The ‘Deep Slate: March 2024 Voting Guide


The latest edition of my San Francisco & California Voter Guide.

Howdy campers! It’s that time again: Election time!

There are numerous important ballot measures on the ballot, affecting housing, policing & the mental health/homeless crisis, so please vote!

As if that were not enough, the political war between SF “moderates” and “progressives” is in full swing, in leading up to the November presidential election, to secure power and shape the course of that heavy-turnout election.

If you want me to email you this (no spam!), every SF election cycle, send me an email & I’ll add you to my email list.



.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 to 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!



  • 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.
  • Click here to download plain text version.


President: Joe Biden

DCCC 17: (14 open seats):

  • Carrie Barnes
  • Trevor Chandler
  • Emma Heiken
  • Michael Lai
  • Jane Kim
  • Bilal Mahmood
  • Michael Nguyen
  • Joe Sangirardi
  • Frank Tizedes
  • Lyn Werbach
  • Luis Zamora

DCCC 19: (10 open seats):

  • Sara Barz
  • Daniel Calamuci
  • Mike Chen
  • Jen Nossokoff
  • Brian Quan

US Senate Full Term: Barbara Lee
US Senate Partial Term:
Barbara Lee
Congress D11:
Nancy Pelosi


State Senator D11: Scott Wiener
State Assembly D17: Matt Haney
State Assembly D19: Catherine Stefani

Prop 1: Mental Health Bonds Authorization: YES


Superior Court, Seat 1: Michael Isaku Begert
Superior Court, Seat 13: Patrick S. Thompson

Prop A: San Francisco Affordable Housing Bonds: YES
Prop B: Police Staffing: NO
Prop C: Temporary Transfer Tax Exemption for Office to Residential Conversions: YES
Prop D: Ethics Policy Changes: Yes
Prop E: Policing Policy Changes & Meeting Requirements: NO
Prop F: Drug Screening for CAAP Benefits: NO
Prop G: Teaching Algebra in 8th Grade: no/yes doesn’t matter


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


President: Joe Biden

Do I agree with Biden on everything? No, but is he running against Donald Trump? Almost certainly. That would be good enough right there, but also Joe Biden has delivered the single most significant piece of climate legislation the U.S. has ever produced. Period. The Inflation Reduction Act, warts and all, is a transformative piece of legislation and for it I’m profoundly grateful to the Biden Administration.

And look, if you’re thinking “But Gaza!!!!” Yes, I’m frustrated and angry about the situation in Gaza and our Administration’s handling of it. The US’s pro-Israel policies are bigger than this administration and have wrapped up Washington for my whole life. But yes, the buck stops with Biden – so I understand the frustration.

But to be honest, after literally decades of pushing, advocating and hoping for federal climate change policy, I’m a one issue voter when it comes to the presidency.

So yes! Vote Biden/Harris!


DCCC 17: (14 open seats):

  • Carrie Barnes
  • Trevor Chandler
  • Emma Heiken
  • Michael Lai
  • Jane Kim
  • Bilal Mahmood
  • Michael Nguyen
  • Joe Sangirardi
  • Frank Tizedes
  • Lyn Werbach
  • Luis Zamora

The Democratic County Central Committee DCCC 19: (10 open seats):

  • Sara Barz
  • Daniel Calamuci
  • Mike Chen
  • Jen Nossokoff
  • Brian Quan

Here’s what I said back in 2012 about the DCCC and it is still just as true:

The Democratic County Central Committee is actually one of the most important stealth political things in San Francisco: San Francisco is around 75% Democratic + many people vote the party line in elections + the DCCC make the official Democratic party endorsements = the DCCC has a lot of power! It has long been the front line in the constant battle between monied downtown interests (which tend to be more conservative), and neighborhood, environmental, and other grassroots types that have sought a more progressive SF. This year is no different.

This year the race is even more heated than usual, because the newly seated DCCC will control the Democratic Party endorsements for this fall’s massive turnout presidential election. Since most voters in SF follow the recommendations of the official San Francisco Democratic Party, there is a lot of power and influence at stake.

