Decoding the Ballot

There are several intriguing races on the June 3 primary ballot. The following is my take on key issues and candidates.

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown will get the most votes, but Republican newcomer Neel Kashkari will come in second, which, under California’s open primary system, means the two will go at it again in November. Check out Kashkari — he’s a 40-yearold Southern Californian with two MBAs who worked at Goldman Sachs and then the Treasury Department, where he administered TARP, 2008’s Troubled Asset Relief Program — so he has business and government experience. Meanwhile, Marin’s Gavin Newsom will win handily in the contest for lieutenant governor.

The battle to be California’s Secretary of State (overseeing state elections) isn’t its usual snoozer — and again, the Republicans have an attractive candidate. This time it’s Pete Peterson, who runs a think tank on civic leadership and, early on, won the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times. His closest rival is state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) who is young, determined and talented. Peterson and Padilla will probably oppose each other again in November.

A similar situation exists in the campaign for state controller (state’s chief financial officer). Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin is another Republican candidate worth considering. One of two Democrats, assembly speaker John Pérez or board of equalization member Betty Yee, will probably face off against Swearengin in November. As for state treasurer (responsible for bonds and investments), former controller John Chiang is a sure winner; same for Kamala Harris for state attorney general (chief legal officer), Dave Jones for insurance commissioner and Fiona Ma for a seat on the state board of equalization. All are Democrats.

In the race for California superintendent of schools, a close contest is under way between incumbent Tom Torlakson and innovator Marshall Tuck. Parents of schoolchildren should investigate this race; it will impact their offspring.

Marin’s Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), as he should, will win a second term as U.S. Congressman from District 2, which includes Marin, western Sonoma and up the coast to Oregon. As for state senator, a new (for Marin) name is the strong candidate; he’s Mike McGuire, a popular Democratic Sonoma County supervisor. Meanwhile, assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) did solid work in his first term in Sacramento and will probably be returned to office. His November opponent looks to be Diana Conti, a College of Marin trustee.

As for Marin County’s other elected officials, Mary Jane Burke (superintendent of schools), Richard Benson (assessor/recorder/ county clerk), Ed Berberian (district attorney) and Robert Doyle (sheriff/coroner) have all done good work and all are running unopposed.

A critical county race involves county supervisorial District 1 (San Rafael, Santa Venetia, Lucas Valley), where San Rafael city councilperson Damon Connolly is challenging incumbent Susan Adams. Connolly has chaired the successful Marin Clean Energy, but has changed course dramatically on vital housing issues. At the same time, Adams did tireless work building consensus regarding housing in Marinwood; she does her homework. This one is close.

An easier call is Marin’s District 5 (Novato, Bel Marin Keys, Black Point), where incumbent Judy Arnold, who has accomplished much in her eight years as supervisor, is expected to turn back a challenge from Toni Shroyer, a real estate agent with limited political experience.

Finally, two Marin measures deserve yes votes. Measure A, a library parcel tax, involving only Corte Madera, Ross, Fairfax, Novato and county unincorporated areas, would extend a $49 parcel tax for another nine years. Measure B will allow construction of a permanent home for the farmers’ market at the Marin County Civic Center, the cost of which ($20 million) will be raised through a capital campaign.

Don’t forget to vote on or before June 3. That’s my point of view. What’s yours?

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