The ‘Deep Slate: My June 2022 Voting Guide

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The latest edition of my My San Francisco & California Voter Guide…

Yep. Two San Francisco elections down this year and 2 more to go, including this one. Yeah, it’s a lot – we had a special election for the School Board recall, then an April election, now this primary election & finally, in November, there will be the general election. And yes – you did vote for some of these folks already this year because of the primaries. ¯\_(?)_/¯ 

Nonetheless, there are numerous important things on the ballot – so…

GO VOTE!

Thx
‘deep

.ps Wondering things like: What is this? How did I come up with these? Click here. Wanna know where to vote? Or stuff about Oakland or San Jose? Click here.

.pps BIG THANKS to all of you who asked for my recommendations over the years. I’m truly honored by your interest! And HUGE thanks for Kimberly, my lovely wife, for proofreading this and also for being so supportive of all my meetings and involvements!

.pps: Don’t forget to #votingstickerselfie AFTER YOU VOTE! (Take a pic with your voting sticker on your nose & hashtag it as #votingstickerselfie everywhere you can!)

OK – let’s do this!

THE LIST:

(Click the title for details on each endorsement)

FEDERAL:

Senate (Full Term): Alex Padilla
Senate (Partial Term): Alex Padilla
House of Representatives (D11): Nancy Pelosi
House of Representatives (D15): Kevin Mullin

STATE:

Governor: Gavin Newsom
Lt. Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
Secretary of State: Shirley Weber
Controller: Ron Galperin
Treasurer: Ugh No.
Attorney General: Rob Bonta
Insurance Commissioner: Marc Levine
Board of Equalization District 2: Abstain
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
CA Assembly (D17): Matt Haney
CA Assembly (D19): Phil Ting

SAN FRANCISCO:

City Attorney: David Chiu

Prop A: Muni Reliability and Street Safety Bond: YES
Prop B: Building Inspection Commission Reform: Yes
Prop C: Recall Reform: YES
Prop D: Duplicative Office of Victims Rights: No
Prop E: Behested Payments Limits: Yes
Prop F: Garbage and Disposal Contract Oversight: Yes
Prop G: Public Health Emergency Leave: no
Prop H: YASR (Yet Another Stupid Recall): NO

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.

THE DETAILS:

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

FEDERAL:

Senate (Full Term): ALEX PADILLA

Senate (Partial Term): ALEX PADILLA
Yes, you need to vote for this race twice. Since Senator Padilla was appointed by the governor when VP Harris got kicked upstairs, we have to vote to have him complete this partial term. And then we need to vote for the new full term coming up.

Even if I didn’t think vaguely positive things about Senator Padilla, his competition is a joke at best & Trump-style-stupid-dangerous at worst. This is a no brainer.

House of Representatives (D11): Nancy Pelosi

Time to cut-n-paste from any of half a dozen of my older voter guides.

Nancy Pelosi is practically unopposed and she does really pretty well at the Federal level. No, she doesn’t completely represent my values, but if you spend twenty minutes considering how much CRAY CRAY is in Congress these days, you’ll thank your yoga mat that someone who thinks even vaguely similar to San Francisco has any power in our nation’s capital. Done. Move along.

 

House of Representatives (D15): Kevin Mullin
I don’t know much about Mullin to be honest, but he’s replacing Democratic stalwart Jackie Speier, and was on her staff for a time. Speier has been a strong voice on environmental issues, women’s rights, and immigrant rights. She’s endorsed Mullin, which is enough for me.

STATE:

Governor: Gavin Newsom
Gavin remains a problematic mix of good impulses and empty rhetoric, some good policies, some bad, and lofty ambitions. Regardless, he’s the only candidate prepared to lead the state. 

Lt. Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
She seems to be a decent Lt. Governor (.psst they don’t do much) and is endorsed by CA Environmental Voters (formerly the CA League of Conservation Voters).

Secretary of State: Shirley Weber
Weber seems to be an excellent choice for Secretary of State: she’s done the job admirably, by all reports, working to make sure our elections remain fair and free, making sure parolees are aware of their voting rights, combating election misinformation. Done.

Controller: Ron Galperin
Ron Galperin is eminently qualified to be the State Controller. He’s already the controller for L.A., our largest city, and by all reports has done the job well. Malia Cohen comes from the State Board of Equalization (which does little & should be abolished) and has no experience in this role. Vote Galperin.

