Now, here’s what we think

Butte County Board of Supervisors, District 3
For the June primary election, we endorsed Maureen Kirk. We see no reason to change this for the runoff; if anything, we’re more whole-hearted. Kirk has solid, specific plans for Butte County. And despite her opponent’s claim to the contrary, we feel a supervisor with no work commitments and no children at home will do better than a supervisor/businessman/father of three teens.

Chico City Council
Scott Gruendl is a dedicated, decorated public servant, and we think he will be an even stronger voice in council meetings when he doesn’t have to run them from the mayor’s seat. Likewise, we love the passion, compassion and outside-the-box thinking of Mary Flynn—a progressive with a business background and a balanced approach to growth. For the final open seat, we endorse another political newcomer: Mark Sorensen. We don’t think Chico would be well-served with the entire “conservative” slate on the council, just as we don’t think a lopsided “liberal” majority is to our benefit. Sorensen will offer a contrast without being contrary, something vital in a body that too often gets bogged down with senseless arguments.

Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees
This is a tough one. All six candidates have a lot to offer. We support Rick Rees for re-election because of his impressive work as president of the board, leading the transition that brought on Dr. Chet Francisco. And we believe Kathy Kaiser and Andrea Lerner Thompson will add good new energy to the board. They are intelligent women with deep experience in education and will serve Chico school kids well.

Assembly, District 2
Republican Doug LaMalfa is a shoo-in for a final term here. He’s a conservative rice farmer, and we don’t often agree with him, but he fits the district well, and after two terms he’s gotten enough experience to be able to bring home some bacon to his district, which is why we endorse him. His Democratic opponent, Dunnigan businessman Mel Smith, has hardly campaigned.

Assembly, District 3
Like LaMalfa, former Chico City Councilman Rick Keene has served two terms in the Assembly, and like LaMalfa he’s toed the conservative-Republican line, even opposing the governor’s global-warming initiative. But he’s working to protect our water and has gained valuable experience, which is why we endorse him. Keene’s Democratic opponent, Mickey Harrington, has some good ideas but no political experience.

State Senate, District 4
If Grass Valley oral surgeon Sam Aanestad wins, as is virtually certain, this will be his last term in the Legislature. The conservative Republican has distinguished himself for his work on behalf of rural health care and protecting Northern California water; he’s a lock to win a second term. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for a Republican, we recommend Green candidate Bob Vizzard, a Placer County emergency physician and sharp guy.

Board of Equalization, District 2
Tim Raboy has worked for the agency for 14 years and has political experience at the municipal level. This next step is a natural one, and we believe he will streamline and improve tax-collection efforts at a time when the state needs all the money it’s entitled to.

U.S. Congress, District 2
AJ Sekhon may not be a household name, but he would be a great addition to the House. He’s an immigrant who has served in the U.S. military, and a physician to boot—quite a contrast to Wally Herger, the 20-year incumbent who has fallen lock-step behind the Bush administration. Will Sekhon win? No. Should he? Yes.

U.S. Congress, District 4
Even if Charlie Brown weren’t a quality candidate, he’d be a better alternative than the corruption-scandal-tainted incumbent. He is more than a protest vote, however—he’s a decorated Vietnam veteran with a son serving in Iraq, so when he proposes a change in military strategy, he knows of what he speaks. We say cut and run from John Doolittle.

U.S. Senate
First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, Dianne Feinstein has long been a bipartisan Democrat, an independent voice who prides herself on being able to work with members of both parties. If the Democrats take back Congress, it’s centrists like Feinstein who will need to play a huge role in holding the line and blocking the Bush administration’s failed foreign and domestic agenda.

Though unimpressed with his campaign or charisma, we think highly enough of Phil Angelides‘ positions to give him our endorsement. He advocates closing corporate tax loopholes and increasing taxes on the rich to balance the budget, and he’s been a strong advocate for environmental protection, universal health care, campaign-finance reform and reasonable, humane immigration policies.

Lieutenant governor
John Garamendi was and always will be a law-and-order Democrat. He has taken a leadership role in consumer protection, stresses environmental protection, and is certainly closer to the center than his staunchly conservative opponent. Particularly if Gov. Schwarzenegger gets re-elected, we need his voice in the statehouse.

