🗳️ March 2020 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (II): State and Local Offices

I’m now registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter, and I recently received my ballot for the March California Primary. And that means it is time to start doing the detailed ballot analysis. This is where, for most contests, I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks:

  1. The Presidential Primary
  2. The Congressional, State and Local Offices (this post)
  3. Judicial Offices
  4. Ballot Measures
  5. Summary

This part covers the Congressional, State and Local Offices:

  • Federal: US Representative, 30th District
  • State: State Senate, 27th District ❦ State Assembly, 45th District
  • LA County: District Attorney
  • LA City: Council District 12
  • LAUSD: Board of Education, District 3
  • Other: Democratic Central Committee, District 45

🗳️

Federal Offices

US Representative, 30th District

I’ll note that we’ve had much of this contest before. Sherman, Reed, and Rab are regulars in this race. So some of this material is from past analyses.

[✓] Brad Sherman Inc. (D)

Brad Sherman (FB) (D) (Inc) has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997, meaning he has seniority, and through seniority, wields power. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as the senior Democrat on the Subcommittee on Asia. He is also a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. During his tenure in Congress, Sherman has developed a reputation as a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, federal aid to education, the interests of working families, strong environmental standards, the protection of Social Security and Medicare, and policies to expand U.S. exports. Before joining Congress, he served on the California State Board of Equalization from 1991 to 1996. He was Chairman of the Board from 1991 to 1995. Before that, Sherman was on staff at one of the nations’ big-four CPA firms. Sherman is a Tax Law Specialist and a CPA. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Sherman was also an accounting tutor during his time at UCLA. Later he received his law degree from Harvard, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Note how none of the other candidates provided this level of detail on their backgrounds, nor have this extensive of a background.

In terms of issues, I’ve been following Sherman for years, and have agreed with most of the time. I did favor Howard Berman when Sherman and Berman’s districts were combined, but I’ve been pleased to become a Sherman constituent.

In short, I like what Sherman has done, and no one has convinced me that another candidate is better.

[✓] Courtney “CJ” Berina (D)

CJ Berina has a decent looking website, unlike some of the other regular contenders in this race. He’s a young Filipino-American businessman who did a short stint on the Northridge South Neighborhood council. He was also a Democratic Assembly delegate, and had a youth clothing business that he since moved online. Reading through his website, he has loads of progressive values, and is aligning himself with the Bernie side of the spectrum (including having a picture of himself with Bernie, but saying there’s no endorsement). But the sense I get reading through his website is of him going from one bright and shiny to the next. So while his values are strong, does he have the long term commitment to build up seniority in Congress? He has strong support from the Bernie-crats.

[✗] Raji Rab (D)

Raji Rab (D) is a perennial candidate around these parts. He’s run for Congress many times; in 2019 he ran for City Council. In 2016, I noted that he has the basic Democratic positions, but doesn’t distinguish himself enough from Sherman to make it worth the change. In 2018, I noted that he “does not know how to design a web page, or to hire a web page designer.” I also noted that this fellow’s experience for office is: “seasoned aviator, an educator and an entrepreneur”. To be more precise, “I got my commercial pilot license from Laverne California, owned a flight school, an airline and operated a computer infrastructure facility.” Not quite the experience for the halls of Washington. I’ve done some googling, and I can’t find his educational experience anywhere.

I tried reading through his positions, and couldn’t quite figure out what he was advocating.

I think there are far stronger candidates.

[✗] Mark S. Reed (R)

Here’s what I wrote about Reed when he ran in 2018: Mark S. Reed (FB) (R) is the most viable candidate against Brad Sherman, at least in terms of votes. So maybe he’s a lawyer who will know how to work the halls of Congress, or have some special magic experience. Nope. His experience is “After graduation from El Camino Real High School in 1975, Reed studied Architectural Drafting at Pierce Jr. College from 1976-1978. Reed, age 57, is a successful actor, small businessman, rancher and an advocate for constitutional government as specified by our Founding Fathers. After working in management positions for several years, he bought his first company at age 26 and opened a small retail store. He sold both and bought out his second company at age 32.  He has sat on the board of directors of several companies, chaired many national committees and currently sits on the board of directors of the CAB at KCET.” He’s not that there in the experience or background market. In 2020, none of that has changed, according to his bio page.

