What’s on my ballot: November 2022 California general election

22 Oct 2022

Here’s how I’m voting in the November 2022 general election. While preparing for this election, I consulted:

I also referred to my research for the June 2022 primary.

Contents

California: Voter-nominated Offices

Governor

➡️ Gavin Newsom

Newsom supports housing, although his effectiveness has been questionable. His challenger, Brian Dahle, has some questionable environmental positions on allowing oil drilling and desalination.

Lieutenant Governor

➡️ Eleni Kounalakis

I’m voting for Kounalakis with reservations. Kounalakis is less pro-housing than I’d prefer. For example, she prefers to reform the CEQA without legislative changes.

Secretary of State

➡️ Shirley Weber

The other candidate, Rob Bernosky, has a platform with several euphemisms, including “cleaning California’s voter rolls.”

Controller

➡️ Lanhee Chen

Unfortunately, Ron Galperin (my preferred primary candidate) didn’t make it to the general election. The candidates are now:

Cohen’s platform contains several social policies around healthcare, minimum wages, and gun violence that are better addressed by the legislature.

I’ll vote for Chen because he seems more focused on the State Controller’s watchdog role. This is a weak endorsement because Chen’s top policy priority is reducing fraud in the application processes for public benefits, such as Medi-Cal. Depending on implementation, this may also lead to fewer qualified people receiving public benefits as well.

Treasurer

➡️ Fiona Ma

Attorney General

➡️ Rob Bonta

Bonta has been actively enforcing statewide housing production laws to ensure municipalities’ compliance.

Insurance Commissioner

➡️ none

Unfortunately, Marc Levine didn’t make it to the general election, leaving us with two less-then-ideal candidates:

Board of Equalization, District 2

➡️ none

The Chronicle points out that the Board of Equalization doesn’t do much anymore. The vast majority of responsibilities have been moved to other bodies.

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.

Federal

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 one more time.

California: Non-partisan Offices

Judges

➡️ Yes to all

Philosophically, I don’t think it makes sense to elect judges as they are supposed to be appointed by the executive. But given that this is the system we have in California, I treat these retention elections like recalls: keep the candidate in office except in cases of serious ethical lapses.

Superintendent of Public Education

➡️ Tony Thurmond

Thurmond’s track record isn’t great and he received endorsements from problematic Californian teachers’ unions. However, Lance Christensen supported school vouchers in a Chronicle endorsement interview. This position is far to the right of most Californians.

San Francisco: Education

Member, Board of Education

➡️ Ann Hsu
➡️ Lainie Motamedi
➡️ Lisa Weissman-Ward

In Feburary, San Francisco voted to recall several members from the school board in a landslide election. The interest group SF Guardians led the recall campaign. I consider them experts on the workings of the school board. They are now endorsing the interim, mayor-appointed candidates to be elected to the school board.

The candidates I didn’t select:

Member, Community College Board (term ending 2027)

➡️ Jill Yee
➡️ Marie Hurabiell
➡️ John Rizzo

The City College of San Francisco continues to face a budget crisis, aging facilities, and low enrollment. It is also on verge of losing accreditation, which threatens to take away state funding and further decrease enrollment. My ideal board candidate would solve these problems by taking an analytical, detail-oriented approach and not being afraid to make big changes.

Making this determination isn’t easy because it’s hard to find details about the candidates’ platforms. The Chronicle hasn’t completed its endorsement interviews yet. Even the candidates’ own websites only have vague descriptions at best.

To choose these candidates, I read the entire GrowSF interview for each candidate. I didn’t consider anyone who declined to answer the questionnaire.

I decided to vote for these candidates:

These incumbents seem fine and could be substituted for John Rizzo, although they have less experience on the board:

I don’t believe these these candidates are qualified:

Member, Community College Board (term ending 2025)

➡️ Murrell Green

No candidate responded to GrowSF’s survey. Green was recently appointed by London Breed.

