There's a huge ballot this time, but that just means you can have more influence on your country, state, and city.
President and Vice-President of the United States: Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine
Hillary Clinton is the most experienced candidate for POTUS in my lifetime and I am delighted to get to vote for her. I think she'll be a very good President, though I do have concerns about her being more hawkish than Obama. Mostly I am hopeful that she will be able to hold the ground we've regained since 2008 and provide more support to the middle class. I'm incredibly grateful to Bernie Sanders and his delegates for creating such a progressive platform for the Democratic party, and I do think we have a better chance with Hillary Clinton than we would have with any other potential nominee (including Sanders himself) of seeing that platform bring real positive legislative change.
Even if you don't like Hillary Clinton, you should vote for her if you care about those progressive policies. Donald Trump will do just the opposite of everything Bernie Sanders and his delegates fought for.
Donald Trump is not qualified to be a city mayor, let alone POTUS. Even if you leave aside all his moral faults—and he continually demonstrates many—he does not have the experience or the temperament to set policy, delegate effectively, negotiate with both allies and opponents domestically and internationally, or to lead the country though its many challenges in the years ahead. Most presidents achieve about 70% of what they say they'll do; we cannot risk even half that amount of what Trump and Pence have proposed.
United States Senator: Kamala D. Harris
Two strong choices here, but I am supporting Harris because of her experience and the priority she places on criminal justice reform. The Senate is very much in need of her perspective to help move the country forward. ADDENDUM: Harris has very troubling issues with regard to internet freedom (particularly prosecutions of site hosts who ought to be protected under federal law). That's a really important issue, but, to me, less important than systemic racism reform.
United States Representative, District 12: Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi works against public interests on privacy and internet freedom. That said, Preston Picus is not going to be as strong a bulwark against ultra-conservatives on other centrist and progressive causes I care about. Would love to have a better option and will definitely continue putting pressure on Pelosi to protect our online freedoms.
State Senator: Scott Wiener
Close call, but Jane Kim supported the ill-thought-through Mission Moratorium (plus a bunch of bureaucracy-increasing politicking proposals on this ballot) and so I'm going with Wiener, even if he's flat wrong on Prop Q.
Member of the State Assembly: David Chiu
Very pleased to see him advancing to serve the state of California, continuing the good work he's done here in San Francisco.
Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 7: Victor Hwang
Hwang is exceptionally well qualified and respected in the legal community.
Member, Board of Education: Haney, Cook, Norton, Wynns
Haney, Norton, & Wynn have achieved a lot and have good endorsements; Cook has SF experience in education and good endorsements.
Member, Community College Board: Bacharach, Mandelman, Randolph, Williams
Bacharach, Mandelman, & Randolph bring solid experience; Williams rounds that out nicely with the student perspective and experience as Student Trustee.
BART Director: Dufty
This was a tough one. Borden has solid transportation planning experience, but Dufty's experience in regional politics and the connections he's formed through his past public service will be necessary to help BART achieve and manage the major funding it needs to do overdue upgrades and repairs.
School Bonds, Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities. (Yay! Schools!)
Supported by the state PTA, School Nurses, Teachers, Firefighters, League of Women Voters, etc. Only opposed by that same anti-tax crowd that doesn't want us to do any government-based Kickstarting. CORRECTION: Gov. Brown and LA Times opposed.
Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program. (Yay! Keep doing something that's already working to provide health services!)
Extends an existing program to lock funds raised from hospital fees into providing Medi-Cal health services (and prevents the Legislature from diverting those funds to other purposes).
Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. (Boo. We do not want even longer ballots.)
Oh look, it's the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, those folks who brought us Prop 13 back in the 70s. Thanks, jerks. No, we do not want to force statewide votes on local projects. We have a representative democracy, let's not waste all our time having to weigh in on things that don't affect our own areas.
Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. (Yay! Sunshine! Transparency!)
Huge bipartisan effort to create this bill which would require bills be posted for 72 hours before the Legislature votes on them, record and post online all proceedings except closed sessions, and permit anyone to record legislative proceedings except closed sessions (and not have to pay a fee to do so).
Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. (Yay! Rich people pay for schools and healthcare!)
Retains a personal income tax increase on very high earners and keeps allocating those funds to schools, community colleges, and healthcare. And who doesn't like it? Yep, Quentin L. Kopp and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association again, the modern Californian Scrooges.
Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement. (Yay! Make people help pay for the public expenses they create through self-destructive habits!)
California still spends $3.58 Billion a year for tobacco-related healthcare costs. Too many people still smoke and it's costing all of us. This tax, on the other hand, only applies to smokers themselves. Who's opposing this one? Surprise, surprise: Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
(And to anyone who says, "Oh yeah, well what about alcohol and all the costs it creates, Ms. Cocktail Writer? What if there was a $2 tax on every bottle of booze? Would you support that, huh?", the answer is yes, yes, I would.)
