Edie and her mom, Janet Cox, have been teaming up for years now to put together voter guides. We do our own research, look at other endorsements, have some insider knowledge from years of local political involvement, and host a ballot info party with friends and neighbors to talk it all through before each election.
Please share this far and wide. It’s fine to disagree, ask questions, or engage in constructive, respectful debate offline or in the comments.
This voter guide contains:
- Federal, statewide, and Alameda County candidates
- Oakland Measure C
- SF Proposition H
US Senate – Alex Padilla
Both times! The reason Padilla is on the ballot twice is because this is the first opportunity for a special election after the Governor appointed him to fill Kamala Harris’ Senate seat; and because he’s also running for his own six-year term. Padilla has been pretty good on climate (Janet’s issue), and he’s really trying to work on housing and immigration reform.
US Representative – Barbara Lee
Luckily nobody credible is challenging Lee, because she still speaks for me!
Governor – Gavin Newsom
There’s no serious Democratic opposition, and the idea of a Republican governor is seriously scary.
Lieutenant Governor – Eleni Kounalakis, the incumbent. No reason not to give her another term.
Secretary of State – Shirley Weber
Part of the game of musical chairs set off by Kamala Harris’ election as Vice President, Shirley Weber was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Newsom, filling Alex Padilla’s former elected position. Weber, the first African-American to serve as Secretary of State, had been doing a solid job representing parts of San Diego in the state Assembly. Read her bio: She is one impressive person. (No idea why she doesn’t get to run in two elections too….)
Controller – Malia Cohen
There are a bunch of people running for Controller, as Betty Yee has termed out. Our favorite candidate is Malia Cohen, current chair of the State Board of Equalization representing District 2 (our district). She is the first African-American woman to serve on the Board. Janet has worked with her in the past and finds her friendly, easygoing and very quick. The Controller serves on the boards of both CalPERS and CalSTRS, the state’s huge public pension funds. CalPERS needs major reform and Cohen, potentially teaming up with Treasurer Fiona Ma, might be the catalyst to make something happen. Read Cohen’s bio.
Treasurer – Fiona Ma
Again, the incumbent gets our votes. Treasurer Ma has been on the right side of divestment and private equity debates on the CalPERS board, but she hasn’t had allies.
Attorney General – Rob Bonta
Bonta was also appointed by Newsom after Xavier Becerra went to Washington to be Biden’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Becerra mostly sued the Trump administration, from what we can recall. Bonta seems to be doing more, including vigorously enforcing housing laws, which Edie appreciates.
Insurance Commissioner – Mark Levine
We didn’t like Ricardo Lara the first time he ran for Insurance Commissioner in 2018, and we like him even less now. He’s taken campaign money from the insurance industry after pledging not to, and has tried to brush off a few scandals about his use of public funds. And he has largely dropped the ball on the groundbreaking climate action taken by his predecessor, Dave Jones. Mark Levine has pledged to be a champion on climate. From the SF Chronicle’s endorsement:
[Levine] has vowed to mandate more transparency regarding insurance company fossil fuel investments — by, among other things, reinstating the policies of former Commissioner Dave Jones that lead to billions in disinvestment from the coal industry. California’s insurance market is so large that forcing such sunshine in this state has the potential to spark nationwide fossil fuel divestment and increased climate transparency for consumers everywhere..
Board of Equalization Member – Sally Lieber
Sally has been a strong San Mateo County Supervisor. She’ll do better than fine as a tax policy leader and will push the envelope in a progressive direction when she has the opportunity to do so.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tony Thurmond
We’ve known Tony for years and have faith in him and his staff. He’s been a little quiet during the pandemic, likely because he was deferring to Governor Newsom’s leadership, but we trust he’s working hard behind the scenes. This interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune includes a lot of details about what Tony has been up to and his plans for the future.
18th Assembly District – Mia Bonta
Also appointed by Newsom after her husband was appointed Attorney General. She is running unopposed. Seems fine so far.
