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My Votes for the Nov 2006 Election
Nov 6, 2006, 12:42p

Here's how I'm planning to vote in tomorrow's election, replete with rationale. If you think I'm voting the wrong way, let me know! I've only spent a couple hours reviewing everything, and some of this stuff is pretty tricky.

I'm supportive of the secret ballot, but I also think that people should discuss these issues more; that's my intent of publishing my voting record on my blog.

You can also see what I voted for in 2004. I didn't vote in 2005 because I was being tempermental and stupid.

* United States Senator: Dianne Feinstein (Democratic)
  - She's been doing a great job, so she should continue. I'm not sure what her stance was on the Iraq war, though she was against the invasion early on. Unfortunately, I did not receive any official information about the candidates, and haven't made time to investigate the alternatives.

* United States Representative, District 10: Ellen Tauscher (Democratic)
  - She's also been doing a good job, and the only other option is a Republican whom I know little about.

* Governor: Peter Camejo (Green)
  - He believes in what I believe in: education, alternative energy, immigration, marriage for everyone, ranked choice voting, reduction in corporate power, and he's against the death penalty. The Democrat (Angelides) didn't submit a statement, and I've always wondered if people who don't submit statements have something to hide, or are too arrogant. In any case, candidates who don't submit statements along with everyone else seem untrustworthy.

* Lieutenant Governor: Donna Warren (Green)
  - In 1999, she sued the CIA for the crack cocaine infestation in South Central LA. I'm not sure whether the CIA did anything or not, but such an action shows a freedom from fear and a sense of justice that's remarkable and rare. Also, the Democrat (Garamendi) seems very angry and violent - his statement uses words such as "forceful", "punishing", and "powerful".

* Secretary of State: Debra Bowen (Democratic)
  - She supported a paper trail for electronic voting machines, which none of the candidates even talk about in their statements. She's also refused to accept gifts as an elected official. Overall, she's seem smart, wise, and fair.

* Controller: Laura Wells (Green)
  - She seems hopeful and a very experienced accountant. Plus, she supports universal healthcare and ranked choice voting. The Democrat (Chiang) also seems good, but slightly less progressive so I'm voting for Wells.

* Treasurer: Mehul Thakker (Green)
  - Thakker wants to reduce corporate power, and focus on better schools, universal healthcare, affordable housing, community development and clean energy programs. He also wants to forgive student loans, which seems like a novel, good idea. He also wants a fair policy for legalizing undocumented workers and a fair minimum wage. All of this while maintaining a balanced budget. Sounds great. The Democrat (Lockyer) did not submit a statement, so I'm not voting for him.

* Attorney General: Mchael Wyman (Green)
  - He's against the death penalty, wants to prevent domestic spying, relax restrictions on marijuana, and provide more rights to immigrants. The Democrat (Brown) did not submit a statement, so I'm not voting for him.

* Insurance Commissioner: Tom Condit (Peace and Freedom)
  - He supports universal health care, a state-provided basic car insurance program, and worker's compensation, and wants to reduce the power of insurance companies. Neither the Green candidate (Cafiero) nor the Democrat (Bustamante) submitted statements, so I'm not voting for them.

* Board of Equalization, District 1: Betty Yee (Democratic)
  - She seems smart, and she was the only candidate to submit a statement.

* 1A (Transportation funding protection): NO
  - The legislature should know how to spend funds most appropriately given that they have the best visibility into the state budget. They don't need to be limited in their discretion on this issue.

* 1B (Highway safety, traffic reduction - $20B bond): YES
  - Traffic congestion is a serious problem in California, and has a substantial impact on quality of life. I've commuted for 2.5 hours each day for the past 2 years, and watched as various infrastructure construction has improved traffic flow (though often the construction screws stuff up for a while). This seems like an important enough issue to warrant borrowing money and increasing state debt.

* 1C (Housing and emergency shelter - $2B bond): YES
  - Housing is extremely expensive in California, and I support greater access to affordable housing for low-income individuals and families. Access to safe, clean housing is a basic human need and increasing access to it seems worthy of borrowing money and increasing debt.

* 1D (Public education facilities - $10B bond): YES
  - California's elementary and high schools are ranked as some of the worst in the country. This is due in part to overcrowding and poor building conditions. Education is critical to future success and a functioning democracy, so it's reasonable to take on debt here. Many of us took on student loans to get through college; this initiative is the state taking on loans to provide their students with better education. We have spent a lot on education so far, but I think we need to keep doing more until we fix the situation.

* 1E (Disaster preparedness - $4B): NO
  - This initiative seems to me to be a response to the damage wrecked by Katrina. Of course we should always have better water infrastructure, but our current infrastructure seems pretty good - my pipes work great and even the water shortages that we've endured haven't been so bad. I'm not as well-educated in the levee situation, but overall, this seems like a lot of money for a problem that isn't that severe.

* 83 (Sex offender monitoring): NO
  - I believe it's a violation of civil rights to implant GPS devices to track individuals who are out of prison. If we don't believe that these individuals won't commit another severe crime, we shouldn't let them out of jail - I don't believe this gray area of free but not really is the right way to treat people. Give them some dignity, after they've served their time.

* 84 (Water control safety - $5B bond): NO
  - This one is similar to 1E, and I'm against it for the same reasons.