Treasurer: Ugh No
Fiona Ma, our treasurer is up for re-election. Back in 2018 I wrote:

Ma was a really poor SF Supervisor but has improved to “reasonable” in her time in Sacramento. She did good work rooting out corruption and other ills at the Board of Equalization during her stint there & thus I expect she’ll do a reasonable job as Treasurer.

Well, she hasn’t. Allegations of sexual harassment, improper gifts from a police union president (financial shenanigans between a treasurer and a cop – that’s a two-fer????) – so no. That doesn’t really leave many candidates in the field I’d be willing to support. A school bus union president from the Peace and Freedom Party, a Republican from Orange County who is accused of money laundering, and another Republican I haven’t heard much about. Ma’s going to win anyway. Sigh.

Attorney General: Rob Bonta
The Attorney General of CA is big job, policing and prosecuting within California, and the office advocates for what’s right when Washington is a disaster. See any of the many environmental lawsuits former AG Becerra filed against the Trump administration. Rob Bonta is the best candidate for that role. The Chronicle’s endorsement is particularly compelling, but I especially enjoyed this piece:

On housing alone, Bonta has earned our endorsement. He has been aggressive in defending new state laws to increase housing production and density — slapping down the shenanigans of towns like Woodside, which tried to declare itself a mountain lion sanctuary to escape new zoning requirements. California cannot tackle its housing crisis without aggressive watchdogging from the attorney general’s office. And yet Bonta is the only candidate for whom this issue is even on the radar.

Insurance Commissioner: Marc Levine
Ricardo Lara is very likely going to be re-elected as Insurance Commissioner…but he shouldn’t be. This op-ed headline pretty much says it all: “Ricardo Lara is the California insurance commissioner only a fossil fuel company could love”. In a position that could really make a dent in our fight against climate change, Lara is accepting Beyoncé tickets from natural gas companies.

Assemblyman Marc Levine seems to focusing on using the remarkable power of the office on issues like climate change and health care, and promises to do so ethically. Sadly, that’s what we expected out of Lara – so hopefully Levine will win and live up to the task.

Board of Equalization District 2: Abstain
Cut-n-paste from 2018 because I still agree with them that this Board should go: after years of being duplicative of the Franchise Tax Board at best, and a nest of corruption and nepotism at worst, the Board of Equalization has been reduced to doing almost nothing. It needs to be dissolved so I suggest you abstain from voting for it. If you’re curious, a good place to start is the Chronicle’s editorial.

I’ll add that the position pays $163,917 a year to do nothing. It’s kinda scummy to even run for such a position, but sadly on-brand for Michaela Alioto-Pier.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
I don’t know a lot about Tony Thurmond but by most accounts, he’s done a decent job as state Superintendent though not without criticism. On balance, I say yes.

CA Assembly (D17): Matt Haney
Ok, I’ve said to vote for Matt, in February, April and now, finally in June. Read here for details as to why (and to why we’ve had to vote on this repeatedly). 

Haney for Assembly

CA Assembly (D19): Phil Ting
As is usually the case, Phil is running unopposed and has done really good work in Sacramento, especially on transportation and environmental issues. Yes.

Ting for Assembly

SAN FRANCISCO:

City Attorney: David Chiu
Full disclosure: David is a friend, and a parent at my daughter’s school. Regardless, he’s proven himself as smart and dedicated at every stop on his career. And he’s been a great vote for the environment. I expect him to do good things as City Attorney.

Chiu for City Attorney

Prop A: Muni Reliability and Street Safety Bond: YES
Yes Yes Yes! So Much Yes.

Here is what we wrote for the SF League of Conservation Voters endorsement:

Transportation is San Francisco’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and also harms the Bay Area’s air, water, soil and natural habitat in numerous other ways. In order to meet our transit-first goal of completing 80 percent of all trips by sustainable forms of transportation such as walking, bicycling, and public transit, San Francisco must dramatically improve the safety, attractiveness, speed, and reliability of those sustainable modes. Unfortunately, we are falling short, especially as the pandemic has dramatically reduced ridership on Muni. This measure is one crucial step in reaching that important goal and to getting the City back on track.

Yes on A

Prop B: Building Inspection Commission Reform: Yes
Our City government has been rocked by scandal after scandal over the past few years, and often there are ties to the Department of Building Inspection. By reforming the way DBI is overseen, this measure intends to improve accountability and bring the Building Inspection in line with other commisions in City government. YES. (For more details, read our write up at SFLCV.)