There are generally two “slates” of candidates: 1. a more SF “moderate” one, “Democrats for Change”, and 2. a more “progressive” “Labor and Working Families” one. While I like numerous folks on either slate, I can’t say I’m all that impressed with either. The moderates slate has some odious folks like Michaela Alioto-Pier, along with some gems like my friend Sara Barz*; the progressives have people I generally respect, like Jane Kim, but folks like Connie Chan, who I do not.

In the end, I based these endorsements on the candidate questionnaires at the SF League of Conservation Voters, although mine are somewhat different from the SFLCV endorsements.

*Special Shout Out to Sara Barz! Sara and I have worked together on Valencia bike lane project and she’s super focused on making our city better. She is one of the organizers of KidSafe SF – the pedestrian+bike+families powerhouse that made sure car Free JFK happened, is the mayor of her Slow Street, and lives and works transit at Apple (have you connected your Clipper Card to your iPhone yet?). Now she’s throwing her hat in the ring to do the work of the DCCC all while being a mom too. Stunning! (Also Sara are you OK?)

US Senate Full Term: Barbara Lee (Katie Porter?)

US Senate Partial Term: Barbara Lee (Katie Porter?)
Our left leaning state has at least two and possibly three solid choices for our next Senator. I’m personally torn between Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee, both members of Congress. Additionally, I’ve read some good things about SoCal Congresswoman Katie Porter.

It helps to remember that this is a primary election – so after this primary race, the top two vote-getters will face off for keeps in the general election in November. Representative Schiff, who impressed me in his handling of the Jan 6th Investigations in Congress, is the front runner in this race and likely to be one of them.

Given that, here is a chance to reward Oakland’s Barbara Lee for her courageous (and solo) stand against the open-ended use of force in Afghanistan after 9/11 and her decades of progressive activism. Additionally,  there are currently no women of color in the US Senate, and the ability to elect such a capable and experienced one is pretty great.

(That all being said, if this was the actual general election and not just a primary, I still don’t know who I’d vote for! Schiff has the best and most thorough environmental platform on his website, Porter’s is full of good ideas and seems to be the only one who mentions the importance of transit, and Lee is one of the co-sponsors of the Green new Deal – so as an environmentalist, I’d vote “All of the Above”)

(.ps you vote for your candidate twice here: one partial term to finish out Feinstein’s final term and then the next full six year Senate term.)

Congress 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.

I will say that I wasn’t impressed with her recent comments suggesting that some of the people protesting against our unbalanced pro-Israel policies in Gaza are Russian backed. She should apologize and walk it back, but instead she appears to have doubled down. Rumor mongering is beneath you Nancy and usually, you seem to know better.


State Senator D11: Scott Wiener
I’m always happy to vote for Scott! I’ve worked with him a lot more on environmental and transportation issues that are near and dear to my heart, and I am constantly impressed with his intelligence and his detailed, thoughtful and thorough approach to issues in the City (whether I agree with him or not.) 

State Assembly D17: Matt Haney
I was a fan of Matt Haney’s diligence and thoughtfulness as a School Board member, and as a Supervisor and continue to find him so as an Assembly member. 

State Assembly D19: Catherine Stefani
Catherine Stefani is the only really qualified candidate in the race to replace Phil Ting, who just termed out.


Prop 1: Mental Health Bonds Authorization: YES
Prop 1 is an ambitious effort to begin to fix one of the biggest holes in our state’s mental health/homeless crisis: the lack of supportive housing and treatment facilities. The 3 biggest things it does are

  • It includes substance abuse as a mental health issue subject to spending from 2004’s Mental Health Services Act, which raised funds for mental health treatment in each county by 1% tax on millionaires.
  • It changes how counties can spend MHSA funds by requiring them to spend it on 30% of funds to house the most severely mentally ill, 35% on supportive services and 35% on other behavioral health support
  • It authorizes $6.3 billion dollars in general obligation bonds to build behavioral health-related housing and treatment centers.

I think everyone who spends any time reading about our homelessness problem, or interacting with unhoused folks in San Francisco, pretty quickly comes up against the fact that there aren’t anywhere near enough facilities to help them and not enough support in many of the facilities we do have. 