At least he no longer panders to the Jewish vote on his real front page, which is buried with his newsletter. There he complains about the National Debt, which seems to go against Republican values now, which are spend, spend, spend. Other than that, I’ve looked through all the pages on his website. He seems to have moderated views: he seems to support some form of gun regulation, and is not obviously pro-Trump or evangelical. But his page just doesn’t convince me that he has the depth of background for Congress, or the right ideas in the right areas.

[✓] Brian T. Carroll (D)

Note: This is not the Brian Carroll who is running for President under the American Solidarity Party.

I’ve read through the issues of this Brian Carroll. Again, he is young and light on experience — his experience is primarily on the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council as both a board member and President (which does show leadership, and the ability to be there more than one term).  He also seems to have good progressive values. There’s an implication that he does something more with history, but that implication is never fleshed out. However, he’s the author of a webcomic about politics called Two Party Opera that I’ve really grown to enjoy and recommend you check out. But he just hasn’t provided sufficient information on his background.

I recommend that Carroll demonstrate a bit more experience and connection before aiming at the halls of Congress. Get on the county central committee. Major city office is difficult, but going for something up the chain first is good — or at least getting experience in the legislature as an aide.

📋 Conclusion

The divide in this race in many ways parallels the divide at a national level. In one corner, we have Brad Sherman (FB) — loads of experience in Congress, seniority, knows how to work the system. Moderate in his positions, likely able to get compromise. Has a history of fighting for his values. In the other corner we have CJ Berina and Brian Carroll, both coming out of the neighborhood council system. Berina has the strong support of the Bernie-crat wing of the Democratic party, which is growing worrisome. Of the two of them, I tend to like Carroll a bit more — primarily because he has a tad more experience and I like his webcomic. But neither says much about their experience or education. Neither has legal experience either, but both brimming with progressive ideas.  They are soundly in the “Bernie” camp, without the age. Do we go with experienced middle-of-the-road, or new progressive blood? Right now, I’m leaning towards the experience.

Conclusion: [✓]Brad Sherman (FB) … but I’d cast a vote, if I could, for Two Party Opera, Carroll’s webcomic

State Offices

State Senator, 27th District

[✓] Henry Stern Inc. (D)

Henry Stern (FB) is the current state senator, elected in 2016. He doesn’t have a campaign website, relying on his district website, but he does have a fundraising page.  This also means he has no website where he talks about his positions on the various issues. According to the VC Star, Stern (37) is an environmental attorney and former senior adviser to Fran Pavley when she was a state senator for the area. Stern’s major focus is on fire resilience. Other goals include addressing the housing and homelessness crisis, creating the first California climate change bond and establishing a mandatory public service program for young people. He has introduced bills to address PG&E and SCE power shutoffs. He voted no on SB50; I’m not sure how I feel about that one.  Stern has a fair number of somewhat predictable endorsements.

[✗] Houman Salem (R)

Houman Salem (FB) is the oldest son of Iranian immigrants. Raised in Chatsworth, attended CSUN and Pepperdine, and is the founder and CEO of a Fashion Design house. He has six primary issues on his website: Homelessness, Prop 13, AB5 and its impacts, immigration, water capture and delivery, and education. None of his positions are as far right as Trump (a good thing), but there are problematic hints. For example, on Education, he writes: “Parents must have the ability to choose from a variety of options with regards to their child’s education.  From a quality public school, private school, charter school, or if desired, home school.  Additionally, parents must not be forced to have their child’s education be indoctrinated with age inappropriate and overly sexualized content.  A young child’s education must not be the domain of a political agenda.” This strikes me as arguing against strong support for public schools.  On AB5, he writes, “The government must never complicate an individual’s rights to earn a living. “

The sense I get from reading his pages is a strong libertarian bent, which could be appealing to the Conservatives in this district. But I’m not conservative. Looking at his answers on Ballotpedia gives more information: “We must not continue to give up our freedoms to the government. Money is an instrument of freedom, and the more of it we give to the government, the less freedom we have as individuals.”. If you’ve ready my view on taxes, this goes squarely against that.

