The ‘Deep Slate: My February 2022 Voting Guide

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Hi folks. Unless you’re an SFUSD parent, this election probably feels like a snooze-fest… but if the last 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that voting is IMPORTANT and democracy shouldn’t be taken for granted. Please GO VOTE!

(Also it’s a really short ballot this time! 🙂 )

‘deep

.ps: Continue the tradition: #votingstickerselfie AFTER YOU VOTE: Take a pic with your voting sticker on your nose & hashtag it as #votingstickerselfie!

.pps: If you…

  • Like what you read, please do let me know! Questions, criticisms, comments welcome!
  • Want to know where to vote, am I registered?, has my ballot been counted? etc, jump to the Extras below
  • Want to get an email when I post the next ‘Deep Slate, email me!

WHAT IS THIS?

Every San Francisco election cycle, I put out my “‘Deep Slate” voter guide. This post is my guide for this election!

The format of this post is:

  1. The LIST: the simple list of my endorsements for this election.
  2. The DETAILS: the whys and wherefores of each endorsement. This is how I arrived at each position.
  3. My VALUES: a brief explanation of my values and sources, to help make sense of my opinions.
  4. Sources: a collection of my sources and a tiny bit about how I arrive at my endorsements.
  5. Extras: If you want to know where to vote, or want to find older ‘Deep Slates, or some Oakland/San Jose stuff…

Also note that a few days after the election, you can come back and check the RESULTS by clicking here.

THANKS:

Thanks, as always, to the number of folks who have asked me for my opinions. I say it every time but it is quite true: I really am honored by your interest.

And big props to my lovely wife, for proofreading this and also for being so supportive of all my meetings and involvements!

So without further preamble, let’s dive in! (damn, that was a lot of preamble)


THE LIST:

Notes:

  • If you just want this list as a handy, printable text version, just click here.
  • The more CAPITALS, the more strongly I feel about it – especially on ballot measures.
  • Click the title link to jump to the details for that item.

STATE:

Assembly District 17 : Matt Haney

SAN FRANCISCO:

Assessor-Recorder: Joaquín Torres

Measure A: Recall Alison Collins: YES
Measure B: Recall Gabriela López: No
Measure C: Recall Faauuga Moliga: No

Again, if you want these as a handy, printable list, just click here.

THE DETAILS:

Note: the more CAPITALS the stronger I feel about it – especially on ballot measures.

STATE:

Assembly District 17 : Matt Haney
The race for David Chiu’s Assembly seat starts with this primary election: the top two finishers will move on to the April general election.* An argument can be made for any of the four candidates; for example, Thea Selby’s long history of transit activism is awesome (&she’s a friend I’ve worked on several campaigns with); and newcomer Mahmood’s campaign seems to have some good ideas (his carbon tax & dividend plan seems interesting.) But in the end, this race will come down to progressive-left fixture & former District 9 Supervisor David Campos, and current District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney.

It’s a bit difficult to choose between the two simply because coming from the progressive left of SF politics, their values generally align well with mine. They’ve both done things that leave me frustrated** while generally supporting a lot of good things: Campos has more endorsements from people I generally trust (like Mark Leno & Rafael Mandelman). But in the end I prefer Matt Haney’s get-things-done-vs.-ideological-stance-over-all-else, as evidenced by his vote on Breed’s Tenderloin State of Emergency declaration. Campos ultimately strikes me as more dogmatic and Haney more pragmatic, so I’ll take Matt.

*Yeah, in just a few months we’ll be voting on this again. (The League of Pissed Off Voters does a good job explaining why).
**Campos’ support of the ill-conceived, reactionary “Mission Moratorium” and Haney’s remarkably bad (& sadly successful) push to spawn needless new City bureaucracy in his Department of Sanitation and Streets.

UnknownSAN FRANCISCO:

Assessor-Recorder: Joaquín Torres
This is uncontested.

Prop A: Recall Alison Collins: YES

Prop B: Recall Gabriela López: No

Prop C: Recall Faauuga Moliga: No
Recalls are horribly undemocratic* and should only be used when someone shows true contempt for the office and institution they are sworn to lead, or engages in illegal activity. In the end, only Collins meets this bar. The other two have not. I explain all of this in more detail over at the SF League of Conservation Voters website, but the short version is here:

The next School Board election is approaching very soon (November 2022), and we encourage everyone to consider whether López and Moliga have done an appropriate job as School Board members. Voters should decide in November whether they should stay on the Board. Whatever the results of that analysis, we believe there is nothing to suggest they have engaged in anything criminal or have attempted to harm the Unified School District.
 
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Director Collins. Her spurious and foolish lawsuit against the school system itself could not be a clearer example of attempting to directly damage the San Francisco Unified School District. We are appalled. That action justifies her recall.

MY VALUES:

I recommend reading all of this (it won’t take that long!) to understand how I think. That way you’ll have a sense of how to asses my recommendations for yourself.

