[Note: Likely to be of limited interest to those outside of California or, in some cases, Berkeley.]
Governor: Gavin Newsom. I really really wanted to vote for Gavin Newsom because as San Francisco mayor he illegally let a bunch of gay people marry and I feel like that’s the kind of person we need in politics these days. Unfortunately, I am a single-issue voter on housing, not a single-issue voter on one’s history of civil disobedience. Fortunately, Gavin Newsom has a moderate position on housing. He supports rent control and other protections for tenants, but also supports expanding housing production, including by withholding transportation funding from communities that don’t build enough housing. Cox appears to have no detailed policy proposals on housing, and also supports building a border wall between the US and Mexico and repealing California’s sanctuary state law. So fuck him. (Was it that hard to find a libertarian, guys?)
Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounkalakis says good things about housing, with a strong position in favor of building more homes. Ed Hernandez didn’t even bother to have a page about housing on his website.
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla. If the Republicans want me to vote for a Republican to run elections, they should spend less time trying to disenfranchise black people.
Treasurer: Fiona Ma. I have no strong opinions about this race and am just voting for the Democrat.
Controller: Betty T. Yee. Roditis appears to be running mostly on the issues of repealing the gas tax and defunding high-speed rail. BOO. HISS.
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra. Steven C Bailey is running on an anti-undocumented-immigrant, pro-prison-industrial-complex platform. Xavier Becerra, conversely, has a strongly pro-immigrant record, including taking a leading role on opposing the Trump administration, and seems at least reasonable on criminal justice reform.
Insurance Commissioner: Steve Poizner. Poizner has apparently been endorsed by every California newspaper that made an endorsement. Lara is focusing his campaign on how opposed he is to Trump. I don’t know a heck of a lot about what insurance commissioners are supposed to do but I am pretty sure it doesn’t involve very much opposing Trump.
Member, State Board of Equalization, 2nd District: Malia Cohen. Mark Burns wants to protect and strengthen Proposition 13, which caps property taxes even if the value of your home has skyrocketed. Malia Cohen appears to be against establishing feudalism as California’s preferred form of government.
United States Senator: Kevin De Leon. It’s really an open question what Diane Feinstein’s worst position is– there’s really something about her to hate for everyone. She’s pro-DRM and a regular foe of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She’s a committed drug warrior who chairs the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Until 2018, she supported capital punishment. She supported the Iraq War. She called for the extradition and arrest of Edward Snowden. She was the main Democratic sponsor of an amendment to make it unconstitutional to desecrate the flag. She was the original Democratic cosponsor of a bill to extend the Patriot Act. She’s a strong supporter of the NSA. She supports limiting the free-speech rights of animal advocates. She wants to de facto ban strong encryption.
Vote Kevin De Leon. He may not be perfect, but he has never sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration, and I’m proud of him for that.
United States Representative: Barbara Lee. Barbara Lee is great– she supports the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and is strongly in favor of criminal justice reform.
Member of the State Assembly: Buffy Wicks. Endorsed by East Bay for Everyone.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Marshall Tuck. Thurmond and Tuck agree on a lot, and both seem like reasonable choices; Tuck is pro-charter-schools while Thurmond is pro-teacher’s-union, and so it ultimately comes down to whether you’re optimistic about charter schools improving education.
Assessor: Phong La. Johnson wants to concentrate on giving people the lowest taxes legally possible, which seems like a pretty dubious thing to be doing. La wants to help the homeless, which seems like a nice thing to do, even if I’m not sure exactly what that has to do with being a property tax assessor.
Rent Stabilization Board: James Chang, Soli Alpert, Judy J Hunt, Maria Poblet, and John T. Selawsky. The people endorsed by the Berkeley mayor, minus one person who had a kooky statement about rent control in her candidate statement, which I replaced with someone endorsed by most of the city council.
School Directors: Ty Alper, Ka’Dijah Brown, Julie Sinai. People endorsed by the Berkeley mayor.
AC Transit District Director:
Joel Young, because his opponent didn’t bother to submit a candidate statement. Whoops, no, I was totally wrong. Dollene Jones, because she has not committed domestic violence or spat on anyone or used her office to enrich herself.
City Auditor: Jenny Wong, because her opponent seems to be under the impression that the city auditor gets to veto any money the city spends, which I’m pretty sure is not true. Also, this is ranked-choice voting! Pretty cool. If only it were for an office people cared about.
One: Yes. Bond authorization requested by the legislature because Californians have to approve bonds. I generally want to vote ‘yes’ on things requested by the legislature, because governing is literally the thing I hired them to do.
Two: Yes. Authorizes the legislature to allocate some money that was intended to be spent on mental health services on bonds for housing to prevent homelessness. Housing First programs seem to have robustly good evidence for them, and the legislature thinks it’s a good idea.
Three: No. Bond authorization not requested by the legislature? This seems pretty stupid. I am pretty sure the legislature knows what sorts of things it should spend money on.
Four: No? Newspapers generally seem to endorse it, but again if it’s so urgent that we do a bond authorization to help fund children’s hospitals then why didn’t the legislature ask for it?
Five: KILL IT WITH FIRE. Allows elderly and disabled homebuyers to transfer the tax-assessed value of their old home to their new home, regardless of the new home’s market value (?!?!?!?!). Prop 13 already crippled California’s property tax base; we do not need to make it worse. This is a conditional transfer of wealth from young to old. Don’t do it.
Six: NO. Lowers the gas tax, because it isn’t like we have any CLIMATE CHANGE that is HEATING UP THE GLOBE or anything. That is not something we liberals in California are concerned about, no sirree.
Seven: Yes. Grants the legislature more flexibility in deciding whether to repeal daylight savings time. Does not necessarily state that the legislature will repeal daylight savings time. Daylight savings time is an abomination that kills people and I see no downside to giving the legislature the ability to destroy it.
Eight: No. It’s a complicated policy that might be right or might be wrong– my friend Cliff Pervocracy, a nurse who has worked in dialysis clinics, has said he thinks it’s a good idea, while my instincts are against making the economics of the health care system even more complicated. You know who are the right people to pass laws about complicated policies? THE FUCKING LEGISLATURE.
Ten. No. YIMBY groups are really divided on this one. Lots of people think expanding rent control will help tenants, while other people are concerned that it will lead to further distortions in the housing market. And you know who is totally capable of repealing Costa-Hawkins in a way that will let them put it back if it turns out to be a bad policy? THE LEGISLATURE.
Eleven. No, and also fuck you. The primary sponsor is retroactively trying to get out of paying people the wages THEY EARNED for having to work during breaks, because apparently these days when you steal money from people you can just get a ballot initiative to say that you’re allowed to steal money.
Twelve. FUCK YES. If you walk into the polling place on November 6th with the energy to vote for one thing, vote yes on 12. It bans the sale of products from veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying chickens confined in very small spaces. Because California is a large meat market, Proposition 12 could conceivably affect the entirety of the United States. Chickens will be able to spread their wings. They will get nests, perches, and places to dust bathe. These requirements are so absolutely minimal that I don’t know why we’re still debating them as a society. Vote against animal cruelty. Vote for Prop 12.
I voted yes on O, P, R, and FF, per East Bay for Everyone’s recommendation; I voted no on Q because I think rent control is bad policy. I voted yes on E and G because I am broadly in support of new taxes.