10 good reasons to vote

Five candidates and four propositions that deserve your support. (And one that doesn’t.)

US Senate: Kevin de León

It’s very unusual for elected officials to endorse a candidate running against a United States senator of their own party. Kevin de León has many such endorsements in his bid to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Many democratic leaders agree that it’s time for her to go.

This race will be decided in November—but that will be a formality unless de León receives strong support next week. That would be good for the state and the nation. Feinstein has done much important work in her unprecedented 26-year career in congress. Her seniority makes her one of the most powerful members of the senate. As her campaign points out, de León will have no such power if elected.

Nevertheless, it’s time to look to the future. If California is to have a representative in a powerful position in years to come, we must send de León to the Senate now.

US House of Representatives District 4: Jessica Morse

In one of the most crucial congressional races in the country, we have an opportunity to unseat one of the most powerfully dangerous men in the U.S. Congress: Rep. Tom McClintock. Granted: this is a longshot in conservative District 4, but McClintock is not an ordinary conservative—he stands to the right of Donald Trump on many issues. There isn’t space here to list the ways McClintock’s bills and votes have hurt his district and the nation, but they include immigration, women’s issues, foreign policy and, most importantly, the environment—he is the chair of the House Public Lands subcommittee, and removing him from that position would be a victory for every living thing.

Two of the three female Democrats opposing McLintock would do a fine job of representing the district in Congress. Jessica Morse has a better chance of defeating him, and has shown the kind of coalition building skills necessary to wage a big-tent campaign that could win over the reasonable conservatives in her district.

Her opponent, Regina Bateson, has an admirable resume, and her policy proposals are similar to Morse’s. However, Bateson has been a divisive force in the district, breaking two promises she made to voters when she launched her campaign. First, after promising not to go negative, she did so almost immediately—charging that Morse was misrepresenting her past accomplishments. We analyzed Morse’s statements about her record, and found that while she definitely represented herself in the best possible light, there was nothing to warrant the charges of misrepresentation.

Bateson also promised voters that she would withdraw from the race if she did not get the Democratic nomination—when that nomination went to Morse, Bateson again reversed herself. This kind of infighting has bedeviled Democrats for generations and can’t be supported.

Jessica Morse has won endorsements from the vast majority of organizations and community leaders in her district. She has the support of Democratic allies throughout the state and the nation. For that reason, she might be able to win this.

Governor: Antonio Villaragosa

Gavin Newsom deserves your vote but he doesn’t need it. He has done a lot of courageous things in his political career—not the least of which was bringing the gay marriage issue to national prominence as mayor of San Francisco. His policy positions, and his political demeanor, closely resemble those of Gov. Jerry Brown, one of the greatest governors of California or any other state.

Antonio Villaraigosa also deserves your vote, and he needs it. The top-two primary really means that your vote next Tuesday is vote a between Villaraigosa and John Cox.

Based on his record, endorsing Villaraigosa is easy. Before he got into elected politics, he made his bones as an organizer with the local teachers’ union. While mayor of Los Angeles, he made pragmatic decisions that required him to challenge that very union, showing that, like Brown, he is has the courage to put principles above politics.

Much is being made about the support and money Villaraigosa has received from wealthy charter-school advocates; this is an interesting debate, with laudable arguments on both sides, and it would be useful to have that debate play out in November.

If Villaraigosa does not succeed on Tuesday, the top two candidates for California governor will be Newsom and Cox. That would be bad for a couple of reasons, one of which is purely political. A Republican candidate at the top of the ballot in November would mean a greater Republican turnout. that could be make things difficult for down-ballot Democrats. This kind of thinking may seem too political—but this is politics.

Sacramento County Sheriff: Milo Fitch

This race could result in the most meaningful change to the culture of our county. Sheriff Scott Jones is a smart man, a competent administrator, and a brilliant campaigner. He is also an ideologue who’s legal and political positions are far out of step with Sacramento. His Trump-friendly position on immigration reform, his hostile response to African-American protestors with legitimate grievances against his force, make him a polarizing figure at a time that calls for conciliation rather than combativeness.

Milo Fitch, far from an outsider challenger, is a man with a deep law-enforcement background whose ideas about reforming the sheriff’s department come from years of experience. He is the rare reform candidate who could easily develop loyalty from within the sheriff’s department that would allow him to initiate real reform.

Sacramento County District Attorney: Noah Phillips

Ann Marie Schubert has put Sacramento in the national spotlight with her response to protests of her office’s handling of recent officer-involved shootings. For several weeks now, her building has been surrounded by a 10-foot-tall chain-link fence. The protestors’ frustration with Schubert did not begin with the death of Stephon Clark. Her decision to not prosecute officers John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, who shot Joseph Mann to death after trying to run him down with their car, is inexplicable—especially in light of admissions Tennis made in these pages.

Recent charges against her opponent, Noah Phillips, regarding a personal email exchange with his uncle which were blown out of proportion by a front page story in the Sacramento Bee, might guarantee Schubert’s victory. If so that’s too bad for Sacramento.

Prop 68: Yes

The biggest and best parks bond in U.S. history directs the vast majority of its $4.1 billion to people in underserved communities, and will result in many life-enhancing projects throughout the Sacramento region.

Prop 69: Yes

This gas tax will pump $5 billion into transportation projects, from potholes to bike paths. Sales taxes are generally not the fairest way to raise revenue, but this one makes a lot of sense. As you may know, the gas tax is a bogeyman to the hard anti-tax right, so this one needs your help.

Prop 70: No

This proposal to handcuff the legislature with regards to spending revenue from California’s cap-and-trade program is designed solely to protect to Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet project: the bullet train. It is almost tempting to give this to Brown in recognition of his lifetime of outstanding service to the state but … no.

Prop 71: Yes

Okay: Let’s get into the weeds. The legislature passed a law last year decreeing that ballot initiatives (like those we’re discussing right now) go into effect five days after election results have been certified, instead of the morning after election day. Thanks to the California Constitution, that law requires direct voter approval. There is a convincing argument that, for a variety of inside-baseball reasons, this is important.

Prop 72: Yes

This is a first step toward California’s adoption of water-collection technology thousands of years old. The Palace of Knossos (1700 B.C.) on the island of Crete was found to have a sophisticated rainwater harvesting system on its roof. Why doesn’t every building in our drought-prone state have a cistern in the cellar? Building codes forbid it. This fixes that.

—Eric Johnson