Saturday, June 2, 2018

Suffering Suffrage

It’s been a hundred years since American women were granted the right to vote. I spend a day parsing my ten-page sample ballot for Tuesday’s primary.  Following my rationale and reasoning here, I will provide a simple list of my ballot choices.  For the record, I’m pretty much a party-line Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren liberal.  If this reflects your own sensibilities and you don’t have eight hours to study every candidate and measure, feel free to use my list.

California has a Jungle Primary.  The two top vote getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the November election. In 2010, a statewide referendum, with the encouragement of Governor Schwarzenegger, was enacted.  The intention was to abate gerrymandering and give an advantage to moderate candidates, over more extremist aspirants, who might prove more successful in a two-party race. 

It seems sensible, in some ways, that the top vote getters would advance and for the most part, I consider the two-party system to be a failure, but one we’re so entrenched in that I see no path out. I think it is likely that there will be two Democratic candidates in November for governor and senator as well.

Unless Gavin Newsom does something naughty over the summer, I predict that he’ll be our next governor.  But, just in case of unforeseen circumstances, I think it’s important to have a strong second choice.  Therefore, I’m voting for another reliable Democrat, John Chiang.  Given my druthers, I’d probably cast my ballot for Delaine Eastin but I think a vote for Chiang is the best insurance of keeping Villaraigosa—currently in third place--off the ballot. There are a number of reasons that I would not like the former mayor of L.A. to serve as governor, but I’ll put it succinctly.  Herbalife.  Villaraigosa raked in a bundle as a consultant.

The three top Dems vying to be Lieutenant Governor are all cookie cutter liberals and highly qualified for a position that Gavin Newsome, the current incumbent, refers to as ceremonial. State Senator Ed Hernandez has raised a disproportionate amount of his campaign chest from unions.  Eleni Kounalakis addresses campaign finance reform, but her campaign is bankrolled by a $2,000,000 contribution from her dad.  Jeff Bleich is well credentialed too, but I am tempted to vote for Eleni, who is just as qualified and would be the first woman to hold the office. However, Bleich, to my knowledge, is the only candidate who’s specifically addressed adult education, so he’s getting my vote but there really, there isn’t a bad candidate.

Alex Padilla is almost certain to be reelected Secretary of State, and none of his competitors make a compelling case for being better qualified.  He’s been very aggressive on Trump and has made strides in increasing voter registration and increasing election efficiency.

Controller Betty Yee has no Democrat competing against her.  Her performance has been excellent, and I see no reason not to re-elect her.  While Vivek Viswanathan campaigned for the position of Treasurer by running from the Northern California border to the Mexican, I’m voting for the eminently qualified Fiona Ma.

I took a look at former Insurance Commissioner Doug Jones, who’s competing for Xavier Becerra’s position of Attorney General. I would have likely voted Becerra anyway but upon learning that the Jones actually filed a super petty law suit against Becerra pertinent to an error regarding a filming permit for a political spot, it’s Becerra for sure.

Ricardo Lara, having served as State Senator, is the most qualified candidate for Insurance Commissioner.  Tax attorney/Commissioner Cheryl Turner is my choice, based on her experience and endorsements, for Member of the State Board of Equalization.

If the Senate were not such a spooky place these days, I’d probably support Kevin DeLeon.  Feinstein’s age is an issue, but it appears that she’s sharp.  Also, Feinstein has moved to the left a bit, renouncing the death penalty and embracing the legalization of marijuana.  She still wields enormous clout and is savvy to the dynamics of the Congress.  She might be better able to work with the old right.  As I write this, I’m torn but I think I’ll go with Feinstein, at least for this primary.  By November I may well have changed my tune.

Jimmy Gomez, the House Representative from the 34th District, was just elected last year so he has no Democrat opponents on the ballot. No reason not to let him finish what he’s just started.

We are in the 24th Senate District and our candidates for State Senator are Peter Choi and Maria Elena Durazo.  Choi has raised $8000.  He’s a Silver Lake guy with roots in entertainment and non-profits.  His statement of purpose is eloquent.  Maria Durazo’s career has been in union administration and she’s raised over a million, mostly from unions.  The percentage of Americans who belong to unions has declined and I think that this is unfortunate.  However, just as I am opposed to big business throwing around money in politics, labor has no place there either.  Publicly funded elections and a gigantic reining in on lobbying would right a lot of what’s wrong here. Elizabeth Warren is drafting a measure that would prohibit anyone who has ever served in a high position of service would be prohibited for life to engage in any sort of lobbying.  Oh, so I’m voting for Peter Choi but predict a different winner.

