Frank’s California General Election Voter Guide

Vote: 8 November 2016The time has come for the general election. It’s tomorrow, in case you were wondering: 8 November 2016. And California, as usual, has too many ballot measures. The system really has gotten out of hand. Now any idiot millionaire can get anything at all on the ballot. And I find myself lost much of the time. We have, for example, a ballot measure to get rid of the death penalty because it is too expensive. And we have a ballot measure to make it easier for the state to kill people.

You might think, “Well, it’s California, so they’ll get rid of the death penalty!” And you’d be wrong. The people of California have shown themselves very keen on the death penalty. In fact, they threw out three California Supreme Court justices because they weren’t voting to kill people. And they were replaced — this is what it was really all about — with three pro-corporate justices. Ah, democracy in a nation of economic inequality!


But before I get to the ballot measures, let’s do the people. It isn’t too hard to guess where I come down.


I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I realize that I’m in a “safe” state so I can “vote my conscience.” But there are a couple of things: voting my conscience in a two party system is derp. More important, even if I factor in the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, I like Clinton the best. I think she might even be a great president. But she will certainly be a good one — especially given what she’ll be up against.


There are two Democrats running for Senate here: Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. This is because of our stupid “top two” voting system. Even though I am a Democrat, I really believe there should be a Republican on the ballot. Harris is going to win. But Sanchez has a long history as a solid liberal legislator, so she’s my clear choice. But I’m fine with Harris.

House 5th District

I will vote for Mike Thompson. I’m not terribly keen on him, but I sure won’t vote for Republican Carlos Santamaria. Thompson got almost 66 percent of the vote in the primary, so he’s going to crush Santamaria.

State Assembly 2nd District

Our incumbent is Democrat Jim Wood. His seat is so safe, no Republicans even ran against him. Instead, he is running against Libertarian Ken Anton. Anton is a very typical libertarian. He tries to come off as caring about humanity with talk of believing in the goodness of people. But you know where he stands. He wants to defend Prop 13 because it protects “the most vulnerable citizens.” That’s a canard that conservatives have been pushing since the measure was put on the ballot.

Santa Rosa High School District

There are six people running for four seats. Both Caroline Bañuelos and Evelyn Anderson seem good but are less qualified for the job. Jenni Klose has been effective on the board. Laurie Fong has an enormous amount of experience as a teacher and administrator. Laura Gonzalez may be abrasive, but she’s very experienced — both as a teacher and as a board member. And Ed Sheffield is very well connected in the local Democratic Party and I think that’s helpful. But I think they are all good people.

Santa Rosa City Council

It’s the same situation as for the school board: six people up for four seats. Santa Rosa recently passed a rent control law. Three of the candidates support it: Julie Combs, Jack Tibbetts and Chris Rogers. The other three don’t: Ernesto Olivares, Don Taylor and Brandi Asker. I’m not terribly keen on rent control in a general sense. But in this place and this time, I think it is a good idea. So I’m voting for the first three and not for the second three. So I am giving up one of my votes.

Ballot Measures

There are way too many ballot measures.

Statewide Measures

We start with 17 statewide ballot measures:

