prop 9 – Removed from Ballot

Prop 10 (Rent Control): Yes

State law would not limit the kinds of rent control laws cities and counties could have.  Democratic groups and the Los Angeles Times supports this.  The Times explains:

Proposition 10 would not impose rent control anywhere, despite what people on both sides argue. But it would repeal the state law that restricts cities’ ability to enact or expand rent control laws. Cities should have the option to consider such measures as part of their efforts to slow displacement when rents are skyrocketing.

Be careful what you wish for, however, since some claim rent control leads to a reduction in housing supply and market inefficiencies.

Prop 11 (EMTs Breaks): No

Private ambulance companies could continue their current practice of having emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics stay on-duty during their meal and rest breaks in order to respond to 911 calls.  I would prefer this to be resolved by the legislature.

Prop 12 (Cage-Free Animal Housing): Yes

Establishes new minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal. California businesses would be banned from selling eggs or uncooked pork or veal that came from animals housed in ways that did not meet these requirements.  The Los Angeles Times supports the measure as “a humane measure that will move farmers toward better treatment of their animals, and voters should support it.”   I am inclined to defer to the legislature on this measure as well, but believe it is worth sending a signal that voters take animal cruelty seriously.

LA County Measure W (Stormwater Parcel Tax): Yes

Creates a parcel tax for properties within the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, which covers the majority of Los Angeles to fund increasing stormwater capture and reducing urban runoff pollution.  As explained by the Los Angeles Times:

It’s hard to see how L.A. can avoid enormous fines for violating clean water laws, or get more of its water from local sources to replace threatened imports, without Measure W allowing more water on each parcel to soak into the ground rather than flow down paved streets and ultimately into the ocean.

SMS (Classroom Repair) – No

This $485M bond to fund Santa Monica-Malibu classroom repair projects is poorly defined and not tied to specific projects.

SANTA MONICA


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Santa Monica has seen a decline in quality of life due to overdevelopment, congestion, increased crime and homelessness.  The city also is spending untold sums hiring mega-firm Gibson Dunn to defend a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit over its refusal to allow election from individual districts instead of the current at-large elections.  This is one of the rare times when I profess a “throw the bums out” sentiment at election time.

City Council – Scott Bellomo, Geoffrey Neri and Sue Himmelrich

Bellomo and Neri have garnered the support of the Smart Growth community, while a friend endorses Councilmember Himmelrich as someone who has been independent and is sensitive to the issues of smart growth and crime.

Rent Control Board – Lori Brown, Nicole Phillis, and Steve Duron

Measure SM (Supermajority for Expanded Development) – Yes

Any vote to expand the maximum height limit or floor area ratio in any land use designation would require the vote of five of the seven members, instead of four for the next ten years.

Measure TL (Term Limits) – Yes

I hate term limits, but this is fairly tame as they come – setting a three-term limit.  I think it is needed to break up the current council.

Measure RR (City Boards) – Yes

Clarifies that City residents are eligible for city boards.

Santa Monica Community College District – All But Acosta

There are five candidates for four seats and the Democrats have endorsed Nancy Greenstein, Louise Jaffe, Sion Roy and Barry Snell.

Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District

The Democrats have endorsed incumbents Oscar de la Torre, Laurie Lieberman and
Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.  The Santa Monica Mirror also endorsed Ann Maggio Thanawalla.

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