The CN&R’s endorsements
Our recommendations for the June 8 ballot
There are some exciting races in this year’s primary election, both locally and statewide. The members of the CN&R editorial board have selected the ones they think are most interesting and made the following endorsements in contested elections. We urge voters, however, to do their own investigations of the candidates and issues and to come to their own conclusions.
District Attorney: Mike Ramsey
We haven’t always liked District Attorney Mike Ramsey’s actions. His auto-body-shop sting was an embarrassing disaster. And his plea-bargain offer to depressed teenager Gregory Wright, who hurt nobody but is serving 22 years in state prison, was way out of proportion to the offense.
Having said that, we think Ramsey deserves to be returned to office. Overall he’s been a progressive DA who has established innovative programs to benefit drug-endangered and abused children and worked closely with Drug Court to implement Proposition 36. He is tough on environmental criminals, has the respect of his deputies and local law-enforcement agencies, and is a formidable litigator himself.
Neither of his opponents, Lance Daniel and Dale Rasmussen, has shown he is qualified. Daniel is a put-up job with limited prosecutorial experience sponsored by a group of polluters unhappy with Ramsey’s work, and Rasmussen—who lost to Ramsey in 2002—has chosen not to campaign. Neither deserves to be elected.
Supervisor, District 2: Jane Dolan
Chico Councilman Larry Wahl is the most formidable candidate ever to run against longtime incumbent Dolan, but it’s still no contest. When it comes to county government, Dolan is always the smartest and most knowledgeable person in the room, and her record is one of pragmatic achievement in service to worthy goals. The fact that the county is in relatively good fiscal condition right now is just one of innumerable testaments to her skills. Wahl’s ideological conservatism isn’t needed on a board already dominated by conservatives.
Supervisor, District 3: Maureen Kirk
In her first term, Kirk has been a hard-working, open-minded, results-oriented leader, earning the respect of her colleagues and the appreciation of her constituents. She deserves to be re-elected.
Assembly, District 3: Christina Billeci
For Democrats, Billeci is far and away the superior candidate. A three-term Marysville councilwoman and long time Yuba County public guardian, she understands the financial problems facing the state and has pragmatic, commonsensical proposals for solving them. She would also make a strong general-election challenger to incumbent Republican Dan Logue.
Assembly, District 2: Charlie Schaupp
Republicans have a clear choice between a savvy veteran politician of dubious moral character, incumbent Jim Nielsen, and Yolo County farmer and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Charlie Schaupp. Because of his lies about his residency, on top of his long history of shady dealings in Sacramento, Nielsen doesn’t deserve re-election.
State Senate, District 4: Doug LaMalfa
The two Republican candidates say much the same thing about the budget, the border, water rights and the Democrat majority in the Legislature. One big distinction prompts us to endorse LaMalfa over Rick Keene, however.
Keene, a former Chico mayor, is trumpeting a half-dozen ways to reshape the Republican Party—and, with it, California. Frankly, we don’t particularly care whether the GOP grows stronger, and his “Six Points” hark back to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” and we don’t recall that going so well.
LaMalfa is a farmer—college-educated, shrewd and a politician, but at the core a farm guy from Richvale. He’s approachable. He looks to solve constituents’ problems, not the GOP’s. Outgoing Sen. Sam Aanestad championed issues important for the North State and got results. That’s what we think best serves District 4, and it’s the blueprint we see LaMalfa following.
Board of Equalization, District 2
The district leans Republican, and among the GOP candidates Barbara Alby is best. Among Democrats, Chris Parker has significant experience as a tax attorney and a strong commitment to a fairly shared tax burden.
It’s been sad to watch two once-moderate, pragmatic Republicans debase themselves in order to see who can move farthest to the wacky right, but that’s what’s happened in the Republican primary race between Meg Whitman and current Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, both ultra-rich former Silicon Valley CEOs who are self-financing their campaigns. In the long run, Whitman is better—though barely—than Poizner. On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jerry Brown faces only marginal opposition.
On the Democratic side, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is an energetic visionary who could give this do-nothing office some clout, while Republican Abel Maldonado is the only Republican with much of a chance to win.
Among the three Republican candidates, Tom Campbell is far and away the most experienced and reasonable. Incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer is sure to be nominated for a fourth term.
The best in a crowded—and quality—Democratic field is Kamala Harris, the district attorney in San Francisco. She puts a strong emphasis on a preventive approach to crime and is unusually willing to go after perpetrators of financial crimes. Among the Republican candidates, Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles DA, is the most qualified.
Assemblyman Dave Jones, of Sacramento, is a highly effective public servant who would be strongly on the side of consumers in this position. Assemblyman Mike Villines, of Clovis, is a virtual shoo-in on the Republican side.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Gloria Romero
As a state senator specializing in education issues, Romero has shown herself to be a strong advocate of reform who is unafraid to confront powerful interests and rightfully describes educational inequalities in California as “the civil-rights issue of our time.”
U.S. Congress, District 2: Pete Stiglich
Wally Herger is seeking his 12th term, and our sense is that he’s running on autopilot these days, just filling the seat and drawing the paycheck. He’s done little or nothing for his district this year. It’s time for a change. His Republican challenger, Pete Stiglich, a retired Air Force colonel, is just as conservative as Herger is, perhaps more so, but he at least is passionate about the job and eager to get things done.
Proposition 13: Yes
By exempting property owners who make their buildings earthquake-safe from additional taxes, this initiative would encourage safer buildings.
Proposition 14: No
While we appreciate the intent of this measure, which is to move the major political parties toward a reasonable center, the net result of this flawed initiative would be to guarantee one-party races in some areas and freeze out small parties. We’d much rather see reform that involves instant-runoff voting.
Proposition 15: Yes
Public funding of campaigns is probably the most important step we can take toward returning politics to governance instead of perpetual campaigning. This pilot program to provide public funding for the campaign for secretary of state is a step in the right direction. Once Californians have seen the advantages of publicly funded campaigns, we’ll see a big change in elections—one that will eventually eliminate big-bucks lobbying entirely, if we can make it work. Take the first step toward sane elections.
Proposition 16: No
The so-called “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” has been bought and paid for entirely by the very corporation, PG&E, that stands to gain the most from its passage. Prop. 16 would make it nearly impossible for public utilities like the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to expand into PG&E territory, and citizens who wanted to create their own public-power agency would be almost unable to do so, because the measure would require local governments to get approval from a prohibitive two-thirds of their voters before changing their power provider.
PG&E has spend $44 million to pass this measure because it doesn’t want to fight any more battles like the one in 2006, when it spent $11 million to narrowly defeat Yolo County’s attempt to drop PG&E and join up with SMUD.
Proposition 17: No
Here’s another misleading measure, this one bought and paid for by Mercury Insurance Group, the state’s third-largest auto insurer. It’s basically Mercury’s attempt to repeal a 1988 law, passed by voters, that protects California consumers from arbitrary insurance-rate hikes. If passed, this measure would mean skyrocketing insurance rates for new drivers, and it would increase the number of uninsured drivers on the roadways. Guess what? That ends up increasing rates for all Californians.