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SN&R endorsements for the June 8 primary ballot
Angelique Ashby stands out as the best candidate for representing this district, which includes downtown Sacramento and Natomas. She is smart and promises to be an independent vote on the council, despite the backing of some entrenched city power brokers such as the Sacramento Metro Chamber and the police and fire unions. She’s got fresh ideas and energy—as evidenced by her volunteer efforts as co-founder of a Natomas anti-crime community group and president of the Creekside Neighborhood Association.
Like SN&R, Ashby supports an aggressive sustainability agenda for Sacramento. She supports the concept of “safe ground” as a component of dealing with the local homeless issue. We thank incumbent Ray Tretheway for his substantial contribution to the council, but we’d like to see stronger representation for this district.
Longtime Councilman Steve Cohn can rub some people the wrong way and—let’s just say it—sometimes seems to like the sound of his own voice a bit too much. But he’s a smart, solid council member and he gets our vote for re-election in this district. An attorney for SMUD, Cohn has the intelligence and experience to be of great help to the mayor and City Manager Gus Vina as both endeavor to deal with the city’s $43 million budget gap. Cohn understands the need to preserve and improve our local public transit system. He supported the city’s hiring an independent investigator and independent auditor to deal with the apparent abuses in the city’s building department, otherwise known as Permit-gate. He supports a “more flexible” policy regarding medical-marijuana dispensaries. Finally, he’s one of few council members to have even attempted to bridge the deep divisions that have plagued the council this past year.
As much as we like the dedication and style of Midtown advocate Shawn Eldredge, we’re just not sure he’s ready for prime-time service on the city council.
With a number of candidates in this district, all of whom have proven commitments to making the area and the district a better place to live, this was a tough call. Ultimately, we endorse Patrick Kennedy for the city council seat from the 5th District. It was Kennedy’s concrete suggestions for addressing the city’s fiscal problems that sealed the deal as far as we were concerned. He’s also got a realistic attitude toward the issue of marijuana dispensaries and the need for “safe ground” for local homeless people, which demonstrates that he will mix compassion with pragmatism on the council.
We thank Robbie Waters for his service, but it is time for a change in the city’s leadership. Of the candidates in this district, Ryan Chin has very clear ideas for reform of the city’s government structure, a realistic view of the budget situation and a compassionate approach to providing both “safe ground” and permanent housing for Sacramento’s homeless population. He is a clear choice for District 7.Board of Supervisors
You can’t live in Sacramento long without developing a respect for this candidate’s surname. Joe Serna Jr. was a legend in this town, serving as its mayor from 1992 until his death from cancer in 1999. Strong but compassionate, an activist by nature and history, Mayor Serna was no less than beloved. Now his son, Phil Serna, has entered politics and is running for a seat on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
Serna is just what the board needs. With the county facing a wrenching budget crisis, Serna has said he’s ready to consider options that increase revenue—a none too popular position these days. He talks openly about exploring taxing alcohol sales at bars and restaurants to help fund mental health and other services and has pushed for a change in state law that would allow voters to do this at the local level. He believes in service consolidation in the realm of fire protection, water delivery, and planning, building and environmental-review services. He’s a strong supporter of Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and understands the job creation benefits it could result in for Sacramento County. Finally, he believes the Sacramento Regional Transit system should be “the centerpiece of a new planning paradigm” for the county instead of the afterthought it now is in the planning process.District Attorney
We see no reason to deny incumbent District Attorney Jan Scully a fifth term. Yes, she’s leans a little too far to the punitive side of the law-and-order equation sometimes, and we’d like to see some moves toward restorative justice in local courts. That said, Scully has demonstrated an ability to keep her department functioning smoothly in a tight economy. We support her re-election.Sheriff
We support sheriff’s Capt. Scott Jones in this race; his election is clearly the next step forward for a law-enforcement department whose damaged reputation has been steadily improving these last years under the tenure of Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness.
Jones’ chief opponent, sheriff’s captain and Elk Grove City Councilman Jim Cooper, represents a step back into the past. Thanks to party loyalty, he’s wrapped up the endorsements of some of our favorite politicians—like Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman Dave Jones. But Cooper should not be elected to this post. He’s an insider, part of former Sheriff Lou Blanas’ bygone era with its secrecy, illegal strip searches and allegations of police brutality. Blanas was famous in journalism circles for limiting reporter’s access to information and opposing real citizen oversight of his department. Cooper promises more of the same. As jail commander for Blanas from 2001 to 2003, Cooper was part of this cult of secrecy, banning reporters from the county jail when Sacramento citizens had a right to know what was going on there. Indeed, Cooper recently refused to talk to SN&R for the purposes of a story on the election—shades of the old days under Blanas.
