CN&R’s picks for the 2018 primary

Friendly warning: There’s a lot on the June 5 primary ballot, and we’re weighing in only on the races and measures we deem prominent, contentious or significant enough to merit endorsements.

To get to this point, we’ve attended and participated in forums and queried some of the candidates when we weren’t sure about their position on subjects we think are important to the community.

Ultimately, though, each voter should make an independent decision by reading the statements in the sample ballot, reading newspaper coverage and checking out the candidates’ campaign literature. We also recommend watching the local League of Women Voters’ (LWV) recent forums (go to lwvbuttecounty.org).

Keep in mind that California has an “open primary.” What that means is, regardless of party, all candidates compete against each other. The top two vote-getters advance to the November general election. That applies to the partisan races. However, it also can apply to traditional nonpartisan contests. If no candidate garners a majority of the votes (50 percent, plus one vote), the top two will head to a runoff in November. Locally, that could occur in the three-candidate race for District 3 supervisor.

Finally, we’d like to thank all the local candidates—including the ones we did not endorse. We believe they want what’s best for the North State, and we respect their willingness to serve.

Governor: Democrat Delaine Eastin gets our vote. The former state superintendent of public instruction knows the value of education, has an environmentally sound platform (she opposes the twin tunnels project and wants to ban fracking), and supports health care for all. Those are but a few of the reasons Eastin, who comes from a working-class background and put herself through school (undergrad at UC Davis and grad school at UC Santa Barbara), would make a great governor. If elected, she’d be the first woman to hold the post.

Congress: Auburn-based attorney Jessica Holcombe is our top pick in a crowded field of candidates, many of whom impressed us during LWV and other forums. Getting straight to the point, we think she has the best shot at unseating the incumbent, Republican Doug LaMalfa, who certainly will advance to the general election. Holcombe put herself through school—Georgetown and UC Davis—and today runs her own law firm. After LaMalfa, she’s the top campaign fundraiser.

County assessor: Diane Brown, the incumbent with more than 30 years of experience in the department, is our choice for this position. Brown acknowledges she has work to do in the office she manages. She’s in the midst of completing several major projects—among them, implementing technology upgrades and training for her staff. We recognize that Brown is not a savvy campaigner, and she likely will be investigated for elections violations (she briefly used her county email address and phone number as campaign contact info).

Brown’s challenger is Chico City Councilman Randall Stone. To put it bluntly, Stone lacks the maturity this management post requires. Indeed, he besmirched the Assessor’s Office employees (the folks who’d work for him) and Brown throughout the campaign (check out his catty comments about a refrigerator at the LWV forum). In our view, he exaggerated the problems in the Assessor’s Office under Brown’s leadership.

County auditor-controller: In the race to replace retiring David Houser, we favor his choice as successor, Assistant Auditor-Controller Graciela Gutierrez. Houser’s endorsement has nothing to do with ours; in fact, well-chronicled issues during his seven terms may make that recommendation suspect. But we feel Gutierrez has the qualifications and leadership qualities necessary for the position.

Her opponent, Kathryn Mathes, says the job requires a certified public accountant. Many counties have a CPA as auditor-controller; many don’t. We see Gutierrez’s master’s degree in public administration, along with her seven years in the department, as more significant for this post than certificates.

District 3 supervisor: Our pick is Tami Ritter, who we believe will be an excellent successor to retiring popular Supervisor Maureen Kirk. Ritter, who spent four years on the Chico City Council, is sharp and empathetic. She wasn’t re-elected for a second term—a loss for Chicoans. Her top priorities: protecting North State water, implementing “housing first” policies, and ensuring the county is prepared for emergencies (think the Oroville Dam catastrophe).

District 2 supervisor: We’re going with Debra Lucero, who is challenging incumbent Larry Wahl, an inflexible conservative. The Board of Supervisors is a nonpartisan post and Lucero has crossover appeal due to her long tenure in the arts and tourism industries. We think she’ll bring a much-needed dose of creativity to the panel—and we trust her on the issues, including budget cuts in the face of a predicted general fund deficit.

Proposition 68: Yes. This $4.1 billion bond measure would fund improvements for long-neglected state parks and water systems, as well as a host of other conservation efforts.

Proposition 69: Yes. Essentially, it’s a legally binding way to ensure “gas tax” revenues are spent only on transportation projects, as the Legislature promised.

Proposition 70: No. The short version is this would require a supermajority vote in a single year, 2024, on how to spend cap-and-trade funds. Gov. Jerry Brown is backing it, but only as part of the deal he struck with Republicans to extend cap-and-trade legislation.

Proposition 71: Yes. Makes ballot initiatives go into effect five days after election results are certified—rather than the day after an election, which is the case now for initiatives that don’t specify another start date.

Proposition 72: Yes. Another no-brainer, it would exclude rainwater-capture systems from property tax assessments, beginning Jan. 1.