As the influence of money in politics grows stronger, voting in every election grows more important, particularly whenever we have a chance to enact safeguards against that influence and to elect candidates committed to protecting individual rights against corporate power.
Fortunately for me, it's easy to vote in San Francisco. No one is actively working to reduce my participation through diminishing poll hours and locations as is occuring in some communities around the U.S. If anything, the election process here is becoming more convenient. The polling station in City Hall opens on weekdays 29 days before the election and on the two weekends prior to election day, Tuesday November 4th. Vote by mail (whether permanent or just for this election) is also available and those ballots should be out in the mail this week.
San Franciscans should particularly come out to vote Yes on Measure A which will provide vital funds for street and transit improvements.
Here are my recommendations for this election:
Governor: Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown
He's been doing a great job under challenging circumstances. I'm hopeful that he'll continue to strike a balance between fiscal responsibility and care for the people of the state.
Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom
Definitely a reasonable choice to step in and keep Brown's work on track if he should become unavailable for some reason. His opponent, Ron Nehring, opposes the Affordable Care Act and same sex marriage, as well as wanting to repeal the criminal justice realignment program which has been an excellent change for the state; we do not want Nehring a heartbeat away from leading California.
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
His pledge to defend the principles of the Voting Rights Act is a particularly good sign.
Controller: Betty T. Yee
Her long experience with state financial matters, lately as a Board of Equalization member, will serve us well in this position.
Treasurer: John Chiang
With him termed out as Controller, I'm glad we have a closely related position for this tough, savvy, and fiscally dextrous public servant to move into.
Attorney General: Kamala D. Harris
Very solid work from her on the foreclosure crisis in particular; let's keep her on the job.
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
He's done a great job protecting consumer interests without driving insurance companies out of the California market; not an easy balancing act. (More on him and the role of the insurance commissioner here: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-insurance-commissioner-20140508-story.html )
Member, State Board of Equalization, District 2: Fiona Ma
Though often too partisan in more politicized positions, Ma does have a sound financial background and we can hope will be able to carry on Betty Yee's good work.
U.S. Representative, District 12: Nancy Pelosi
She's far from perfect, but she's far better than the alternatives and I want to keep her strong voice in the House.
Member of the State Assembly, District 17: David Chiu
I really did not like the made-up mud-slinging campaign Campos has run this year and it has completely soured my formerly good opinion of him. As I said in June, I'm sticking with Chiu as someone focused on achieving results. I'm hopeful that he will take on a bit more of Ammiano's progressive mantle as he moves to this larger stage where stubborn idealism is more needed than in heart-on-its-sleeve SF.
Judicial appointments: Yes to all, especially Goodwin Liu (pity that he was blocked from his appointment to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by a Republican filibuster).
More background on this section of the ballot and these justices here: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-appellate-justices-20140921-story.html
Judge of the Superior Court, Office no. 20: Carol Kingsley
As I noted in June, Kingsley's experience stands out here.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson
Definitely don't want to give the privatization movement the boost Marshall Tuck would bring.
Proposition 1 (California Water Bond): Yes
Great start to this LA Times endorsement, "Even in wet years, there will never be enough Sierra snowpack to give every interest group and every region in California enough inexpensive water to quench every thirst and satisfy every ambition. The state has a long way to go before it properly takes account of its water limits and updates the way it divvies up this crucial natural resource." http://www.latimes.com/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-proposition-1-20141008-story.html
Proposition 2 (State Budget Stabilization): Yes
Restoring fiscal sense and stability.
Proposition 45 (Healthcare Insurance Rate Changes): Yes
When the biggest healthcare corporations spend a quarter of a million dollars fighting against something relating to rates, it's a damn good sign that they are worried their profits might be at stake. Make 'em justify any attempt to fleece us.
Proposition 46 (Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors): No
Actually mostly about raising the limit on the amount of medical malpractice lawsuit awards.
Proposition 47 (Criminal Sentencing Misdemeanors): Yes
Another good move to emphasize rehabilitation rather than expensive prison internment for low-risk offenders. Allows for felony sentencing still for violent offenders.
Proposition 48 (Indian Gaming): No
I'm a no on this one not because of any particular flaw with the proposition, but because I'm very dubious about the healthiness of adding yet more casinos. They seem to me to be a tax on those weak at assessing statistical probability. Not as bad as lotteries, but still biased toward getting their money from the poor and middle income rather than the rich or businesses.
SF Measure A (Transportation and Road Improvement Bond): YES!
The positive impact these funds will have is going to extend beyond their basic physical results of better streets and transit. Market Street, in particular, will be a dramatically better place to be. This one needs a 2/3rds vote, so make sure everyone you know gets to the polls to make it happen!
SF Measure B (Tying Muni Funding to Growth): Yes
We're building a lot more housing here and business is booming, so if we don't want that increased traffic to cripple our public transit we need to make sure transit funding grows with the city. (For entertainment purposes only, do check out the opposing arguments on this one in the Voter Information Pamphlet. Sorcerers!)
SF Measure C (Children's Fund Reauthorization): Yes
This renews a vital 3-part set of funds for child and youth services. Great programs, already proven to help the city, particularly those of lower and middle income families.
SF Measure D (Retiree Health Benefits): Yes
Do not mess with the retirement benefits of people who've worked hard for them. This is a no-brainer, bringing together less than 50 people's benefits from a dissolved agency under the larger city retirement umbrella.
SF Measure E (Soda Tax): Yes
Bringing a small portion of the externalities of these unhealthy beverages into their price and using that money to fund health, nutrition, and activity programs is a great idea. Again, follow the money; the big soda companies don't want to see this pass any more than the cigarette companies want to see taxes on cigarettes. Look at all the arguments against which were paid for by the American Beverage Association California PAC—all but one and that was funded by the Republican Party.
SF Measure F (Pier 70): Yes
If these developers worked with the nearby community enough to get a proposal so good even the Bay Guardian and the Sierra Club would endorse a big waterfront development, it's got to be fantastic. Supported by everybody, apparently, except that "Sorcerers!" dude from Measure B. (I didn't really know anything about this project before, but now I'm very excited about it. Yay for revitalizing that old industrial bay frontage!)
SF Measure G (Anti-Speculation Tax): Yes
Additional tax on sales of certain multi-unit residential properties if flipped within five years. Opposed largely by the Realtor and Property Management industries, naturally. Pay particular attention to the cases when this would not apply, on page 122 of the Voter Information Pamphlet, which deflate much of the scaremongering against this measure.
SF Measure H (Natural Grass Athletic Fields): No
Not an easy decision, particularly as regards probable loss of dark evening skies in the area surrounding and the potential impact of that on bird life, but with water a growing issue it seems flat out nuts to prohibit artificial turf fields.
SF Measure I (Renovation of Fields): No
Badly written measure which messes with existing review and appeal processes.
SF Measure J (Minimum Wage Increase): Yes
Increasing take-home pay at the lowest compensation levels will help the local economy and ease the pressure on working people in the Bay Area. Having a huge wealth gap is as bad locally as it is nationally. Even setting aside that principle, when a city is so expensive that low-compensation workers can't live there, the region suffers an economic loss in the form of time lost to commuting.
SF Measure K (Housing Policy Statement): Yes
This is a step in the right direction on improving housing affordability in this expensive city.
SF Measure (Pro-Car Policy Statement): NO!
Go live somewhere else if you don't want to live in a healthy city. San Francisco people are more important than cars.