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.
Our recommendations are also informed by our work. Edie has spent her career doing communications for nonprofits on a range of issues, currently with All Home working on homelessness and poverty around the region. Janet has worked on water policy and environmental program development in California (among other things) for a few decades; and spent the last ten working with activists across the state on climate legislation, fossil fuel divestment, pension finance, and more.
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:
- Statewide Propositions
- Oakland Measures
- State and Federal Candidates
- County and other Local Candidates
- Oakland Candidates
- More races and details coming soon!
YES!! on Proposition 1: Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom
Constitutional Amendment put on the ballot by the Legislature. Guarantees an individual’s right to reproductive freedom, including the right to abortion services and contraception.
We’re voting YES!!! For goodness sakes
No on Proposition 26: Gambling: In-person roulette, dice games sports wagering on tribal lands
Constitutional amendment put on the ballot by petition signatures, supported by the casino-owning tribes. Sports betting is currently illegal in California, although it’s allowed by federal law. This measure would add to the types of gambling allowed in tribe-owned casinos; permits in-person sports betting at the state’s four privately owned horse racing tracks; requires Tribes to pay regulatory costs of state sports betting at casinos, where such gambling is permitted by agreement with the State.
We’re voting NO. While we deplore the fact that gambling and casinos seem to be the major revenue sources for native American tribes in California, it seems the casinos are doing well enough without adding more types of gambling, plus sports betting.
No on Proposition 27: Gambling: Online and mobile sports wagering outside tribal lands
Constitutional amendment put on the ballot by petition signatures, supported by national gambling companies and some smaller tribes. This constitutional amendment would allow tribes and affiliated businesses to offer sports betting over the internet, and on mobile devices. The state’s 10 percent share of revenues would go to homelessness programs and nonparticipating tribes.
We’re voting NO. We believe limiting gambling opportunities is a social justice issue and a public good. Much as the state needs a permanent source of funding for homelessness solutions, this isn’t the way to do it.
Quoting the CalMatters explainer linked above:
California has an Office of Problem Gambling, charged with raising awareness of the issue and making treatment available, but a state audit from August 2022 found that the office “lacks data on the number of individuals who are currently suffering or who have recently suffered from problem gambling.” The most recent study was in 2006, which found that 3.7% of Californian adults will experience problem or pathological gambling at some point in their lives. That translates to about 1.1 million adults in 2020. The 2006 survey also found that the prevalence of problem or pathological gambling was higher among men, African Americans, unemployed people, and disabled people.
YES on Proposition 28: $1 billion in additional funding for arts and music education in public schools, K-12
Initiative statute by petition signatures. Beginning in 2023, the General Fund would provide $1 billion for arts education in public and charter schools. This would be additional to Prop 98 mandated funding.
We’re voting YES. For all the obvious reasons
No on Proposition 29: Requires on-site physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant during treatment at kidney dialysis clinics
Initiative statute by petition signatures. No, it’s not Groundhog Day, but it is the third attempt by SEIU-United Health Care Workers West to force dialysis clinics to the bargaining table by putting up a ballot measure purporting to improve patient care, which the dialysis companies have to spend bijillions to defeat.
Once again we’re voting NO. As we said in 2020, this is mostly a protest vote—because a) there seems to be no current research that says the patient care issue is a problem that needs to be solved, b) if there were, the ballot wouldn’t be the place to solve the problem, and c) ballot measures that tell you they’re about one thing and are really about something else are REALLY fake news. Let’s get the voters out of the middle of this tug-of-war between dialysis companies and unions!
YES on Proposition 30: Funding for programs to reduce air pollution and prevent wildfires, by increasing taxes on personal income over $2 million
Initiative statute by petition signatures. $3.5-$5 billion annually would support zero emission vehicle purchase incentives, charging infrastructure, and wildfire response and prevention.
We’re voting YES. This initiative proposing a tax on billionaires (i.e., people making more than $2 million a year) was bankrolled largely by Lyft, because it will help the company’s drivers (and everyone else) buy zero-emission cars—which is important to Lyft in view of Governor Newsom’s 2035 target date for the end of sales of internal combustion cars in the state. No big surprise, it’s being opposed by the “political philanthropists” (!) who would end up paying the tax. But now that same Governor has stepped in in opposition, and we can only guess why (If you were the Governor of California running for President, would you want to p.o. the richest people in the state?). It’s also being opposed by some teachers’ unions because it evades Prop 98, which puts a portion of all General Fund dollars towards education… it also evades the Gann Limit, which is handy.