  • I’m basically an idealist, an optimist, and a humanist.
  • My opinions come from my experience in local politics over the past 27 years. I’ve done a ton of candidate interviews and lots of lobbying in my roles:
  • I don’t get a dime for this. I’m a software engineer by day and a political activist in my spare time.
  • The three biggest “norths” of my political compass are environmentalism, social justice and good government (reform type) issues.
  • While my views are definitely shaped by my activities in the SFLCV and previously the SFBC, my endorsements do NOT represent the views of either of those organizations.
  • I use the term “progressive” a lot, as something I value. In SF, that has historically meant a combination of classical liberal Democratic politics (equity – social, gender, racial, diversity, a sense that government can and should play an important role in solving society’s problems) plus environmental values (sustainability, long-term systematic thinking) and neighborhood-level populism (tenant’s rights, ethnic and socio-economic diversity, populism vs. corporatism).
  • I try to be aware of my biases; here are few that come to mind:
    • Poorer before richer when considering fairness issues. It’s best if something is fair, but if someone has to get screwed, make it the rich person. Because society always favors the richer.
    • The more money a local campaign has, the more questions should be asked of it: if a campaign has a lot of expensive media ads, mailers, etc… why? It might be fine, but the more money, the more questions as to why.
  • In some of these races it is a matter of picking between flawed options. 🙁
  • Ballot measures are a REALLY bad way to govern:
    • Most things done in ballot measures SHOULD be done in the normal legislature, where they are easier to fix if they turn out wrong: you have to use a another ballot initiative to change or fix something that became law by a ballot measure, whereas the legislature can amend or fix any of their laws whenever they want.
    • Another problem is that you have to boil complex issues down to yes/no votes – which rarely is a good idea. But this is what we have, so keep in mind that some good ideas make bad ballot propositions, and a bad idea can sound good in a ballot initiative because the devil is often in the details. Also note that these measures are often grey – there is a lot of balancing going on.
  • 90% of my experience and knowledge is about local San Francisco issues, so state issues are a little greyer for me unless I say otherwise. Thus, for state stuff, I try to do a lot of reading and research from the sources listed below and anything else I can find.
  • Just like you, some of my opinions come from listening to those I trust, or tend to trust. Organizations like the ones listed as “bedrock” below get more credence, as well as politicians I support and believe in. Obviously this is dicey, nothing beats firsthand knowledge and analysis, but that just gets us back to why I think ballot measures suck.

Sources:

My best sources are personal experiences, and interviews and lobbying I’ve done with the SFLCV and the SFBC. But the limits of this are pretty obvious. I have very little direct experience with state issues, so below are some of the sources I use and a bit on how I arrive at my endorsements.

The first source for SF stuff is the official SF Voter guide and for California stuff, the State Voter guide. I like to read the pro and con arguments and also note who is writing them, as that often tells you at least as much as what they say. Also the analysis and explanations are critical. Dig in!

And for good baseline info on all of it, I highly recommend Ballotopedia: A wiki for ballots and elections! This is an incredible resource! I donated and maybe you should too! Here are there SF and CA pages – but you can fine other pages easily too:

Some of my bedrock sources are:

The groups above, with the possible exception of SPUR, generally share my values directly, and as such influence me a lot. SPUR is somewhat of an outlier, in that they are perhaps more centrist, but they are good-governmenty and I trust their motives. I particularly enjoy their commitment to sound policy, their clarity of thought, and their thorough write ups – I’d love to have the time and energy to do a slate as well as they do!

For state issues in particular, I really like to look at the various larger city newspapers. I know the most about the SF Chronicle‘s bias – I don’t trust them much on local stuff (they tend to be more conservative than me), but on state stuff I like to hear them out. It is also worth checking the other state papers like the San Jose Mercury News, the LA Times and the Sacramento Bee. Sadly, most of these are behind a paywall, but often you can read a certain number for free. (They should all make their endorsement editorials free as a public service.) Ballotpedia often has good links to the various newspapers as well.

In the “Friends with A Touch Of Rabidity” category are two more organizations I like to check in with. Both are super “progressive”, but sometimes bring more heat than light, getting mean-spirited and absolutist. Nonetheless, I tend to share a lot of their values & appreciate what they bring to the table.

  • The San Francisco Bay Guardian (Sadly, the quality of this source has really declined since they were basically dissolved and the name got sold off to one of the editors.)
  • The League of Pissed Off Voters(I’ve never liked their name – who can sustain angry for so long!?! But they do their homework.)

Finally, several of my friends do slates I really appreciate and there are a few others I check as well, when I find them:

  • Ballot.fyi I first found this in 2016, and it is excellent! I hope they keep doing it.
  • Kate Slate: My friend Kate McCarthy does a good job each election.
  • Alix Rosenthal’s slate: My friend Alix Rosenthal’s slate is always really, really well done.

Extras:

Where To Vote:

SF has set up a awesome one stop website for all your “how to vote” type questions: SF Voter Portal

It should have anything you need to know:

  • Where do I vote?
  • Am I registered
  • Has my ballot been counted
  • etc etc

Oakland & San Jose:

So, I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of Oakland or San Jose politics (If you have sites you like, please put ’em in the comments!) but the always thoughtful and thorough SPUR folks do SF, Oakland, and San Jose. See my thoughts on SPUR’s biases above.

Older ‘Deep Slates:

I believe I’ve been doing the ‘Deep Slate since sometime in the ’90s. You can read all the ones I’ve saved by clicking here – it gets a bit dicey because before 2012, they were email only (not blog posts), so I’ve posted the email versions I could find.

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