The County Bar rates the candidates for Superior Court Judge @ Candidates are rated not qualified, qualified, highly qualified and exceptionally qualified.  I’ve selected the judges that are designated most qualified for each office.  In the cases where candidates are similarly qualified I compare candidates professional experience and statement of purpose @
Candidates’ resumes are posted along with three sentences to describe their philosophy and objectives.  For candidates with the same qualification ratings, I assessthe efficiency and economy of the prose and opt for the candidate who expresses herself/himself more effectively. 
Office #4 A. Veronica Sauceda-rated well qualified
Office #16 All candidates rated qualified.  Hubert Yu’s statement demonstrates an egregious use of capital letters and Patricia (Patti) Hunter not only has a parenthetical name, her statement has a couple of grammatical errors.  So, the winner, based on three well written sentences, is Sydne Jane Michel.
Office #20 Mary Ann Escalante-rated well qualified.
Office #60 Two of the three candidates are rated qualified.  I’m opting for Holly Hancock because her statement emphasizes improving services for juveniles and sentencing reform.
Office #63 Malcolm Mackey is the only candidate on the ballot who is rated “exceptionally well qualified.”
Office #67 Maria Lucy Armendariz is rated “well qualified.”
Office #71 Danielle Gibbons is rated “well qualified.”
Office #113 Two candidates are rated “well qualified” but I found that Michael Ribons makes far better use of the three sentences allotted for a statement.
Office #126 Two out of three candidates are rated “qualified,” but Rene Caldwell makes a more impressive statement.
Office #146 Both of the candidates are rated qualified and have effective short statements. I am opting for Armando Duron because he has experience as a Commissioner, all things being equal, I suppose the advantage is a diminished learning curve.

For Superintendent of Public Instruction, perhaps the most thankless position on the ballot, there are two candidates who totally lack qualifications.  Of the others, Marshall Tuck is the charter school candidate.  After having two kids that were educated in charter schools, for the most part, I oppose them.  Tony Thurmond has union backing but is also an educator and experienced legislator and I’ll be voting for him.

All of the County Assessors candidates are extremely well qualified.  Jeffrey Prang has the best written statement of purpose and credible endorsements, so he’s my choice.  With regard to the position of Sheriff, two of the three candidates’ statements bash the Sheriff’s Department.  Jim McConnell makes a positive statement and seemed to reflect a clear vision for the future.

With regard to the state measures, 68, 71 and 72 are, for me, non-controversial measures and I’ll vote yes on the three. Proposition 69 has no real vocal opposition.  It insures that tax money that is earmarked for transportation projects cannot be diverted for other purposes. Proposition 70, seems that it could potentially create gridlock by requiring a 2/3 majority vote for much environmental legislation, so that one’s a no.  Sorry Jerry Brown.

If you want to do your own research, www.Ballotpedia and www.Votersedge are fantastic resources.  And if you donate a few bucks it will help them continue providing an enormous service.

My Ballot—
Governor—John Chiang
Lieutenant Governor-Jeff Bleich
Secretary of State-Alex Padilla
Controller-Betty Yee
Treasurer-Fiona Ma
Attorney General-Xavier Becerra
Insurance Commissioner-Ricardo Lara
Member of State Board of Equalization 3rd District-Cheryl C. Turner
U.S. Senator-Dianne Feinstein (cynically)
U.S.  Representative 34th District-Jimmy Gomez
State Senator 24th District-Peter Choi
Member of State Assembly 51st District-Wendy Carrillo (running unopposed)
Judge of the Superior Court:
 Office #4 A. Veronica Sauceda
Office #16 Sydne Jane Michel
Office #30 Mary Ann Escalante
Office #60 Holly L. Hancock
Office #63 Malcolm H. Hancock
Office #67 Maria Lucy Armendariz
Office #71 Danielle R.A. Gibbons
Office #113 Michael B. Ribons
Office #118 David D. Diamond
Office #126 Rene Caldwell Gilbertson
Office #146 Armando Duron

Superintendent of Public Instruction-Tony K. Thurmond

County Assessor-Jeffrey Prang
Sheriff-Jim McDonnell
Supervisor 1st District-Hilda Solis (running unopposed)

State Measures

I could have spent many more hours researching this but after spending a day, I do feel slightly better informed.  Again, I would hope that everyone does their own research and recommend the three websites I’ve noted here.  I am aware that there won’t be much on my L.A. liberal ballot that will affect much change in Washington but after the horrifying results of the 2016 national election, I want to stress that, no matter where you live, that it is absolutely urgent to stay engaged.  And, even if you’re not registered, if you’re eligible to vote you can submit a provisional ballot at any California polling place this Tuesday.  No excuses.

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