Indeed, this is redistribution of wealth from the wealthiest Californians to people who drive cars. And yes, it would be great to put this kind of money into transit (and the federal infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act will do a lot of that) – but providing incentives and infrastructure that will get more people, and especially more non-affluent people, including Lyft drivers, into electric cars is a general benefit for everyone. Transportation is responsible for about half of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Yes on Proposition 31: Referendum on a law passed in 2020 prohibiting retail sale of most flavored tobacco products and tobacco flavor enhancers
Put on the ballot by petition signatures.
We’re voting YES, to keep the law on the books. In spite of the argument that a prohibition simply creates a black market, we figure any policy that makes smoking less attractive to children and others is a good idea.
City of Oakland Measures
It’s just wonderfully convenient that measures updating the City Charter and the Business Tax Code require publication of both documents in the election guide! In case you’ve been wanting to read them….And note that in lieu of a table of contents, there is a page number convention (bottom left) that tells you which measure you’re staring at.
YES on Measure Q: Ordinance authorizing the City to “develop, construct, or acquire, or assist the development of” up to 13,000 low-rent units in social housing projects
We’re voting YES. This is on the ballot because of a (racist) provision in the state Constitution that says no “low rent housing project” may be “developed, constructed, or acquired,” by any “state public body” (such as a city) without approval by the voters. A majority vote is required for passage. See Bond Measure U, below, which requires a 2/3 vote to get SOME of the money to make SOME of this housing available.
Q. Where does the 13,000 unit figure come from?
A. The state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals for localities calculates Oakland’s “deficit” of affordable housing units through 2031 at 13,000.
(Stay tuned in 2024 for a proposition to repeal this racist provision in the state Constitution!)
Yes on Measure R: Amending the City Charter to “replace gender-specific language with gender- neutral language” and gender-neutral pronouns
We’re voting YES. Just tick the box on your ballot….Aren’t you finding that “they” is much less annoying, not to mention less syntactically clunky, than “he or she”?
Yes on Measure S: Amending the City Charter to allow the City Council to pass an ordinance allowing non-citizen parents or guardians of “qualifying children” to vote in Oakland Unified School Board elections
We’re voting YES, as we fail to see the downside in including parents or legal guardians from decision-making related to their children’s education. It may be worth noting, though, that opponents of this measure claim that this measure is illegal under the state Constitution…while proponents point out that there is no federal prohibition against voting by non-citizens in state or local elections. So, if this measure passes, it may well be challenged in court, or it may come back to the ballot in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment…
…which would be VERY interesting, as it could open the door to efforts to enfranchise non-citizen voters in all kinds of races. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (now KFF), based on numbers in the 2020 census, California has the nation’s highest percentage of non-citizen residents: 12.9 percent of our population, or more than 5 million people.
YES on Measure T: Updates and amends Oakland’s business tax rates to be progressive, raising an estimated $20.9 million/year for the general fund
We’re voting YES, as we’re Tax and Spend Democrats. (joke) Seriously, the tables on page OMT3 of the City of Oakland Measure Guide (which is inexcusably not online) show that Oakland’s current business taxes are absolutely flat. This would remedy that to some extent, although it’s worth noting that the taxes apply to gross receipts, not net profit. Still, giving breaks to small businesses is especially important in the wake of the pandemic. Oakland has lost too many important small businesses to Covid.
YES on Measure U: Authorizing the issuance of up to $850 million in general obligation bonds to fund infrastructure and affordable housing. REQUIRES 2/3 VOTE TO PASS
- $350 million for affordable housing projects (see Measure Q, above), stipulated as development, construction, or acquisition of up to 5,000 rental housing units for low-income households
- $290 million for “transportation projects,” i.e., fixing potholes (hooray!!), curb and sidewalk repairs, pedestrian and bike safety projects, pedestrian lighting, traffic calming, and improved access to transit
- $210 million for City facilities, including libraries, parks, stormwater infrastructure, and creeks
Some background: Oakland’s bond policy sets a ceiling on voter-approved property taxes of 0.22 percent, and these bonds, if sold, will keep the total at that level or below—since existing pension obligation bonds, costing $157 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, are scheduled to be paid off in 2026-27. This is how Measure U’s proponents can say that it “will not raise taxes.” The projected, estimated cost of this bond issue is $67.35 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year, until approximately 2061-62.