Criminal Sentences. Parole. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing. (Yay! Use sensible sentencing and rehabilitation programs that work!)
Supports rehabilitation by allowing parole consideration after serving time for non-violent crimes, enables sentence credits for those obviously rehabilitating themselves while incarcerated, and eliminates automatic transfer of juveniles to adult courts without a hearing before a juvenile court judge. This will save money without reducing our safety. It is a good step toward fixing a broken system.
English Proficiency. Multilingual Education. (Yay! Adapting teaching methods based on what we've learned in two decades!)
Requires school language programs are "designed to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and effectively as possible" while eliminating constraints from a nearly 20 year old law which restricted methods school districts can use to teach English. It also eliminates some barriers to schools helping English speakers learn a second language.
59: YES (or skip it)
Corporations. Political Spending. Federal Constitutional Protections. (We want to overturn Citizens United.)
This is one of those "the voters impel their elected officials to act on an issue on the national stage" propositions that doesn't do anything except shout in a very loud voice. Which is fine if you think it's an important thing to shout.
60: NO NO NO
Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. (No! To hell with unethical trial lawyers seeking business at all our expense!)
Opposed by the California Democratic, Republican, AND Libertarian parties. When all of them agree, you know a proposition is crap. This isn't about worker safety (and it's opposed by adult film workers), it's about creating a new private right of action authorizing any resident of California to file lawsuits directly against those who produce or distribute adult content. No other worker in California can be sued this way. And the named proponent of the proposition gets sworn in as an agent of the state. This thing is outrageously bad. Come on, here's a good reason to vote your whole ballot; let's send this waste of our attention down in flames with a massive pile of No votes.
State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. (Boooo! Drug companies are devious bastards.)
Thank you, Legislative Analyst, for pointing out the gotcha in this one. This is prohibits state agencies from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at any price over the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. But it doesn't require the drug manufacturers to offer the drug for sale to state agencies at that price. Thus, this could just mean the drugs aren't available to state payers. There's more in the voter information guide too about how the drug manufacturers could raise those VA prices. This is a sneaky, mean piece of work which seems designed to get more money in drug manufacturer pockets.
Death Penalty. (Yes! Replace a failed policy with something more effective, cheaper, and more just.)
Replaces the death penalty with a strict life sentence and no chance of parole. This is supported by the author of California's death penalty law and the guy who led the campaign to bring back the death penalty in 1978. Even they saw that it doesn't work, risks executing innocent people, and is outrageously expensive.
Firearms. Ammunition Sales. (Yay! Gun sense measures!)
Background check for ammunition purchase, prohibits possession of large-capacity magazines, most ammo sales through licensed vendors and reported to DoJ, and a few more supporting changes which close loopholes and help enforce existing laws. And who's against it? The NRA.
Marijuana Legalization. (Yay! It's safer than booze and we might as well make tax revenue off it.)
Fine, I'll vote yes, but please, potheads, will you promise to make the stuff smell less like the back end of a cow?
Carryout Bags. Charges. (No on this one, but yes on 67)
Backed by plastic bag manufacturers.
66: NO NO NO
Death Penalty Procedures. (Hell no, you do not mess with Constitutional rights!)
Expensive and actually increases the risk of executing an innocent person. And the damn thing is vaguely written, opening up all kinds of other problems and expenses.
Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags. (Yay! Keep that dangerous stuff out of our ecosystem and those eyesores out of our trees, gutters, roadsides, beaches, creeks, etc. etc. etc.)
Opposed by plastic bag manufacturers, of course.
School Bonds. (Yay! Schools!)
Money spent on schools is a solid investment. Who's against it? Libertarians. (I am still not sure what magic free market fairy they expect will come save our public infrastructure.)
City College Parcel Tax (Yay! Community Colleges!)
Just renews an existing tax. No opposition statement was submitted.
City and County Propositions
Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing (Yay! Affordable housing!)
Okay, San Francisco, here's your chance to do something about it and get more people housed. This just expands the allowed usage of already approved bonds for seismic upgrades.
Vacancy Appointments. (*massive eyeroll*)
This appears to have been put on the ballot by the anti-Ed Lee wing of the Board of Supervisors and it would block temporary appointees from running for a position and set up costly new special elections for Supervisor vacancies.
E: YES YES YES
Responsibility for Maintaining Street Trees and Surrounding Sidewalks (Hallelujah! I've been waiting eagerly for this one!)
Puts our street trees and sidewalks back as responsibility of the city, allowing much more cost-effective care of our common infrastructure and our ever-more-important sources of shade. It also supports a 50% increase in street trees which we desperately need. This is under the existing city budget and not a tax.
Youth Voting in Local Elections (Yay! Good citizen habits early!)
Why look who's opposing this! It's our old sample ballot crackpot pal, Dr. Terence Faulkner, J.D. (United States President's Federal Executive Awards Committeeman 1988) and the San Francisco Taxpayer's Association.
