Voting Challenges

Does the thought of voting on June 8 have your head spinning? Too complicated? Too confusing? Consider, please, the problems Elaine Ginnold has already faced. As Marin’s registrar of voters, she has overseen the production of 150,000 copies of the county’s Voter Information and Sample Ballot Pamphlet. It lists the 152 candidates running for 25 national, state, county and city offices; the five statewide propositions; the six local measures; plus 12 pages of candidates’ statements and ballot measure information.

The pamphlet was printed in 24 versions that vary depending on where you live and contains sample ballots for six different political affiliations, Democrat through Decline to State. It arrived in your mail three weeks ago, complete with a personal-like note informing you when and where to vote. Then Ginnold and her staff went about mailing some 88,000 absentee ballots to voters (myself included) who would rather not, or cannot visit their polling place on June 8. Is this a great democracy or what?

Adding to the challenge, Ginnold supervised this effort while recovering from a broken leg? “It’s all been very complicated,” she says in an overwhelming understatement.

Let’s see if I can simplify things. For Republicans, the headliner contests are for Senate nominee—Tom Campbell vs. Chuck Devore vs. Carly Fiorina (note: I’m listing alphabetically and eliminating those without a prayer of winning). And for governor, it’s Steve Poizner vs. Meg Whitman. On the Democratic side, Barbara Boxer, now in her 18th year in the Senate (and it all started here, in Marin), faces no serious opposition for the party’s nomination and Jerry Brown is certain to be the Democratic candidate for governor.

However, San Francisco Mayor (and Redwood High alum) Gavin Newsom has a battle royal going with L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn for the Democratic party’s lieutenant governor spot.

The nonpartisan state Superintendent of Public Instruction race has 12 candidates, but the real race is basically between state Sen. Gloria Romero and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, both former teachers and well qualified for the job. After scrutiny, I am leaning toward Torlakson—but recommend investigating this one for yourself. And don’t forget San Francisco’s Kamala Harris for state attorney general; she’s in a tight fight with former-Facebook lawyer Chris Kelly and L.A.’s DA Rocky Delgadillo. 

Regarding the constitutional propositions, these are my studied conclusions.

PROP 13 – Assures that seismic retrofits will not increase your tax assessment: YES. 

PROP 14 – Proposes an open primary for state/federal offices, curtails extremism: YES.

PROP 15 – Pilot program for public financing of elections. No biggie, can’t hurt: YES.

PROP 16 – Would require two-thirds vote to form local energy authority; one-third rules: NO.

PROP 17 – Auto insurance matter about paltry discounts. Excessively complicated: NO.

We’re almost done. Measures A, B and C are easy: the libraries in San Rafael, San Anselmo, Novato, Corte Madera and Fairfax, plus those in the county’s unincorporated communities, need money badly. Less than 50 bucks a year ($49 to be exact) will do it. For many in Marin, that’s the price of dinner out. Furthermore, even if you do not use it, a lively local library creates community for many and positively affects property values for all. Senior and poverty exemptions are available. Note: this is a five-year parcel tax (except in San Rafael, where it’s seven) and applies only to the cities and areas mentioned above. For everyone’s sake, vote yes.

Finally, the following nonpartisan county recommendations are based solely on candidate experience, meaning the proven performance by one contender in relation to an opponent(s).

For sheriff-coroner, incumbent Sheriff Robert Doyle over Coroner Ken Holmes.

For assessor, it’s Rich Benson over Shelly Scott and Bruce Raful (also note: Benson is endorsed by retiring Assessor Joan Thayer).

For Superior Court, incumbent Judge Paul Haakenson over Mark Barton.

In the close race for District 1 (mostly San Rafael) supervisor, incumbent Susan Adams over former Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni. Again, the difference being a more than competent performance by the incumbent while occupying the office being contested.

The above observations are being offered to familiarize readers with the candidates and issues on the June 8 ballot. Nothing, however, can replace individual investigation. If you, for some reason, don’t know where to vote on Election Day, call 415.499.6456 to find out. The important thing is that you cast an informed vote. That’s my point of view. What’s yours?

E-mail jwood@marinmagazine.com.