Attorney general
His arch-conservative opponent paints him otherwise, but Jerry Brown—former California governor and outgoing Oakland mayor—has no “moonbeam” view on fighting crime. His wide support from law enforcement officers speaks to this. He also has a long record of defending the environment and supporting regulation on industry.

Secretary of state
During her long tenure in the Legislature, Debra Bowen has demonstrated an absolute resolve to open up government and to clean up our flawed political process. She also has a strong legislative record on consumer privacy issues. Most significant, Bowen has been a voice of reason when it comes to our need for voting systems we can trust, opposing the recertification of Diebold machines approved by her opponent despite evident security flaws.

Insurance commissioner
Democrat Cruz Bustamante has the name recognition, but moderate Republican challenger Steve Poizner has the skills and independence needed to succeed John Garamendi in this important post. A successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, he plans to continue his predecessor’s work while adding a focus on investigating fraud.

John Chiang used to work in the controller’s office. His experience bolstered by two terms on the Board of Equalization, he’s more than capable of running the show. He says he’ll work to close corporate tax loopholes and insist that oil and insurance companies pay their fair share—we believe him.

As a state legislator and attorney general, Bill Lockyerbuilt a solid track record protecting the average citizen’s personal, civil and economic rights. So who better to trust with oversight and accountability for multibillion-dollar infrastructure bonds that are sure to pass in this election? No one but him.

Prop. 1A: gas tax priorities
In lean years, the Legislature and the governor must be able to make choices about what to prioritize without having their hands tied behind their backs. Proposition 1A is a handcuff they don’t need, and we say no for this reason.

Prop. 1B: transportation bond
Though it allocates less money for public transit than we’d like, we say yes because this bond addresses key needs in a growing state, particularly a growing North State. Highway 99 improvements are reason enough to support 1B.

Prop. 1C: housing bond
Common sense suggests a state with a deficit should be judicious with bonds. Emergency shelters are a worthy cause, but they would not benefit as many people as improved transportation, schools and water management, so with regret we say no to the housing bond.

Prop. 1D: schools bond
A yes vote would help in the crucial effort to reduce overcrowding in classrooms, plus update schools with new technology and aid the community college system. All these efforts are needed.

Prop. 1E: levees bond
The lessons of Hurricane Katrina make this an obvious yes. The bond would repair levees, increase flood protection and help improve the state’s drinking water in the bargain.

Prop. 83: sex offenders
“Jessica’s Law” will cost taxpayers about $500 million, but the biggest reason we say no is similar laws in other states have been counterproductive and ineffective at decreasing crime or improving public safety. Just as bad, by prohibiting convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks, it will drive them out of cities and into rural areas like Butte County.

Prop. 84: restoration bond
We say yes to preserving California’s natural environment and open spaces—beaches, forests, rivers and streams—for ourselves and future generations.

Prop. 85: parental notice
Regardless of our feelings about choice, we say no out of pragmatism. If 85 passes, thousands of pregnant California teens—the ones without supportive parents—would resort to illegal, unsafe abortions.

Prop. 86: cigarette tax
Clearly, this cigarette tax is steep—that’s what makes it an effective deterrent. The main reason we say yes is it will make California healthier all the way around with added funding for emergency care, health insurance for children and community clinics.

Prop. 87: oil extraction tax
When it comes to alternative energy or oil companies, we’ll always say yes to the former. California is the only oil-producing state that doesn’t collect a drilling tax, and this measure specifically directs the money where it will do some real good.

Prop. 88: education parcel tax
Even its authors have stopped campaigning for this one and put their support behind Prop. 1D instead. Parcel taxes are best levied on the local level. Vote no.

Prop. 89: campaign financing
Transforming the political process clearly deserves a yes vote. Candidates could choose to receive public funding or spend within the bounds of a lowered donation threshold. Thus, politicians could serve principle rather than feeling bound to the special interests that wrote them checks.

Prop. 90: eminent domain
While we are concerned about abuses of eminent domain, we say no to this draconian measure with the potential to wipe out crucial government regulations—from environmental laws to workplace safety.