When It Arrives, Here’s How I’m Voting
It’s been a few years since I sat down and pulled together a comprehensive ballot guide for my friends and acquaintances but there’s a lot at stake this year, and not just at the federal level so I wanted to get my thoughts on paper before the California ballots are mailed on October 5. Let’s get started, shall we?
- President: Joe Biden/Kamala Harris
- House of Representatives, District 13: Barbara Lee
- State Senate: Nancy Skinner
- State Assembly: While Assemblymember Buffy Wicks recently made headlines because Speaker Anthony Rendon made her drive to Sacramento with her newborn baby to vote in person for family leave, I think that’s more a story about Rendon than Wicks, and am not aware of any other brave or amazing thing she’s done. I encourage you to read candidate Sara Brink’s website and decide for yourself whether to vote to re-elect Wicks: https://www.sarabrinkforad15.com/ The jury is still out for me.
City of Oakland
- City Attorney (UPDATED): When I was on the Police Commission, I interacted quite a bit with staff from the City Attorney’s office. I found the attorneys to be smart and they cared a great deal about Oakland. In theory, they supported the Police Commission. In practice, their boss made decisions and provided legal opinions that were either incorrect or were utterly tone-deaf to the voters’ desires. In other areas of my expertise (labor arbitration and collective bargaining), I’ve been similarly underwhelmed by some of the decisions from that office. I initially intended to vote for Barbara Parker’s opponent in this race, on the basis that a fresh voice might be welcomed by the CAO staff. However, among Attorney members of IFPTE Local 21 (the union that represents the attorneys who work for the City of Oakland), the incumbent Barbara Parker is the preferred candidate. While she didn’t receive an outright endorsement from the group, they voted 21–2 in favor of Parker in a vote of the union membership. Recently reported comments from those attorneys suggest that they would not prefer to work for their former co-worker AT ALL. This matters to me, so I will be voting for Barbara Parker this year.
- Councilmember At Large: Rebecca Kaplan: The last time that Rebecca Kaplan was up for reelection, I voted for her opponent because I felt like Kaplan was ineffective and subject to the whims of whichever constituent had been most recently loudest. The past four years, Kaplan has truly stepped up as a leader, demonstrating her deep knowledge of Oakland and its politics, representing the whole span of different Oaklands, often finding ways to broker common ground. She’s done an impressive job. It hasn’t always been to the satisfaction of the mayor, which is why there’s a challenger who has been funded primarily by non-Oaklanders. Rebecca deserves reelection.
- District 1 (UPDATED): Dan Kalb: When Dan Kalb was running for the state assembly a couple of years ago, he took his eyes off the City Council ball and was less engaged than he had been in the past. When he lost that race, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and got back to work. I had the pleasure of working with Dan when I was on the Police Commission, and I know him to be a smart, honest, hardworking guy who really grapples with the intricacies of policy and governance. He is leading the effort to use the CCA dorm building for unhoused elders and families in transition and I applaud that leadership. Someone I respect who is supporting Steph Walton asked me to consider Steph, so I read through her website and plans. Aside from having a decent line-up of endorsements, I can’t find anything that distinguishes Steph on policy or suggests that she understands the role of the City Council. I’m sure she’d be fine but given how brutal the City Council work is, I’m not sure she’s made the case for replacing a seasoned, smart, and good city councilmember. Dan deserves reelection.
- District 3: Carroll Fife: This isn’t my district so maybe I should keep my nose out of it. The current city councilmember is frequently embroiled in campaign finance problems and a recent investigation by the Public Ethics Commission and an Alameda County grand jury suggests those problems are not going away soon. Fife led the Moms 4 Housing campaign and is the Director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. She really understands the issues facing Oakland residents and will be a hardworking and innovative city leader if elected. Elect Carroll Fife.
- School Board, District 1: Sam Davis: I’ve gotten to know Sam in my role with the Oakland Tech PTSA, where Sam and I both have ninth graders. In addition to running for school board, Sam leads on the Yes on Measure Y campaign for school funding, and volunteers regularly at Oakland Tech. He has an impressive understanding of the School District and the budget, the support of teachers and parents, and what appears to be a limitless supply of energy. I don’t agree with Sam on everything (I think a few schools are going to need to close, realistically) but I trust his work ethic and his depth of knowledge. Elect Sam Davis.