Additionally, reading his Facebook makes it clear he’s in the Trump camp, and has enjoyed the Kool-Aide. His website only lists GOP endorsements and the Howard Jarvis groups. Plus, he has all these major logos at the bottom such as the LA Times and NPR, implying their endorsements, but they lead nowhere. That’s misleading.

📋 Conclusion

Oh, how I wish Henry Stern had a campaign website touting his experience, and summarizing his positions on the issues and his legislative goals. That would make it easy to support him. Without it, I get the sense he just wants to coast to another term, depending on the overall Democratic nature of California to sweep him into office (perhaps due to the alignment of his district). And it may, because I don’t hold as much value alignment with his opponent — especially as it relates to Prop 13, Education, or his view on taxes. That lack of alignment … and the lack of other candidates, leads me to a “hold your nose” conclusion:

Conclusion: [✓] Henry Stern (FB)

State Assembly, 45th District

[✓] Jesse Gabriel Inc. (D)

Well, this one is easy. There’s one candidate. But Jesse Gabriel (FB) still takes this seriously and has updated his 2018 website for 2020. I’ve been reasonably happy with the work he has done.

📋 Conclusion

[✓] Jesse Gabriel.

Los Angeles County Offices

District Attorney

[✓] Rachel A. Rossi

Rachel A. Rossi (FB) is a former public defender and is a criminal justice reform policy expert. According to an article in LA Magazine, her lack of prosecutoral experience will allow her to bring a different perspective to the office. She says that she’s running “to end the status quo of injustice for all those impacted by our criminal legal system–including the accused and victims. For too long in Los Angeles County we have accepted an archaic prosecutorial model–rewarding convictions, celebrating years of incarceration, and disregarding the racial and economic disparities of those entering the system and the voices of victims. ” So her campaign appears to be moving towards the progressive side of justice. According to an LAist piece, she says she would prosecute far fewer misdemeanors, particularly those committed by homeless people, and would end cash bail and stop pursuing capital punishment. The LA Mag articles notes that she wants to end the prosecution of low-level offenses such as sleeping on the sidewalk, and instead focus resources on and advocating for housing and community-based services that prevent homelessness. She wants to pursue law enforcement accountability by exploring the appointment of independent prosecutors and increasing transparency; to actively fight disparities in the criminal justice system by tracking and publish data on every stage of the criminal justice process, and by expanding oversight; and to fight to end cash bail while also protecting the presumption of innocence by expanding pretrial release. She wants prosecutorial policies that are more trauma-informed and victim-centered, must give victims a voice, and that focus on repairing harms to communities.

Reading through her issues,  there is a strong sense of fighting for the underdog and underserved, as opposed to the “tough on crime” attitude that is common for the DA. As such, there is a lots of concern about justice for minorities, women, the homeless, those without resources, and the underserved. This is to be expected from a former public defender. She is also right to question the implicit bias the DA’s office has had against people of color, failing to offset the advantages/disadvantages of privilege in the issue. The question is: Is that the job of the District Attorney.

Looking at her website, her endorsements come primarily from the minority communities that bear the brunt of the criminal justice system in Los Angeles.

[✓] Jackie Lacey Inc.

Jackie Lacey (FB) is the incumbent in the race, and unsurprisingly, has a wide swath of endorsements from public safety organizations (police, fire) and elected officials. She’s also a minority woman in a major public office — great for diversity. According to the LAist guide, she is a career prosecutor who rose up the ranks in the LA DA’s office. She started a line prosecutor in 1986, and over the years headed the major crimes and major narcotics units and the Central Operations Bureau. In 2011 she was elevated to Chief Deputy DA — the No. 2 position in the department. She was elected DA in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. She is the first woman and the first African American DA in L.A. County.

Lacey touts her establishment of a mental health division in her office to work on diverting people with mental health issues away from jail. Lacey also set up a Conviction Review Unit to assess claims of actual innocence based on newly discovered evidence. She supports bail reform but not the outright abolition of cash bail. She still seeks the death penalty for “the worst of the worst offenders, including child murderers and serial killers,” a spokeswoman said in a statement last year. However, in general, she has largely approached the job as a traditional tough-on-crime prosecutor. This explains the endorsements from the public safety crowd.