Jones is a man of character. He has gathered the endorsement of almost every law-enforcement leader in the region, including McGinness and Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel. He has the experience necessary and clearly operates independently from the all too powerful deputies union. In these times of county budget woes, Jones is the one who speaks most intelligently about options for consolidating to save money. Electing Cooper would be a step backwards. We urge a vote for Jones.Sacramento County Assessor
Kelleher has the experience—and a history of telling the board of supervisors the unpleasant truth about money—that make her the best choice for this position.Sacramento County Board of Education
What distinguishes Rivas from the other candidates is his commitment to improved technical and career education. It’s an educational path that has fallen by the wayside. Despite Rivas’ background in education policy, he recognizes that not every child needs or wants to go to college. We’d like to see some other options, and he’s promised to encourage them.
In this position, experience counts. While we thank Matt Hedges for his interest in public service, we support the lifetime of classroom experience that Jackie Levy will bring to the county board. Teachers need support in overwhelmed classrooms, and Levy can provide that.Assembly
There are five good Democrats running for this seat—we throw our support to four-term County Supervisor Roger Dickinson. Among many admirable candidates, Dickinson clearly has the widest range and depth of experience in working to develop solutions to the significant challenges we face in California.
Among other notable traits, Dickinson is exceedingly smart. He understands the big picture and knows the state budget should not be balanced on the backs of working Californians. He knows we need to eliminate the two-thirds rule to pass a budget, institute a new tax on oil production and a broadening of the sales-tax base, close corporate-tax loopholes, and raise the income-tax rates on upper-income earners to the same level as existed when Pete Wilson was governor.
Dickinson recognizes the importance of California continuing to play a leadership role in the fight against climate change—he supports A.B. 32 and has been a strong advocate for public transportation, high-speed rail and sound land-use planning. It goes without saying that Dickinson is also a longtime supporter of single-payer health care, marriage equality and other issues near and dear to SN&R’s heart.
We like Lauren Hammond but feel she is not yet ready for a leap to the state Assembly. Likewise, we’re fans of Kevin McCarty and believe he has a promising future in local politics.Senate
Here is a politician we would have loved to see govern in a state where bipartisan cooperation was more than a pipe dream, and where the budgeting process actually made sense. During his stint as leader, Steinberg has had neither. Still, we are lucky to have him and urge a return of Steinberg to the state Senate representing our region.State ballot propositions
We urge a “yes” vote on this measure to encourage property owners to retrofit buildings for earthquakes. The fiscal impact on cities will be minor, and the measure will encourage both residential and commercial landlords to bring their buildings up to needed seismic standards.
While we appreciate the intent of this measure, which is to move the 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. Prop. 14 isn’t the answer.
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, and we believe that 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.
We strongly urge a “no” vote on the euphemistically named Taxpayers Right to Vote Act. The measure and campaign for it has been bought and paid for entirely by the very corporation, PG&E, that stands to gain the most from its passage. So far, the power giant has paid $44 million to pass this measure. Prop. 16 would make it nearly impossible for public utilities like SMUD 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.
It’s no surprise that PG&E, which posts some of the highest electricity rates of any power provider in the nation, is coming on strong for this measure. Who can forget the knock-down, drag-out fight in 2006 when Yolo County attempted to drop PG&E and join up with SMUD? PG&E spent a record-breaking $11 million to beat back the Yolo/SMUD marriage.
The power giant wants its way again and has shown a willingness to buy it straight out. Let’s not let it happen.
Here’s another misleading measure, this one bought and paid for by Mercury Insurance Group, the state’s third largest auto insurer. Put forth as a promise to cut insurance premiums for drivers who have maintained continuous coverage, Prop. 17 is 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.Governor
Democrat: Jerry Brown
He’s a proven leader with a track record that we can point to—which is more than we can say for any other candidate for this position. The next governor is inheriting a nightmare. We believe Brown is up to the job—and he knows what he’s getting into.
Republican: No endorsementLt. Governor
Democrat: Gavin Newsom
What’s not to like? San Francisco is green, gay-friendly and open for business. We’d like to see the state work that way.
Republican: Abel MaldonadoSecretary of State
Debra BowenState Controller
John ChiangState Treasurer
Bill LockyerAttorney General
While we also find Ted Liu to be a worthy candidate for this job, Harris earns our nod for her emphasis on a preventive approach to crime and her willingness to go after the perpetrators of financial crimes.State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Yes, Romero seems a career politician seeking a post that should rightfully belong to an educator. But it’s impossible not to support her in this race. Clearly the most reform-minded of the candidates, Romero is unafraid to confront powerful interests (as we’ve seen during her long fight with the state’s prison industry) and rightfully describes educational inequalities in California as “the civil-rights issue of our time.”Insurance Commissioner
We’re pleased to see that Jones, who has served Sacramento so ably on the city council and in the Assembly, now aspires to statewide service, and we endorse him wholeheartedly.State Board of Equalization
District 2Chris Parker
Parker has significant experience as a tax attorney, and his commitment to a fairly shared tax burden makes him our choice.