County of Alameda
- Superior Court: Elena Condes: This is a low information race for me. I think judicial elections are sort of weird and haven’t really decided if I think they are a good idea or not. I haven’t been a litigator in more than 12 years so I am not particularly familiar with the workings of the superior court (other than the fact that I get called for jury duty every April like clockwork). I reviewed the websites of both candidates and read their statements. As a Latina, Condes brings an important perspective to the bench that I believe will expand the opportunities for justice. The bench also needs a diversity of legal backgrounds, and Condes has experience as a criminal defense attorney and board member of East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association. On balance, I think Condes brings more to the bench. Elect Elena Condes.
State Ballot Measures
- Prop 14: Issues $5.5 billion in bonds for state stem cell research. I give this one a weak YES because I think we need to stay at the forefront of medical and scientific research and we don’t have other mechanisms for funding this.
- Prop 15: A big YES on this one. Did you know Disney and Chevron have been paying the same property tax amounts since 1975? This will close the tax loophole that allows large corporate property owners to avoid tax increases in California. This puts CA on par with 46 other states in terms of corporate property tax rates (in other words, companies aren’t moving somewhere else) and does not affect residential property of any kind regardless of the size of the owner. The much-needed revenue raised will go to schools and communities. Needs only 50% + 1 to pass.
- Prop 16: YES on Prop 16. Reverses the shameful Prop 209 and allows the state to consider diverse factors such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin in public employment, education, and contracting.
- Prop 17: YES. Restores the right to vote to people who were previously incarcerated on felonies once they are on parole.
- Prop 18: YES, allows 17-year-olds to vote in primaries and special elections if they will be 18 years old at the time of the next general election.
- Prop 19: YES. This allows people who are over the age of 55 or who have severe disabilities to transfer their tax assessments to other properties throughout the state. The benefits are that folks who rely on their low property tax rate to have mobility within CA while retaining their economic status while freeing up housing that might be better used by larger families (for example) and taxed at a current tax rate.
- Prop 20: NO. This prop masquerades as helping victims of crime but in fact does A LOT to roll back criminal justice reform measures that California voters have adopted over the past several years, like Prop 47 and Prop 57. It would reduce funding for rehabilitation and mental health services in prisons and increase sentences. It’s like a Prison Industrial Complex dream come true. Vote NO on Prop 20.
- Prop 21: YES on expanding local government power to adopt rent control ordinances.
- Prop 22: Absolutely NO. This is Uber, Lyft, and other app-based driving companies trying to use the proposition system to get around what the state Legislature (AB 5) and the state Supreme Court (Dynamex) have both said is the law. I have so many reasons that I oppose Prop 22 that I’m almost apoplectic trying to type. I hate that corporations can buy their own laws. I hate that we don’t have universal healthcare and higher minimum wage and labor standards that would render this argument moot. I am in full (argle-bargle) over this one. Vote NO on Prop 22.
- Prop 23: This is a tough one, but after a lot of thought, I intend to vote NO on this proposition to require a physician at every dialysis clinic along with other requirements that would be more appropriately imposed by the Legislature. The dialysis companies who oppose Prop 23 note that this is a part of SEIU’s long-running scorched earth campaign against the dialysis industry. While I normally support union organizing efforts, I am concerned that this is too similar to restrictions imposed on abortion clinics requiring physicians to have attending privileges at hospitals. It interferes with the doctor-patient relationship in a way that I can’t support. I hate the proposition system to begin with, and using it in this manner undermines the legislative process where this should be considered. If Uber and Lyft can’t buy a law, then a union shouldn’t be able to either. If someone with more knowledge would like to convince me otherwise, but on this one, I’m currently a No vote.
- Prop 24: This prop is a little confusing because OF COURSE we want consumer privacy. However, this prop ain’t it. It’s been written largely by tech companies and actually would supercede stronger protections that are in place. So Vote NO on Prop 24.
- Prop 25: YES on replacing cash bail with risk assessments for suspects awaiting trial.
City Ballot Measures
- Prop S: YES on the Police Oversight and Inspector General Charter Amendment. This is needed to clarify charter language and strengthen the Police Commission. It might not have been necessary if the former City Administrator hadn’t tried to thwart the Police Commission at every turn, but here we are. In any case, this is needed and useful to further strengthen civilian oversight of the Oakland Police Department.
- Prop Y: YES on this bond measure for capital expenditures for Oakland schools. This is necessary because many Oakland schools need to be repaired or replaced, and because we have to have this in place to qualify for certain state funds.