When I retired, I looked forward to taking my citizenship duties more seriously by reading more carefully the Voter Information Guides. What follows here are the decisions I made on this year’s ballot and some effort to explain why I made the choices I did. The reason I did this was two-fold. First, I hope that some of my reasoning might help some of you think through what are admittedly difficult voting choices. Second, I invite challenges to the reasons I gave for the decisions I made.
This year, for the first time, I made decisions on every office and ballot initiative except one. I will freely admit that I am uncertain on a number of the choices I made. While I appreciate the progressive spirit and direct democracy that these ballot initiatives represent, there are still too many instances in which the laws that are written are overly complicated and have hidden agendas tied to special interests that are difficult to discern.
I admit to a liberal and Democratic bias. That bias will explain most of the decisions I made. I say this because I will appreciate any challenges to my rationales, but I would prefer not being challenged on my values.
President: Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris (D)
Joe Biden vs. Combover Caligula. This was not a difficult choice. Thank you, John Fugelsang, for my favorite Trump nickname.
US Representative 39th District: Gil Cisneros (D)
Young Kim ran the most destructive and dishonest campaigns I can remember.
State Senator: Josh Newman (D)
Ling Ling Chang’s campaign was even more destructive and dishonest than Young Kim’s.
State Assembly 55th District: Andrew E. Rodriguez
North Orange County Community College District Trustee Area 2: Keri Kropke
Did not have a strong opinion on this one. She won my vote through persistence.
PYLUSD Trustee Area 1: Eric Padget
Endorsed by APLE. Padget has strong background in the classroom and has been an asset in the district for years.
City of Placentia City Council, District 5:
No vote here. Ward Smith will certainly win. His opponent (Shouira) seems to be a bit of a kook.
Municipal Water District of Orange County Director: Fred R. Smith
The reason I voted for Smith over the incumbent is because his statement seemed to appreciate the uniquely innovative approach to recycling and sanitation represented in the OC Water District.
Proposition 14: Yes
Proposition 15: Yes
Proposition 16: Yes
We still live in a society in which money controls access to certain jobs, educational opportunities, and contracts. Insofar as money is still largely white and male; and insofar as that money is being used to undermine programs designed to redress the racial and gender imbalances in society, I have decided to vote yes on this.
Proposition 17: Yes
Once a prison term has been served, a convicted criminal is released back into society so as to restore his or her place in the community and the economy. Once they are no longer in prison, they pay various forms of federal, state, and local taxes. One of the uncoded principles of life in our country is: “No taxation without representation.” If someone is being taxed, their voice should be heard at the ballot box.
Proposition 18: Yes
My initial reaction to this initiative was negative. Extending voting rights to people younger than 18 in order to encourage their participation in the primary process seemed a needless complication to the election laws. The attack on 17 year-olds in the opposition statements to this initiative, however, persuaded me to support it. I have known far too many 17 year-olds who are wiser and more politically astute than many so-called leaders in our political life.
Proposition 19: Yes
When Proposition 13 passed in 1978, it created an array of consequences. Some of them were beneficial. Some of them were not. This proposition appears to address some of the negative consequences of Proposition 13. Indeed, it appears that members of the Howard Jarvis Association are on both sides of this proposition.
Proposition 20: No
This proposition appears to be the product of what might be called the Prison Industrial Complex of the private prison industry and their large armies of well-organized prison guards. While these guards do difficult work that should be appreciated by all, the matter of parole should be left to the complex interface between judges, the public, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. This seems to be an effort to revise the spirit of the Three Strikes laws that did so much to fill our prisons. California has done a good job of reducing violent crime, improving community policing, and directing resources toward rehabilitation. Let’s devote ourselves to continuing this progress.
Proposition 21: Yes
This is a complicated one, but one that seems worth supporting. It appears that this proposition will give localities more control over housing costs than they currently have. With homelessness being such a large problem, countering the power of developers’ money with greater local democratic accountability would limit that process of gentrification that has undermined the ability of long-time poor residents to remain in their neighborhoods.
Proposition 22: No
I did not like this proposition even before I read The Nation magazine article, “The Future of the Gig Economy is on the Ballot.” Please read it to understand how the power of Uber and Lyft is becoming a monopoly power like Amazon, reliant on hordes of the desperate to perform their services with little guarantees to the workers and little accountability to the public.
Proposition 23: Yes
The heart-wrenching advertisements in opposition to this proposition make it difficult to support. It should be kept in mind, though, that these ads are promoted by the two largest dialysis providers. DaVita and Fresenius are publicly traded corporations valued in the tens of billions. DaVita’s CEO made about $8 million in compensation last year. Executives on Fresenius earn around $4 million. The point is that they can afford to employ either physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants in their offices in order to ensure the well-being of their clients. The increased costs in using these clinics with more highly certified staff are negligible in relation to the benefits of increased professionalism and accountability.
Proposition 24: No
This bill appears to have been written by sophisticated lawyers of high tech and social media corporations. It will further the concentration of power in Facebook, Amazon, and Google. The California ACLU has understood this and encourages us to vote no.
Proposition 25: Yes
The arguments in support of this are similar to the arguments in support of Proposition 17. Bail is part of the structural discrimination in a system that is too controlled by money. If you have money, you do not need to await trial while in prison. If you do not have money, you cannot prepare your defense in the same way. Bail is part of the structural racism in our system. If a person is a danger to the community, bail or release should never be an option. Again, we are reliant on that combination of judges, mental health professionals, and law enforcement to oversee this process. Are there risks? Yes. Do those benefits outweigh the risks? Probably, but our news will never cover the relatively boring stories of how abolishing bail helped many while focusing on those relatively few instances when an accused criminal was released who turned out to be a threat to the public.