Alameda County Superintendent of Schools – Alysse Castro
Castro is challenging the incumbent, L.K. (Karen) Monroe, and we’re excited to vote for her. This position oversees the budgets of all the school districts in the county, as well as education at Juvenile Hall and some alternative “community” schools. Castro has worked as a teacher, a principal, as Director of Student Programs and Services at the Alameda County Office of Education, and for the past seven years has been Executive Director of Court, County and Continuation High Schools in the San Francisco Unified School District. She has a strong finance background, which is important for this role. She’s also skeptical that school closures are the solution for struggling districts like OUSD.
Under Monroe’s long tenure, the quality of education for kids in Alameda County’s Juvenile Hall has gone from bad to worse, as students there are behind grade level and are getting neither the instruction they need nor the support necessary to address trauma. Monroe has also encouraged many of the school closures at OUSD, which are highly problematic.
Alameda County District Attorney – Pamela Price
This one is a close call, but we’re leaning toward Pamela Price, whom we endorsed the last time she ran for DA.
This time the incumbent, Nancy O’Malley, is not running for reelection, and there are two traditional law-and-order type candidates and two reformers running to replace her. The reformer with the best shot of winning is Price, so we’re voting for her. She’s a smart and capable civil rights attorney with a very progressive agenda, which we’d love to see become a reality here in Alameda County. She doesn’t have experience managing a big bureaucracy with lots of staff, but we hope she gets the chance to try it.
Seth Steward is also a progressive reformer, a bit less radical perhaps, but with more relevant experience having worked in the DA’s office in San Francisco. However, he is less well known than Pamela (who’s been running for this job for five years) and is less likely to win. So let’s not split the progressive vote.
The other two candidates are more traditional DAs with strong ties to police and corrections officers. Alameda County should have one of the more progressive DAs in the state and the country, this is our chance to elect one!
Alameda County Sheriff – Yesenia Sanchez
This is a tough one. All agree that the long-time Sheriff, Gregory Ahern, needs to GO, but he’s got the money and endorsements to keep doing a terrible job. His opponents are Yesenia Sanchez, Commander of the Santa Rita Jail, where the deplorable and dangerous conditions are a major issue in this race; and Joann Walker, a longtime San Francisco police officer.
According to her endorsement by the Mercury News, in her two years as Division Commander at the jail, Sanchez “has seen the conditions from the inside but lacks the authority to make needed changes.” Replacing Ahern would fix that problem. The Oaklandside did a good thorough summary of the three candidates, which helped us decide against Walker.
Alameda County Supervisor District 3 – Rebecca Kaplan
Rebecca Kaplan will bring some much-needed progressive energy to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, which seems a bit complacent lately.
Tragically, Supervisor Wilma Chan was struck by a car and killed while walking her dog in November 2021. Her chief of staff has been serving in her place since then, but is not running for the seat. Lena Tam and David Kakishiba are good people, we like David’s priorities on his website, but we know Rebecca best and trust her to work hard, be accountable, and make good calls. Don’t know much about Surlene Grant but her support seems mostly limited to San Leandro.
Running unopposed, so might as well vote for these incumbents:
- Assembly member, 14th Assembly District – Buffy Wicks
- All three Superior Court judges
- Alameda County Assessor – Phong La
- Alameda County Auditor-Controller – Melissa Wilk
- Treasurer/Tax Collector – Hank Levy
City of Oakland Measure C: Continuing funding for Neighborhood Libraries
Is anyone really going to vote against funding libraries by continuing the existing parcel tax for 30 years? We hope not!
San Francisco Measure H: NO on the recall of DA Chesa Boudin
This is a right-wing attack and a waste of public funds and energy.
For more info on SF races, check out the League of Pissed Off Voters, though we can’t vouch for all their positions. Balanced with the Chronicle’s endorsements, you’ll probably muddle through.