* 85 (Parental notification for abortion): NO
  - I worry that teenage girls who are unable to talk to their parents will take unexpected and dangerous measures to have an abortion. Personally, I'm mixed on whether I'm pro-choice or pro-life - both sides have strong arguments, "the right to my body" on the one hand and "fetuses are alive so aborting them is murder" on the other. Given this, though, I've heard several stories of teenagers dying because they did a dangerous abortion to avoid talking to their parents, in states that have parental notification laws. I worry that if this initiative passes, there will be more such deaths. My girlfriend Becca, who works on the campaign against prop 85, has written a solid argument for why prop 85 is bad.

* 86 (Cigarette tax): NO
  - So, I was going to vote yes on this proposition, because I think smoking is harmful and people should be discouraged from doing it. However, I was reading the rebuttal, and it pointed out 2 things that caused me to change my mind. First, the law gives hospitals an excemption to anti-trust laws. Second, most of the revenues will go to huge hospital corporations and HMOs, which I'm generally distrustful of. So while I think a reduction in smoking is good, I think this initiative isn't the right way to do it.

* 87 (Oil tax for alternative energy): YES
  - There are 2 reasons why I'm supporting this initiative. First, oil companies support a world ravaged by wars for oil, and their power should be restrained. Second, alternative energy is not getting the attention and funding that it needs. This proposition helps both of these issues, so I'm voting for it. And it's unlikely to harm the financial stability of the oil corporations, given the recent record profits.

* 88 (Education funding with $50 property tax): NO
  - While I support educational funding, I'm against flat, fixed taxes because they are regressive: poorer people pay the same as wealthy people, which is unfair.

* 89 (Public financing of political campaigns via increased corporate taxes): YES
  - This initiative will reduce the plutocracy of our political system and provide equal resources to all major sides of an election. It will reduce corporate and wealthy influence on politicians. This proposition is great :)

* 90 (Regulation of eminent domain): NO
  - Apparently this law has a loophole that could end up costing cities, counties, and states lots of money lost to real estate developers. I don't really understand how, but a friend told me this so I'm voting NO on it.

* State Assembly, District 15: Rebecca Loya (Democratic)
  - Both Terry Coleman (Democratic) and Guy Houston (Republican) have contributed more to my recycling pile since the time I collected soda can tabs in high school - we've received about 1 mailing per day from each of these people for the past 2 weeks, and it was just one political attack after the next. It was ugly, a waste of paper, and not a strong sign that they'll be competent in office. I know Rebecca will.

* Judicial Nominees: YES on all
  - I didn't see any reason not to vote for them.

* Contra Costa Community College: Frank Quattro
  - He's focused on retaining faculty and attracting smart students. He's also actually graduated from and taught in the Contra Costa Community College system. So it seems that he's got the right experience compared to his competition.

* Walnut Creek School District Governing Board Member: Angela Borchardt, Barbara Pennington, and Mark Teufel
  - I didn't receive any information on these people, so this is pretty much a random selection from the options.

* Walnut Creek City Council: Sol Henik and Susan Rainey
  - Sol is the voice for those who feel that they "have no voice in Walnut Creek." That's me :) He's a teacher and I trust teachers. Susan is the current mayor, and I actually saw her work in a recent city council meeting. She seemed like an experienced leader, so I think she should stick around.

* Walnut Creek Treasurer: Ronald Cassano
  - He's the only person running.

* East Bay Municipal Utility District Director, Ward 2: John Coleman
  - He's the only person running

* Central Contra Costa Sanitary District Directors: Parke Boneysteele and Paul Causey
  - Parke is an engineer with 40 years of experience in sewage treatment. He also seems financially responsible and passionate about the role. Paul seems smart and experienced as well.

* L (Extend the Urban Limit Line to 2025): YES
  - No arguments against were submitted.

* M (Board of Retirement alternate): YES
  - No arguments against were submitted.

Read comments (3) - Comment

omar - Nov 7, 2006, 11:00p
* 83 (Sex offender monitoring): NO

i completely agree on this one, and yet it is going to pass (that's how it looks at this moment). this simply can't stand -- this has to go to the supreme court of california, if not further. this is a ridiculous infringement on these people's rights. interestingly, i think this prop is passing because of its name. i think the spin on this one makes it sound like voting no on this prop is a vote *for* sex offenders... which is a strange way of portraying it.


i wish i could vote.

Charles Reich - Nov 14, 2006, 5:30a
I refuse to vote for anyone who is pro war or pro death penalty, and I disagree that the worst action is inaction. But I was elated by the election!

Mehul Thakker - Feb 21, 2007, 3:38p
Hey Nikhil!

I ran across your blog, and was happy to see that you voted for me for State Treasurer. Thanks!

I read your rationale, which I agree with (naturally), but also wanted to tell you that the reason many candidates (Dems and Reps)did not submit a Voter Guide Statement, is that if you opt-out of the campaign spending limits, then you are prohibited from submitted a Voter Guide Statement. Thus, big money, corporate candidates will almost always opt-out of the spending limits (so they can spend to the moon), but as a result, will not be allowed to present a statement in the Voter Guide.

I still think you made the right call, and even though Bill Lockyear beat me out by a large margin, I've been invited to the Treasurer's office to advise them on my ideas about community banking and State investment in low income areas.

Participation works, no matter what your party or affiliation. Make friends, share ideas, and make change.

Be well!

Mehul Thakker

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