San Francisco

Assessor–Recorder

➡️ Joaquín Torres

There are no other candidates.

District Attorney

➡️ Brooke Jenkins

I am generally okay with incumbent Brooke Jenkins’ policies.

In GrowSF interviews, challengers Maurice Chenier and Joe Alioto Veronese could have provided more thoughtful opinions instead of buzzwords. For example, Chenier repeats “victim-based administration” to nearly every question.

John Hamasaki supports concealed carry, which is a non-starter. He also conducts himself poorly on social media.

Public Defender

➡️ Mano Raju

Both candidates come with great qualifications and seem to have reasonable viewpoints. Raju has focused on activism outside the courtroom, while challenger Rebecca Susan Feng Young wants the office to focus on trials.

Board of Supervisors, District 10

➡️ Brian Sam Adam

Incumbent Shamann Walton is one of the worst supervisors in SF. He opposes housing development, which is a non-starter.

On other issues, he holds nonsensical positions. For example, he opposed closing JFK Drive to cars on the grounds that it is “segregationist” toward District 10 residents who typically drive to Golden Gate Park. He responded to criticism by doubling down, directly comparing the street to the Jim Crow–era South during a city hearing.

From his GrowSF interview, I found that I agree with challenger Brian Sam Adam on several issues:

I don’t agree with these positions on education and housing:

It is understandable that both SF YIMBY and GrowSF declined to provide an endorsement in this race. However, I’ll still vote for Adam as the candidate with more reasonable policies and public conduct.

California Ballot Measures

A note on navigating ballot propositions

California’s ballot proposition system requires voter approval in certain situations, such as issuing bonds or amending the state constitution. Voters can also introduce new laws and veto laws already passed by the legislature. Ballot measures can only be repealed by another ballot measure, unless otherwise specified.

The downside of direct democracy is that most voters are less informed than their representatives. Voters don’t spend time talking to constituents and can’t request analysis from staffers. As a result, the proposition section of the ballot has become a prime target of astroturfing campaigns and populist policies like Proposition 13.

Because of its tendency to produce bad ideas and make them hard to undo, my heuristic is to vote “no” by default. I’ll also watch out for propositions that could be passed as normal legislation. They tend to be put on the ballot by special interests or astroturf campaigns looking for hard-to-repeal regulatory capture.

1: Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom

Yes

This proposition would amend the state constitution to make the existing reproductive rights protection unambiguous. The existing language could be susceptible to future reinterpretation by the courts, similar to what happened in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

26: In-person Roulette, Dice Games, Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands

No

Sports gambling is fine, but this could have been submitted by the legislature, as SPUR and the Chronicle note. This proposition is written by industry players with large amounts of revenue at stake. It’s likely to lead to regulatory capture.

For example, the tax rate is fixed at 10 percent. A good-faith attempt at policymaking would have allowed the legislature to adjust the tax rates and other parameters.

I’d like the industry to try again in two years. Given the size of the gambling market in California, they’re all but guaranteed to submit another ballot proposition if this one does not pass.

27: Online Sports Gambling Outside Tribal Lands

No

Generally the same reason as 26.

This proposition is even more clearly trying to accelerate regulatory capture. Its primary sponsors are DraftKings and FanDuel. Gaming companies must be qualified to offer online sports betting in at least 10 states, or five states and operating 12 brick-and-mortar casinos.

28: Additional Funding for Arts and Music in Public Schools

Weak No

This measure would reallocate existing public education funding so that at least 1 percent goes toward arts and music. While increasing funding and removing local school district control are generally good ideas, I think the legislature should have more flexibility to adjust the funding amount.

29: On-site Licensed Medical Professional at Kidney Dialysis Clinics

No

This measure is a rerun of 2020 Proposition 23, which was a rerun of 2018 Proposition 8. Every other year in California, we need to vote down another nonsense dialysis proposition. Sorry, I don’t make the rules…this is just how voting works now.