Yes on B

Prop C: Recall Reform: YES
Recalls suck. As I said earlier this year, “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.” But lately various deep-pocketed individuals have bankrolled a series of costly and almost entirely baseless recalls. This needs to stop.  Prop C will limit recalls to more reasonable time frames. YES. (For more details, read our write up at SFLCV.)

*Because dramatically less people tend to vote in special recall elections as opposed to normally scheduled, full elections.

Yes on C

Prop D: Duplicative Office of Victims Rights: No
This measure is a half baked (no funding? no problem!) pastiche of decent ideas and duplication. It can be argued that victims services could and should be consolidated. It is also a good idea to improve support for domestic abuse survivors. But at the end of the day, all of the provisions of this could and should be done legislatively, where it would be easy to adjust if needed. Ballot measures suck and this should not be on the ballot. There doesn’t seem to be much opposition, and it’s likely to win, but nonetheless, I think we should vote No.

Prop E: Behested Payments Limits: Yes
As we said at SFLCV: Vote YES on Prop E to close another “pay to play” loophole and ensure that San Francisco public officials are, and continue to be, held to high ethical standards.

Yes on E


Prop F
:
Garbage and Disposal Contract Oversight: Yes
Prop F improves San Francisco’s process for setting rates for refuse collection, bringing more transparency and oversight to the City’s approval of residential and business costs for garbage and recycling pickup. (For more details, read our write up at SFLCV.)

Yes on F

Prop G: Public Health Emergency Leave: no
This is a frustrating one to say “no” to, but the devil is in the details. This measure mandates that companies with more than 100 employees provide two weeks of public health emergency leave to workers, if a public health emergency is declared. At first glance this is an easy yes. But in the definition of “public health emergency,” air quality emergencies, as defined by “Spare the Air” alerts, are included (for outdoor employees). But Spare the Air alerts are regional, and as SPUR puts it, “Spare the Air alerts can be triggered by bad air quality anywhere in the region, not specifically in San Francisco. This means that emergency leave could apply on days when vulnerable employees are not necessarily at risk in the city…” Still I’m tempted to vote yes, but in the end, this measure doesn’t need to be on the ballot, the Board of Supes could pass this legislatively. Then if there are problems or adjustments it would be easy to modify, whereas at the ballot it is not.

Prop H: YASR (Yet Another Stupid Recall): NO
NO NO NO NO.  See above under Prop C. Chesa Boudin is doing is job (well by my estimation) and whether you like or dislike his policies, he is clearly doing the work in exactly the way he said he would when we elected him. Republican-backed “get tough on crime” folks are taking advantage of the general frustration with post-pandemic San Francisco to undo the 2019 election that they LOST. For further details, read the SFLCV endorsement, which sums things up:

Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with his policies, District Attorney Boudin is faithfully carrying out the duties of the District Attorney’s office. SFLCV recommends a NO vote on Prop H.

So much NO.

No on H

 

So there you have it! Whew!  If you’re new, or curious, here’s all about this post!

WHAT IS THIS?:

 

Every San Francisco election cycle, I put out my “‘Deep Slate” voter guide – I’ve been doing this since sometime in the late 90’s. This post is my guide for this election!

The format 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.

 

 

 
MY VALUES:

I recommend reading all of this (it won’t take that long!) to understand how I think, so you’ll have a sense of how to assess 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. Unfortunately, classic San Francisco progressivism has become fairly problematic – but more on that after I mention what it means. In SF, progressivism 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). So that’s the good stuff. The bad stuff is that SF’s progressive movement has too often become “circle the wagons and shoot inward” performance art. Pragmatism and progress are too often sacrificed in the name of litmus tests and posturing – and it’s sad to see. I still believe in similar things at the end of the day, but I’d rather get things done.
  • 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, as nothing beats first-hand 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 “Worthwhile But Rabid” category are two more organizations I value them but view their recommendations with caution. Both are super “progressive”, and I tend to share a lot of their values, but they are often are the chorus of the “circle the wagons and shoot inward” progressivism I mention above – so I try to check their work:

  • The League of Pissed Off Voters: I’ve never liked their name ( Who can sustain angry for so long!?!) – but I really do enjoy reading their opinions, because they do their homework. Beware of absolutism and litmus tests.
  • The San Francisco Bay Guardian: (Once the standard bearer of the progressive left in San Francisco, the quality of this source has really declined. They seem to be a bit of a shell ever since they were basically dissolved and the name got sold off to one of the editors. Beware of “more heat than light.” Still, it is worth reading.

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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