We’re voting Yes. Clearly, $350 million isn’t nearly enough money to make up Oakland’s projected 2031 “deficit” of 13,000 affordable housing units, and future bonds or real money from other sources will be needed to get closer to finishing the job of getting people off the streets…but this is the way our city funds its services. We’ll do our part, but Edie thinks the lion’s share of affordable housing funding should come from the state and the feds.
Yes on Measure V: Amendments to Oakland’s “Just Cause for Eviction” law
Put on the ballot by City Council as a multi-pronged attempt to address the rental housing jam, as higher mortgage rates put pressure on the rental market. This measure would:
- Remove the exception to the “Just Cause” law for properties built after 1995
- Remove the provision that makes failure to sign a new lease cause for eviction (bringing Oakland into compliance with state law, which allows reversion to month-to-month after expiration of a lease)
- Forbid evictions of teachers or school children during the school year
- Outlaw evictions from RVs or mobile tiny homes
- When a tenant is evicted so that the owner’s family member can move in, allow a tenant to move in at the old rent if the owner doesn’t occupy the home within three months
We’re voting Yes, because stronger renter protections prevent homelessness. Evictions can often be avoided, and happen much too frequently.
Yes on Measure W: Campaign finance reform for city offices
This incredibly complicated series of amendments to the Oakland Municipal Code and the City Charter provides for increased public financing of campaigns through a new “Democracy Dollars” program that gives each “eligible Oakland resident” four $25 vouchers to contribute to candidates of their choice. Candidates can opt out of public funding.
This measure also lowers campaign contribution limits to $600 from individuals and $1200 from political action committees; counts personal loans to campaigns as contributions; and adds funding to the Ethics Commission for enforcement.
We’re voting YES, curious to see how the Democracy Dollars scheme works out and—although the disclosure requirements don’t go far enough—this is a step in the right direction.
No on Measure X: Charter amendments setting term limits and establishing various procedural requirements for City Council, and more…
Currently there are no term limits for City Council. This measure would set term limits at three consecutive four-year terms, beginning when the measure takes effect, i.e., current Council members could serve for a maximum of three MORE terms. Also allows the mayor to cast a tie-breaking vote when the Council deadlocks, closing the current loophole for “strategic abstentions.”
We’re voting NO, because we don’t like term limits (except maybe for the U.S. Supreme Court).
No on Measure Y: Parcel tax supporting the Oakland Zoo
This measure would impose a parcel tax of $68 per parcel or unit of multi-family housing, with some exceptions and exemptions. (That is $68 per parcel, not per valuation (“ad valorem”) as in Measure U.) The tax would raise $14 million for the Zoo in 2023, and continue for 20 years. The Zoo’s current annual operating budget is $23-24 million; ticket sales that normally provide 80-90 percent of that have declined during the pandemic.
Note that only 15% of the zoo’s visitors each year are Oakland residents, and this would increase the zoo’s budget by 50 percent, all at the expense of Oakland homeowners.
We’re voting NO on this one. Call us grumps, but this seems a bit much. We might feel differently if the Oakland Zoo was a preeminent breeding facility for endangered wildlife…which is about the only excuse we can see for a zoo. Further, the substantial annual revenues that this tax would provide are unallocated in the measure language.
Yes on Oakland USD Measure H:
Measure H renews Measure N, which was passed in 2014 and expires in 2024. Measure N money has benefited all Oakland high schools, paying for things like internship programs with local employers, our college visits for 11th graders, restorative justice and mental health staff, and many other things. Edie’s friend who’s a co-principal at Life Academy says he could not run a comprehensive high school program without these funds.
Hmmm, on Alameda County Measure D
This measure amends an existing open space zoning ordinance passed by the voters in 2000: the “Save Agriculture and Open Space Lands” initiative. That ordinance, which requires a vote to amend, set limits on the size of agricultural (think florist operations and vineyards) or equestrian facilities outside the urban growth boundary line—mainly in the southern Livermore Valley. The amendments proposed in 2022 will allow some expansion of these facilities, with continued environmental protections. Greenbelt Alliance is in favor; the Sierra Club is neutral; and we are ambivalent.
