Here’s how I’m voting in the June 2022 primary election. While preparing for this election, I consulted the San Francisco Chronicle and SPUR endorsements.
- San Francisco
- San Francisco Ballot Measures
➡️ Gavin Newsom
Newsom supports housing, although his effectiveness has been questionable.
➡️ Eleni Kounalakis
Kounalakis is less pro-housing than I’d prefer. For example, she prefers to reform the CEQA without legislative changes. The other candidates are not qualified.
Secretary of State
➡️ Shirley Weber
There are no other reasonable candidates in this race. For example, many other candidates believe in widespread voter fraud.
➡️ Ron Galperin
Galperin promises to improve the efficiency of housing and homeless programs, an important area for California.
Lanhee Chen’s top policy priority is reducing fraud in the application processes for public benefits, such as Medi-Cal. It will likely lead to more complicated applications. This is a situation where the optimal amount of fraud is non-zero: I prefer to accept some fraud in exchange for e.g. a lower-friction application process that allows more people to access public benefits.
Steve Glazer also seems fine but has a less clear platform. Some items (gun control) could be better handled through legislation.
➡️ Fiona Ma
Although the Chronicle notes Ma’s “series of scandals,” there are no other qualified candidates.
➡️ Marc Levine
The Chronicle notes incument Ricardo Lara’s ethical lapses while in office, including swaying decisions to favor campaign donors.
The other candidates are not qualified because they’re unlikely to have the right domain knowledge for insurance.
United States Senator
➡️ Alex Padilla (both terms)
Padilla performed well as California’s Secretary of State. His no-nonsense approach to election trust included prosecuting those setting up fake ballot boxes.
United States Representative, District 11
➡️ Nancy Pelosi
It would be great to bring in some younger politicians so they can start building their influence, etc. Unfortunately, Pelosi decided to run so we’re stuck voting for the boomer again.
State Assembly, District 17
➡️ Matt Haney
Haney supports housing development. Many local governments in California obstruct development, so it’s important to have housing advocates in the state legislature.
➡️ David Chiu
There are no other candidates.
San Francisco Ballot Measures
Navigating ballot propositions
Here’s what I wrote last year about California ballot measures. Similar dynamics appear in local elections.
California’s ballot proposition system requires voter approval for certain kinds of bills, including issuing bonds, amending the state constitution, and amending previously passed propositions. Voters can also introduce new laws and veto laws already passed by the legislature.
There is a problem with direct democracy: people typically aren’t as informed as their representatives. Suppose there is a measure to issue $5 billion in bonds. How do I know that’s the right amount? Why is it not $5.1 or $4.9 billion? Because few voters are public policy experts, the proposition section of the ballot has become a prime target of astroturfing campaigns and populist policies.
Because of its tendency to produce bad ideas and make them hard to undo, my heuristic is to vote “no” by default, especially when the proposition in question seems complicated or has received funding from interest groups. I’ll also watch out for propositions that could be passed as normal legislation and hold them to a higher standard. They tend to be put on the ballot by special interests or astroturf campaigns trying to trick voters into passing favorable regulation.
A: MUNI Bond
MUNI is not the most efficient when spending its budget. For example, the Van Ness BRT project overran its budget multiple times. However, funding transit is essential for a city where not everyone owns a car. We are probably below the optimal amount of spending on MUNI.
B: Department of Building Inspection appointment process
Although reforming the Department of Building Inspection is important, giving the control to the Board of Supervisors seems like it could cause gridlock.
C: Limit recall period
Since I voted in favor of the recalling the three Board of Education members, I feel that the recall is still being properly used.
D: Office of Victim and Witness Rights
Although it is important to guide victims in the crime reporting process, this does not need to be a ballot measure. If the office ends up not working out, we would need another proposition to remove it. (Note that the responsibilities can be changed by the Board of Supervisors. I wasn’t sure what this meant concretely.)
E: Behested payments
This also doesn’t need to be a ballot measure. In the meantime, behested donations don’t directly benefit the politician and need to be reported above a certain threshold.
F: Refuse Rate Board
The rate is currently renegotiated every five years. It seems correct to do more frequently.
G: Public health emergency leave
Although the idea makes sense — codifying COVID-19 protections for a future pandemic — the definition of public health emergencies is too broad. For example, SPUR notes that Spare the Air days count as emergencies even though they are triggered fairly often.
H: Chesa Boudin recall
Voters recalled three members of its school board for incompetence. Boudin’s case is different: he ran on a progressive agenda and delivered what he promised.
Boudin has also been scapegoated for property crime rates. The reality is that it’s a complicated problem with many causes, including the SFPD and broader trends including a high cost of living and income inequality.