SEIU-UHW West, the union representing dialysis clinic workers, wants to increase minimum staffing levels. They have been unable to achieve this in negotiations.

It’s not appropriate to make these decisions through ballot propositions. The public shouldn’t be tiebreaking union negotiations. We’re also not qualified to decide whether there’s a medical reason to require a licensed professional at dialysis clinics.

30: Electric Vehicle Subsidies, Income Tax above $2M

Weak Yes

I strongly support increasing electric vehicle incentives. The measure generally seems well designed too.

However, I don’t think all provisions need to be done through ballot propositions. The EV market is changing rapidly, including key factors like battery mineral availability and consumer interest. We don’t know how our needs will change between now and the proposition’s expiration date in 2043. It’s also unclear how much value this mesure adds beyond the federal EV rebates that take effect next year and also target low-income drivers through used car subsidies.

Common Misconceptions

I also want to correct two common misconceptions about this measure:

It’s fine that this measure is primarily funded by Lyft. Lyft is interested because they are required to serve 90 percent of its California mileage using electric vehicles by 2030. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is something nefarious going on. Any vehicle subsidy also indirectly subsidizes Lyft’s service. Plus, all internal combustion vehicles pollute the same air regardless of whether they are on Lyft’s platform.

This measure may not include e-bikes. Co-sponsor SPUR says it includes e-bike purchase subsidies, while the Chronicle says it doesn’t.

The text of the measure, section 80220, is ambiguous:

80220. Eligible Programs.

Programs eligible for funding pursuant to this chapter may include, but are not limited to, those that:

[…]

(b) Provide block grants, grants, loans, or other incentives for zero-emission transit buses so people get to where they need to go in ZEVs.

(c) Provide incentives, grants, and block grants for governments and businesses to buy medium-, heavy-duty, and off-road agricultural and construction ZEVs.

(d) Provide financing assistance to help those without access to capital or high credit acquire new and used ZEVs.

(e) Help people retire old polluting vehicles and replace them with new and used ZEVs or other zero-emission mobility options.

[…]

(h) Increase access to clean mobility options, including but not limited to:

(1) Electric bikes.

(2) Bike-sharing.

(3) Protected bike lanes.

(4) Transit passes.

Note the difference between (b) through (d), which explicitly call out financial incentives and assistance for ZEVs, which are defined as motor vehicles that also meet the zero-emissions requirements. On the other hand, e-bikes would fall into sections (d) and (e), which use weaker language. It’s not clear to me how this will be interpreted.

31: Flavored Tobacco Referendum

Yes

This proposition is a referendum of the legislature’s 2020 ban on flavored tobacco products, such as vape liquids. A yes vote will uphold the existing law and allow it to take effect.

Several tobacco companies spent a total of $23 million to support the repeal campaign.

San Francisco Ballot Measures

A: City Retiree Cost of Living Adjustment

Yes

This provides city retirees the same COLA treatment regardless of retirement date.

Also, it doesn’t make sense to have a hard requirement on whether the retirement system is fully funded. This changes depending on market conditions and isn’t the best indicator of system health.

B: Department of Sanitation and Streets

Yes

This measure would move the responsibilities of the Department of Sanitation and Streets back to the Department of Public Works, partially repealing 2020 Measure B. At the time, I opposed the measure because:

It’s not clear to me that this reorganization would fix San Francisco’s sanitation problems. For example, the argument in favor says that this will allow “data-driven cleaning.” But they haven’t shown why that practice is impossible to implement under the current organizational structure.

Since then, we’ve learned that duplicating administrative roles comes with significant cost. The Controller reports that recombining the departments will save $3.5 million in FY23 and $2.5 million in FY24.

C: Establish Homelessness Oversight Commission

Weak No

The city spends over $700 million per year to reduce homelessness. I agree that this spending needs oversight to ensure effectiveness. However, the board needs the right background to oversee the budget.