Janet will vote NO because all of these operations use a tremendous amount of water, which is at a premium these days as we all know. They also generate a lot of wastewater, and the opponents argue that the County is fixing to run a sewer line out to the protected area to serve these expanding facilities. We are agnostic as to whether the sewer project will go ahead if the measure fails.
Edie is leaning towards YES (maybe?) because she trusts the Greenbelt Alliance on these issues more than the Alameda County Taxpayers Association, the measure’s only energized opponents. Still holding my nose though, as I resent the explosive growth of the wine industry in our agricultural areas, which this would further enable. Maybe I’ll vote NO just to stick it to the wineries.
Federal and Statewide Candidates
Most of these don’t really need an explanation, since they are pretty decent candidates in their own right and also running against Republicans.
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.
Congressional District 13 Representative – Barbara Lee
Governor – Gavin Newsom
Lieutenant Governor – Eleni Kounalakis
Secretary of State – Shirley Weber
Controller – Malia Cohen – Don’t be fooled! The Republican candidate, Lanhee Chen, has gotten some major endorsements, like from the SF Chronicle, but Malia Cohen is the right person for this job. The Controller is a voting ex-officio member of the CalPERS and CalSTRS pension boards, which Janet watches closely because they’re important for climate divestment. Chen will never vote right on that issue, but we trust Malia Cohen to lead on climate from this position. The Controller has many other important roles, and Malia is well qualified for the job, as chair of the state Board of Equalization and past San Francisco Supervisor and member of the San Francisco pension fund board.
Treasurer – Fiona Ma
Attorney General – Rob Bonta
Insurance Commissioner – Ricardo Lara – Although we’ve never been fans of Lara, we’re not ready to put a Republican in this position. The Insurance Commissioner is going to have to make some tough decisions in the next few years, and we need to push Lara to do the right thing.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tony Thurmond
Board of Equalization District 2 – Sally Lieber
Assembly District 12 – Sara Aminzadeh
Assembly District 15 – Buffy Wicks
Assembly District 18 – Mia Bonta
Assembly District 20 – Liz Ortega (replacing Bill Quirk)
Senate District 10 – Aisha Wahab (replacing Bob Wieckowski)
Senate District 8 – Dave Jones
Senate District 13 – Josh Becker
State Supreme Court
Patricia Guerrero – Yes – This would ratify the Governor’s appointment of Guerrero to fill the Chief Justice seat left vacant earlier this year. Apparently she’s expected to continue the consensus-oriented style of the court and not make any waves. More info about Guerrero.
Goodwin Liu – Yes – This is a re-election for Goodwin Liu, who has sat on the State Supreme Court since 2011. He clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and opposed the nomination of Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court, so we’re comfortable with him. Here’s a little more info about Liu.
Martin Jenkins – Yes – Appointed to the Court by Newsom in 2020, this is Jenkins’ first election to the State Supreme Court. He’s been appointed by Democrats and Republicans to various judicial seats in his career, and is CA’s first openly gay high court justice.
Joshua Groban – Okay? Hard to get a read on him one way or another…
State Appeals Court… wait, a whole page of judges?? We may get around updating this section, but recommend just skipping this part of the ballot for now. Why do we vote for judges, anyway?
County and other local offices
Peralta Community College Trustee
The Peralta Colleges District is coming out of a period of financial challenges, and these are the candidates who will keep the district on the right track.
- Louis Quindlen, Area 3
- Seth Steward, Area 7
- Cindi Reiss, Area 5
AC Transit District Directors
- At-large: Alfred Twu is very well qualified and passionate, with a long and impressive list of endorsements. He is smart and well-informed, though some of his priorities seem a bit outside the purview of an AC Transit Director (though we agree with them).
- Ward 3, Sarah Syed – Everyone seems to agree she’ll be great!
- Ward 4, Murphy Mccalley
- Ward 3, Marguerite Young
- Ward 4, Andy Katz
- Ward 7, Corina Lopez or Matt Turner, NOT April Chen.