The legislature and administration estimate that the bond will build 11,500 new treatment beds and supportive housing units and 26,700 outpatient treatment slots, which are critically needed for those who choose to seek treatment. According to a recent Rand study, California needs 4,767 beds for both acute and subacute conditions and an additional 2,963 community residential beds for those with chronic conditions.


Let’s do this. Yes on Prop 1!

(For more details, I really liked SPUR’s write up linked above, and the SF Chronicle’s here.)



Superior Court, Seat 1Michael Isaku Begert

Superior Court, Seat 13Patrick S. Thompson

Both of these judges seem to be performing their jobs well, and there is no reason they should not be reelected. In particular, Begert got this strong endorsement from a lawyerly friend of mine “He is exactly who we would all want as a judge if we were to appear in court as a litigant, defendant, victim or witness.”

Easy peasy, re-elect Begert & Thompson.


Prop A: San Francisco Affordable Housing Bonds: YES
This measure would authorize the City of San Francisco to issue $300 million dollars to fund affordable housing creation. As usual, SF is wisely doing our “only float new bonds when the old ones retire” to keep tax rates the same.

The SF Chronicle puts it well here

Voters approved a $310 million housing bond in 2015 and a $600 million bond in 2019. Those bonds didn’t solve our affordability crisis and Prop. A won’t, either. Building enough affordable housing to meet demand will cost far more than $300 million; that amount was simply what the city determined it could allocate right now without violating a 2006 agreement to issue no more debt than it retires.

But San Francisco’s affordable housing program can’t be fixed overnight — or even in nine years. We have a backlog of projects ready to break ground, and Prop. A funds will shake some of them loose from the development pipeline. For instance, an old sheet metal workers union building on upper Market Street is slated to be turned into up to 100 affordable homes. Additionally, 150 affordable homes are planned for 1515 South Van Ness Ave. Both projects stalled while they waited for state grant funds and tax credits. Both are shovel-ready, and if Prop. A is approved, construction could start as soon as early as 2025.

“(Affordable) projects now get approved quickly,” state Sen. Scott Wiener, who supports Prop. A, assured the editorial board. “The biggest challenge is funding.”

Much needed! This is a no-brainer. Yes!

Prop B: Police Staffing: NO

From what I’ve read, this Frankenstein measure comes from a political tug of war between Supervisors Dorsey and Safaí in the aftermath of 2020’s Prop E – which (correctly I believe) took the minimum staffing requirements for the police out of the city charter. Dorsey wants to fund staffing from a general fund set aside (which is NOT a good idea) and Safaí and other Supes balked and attached a requirement that this be paid for by some future tax. In the end, after a lot of debate, an agreement could not be reached and this ended up on the ballot instead. What is not clear to me is what the appropriate amount of police we need (by some measures we are over-staffed compared to other cities, by others we are understaffed – the police department’s staffing study suggests we need 1/3 more officers than we have.) I’m not sure where the answer is, but it is true that SFPD pays a LOT of overtime to deal with staffing shortages, so my guess is we need more (regardless of my fixed feelings towards SFPD.)  In any case – this mess is not the answer and shouldn’t have just been tossed to the voters. This is something that should have been handled legislatively at the Board of Supervisors – ballot measures suck!

Prop C: Temporary Transfer Tax Exemption for Office to Residential Conversions: YES
I’ve written more about this over at the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters site, but here’s the short version

Prop C will temporarily eliminate the transfer tax on buildings when they are converted from office uses to housing, thus making it more attractive for building owners to make such conversions. This elimination of the tax will sunset by 2030, allowing the restoration of transfer tax revenue after conditions in downtown begin to improve.

Some of the ads for this measure give the impression that passing this will magically bring vitality back to our struggling downtown. It won’t, but it can really get the ball rolling. Numerous other cities have use this kind of approach to kick off revitalization efforts and we should too.

Prop D: Ethics Policy Changes: Yes
I’m afraid to say that I’ve become somewhat more skeptical of San Francisco Ethics laws because I’ve observed both:

  • First hand experience with incredibly tedious and largely useless ethics requirements for small do-gooder groups I’m involved with (like the SFLCV) and in my own political involvements as part of various campaigns
  • Numerous episodes of large scale corruption and ethics violations at SF City Hall

This combination leaves me wondering if adding more ethics requirements is *really* part of the answer? 

