Edie Irons has been making voter guides for more than 12 years, and teaming up with her mom, Janet Cox, to produce a guide for the last several. We do our own research, look at other endorsements, and have some insider knowledge from longtime local political involvement. Usually we host a ballot info party with friends and neighbors to talk it all through—we didn’t do that this time, because the ballot is fairly simple.
Our recommendations are also informed by our work. Edie is the Communications Director at TransForm, a trusted Bay Area nonprofit working on climate and equity through the lens of transportation and land use. Janet has worked on water policy and environmental program development in California (among other things) for a few decades; the last several years she’s focused on fossil fuel divestment, pension finance, and environmental legislation in Sacramento.
About this guide:
These are our recommendations for the March 3 Primary ballot — mostly for Oakland, with a few stray recommendations for nearby places at the end.
At the moment, we’re at odds over the presidential primary, which we saved til the end because Edie’s commentary is a bit long-winded and it’s important to vote the whole ballot. We hope you find both our differences and our agreements useful as you make your own important choices. You are welcome to share this far and wide. It’s fine to disagree, ask questions, or engage in constructive, respectful debate offline or in the comments.
13th Congressional District:
Barbara Lee still speaks for us.
9th State Senate District
Nancy Skinner, incumbent Democrat, running unopposed. We’ll miss her when she’s termed out — she is a climate warrior, strong on housing and criminal justice, and a very savvy legislator overall.
15th Assembly District: Buffy Wicks, incumbent Democrat. Janet has Buffy’s ear on climate and the environment, and sees Buffy working hard and making some progress. The other non-Republican running (Sara Brink) seems super progressive, but is clearly running as a stunt and not a serious candidate.
18th Assembly District: Rob Bonta, the incumbent, is the only Democrat in the race. He’s authored some good bills on a range of important issues, and is a reliable progressive advocate in Sacramento.
Superior Court Judge, Office #2
Elena Condes. Judge races are tricky because candidates can’t take positions on issues. So we look at endorsements, read what the candidates have to say, and talk to trusted friends with more knowledge of the courts. In this case, both Condes and Fickes look quite good. Fickes has put more energy into gathering progressive/Democratic endorsements, but Condes has many more endorsements from other Superior Court judges and also public defenders. Berkeley City Councilmember Kate Harrison, who we trust on judge races, met with both the candidates and found Elena to have a better temperament, which helped us decide. Also, all other things being equal, Edie in inclined to choose the queer woman of color over the white man. Courage Campaign agrees and says more about Condes.
Alameda County Supervisor
District 5: Keith Carson, incumbent, has served us well for years and years, and he’s not slowing down.
District 4: Nate Miley, incumbent. Nate has done a lot of good things for his district, and we haven’t seen a reason to replace him, though his opponent Esther Goolsby does look like a promising progressive leader with an environmental justice focus. She has very little support in the way of endorsements and Twitter followers.
Alameda County Democratic County Central Committee
Assembly District 15: (While you can vote for up to eight candidates, your vote has more weight if you vote for fewer people.) The people we know and/or know to be hard workers for the party are, in ballot order:
Assembly District 18: You can vote for up to 11 in this race. Same criteria as above, with an important note: While we respect and appreciate Robin Torello’s decades of service and dedication to our local party, we’d like to see a new party chair. If she wins this race, that’s unlikely to happen.
Tonya D. Love
Pamela A Drake
Yes on State Proposition 13, a $15 billion bond issue to repair and upgrade public school facilities. No, it’s not THAT Prop 13! Wait until November to vote for much-needed reform to THAT Prop 13, which ironically would greatly diminish the need for this sort of Prop 13. Confusing, we know.
Yes on Alameda County Proposition C, a half-cent sales tax increase expected to raise $150 million annually for early childhood education and pediatric health care. The tax increase sunsets in 20 years. With something as regressive as a sales tax increase, we’d better get something progressive for it… this fits the bill, as it will go largely to the poorest kids in the county.
You may notice that this is the third time in as many elections that we’ve had early childhood education on the ballot (at least in Oakland), and we’re hoping the third time’s the charm. When we opposed Oakland Measure AA in November 2018, we were hoping the county measure that narrowly failed in June 2018 would be back. Let’s get it over the finish line this time!