Alameda County Supervisor District 3: Rebecca Kaplan
Kaplan will bring some much-needed progressive energy to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, which seems a bit complacent lately and not necessarily solving the big problems on its plate (like homelessness).
Alameda County District Attorney – Pamela Price
This one is tough, but we’re still supporting Pamela Price. 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. The down side is she doesn’t have experience managing a big bureaucracy with lots of staff (and she’ll likely fire many of the old guard in the office), but we’d like to give her a shot.
Terry Wiley, on the other hand, has been in the office 35 years and knows it inside and out. He has held multiple leadership positions in the office, including Director of Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. No reason to think much would change policy-wise under his leadership, though he appears to be principled and would probably be considered progressive in other contexts. Oaklandside did a thorough look at the candidates before the primary.
We think Alameda County should have one of the more progressive DAs in the state and the country, and this is our chance to elect one! Wiley may still be an improvement over his predecessor, though.
Edie: #1 Sheng Thao, #2 Greg Hodge, #3 Loren Taylor
Janet: #1 Greg Hodge, #2 Sheng Thao, #3 Loren Taylor
- Sheng Thao has considerable experience and expertise after 10 years working on the council as an aide and a council member. She managed Rebecca Kaplan’s budget work and a lot of the details of legislating, so she knows the ins and outs. She’s the clear leader on the environment, and has come up with smart plans to tackle the city’s biggest issues. We like her tone and her solutions about housing and homelessness, crime, and violence prevention. She caught a lot of flak for flubbing a question about Measure U that she should have been able to easily answer, but we’re pretty sure that was just a momentary lapse. Happens to the best of us!
- Greg Hodge has been around for a long time, seems to have a lot figured out, and is committed to making everybody work better together. Janet thinks he’s her kind of person.
- Loren Taylor has a lot of good management experience, not as progressive as we’d like.
- We think it’s a little early for Treva Reid.
- Do not vote for Ignacio De La Fuente!
Oakland City Council
We’re voting for a strong progressive majority on the council that will lead on affordable housing production/preservation/protection of tenants, violence prevention and getting to root causes of crime, and real solutions to homelessness.
- District 2: Nikki Fortunato Bas – Didn’t look too close at this one TBH because Bas seems to be doing well and her opponent, Harold Lowe, reads like a fear-mongering reactionary who wants to round up homeless people and put them god-knows-where and doesn’t support 100% affordable housing developments.
- District 4: Janani Ramachandran – Clearly progressive, talented, smart person with solutions we’d like to see. Both candidates in this race are queer women of color, which is cool, but the other one (Nenna Joiner) says she thinks 1200 is the right number of cops for Oakland. That’s almost double what we have now, which is not only wildly unaffordable, but also probably impossible to hire/retain. That answer alone shows both a misalignment with our values and a naïveté about city business/budgets that it’s an easy dealbreaker.
- District 6: Kevin Jenkins (only) – This is Edie’s district, and Kevin seems like the clear choice. The other candidates just don’t seem trustworthy, serious, or prepared. Jenkins has a refreshing list of endorsers that spans a range of city politicians and leaders that tells me he might actually be an independent, if progressive-leaning, voice on the council. And he’s an affordable housing advocate by day, which is one strong qualification (not the only one).
Oakland School Board Director
Oakland schools and the district are in rough shape, and the many school closures in recent years don’t seem to be helping. The district spends WAY more than most on administration, including tens of millions on consultants for work that could be done by (union) staff, and has never had an independent audit. This slate of candidates is endorsed by teachers, parents, unions, and education advocates, and if they all win would join two others to have a majority on the council to stop the school closures and other policies that are hollowing out Oakland schools and pushing families out of the district and into charter schools.
- District 2, Jennifer Brouhard #1, David Kakishiba #2
- District 4, Pecolia Hudson-Manigo
- District 6, Valarie Bachelor #1, Joel Velasquez #2
Oakland City Auditor
- Courtney Ruby, she’s the best! Luckily running unopposed.
City of Berkeley
Luckily, we fully agree with Edie’s friend and colleague Jeff Hobson on Berkeley races. Edie and Jeff worked together at TransForm (where Jeff worked for more than 17 years!) before working together again (currently) at All Home. Jeff has his own voter guide with helpful write-ups here: http://caelections.blogspot.com/2022/11/berkeley.html.html