That being said, the process by which this measure has come to be gives me hope that it will be more effective and less tedious: In the wake of the 2020 Mohammed Nuru series of scandals (because so many people and schemes tumbled out of the closet) the Ethics Commission began systematically reviewing the gifting laws and came up with a set of recommendations to close loopholes and standardize the requirements across city departments. They then worked with the labor union (the Municipal Executives Association) representing the leadership of the city departments to fine tune these recommendations to make them more workable and implementable.

The result is this ballot measure and it seems significantly more good than bad. 

Prop E: Policing Policy Changes & Meeting Requirements: NO
UGH No. Prop E is a showboat “I’m Tough on Crime” measure from Mayor Breed, that as is typical of these, is just bad policy.

This grab bag of policies is wrongheaded at worst, unnecessary at best, and just bad in many spots. And above all that, it shouldn’t be decided at the BALLOT. The few parts of this that have some merit should be brought about through normal administrative and legislative processes so they can be tweaked and adjusted, not hammered in by a ballot measure that can only be fixed with another ballot measure. JUST NO.

For more details, I recommend the Chronicle’s editorial. For the most interesting take on this, I’d check out the SF Bay Guardian’s write up (scroll down) – I don’t know enough to verify its accuracy, but it would explain how it came to be…


Prop F: Drug Screening for CAAP Benefits: NO
CAAP (County Adult Assistance Program) is a “program of last resort” – it gives small cash assistance to a few thousand San Franciscans who don’t have access to other programs such as Social Security or other public assistance. This measure would require any of those folks who need help but are suspected of drug use to get tested and possibly join a substance abuse program.

Nationally, this strategy of mandatory drug testing for access to public assistance pretty much never works out. It discourages people from getting the help they need, it costs a lot to administrate, and relatively few people actual are helped.  State and local governments keep trying this & it keeps not working. (Here’s a good takedown summary from the ACLU)

There is no need for San Francisco to try this as well. Vote No.

Prop G: Teaching Algebra in 8th Grade: no/yes – doesn’t matter
About 10 years ago, in what was likely a reasonable attempt by the School Board to improve outcomes in math education across racial lines, the board move Algebra to 9th grade. The results haven’t been great, with a lot of students leaving because of the limitations on math education and the racial disparities in outcomes not improving. 

This nonbinding resolution was an attempt by the Board of Supervisors to pressure the SFUSD board to reverse this policy, but it already has, as of about two weeks ago. On February 14th, the School Board announced that they had decided to reverse course. So yeah. Vote whatever you like (or don’t) it doesn’t actually matter.


So there you have it! Whew!

Also here is a bonus pic of me napping with one of my dogs 🙂

If you’re new, or curious, here’s all about this post!



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.




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 28 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 laws created by 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 gray – there is a lot of balancing going on…
    • Which leads to another fundamental problem: These issues are often complex and when they are, they would be much better served by decision-makers who have the time at hand and expertise at their disposal. This is the whole point of a representative democracy: people elect a set of deciders who have time and are given resources to study the issues at hand before making decisions on complex legislation. Far too many ballot measures would be better served by more informed choice.
  • Budget set-asides are usually a bad idea: A set-aside guarantees the same amount of funding be taken from the general fund every year for a given program. The problem is that in lean years, set-asides then squeeze out funding for other important things, and generally reduce our government’s flexibility. That is fine for public good that is almost always difficult to prioritize like say libraries or parks, which get deprioritized chronically (leading to deferred maintenance and more expensive fixes when the money finally does get appropriated) but a really bad idea for normal expenses. Set asides should be avoided whenever possible.
  • 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.


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 seem a tad more centrist-pragmatic than the others (and ocassionally me) but they are pro-urban, 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 take them with a grain of salt on local stuff as 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, 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:

Here is where I like to shout out to other friends’ slates, but only one of my friends seems to do her’s right now – so check out my friend Kate’s Slate… I always like her no-nonsense take.

  • 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.


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.

One thought on “The ‘Deep Slate: March 2024 Voting Guide

  1. Thanks again Deep, for helping me, navigate through this primary Election.
    Some of the props suck, you help me understand them, so I can feel confident in which way I vote!
    Thank you, Nicola

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