Yes on City of Oakland Measure Q, a hefty parcel tax ($148/year per single-family home) that will go towards homeless services and park maintenance including bathroom accessibility, litter collection, and storm drain cleaning (keeping trash out of Lake Merritt and the Bay). These are big problems for Oakland (to say the least), and we appreciate the connection between parks and helping people experiencing homelessness, who often seek shelter in parks. Until we reform part of Prop 13 in November, we’re stuck with parcel taxes to fund essential government services like this. Don’t believe the misleading anti-tax mailers against Measure Q.
Yes on City of Oakland Measure R, a mildly interesting charter cleanup measure put on the ballot by the City Council. Did you know the City of Oakland is required by the charter to have a daily city newsletter, which is supposed to have a print circulation of at least 25,000? It was published, according to the ballot argument, until 2016! This measure eliminates the paper printing requirement and the circulation target, and lets the Council decide what sort of newsletter, or “newsletters” the City should have.
Yes on City of Oakland Measure S, to override (only for Oakland, and just for four years) the “Gann Limit” in the state Constitution. The Gann Limit (named for Paul Gann, the co-creator with Howard Jarvis of Prop 13, aka the Jarvis Gann Initiative) was another 1970s-era mechanism designed to keep state and local governments from spending money, even if it’s been raised through voter-approved bond issues or parcel taxes. As amended in 1990, it limits the amount a city or county can appropriate, using Fiscal Year 1986-87 as a baseline, adjusted annually for inflation and population growth. Measure Q could put Oakland’s annual spending over the limit, unless this measure is passed. If you are voting Yes on Q, you should vote Yes on S.
Other East Bay recommendations
Yes on Measure J in Contra Costa County – Transportation funding
Edie’s pick for president: Elizabeth Warren
When it comes down to it, I have one overarching criterion for this presidential primary: who will inspire the most people to vote? The last presidential election was decided by less than 80,000 votes across three states. Especially given all the voter suppression and Russian interference we are already seeing, Democrats will need strong turnout to win. This year is our best chance ever to test the theory I’ve held for years: that a truly progressive national candidate with bold, brave plans can expand the electorate by giving disillusioned people something to believe in.
Either Warren and Sanders could be that candidate, but I’d rather have Warren as president and I believe she’ll be a stronger candidate. Most Bernie supporters would turn out for her, and she’s a better debater, a better storyteller, a warmer person who can appeal to a broader swath of the electorate (without compromising those progressive values we need). She has authenticity, integrity, great ideas, and yes, all the plans.
If you’re feeling fearful or anxious about who will be the most electable candidate, read this.
I know Warren is a bit of a long shot right now, but at this point anything could happen (including at the convention). She’s not so much of a long shot that I’m ready to jump ship and vote for Bernie, and I’m also not worried that he’ll lose if I don’t (I do prefer him to the moderates). As Rebecca Solnit said in her endorsement, Warren is “a better candidate for president than I ever expected we’d have.” I’m sticking with her as long as I can!
And of course, I will vote AND work hard for WHOEVER the nominee ends up being, no matter what. So should you — the fate of the planet is at stake.
I HATED the Nevada “debate,” it was more of a fifth grade cafeteria food fight, and E. Warren started it with her attack on Bloomberg. I was wishing Cory Booker was there to tell them all to put a sock in it and pull together.
In my opinion, Sanders isn’t really electable. There’s the “socialist” thing, plus he comes off like an angry old coot. He and Trump are the angriest candidates we’ve ever seen! What a turnoff!
Seems to me that with two angry candidates, each of whom many people don’t like, the “turnout election” will come down to who can turn out the most angry people. Not a good start for rebuilding the Republic.
After Booker left the race I started sending money to Amy K., but she’s not getting traction… At the moment, I’m thinking Tom Steyer. Maybe because he was fortunate enough not to be in the debate, but also because I agree with everything he says and climate is his no. 1 issue. I’ll probably change my mind two more times before Super Tuesday, but maybe not.