Voice on the Vote

THE FOLLOWING BALLOT comments result from studying the sample ballot, viewing (and comparing) competing websites and critiquing newspaper articles and editorials. My goal is to help you decide. If a contest is extremely close, I summarize both sides — then you make the call. The following are my predictions and opinions.

First, the easy ones: For California governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general — Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom (of Marin) and Kamala Harris, respectively, will win decisively and are my picks.

Relatively close contests involve California’s state treasurer and insurance commissioner and the District 2 seat on the State Board of Equalization. I’m voting for, again respectively, John Chiang, David Jones and Fiona Ma — all are Democrats; Chiang and Jones are incumbents, while Ma has Bay Area roots.

"In Measure A, the Marin Emergency Radio Authority (MERA) wants $29 a year for the next 20 years to update the network connecting police, firefighter and public works agencies."

The race for state controller — a powerful yet obscure position — is both fascinating and close. Betty Yee is a seasoned Democrat well known in Sacramento; meanwhile, Ashley Swearengin is the young mayor of Fresno whose Republican star is rising while her stances are moderate. Equally tight is the secretary of state contest between Alex Padilla, an effective Democratic state senator who championed the plastic bag ban, and newcomer Pete Peterson, a talented Republican from academia who says he simply wants to “make the office run better.” Also neck-and-neck is the race for superintendent of public instruction, a nonpartisan office: Tom Torlakson, 65, is a pro-tenure incumbent backed by the teachers’ union, and Marshall Tuck, 41, is an effective Southern California education reformer who opposes tenure. These three races definitely bring intrigue to the ballot.

Regarding state propositions, here is how I will vote:

PROP. 1: Water Bond A $7.5 billion measure to relieve impact of droughts has overwhelming bipartisan support. Yes.

PROP. 2: Budget Stabilization A constitutional amendment to create a “rainy day” fund also has wide support. Yes.

PROP. 45: Health Care Insurance Close and complex; most say intention might be right, but timing is wrong. No.

PROP. 46: Testing of Doctors Several complex health care measures that the Legislature should handle. No.

PROP. 47: Criminal Sentencing Reduces non-serious and nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Yes.

PROP. 48: Gaming Compacts Complex made simple: If you like the idea of Indian gaming casinos, Yes. If not, No.

As for Marin-centric contests, Jared Huffman deserves a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives; Marc Levine should be returned to the California State Assembly; and it’s a sure thing that Mike McGuire, a 34-year-old former Sonoma County supervisor who’s a Democrat, will be Marin’s new state senator. Easy, all of them.

Also easy are three openings on the Marin Healthcare District board — they should be filled by incumbents Jennifer Rienks, Larry Bedard and newcomer Michael Whipple. All are positive, forward-thinking and knowledgeable regarding Marin General Hospital.

In Measure A, the Marin Emergency Radio Authority (MERA) wants $29 a year for the next 20 years to update the network connecting police, firefighter and public works agencies in times of emergency. The method of payment is questionable, but the need is not. Most are saying Yes, and approval calls for a two-third majority. With Measure R, Marin General Hospital wants approval of a lease arrangement that turns day-to-day management over to a board appointed by the elected Marin Healthcare District board. Again, it’s a Yes.

Let’s close with two matters involving Ross Valley. First, a close race for that area’s seat on the Marin Municipal Water District’s board is between incumbent Liza Crosse, Supervisor Steve Kinsey’s administrative aide, and challenger Larry Bragman, an attorney, staunch environmentalist and current Fairfax town councilman. If I lived there — after reviewing the endorsements — I’d go with Crosse. Also on most Ross Valley ballots are parcel taxes — up to $75 a year for the next four years — to maintain paramedics’ response times. It’s a small amount, sure, and if I lived there I’d vote Yes. But when and where does the taxing stop? Like Marin’s Measure A, approval here calls for a two-thirds majority.

That’s my point of view. What’s yours? Email [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Marin Magazine and its staff.