51: School Bonds
Our schools are doing much better than they have in terms of funding. But I still think we need to do more. Yes.
52: MediCal Hospital Fee
This is a bureaucratic initiative. I feel like I shouldn’t be asked. But I don’t like all this short-term planning. Let’s make it permanent. Yes.
53: Bonds Require Voter Approval
Just what we need: a law to make the state even harder to govern. The idea here is clearly to stop the government from functioning. I’m sure the rich are all for it. But I would bet that it will pass. No, no, a thousand times no!
54: Publish Bills Online Before Voted On
This is another supposed “good government” bill that is likely to lead to bad government. At best, it won’t matter. And if that’s the best it will be, the vote is obvious. No.
55: Extend Taxes for Education and Healthcare
We raised a number of temporary taxes back in 2012 to get the state budget in order. This measure would extend the increase in taxes on incomes over $250,000 for 12 years. State taxes tend to be regressive. We need to do all we can to increase taxes on the rich — especially when it is for a good cause. Yes.
56: Cigarette Tax
I’m for doing everything we can to stop people smoking. But this is an extremely regressive tax. And it’s huge: $2 per pack. Given that it tends to be the poor who smoke, this is the wrong way to go about the issue. If they combined it with an increase of 5 percent income tax on incomes over $50,000, then maybe I’d be for it. But not this way. No.
57: Parole of Non-Violent Offenders
No one would be surprised here. Most of these prisoners are just people who like drugs that aren’t approved by the state. A thousand times: yes!
58: English Proficiency
This is another issue that I don’t think I should be asked about. But as best I can tell, this ballot measure would give teachers and schools more control. Yes.
59: Call for Citizen’s United Overturn
What a waste of time. No vote.
60: Adult Film Condom Requirement
I like the idea of this. Just the same, the adult film industry in California is distinctly larger than Hollywood. I don’t like the idea of the industry fleeing the state. I would be in favor of a nationwide ban — not only on production but on importation. I’m reluctant on this one though because lives are in the balance. No.
61: Prescription Drug Purchases
When I get three times as many “No” ads as “Yes” for a proposition, it’s pretty clear how to vote. This is a good bill. But the people against it make the same argument they always do: if you control costs, the pharmaceutical companies will just raise prices for other people. Really?! I didn’t know economics worked that way. I thought they were already maximizing profits. If they could sell their drugs for more, they would. Yes.
62: End Death Penalty
The death penalty is morally indefensible. Yes.
63: Background Check for Buying Bullets
You know the old saying: guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people. Yes.
64: Cannabis Legalization
I hate “medical marijuana.” It is so obviously a con. (That’s not to say that it doesn’t have medicinal value.) It should just be legalized. Yes.
65: Carryout Bags
I think that if people are forced to buy a bag, the money shouldn’t go to the store. Yes.
66: Death Penalty Procedures
This is the “It’s taking too long to kill people so let’s make it easier to kill innocent people” proposition. It’s just vile. And it will almost certain pass. No!
67: Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban
I’m not happy about who brought this law to us, but it is already the law in many localities (like Santa Rosa). So let’s just make it universal. Yes.

Local Ballot Measures

And if that wasn’t enough, there are six local ballot measures:

K: Open Spaces
This does reduce representational power. However, I’m not that keen on our supervisors. And this is about open spaces. Yes.
L: Country Tourist Tax
This increases the tourist tax by 33 percent of its current value — taking it up to 12 percent. Seems reasonable. Yes.
M: GMO Ban
I don’t like GMO products. It isn’t because of health. I believe they are safe. My problem is with the intellectual property aspects of them. We are moving toward a world where there will be rents on wild berries. Yes.
N: Keep Higher Sales Tax
Sales taxes are regressive. Let’s cut it back. Get the needed money elsewhere.
O: Increase Public Safety Spending
If the city provided me with details I might vote for it. But public safety includes a lot of stuff I’m in favor of and lot of stuff I’m not. This measure will win overwhelmingly, but not with my help. No.
Y: Increase Sales Tax for Public Libraries
It’s for the public library system. I wish we were funding some other way. But our library system is dying. And it is really important to the poor. Yes.

Geez, that was exhausting. Life in California.


Google has provided this great tool that tells you most of what you will be voting on. You just enter your address. Use it!

And then vote tomorrow if you haven’t already!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Frank’s California General Election Voter Guide

  1. We have a similar “cigarette tax” ballot issue in Colorado. My main problem with it was that the revenue was required to go to certain programs, regardless of whether they proved to be effective. Kevin Drum made the same argument about your California initiative. Basically, the budget is way too complicated to be turned over to ballot initiatives. Professional lawmakers should be able to make a budget without having their hands tied by well-meaning but counterproductive initiatives.

    • Well, regardless of what we all think, the measure passed by an enormous margin. On the good side, my older sister said that she might quit smoking with more gusto than I’ve heard before. If it even gets her to cut down, it will be a good thing. But we really don’t need more regressive taxes.

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