Police Oversight (Yay! Accountability!)
No argument presented against this measure to better focus the currently-titled "Office of Citizens Complaints" on accountability, transparency, and external oversight of law enforcement.
Public Advocate (Boo! Bureaucracy!)
Adds a new elected official with a staff of at least 25. The Board of Supervisors split over putting this on the ballot and it's opposed by three former mayors.
Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities (Yay! Let's keep SF supportive of age and ability diversity.)
Establishes a new Dignity Fund within the General Fund until 2037. Broadly supported by the Board of Supes and opposed by, yes, Terence Faulkner (this time as "Chairman of Citizens Against Tax Waste").
Funding for Homelessness and Transportation (Yay! Funding we desperately need.)
Establishes Homeless Housing and Services Fund (currently there is no specific annual amount for homeless services in the budget) and a Transportation Improvement Fund. The Republicans are against this.
General Sales Tax (Yay! Funding for all this important stuff we need to do.)
Increases sales tax to 9.25%, which is actually in line with other counties. There's a bunch of money flying around the city right now; it's a good time to get some of it into city coffers and put it to use here in San Francisco. And once again the Republicans and the San Francisco Taxpayers Association are opposed; they just don't want us to have nice things!
MTA Appointments and Budget (*another massive eyeroll*)
This is another battle between the halves of the Board of Supes. We do not need their petty politics tangling up the appointment of MUNI's Board of Directors (which is already decided by the Board of Supervisors) and management of MUNI's budget.
Housing and Development Commission (*yet another massive eyeroll*)
Yup, same gang of Supervisors again trying to restructure city government to shift power away from the mayor's office. We do not need more bureaucracy delaying every housing decision. This does not create any accountability we don't already have.
Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections (Seems fair.)
Parents, even non-citizens, who live here and have kids in our schools should have a say in how those schools are run. (And opposed by Republicans, Terence Faulkner, wearing his "County Central Committeeman" hat now, and the San Francisco Taxpayer's Association.)
Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point (Boo! That's not what we agreed.)
Lennar is trying to re-write the 2008 deal made with voters. They want to add more office space without adding any public benefit for it and without public hearings. No. We need housing before more offices. I remember the bubble popping in this city before and those empty offices did us no damn good.
Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property. (Boo! Don't design the process to encourage slumlording.)
We already effectively have competitive bidding; this just means it doesn’t get built if there are only two bids.
Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks (Boo! Harassing not helping.)
This is not how you solve homelessness. It provides nothing to shelter those driven from their tents. Very disappointed in Wiener over this one.
Neighborhood Crime Unit. (Yay! Neighborhood beat cops!)
Once the city reaches a threshold of enough full-duty uniformed police officers (probably by end of next year) this will assign 3% of them to focus on neighborhood safety and quality of life.
Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds (Yay! Tourists get stuff they come here for and help those who need it most!)
Puts the base hotel tax into arts programs and family homeless services rather than into the General Fund.
Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists (Good lord, this wasn't already restricted?)
Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects (Boo! Greedy realtors trying to kill affordable housing!)
Remember P-U, these realtor-backed attempts to undermine affordable housing STINK! This not only attempts to get developers out of building new low-income housing, it applies retroactively, encouraging evictions.
Tax on Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (Yay! Reduce diabetes!)
No it's not a "grocery tax", that angle has been debunked. Grocers won't raise the price on other stuff to make themselves less competitive. Duh. What'll happen is what's happened in other places. That 1 cent per ounce price increase will help people—particularly low-income people who are more likely to get diabetes and related illnesses from excess sugar—to make healthier beverage choices. That saves the city money in health costs, but more importantly it saves lives.
Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million (Yay! Tax the wealthy, they can afford it!)
This city has seen property values go through the roof and there's a ton of monied folks excited about owning here. It's is a very good time to establish this tax to even out some of the past business-attracting tax breaks that have been handed out. Let's make this boom fund the city to share the benefits among everyone.
Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses, and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods (Yay! Affordable spaces!)
Rampant development is taking away existing spaces occupied by arts, blue-collar businesses, and community services. This would require developers to build replacement space in specific circumstances (which is all well detailed in the sample ballot, but it's a quarter to 1am and I'm too tired to summarize).
BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief (Yaaay! BART gets its half-century revamp!)
Remember those reasons I picked Dufty way up there? This is where the money comes in. BART carries almost half a million people a day. We need to keep it safe, reliable, and comfortable. It's awesome that it's done so well with the funding it has had for these 44 years, but the bill we have always known was coming is due.
Member, Board of Supervisors, District 5: London Breed
Breed has done good work and I'm excited to see her continue. Nothing particularly wrong with Preston, he just seems like a one-issue guy, and, frankly, I need a very compelling reason to remove a competent, local woman of color from office.
Edited October 24, 2016, to soften a few needlessly harsh swear words which crept in during the arduous ballot evaluating process.