It's Election Time Again

As a certified political junkie, I offer my views on the crucial November 2nd election:

For governor, Jerry Brown definitely has the experience while Meg Whitman has the boldness. As for their downsides, Brown will be 73 years old soon after the inauguration, while Whitman’s skills as a political tactician are untested. And while the fire in Brown’s belly may be dimming, Whitman definitely wants the job; she’s spent more than $150 million to achieve it (or buy it?). I am going down to the wire on this one.

I like the Bay Area’s Gavin Newsom, Bill Lockyer and Kamala Harris for lieutenant governor, state treasurer and attorney general, respectively. For Congress, I’m staying with Barbara Boxer (barely!) and Lynn Woolsey—with the proviso that this is it! California definitely needs new ideas and energy in these two offices. As for the 11 judgeships, who knows? However, none are being contested. And for state superintendent of schools, I like Tom Torlakson’s varied experience over Larry Aceves’s narrower focus.

For Marin County assessor/recorder, I similarly favor the administrative experience of Richard Benson. On the Marin Healthcare District Board, let’s keep incumbents Jennifer Rienks, Jamie Clever and Larry Bedard. Likewise, with the Marin Municipal Water District board, let’s stay with Cynthia Koehler, David Behar, Jack Gibson and Armando Quintero.

On the state propositions, there are few clear-cut choices. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” says Anne Layzer, who analyzes ballot propositions for Marin’s League of Women Voters, “and these are the most complicated propositions I’ve ever seen.” I agree. With that caveat, here are my recommendations.

Prop. 19, marijuana legalization: Allows possession of one ounce for those 21 and older—but not in public nor while driving. Could lessen Mexico’s violence and, in time, result in millions in state tax revenues. Not perfect, but headed in the right direction; prohibition hasn’t worked. YES.

Prop. 20, congressional redistricting: 2008’s Prop. 11 amended the state constitution so a citizens' commission—not the Legislature—would realign state districts according to community factors, not partisan politics. This extends that mandate to include U.S. congressional districts. YES.

Prop. 21, vehicle license surcharge: Would tack $18 onto car registration fees to raise $500 million for state parks. Marin has six such parks. Opponents say a hands-off budget for parks is wrong for these difficult times. YES.

Prop. 22, prohibit state from taking local funds: An appealing concept, but far too complicated a matter to be decided by voters. NO.

Prop. 23, air pollution control: This would suspend (effectively cancel) AB 32, which calls for California’s greenhouse gas emissions to be at 1990 levels by 2020. Backed by Texas gas/oil interests; would hurt California’s green technologies and businesses. Clearly a NO.

Prop. 24, repeal business’s right to lower tax liability: Again, an appealing concept, but far too complicated a matter to be decided by voters. NO.

Prop. 25, state budget approval: Would allow state budget approval by a simple majority, not the existing two-thirds requirement. Long overdue! Two-thirds majority will still be needed for tax increases. YES.

Prop. 26, expand supermajority in state Legislature: Fairly clear-cut. Would expand, not reduce, the two-thirds majority required for legislative action. NO.

Prop. 27, state commission on redistricting: The opposite of Prop. 20; instead of expanding the citizens' commission, would eliminate it and return redistricting to state legislature. NO.

Marin County measures
Measure B vehicle license surcharge: Adds $10 to auto registration fees, generating $2.3 million to fix Marin’s roads (35%), bike trails (5%) and improve transit (35%) and crossing guard programs (25%). Facing little opposition. YES.

Measure S desalination plant: A public vote would determine if a desal plant would be built in Marin as insurance against drought but only after the Marin Municipal Water District completes needs assessment, preliminary planning and cost analysis. YES.

Measure T desalination plant: A public vote would determine if a desal plant would be built in Marin prior to the completion of needs assessment, preliminary planning and cost analysis. NO.

The above are my points of view. What are yours? Whatever they are, express them on (or before) November 2nd. For voting poll information call 415.499.6456.

E-mail [email protected]