Based on the legal text, the commission members are:

The commission isn’t required to have any members with experience in government or managing a $700 million budget. The current composition represents the stakeholders well, so would be more suitable for an advisory board rather than approving budgets.

D: Streamline Affordable Housing Approval (Voter Initiative)

Yes

San Francisco’s long lead times for building permit approval are well known. It makes sense to streamline the approval process and protect the projects from objections through abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act review process.

E: Streamline Affordable Housing Approval (Board of Supervisors)

No

This is a weaker version of Proposition D placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors so they can retain the ability to deny new housing. If both D and E pass, the proposition with the most votes will take effect.

F: Renew Library Preservation Fund

Yes

The fund provides nearly all of the library’s budget. Renewing the fund maintains the status quo of public library funding.

G: Establish Student Success Fund

Weak No

I generally support using excess property taxes to fund public schools. I’m not sure this measure is the best way to increase funding.

SPUR’s analysis summarizes the requirements to receive funds:

The three minimum criteria are: that the school has a school council composed of administration, students, parents and other key stakeholders to support grant implementation, that the school has or hires a full-time community school coordinator and that the school agrees to coordinate its services with the city and school district.

Schools that meet the requirements can apply for grants up to $1 million per school. It’s not clear that this will make a difference, given the high overhead for implementation. The alternative is keeping the money in the General Fund.

H: City Elections in Even-numbered Years

Yes

I: Allow Motor Vehicles on JFK Drive, Great Highway

No

JFK Drive and the Great Highway have been SF’s most successful slow streets. I bike on these streets multiple times per week. The Board of Supervisors even voted to make them permanent. This measure would return these streets to the pre-pandemic status quo.

Additionally, the Chronicle points out that Proposition I would require the city to maintain indefinitely the Great Highway between Sloat and Skyline Boulevards. This segment was already scheduled to be closed next year because of natural erosion and sea level rise.

For more details, I found these endorsements helpful and I completely agree with them:

J: Recreational Use of JFK Drive

Yes

This measure will reaffirm the Board of Supervisors’ decisions on JFK Drive, keeping the status quo. If both Propositions I and J pass, we need more votes on J to keep JFK Drive closed to motor vehicles.

L: Reauthorize Sales Tax for Public Transportation

Yes

This measure reauthorizes the existing sales tax until 2053. I’m always supportive of funding transit because it’s important for a healthy city.

M: Vacancy Tax

No

This measure would impose a tax on unoccupied apartments, but exempts single-family homes and duplexes for some reason. I generally support vacancy taxes to discourage homeowners withholding investment properties from the market. This implementation seems ineffective.

N: Golden Gate Park Underground Parking

Yes

The parking garage is currently operated by a private entity, which has decided to repay the construction costs by setting high prices. It currently costs $6.25 per hour on weekends, which is similar to other private lots in SF but may be prohibitively high for low-income visitors.

The proposition would allow the city to acquire the garage, set or subsidize parking rates, while not obligating any action.

O: City College Parcel Tax

No

While CCSF needs more funding, this parcel tax is unlikely to help in the long term. The tax is expected to raise $37 million per year. For comparison, CCSF’s anticipates $316 million in revenue for 2022–2023.

Another budget risk a transition in the state’s apportionment formula, which will require big changes at CCSF regardless of whether Proposition O passes.

In FY19, California adopted a new “Student Centered Funding Formula” for apportionment. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office describes its components as:

(1) a base allocation linked to enrollment, (2) a supplemental allocation linked to low‑income student counts, and (3) a student success allocation linked to specified student outcomes.

[…]

The new funding formula included a temporary “hold harmless” provision for those districts that would have received more funding under the former apportionment formula. The intent of the hold harmless protection was to provide time for those districts to ramp down their budgets…

CCSF enrollment has been declining since 2018–2019 which should decrease funding from the SCFF’s enrollment component. The “hold harmless” grace period delays this decline until 2024–2025.