At long last, Sacramento (and California as a whole, of course), gets to officially cast its vote in the 2015 primary. Here’s our take on some of the key races and issues you’ll find on the ballot come June 7.
United States President
No, we don’t think Hillary Clinton is part of the Evil Empire, but we do feel the Bern. Think of this as a win-win. Bernie Sanders wins and the country is tasked with figuring out how to implement his vision—free college tuition, higher wages, combating climate change, the fight for racial justice and affordable housing, among other issues. And if he loses? Sanders—along with the rest of us—still won by pushing Clinton closer to the left on key issues.
Think of former Sen. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (pictured) as the Prius to the outgoing Mayor Kevin Johnson’s Ferrari. He’s seasoned, pragmatic, socially conscious and committed to smart economic growth. Plus, there’s his admirable record on helping the mentally ill. Steinberg’s closest competitor Councilwoman Angelique Ashby has some good ideas but her campaign, which has been marred by numerous political missteps, shows she’s not ready—yet.
Sacramento City Council, District 2
We rarely skip a vote but this is a tough one to endorse. Allen Warren is well-liked in his district—we’re not challenging some of the impact he’s had, particularly in troubled neighborhoods. Still, questions about his private financial interests and political conduct raise uncertainties about his ability to lead. Meanwhile, his challengers Sondra Betancourt and Gregory Jefferson have good intentions, but lack needed experience. Pass.
Sacramento City Council, District 4
Sacramento City Council, District 8
In a crowded field—34 candidates in all—California’s attorney general is the clear choice as a Democrat who could emerge as a key player in Congress when it comes to reproductive rights, criminal justice reform and other social issues. Harris has been criticized for being politically timid, so if she’s elected in November (it seems likely she’ll face a run-off election against another Democrat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez) we urge her to be bold and tough in her choices.
Congressional District 7
Congressional District 7
Congressional District 7
Consider this a very reluctant vote for the incumbent. Clearly, Sheriff Scott Jones is a bad choice, not the least for his stance on undocumented immigrants. But, too often, Bera doesn’t seem any better. His stance on Syrian refugees. His support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That alleged election fraud thing. Here, a vote for Bera is a vote to, hopefully, keep the U.S. House of Representatives tilted toward the left.
Assembly District 7
Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, District 3
What merchandising supervisor and Democratic choice Dillon lacks in experience, he makes up for by not being incumbent Supervisor Susan Peters. By calling for an ethics commission and stronger affordable housing policies, Dillon has staked out a clear distinction from Peters, who helped weaken those same policies and sat back while her district became glutted with cheap liquor stores. Dillon has a lot of ideas; they may not all be good, but he’ll be among more seasoned pros to help him out.
Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, District 4
In the five-person horse race for departing Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan’s seat, longtime Folsom City Councilwoman Howell finds the middle-ground between social studies teacher Gary N. Blenner on the left and Citrus Heights City Councilwoman (and MacGlashan mini-me) Sue Frost on the right. Howell’s years of nuts-and-bolts governing experience and compassionate rationalism would continue the board’s slow swing toward sanity.
Sacramento County Board of Education, Area 4
For the open seat that departing Trustee Eleanor L. Brown leaves behind, we pick Alcalay over Brown’s choice, Joanne Ahola. Both are parents who want to close the achievement gap, but their approaches differ. Alcalay serves on a San Juan Unified School District committee, and has done past tours on the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Commission and the Mission Oak Recreation and Park District, while Aloha works for the California Charter Schools Association. This position is about improving public education, so we’re going with the person working to do that now.
Sacramento County Board of Education, Area 6
Asian Resources Inc. Executive Director Nguyen stands out in the four-person crowd for departing incumbent John C. Scribner’s seat. She’s got the organizational acumen to handle the logistics of the position and the desire to speak up for under-represented communities. The other candidates have one or the other.
Sacramento County Board of Education, Area 7
In the matchup between incumbent Harold Fong and the former trustee, Grimes gets the edge for being the only one to talk about curtailing the school-to-prison pipeline.
Twin Rivers Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area 3
Walter Garcia Kawamoto
It’s practically a toss-up between two worthy candidates—incumbent Kawamoto, an American River College adjunct professor who focuses on social justice issues, and Disability Rights California legal advocate Ramona Landeros. But we’re erring toward experience.
Twin Rivers Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area 5
The executive director of the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Elkarra has wanted this seat for a while now. Compared with community volunteer Michelle Deleon, he’s got more fire.
Twin Rivers Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area 7
This basically comes down to the product of elimination. Pass-the-buck incumbent Linda Fowler must be purged and county stock clerk Francisco R. Garcia has limited experience working with schools. At least Savala, a field representative for North Sacramento Councilman Allen Warren, has plenty of experience in both government and neighborhood settings. Here’s hoping he hasn’t molded himself after his boss.
This amendment to the state constitution is a no-brainer as it would let the state Assembly or Senate suspend a lawmaker without pay or benefits pending investigation into alleged misconduct or criminal activity. It’s about time.
Measure X extends by a decade the existing parcel tax for Sacramento’s public libraries. That makes sense: The tax raises approximately $5 million a year for an important community resource.
This proposal to tax medical marijuana and put the money toward city youth programs sounds good on paper—and we like its intentions. Frankly, though, it seems wiser to figure out such money details until California likely legalizes pot come November.
This makes for a simple nod to efficiency by allowing newly elected city council members to swear in during the final meeting in December—regardless of when they were elected.