One thing her opponent, George Gascon, highlighted in the LA Magazine article is telling:  “The distinction between Jackie Lacey and myself is that I have supported efforts to create legislation that would reform [laws related to officer-involved shootings], where she has opposed it or remained silent on it. The other part is in the other areas, where the law is more conducive to being the application of prosecution when it’s necessary, like other than shootings, but in other areas like excessive force with baton use or other stuff, we have prosecuted those cases, Jackie Lacey doesn’t. So we prosecuted 22 or 23 law enforcement officers in the last few years from those areas, when we could. She hasn’t.” This is a growing concern in a city where there is increased scrutiny of the treatment of minority groups by the police. Our justice system — in both the law enforcement and the courts — must be unbiased focusing on the neutral application of the law without excessive force.

Lacey has another problem. According to the LA Times, “[one of] the major issues confronting Lacey is her office’s ongoing use of the death penalty. An ACLU report issued this year identified 22 people who were sentenced to death while Lacey has been in office, and all of those defendants were people of color. Candidates opposing Lacey have said capital punishment cases are costly to prosecute and risk executing innocent people. Lacey has said in response that her office sought the death penalty in less than 3% of eligible cases last year, following an extensive review, and that California voters have twice failed to abolish capital punishment.”

On other issues, Lacey has similar positions to Gascon, although she does highlight her work to protect seniors and to fight against cybercrime. But you do get much more of the sense of a “tough on crime” DA.

[✓] George Gascón

George Gascon (FB) is a former progressive San Francisco DA attempting to bring his ideas to Los Angeles. According to LA Magazine, he resigned his post in San Francisco on 10/3/19, and moved back to L.A. County to help his mother (who is dealing with dementia) and to be closer to his daughters. He grew up in Cudahy and started his career as an LAPD beat cop. After learning the state of the DA’s office here, he wanted to bring the same criminal justice reform he had up north here. According to the LA Times, Gascon has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s most forward-thinking law enforcement officials. While police chief in Mesa, Ariz., he spent years battling Sheriff Joe Arpaio over what critics called brutal and humiliating treatment of suspects and immigrant detainees. After a brief stint as San Francisco’s police chief, Gascon was appointed district attorney, championing a number of causes aimed at reducing prison populations and trying to rectify disparate enforcement against people of color. He wants to get rid of cash bail, and work to reduce prison populations by getting more people the mental health treatment they need.  The LAist Guide notes that he co-authored Prop. 47, which reduced some non-violent felonies to misdemeanors. He says he would be willing to consider some sort of independent special prosecutor to investigate police shootings.

His issues page shows that he has successfully tackled sexual assault, environmental issues, law enforcement overreach, corruption, and fought for the victim.

But Gascon has his own set of problems. He has not been endorsed by his former bosses in San Francisco; Mayor London Breed has endorsed Lacey. Why? According to the LA Times, “she blamed Gascón and his posture of reform for the rash of car break-ins and other street problems that have dogged San Francisco, even as the city experienced a sharp drop in violent crime. While naming an interim prosecutor to take over after Gascón stepped down to run in L.A., Breed maintained there was growing frustration for “the endless cycle of people getting arrested for dealing drugs, or breaking into cars, only to be released back out on the streets.”” Gascon responds that they prosecuted about 85% of those cases, and in many, the SFPD failed to get solid suspects. The Times reports taht Gascon posits that the real reason for the animosity is “Breed’s endorsement of his opponent stemmed from personal animus. In 2014, Breed requested that Gascón examine the case of her brother, who is serving 44 years in prison for manslaughter, to see if his time behind bars could be reduced, the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month. Gascón’s office reviewed the file but identified no irregularities that warranted reopening the case, the newspaper reported.”

He is endorsed by the LA Democratic party and numerous other Democratic organizations, the Daily News and its family of papers, a large number of minority groups, politicians, and DAs.

📋 Conclusion

In this race, all of the candidates are qualified, and none can be eliminated out of the box. Rossi is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, as she has no executive experience and comes solely from the public defenders side of the equation. This places her in a distinctly different tier from the other candidates.

So looking at the question of Gascon vs Lacey: Both have been DAs, and both have the experience. However, I think the reforms discussed by Gascon are sorely needed in the LA County DA’s office. There needs to be more prosecution of misbehaving public safety officers, and there needs to be more consideration of privilege in prosecution (i.e., elimination of cash bail, which helps the wealthy get out and impacts financially-distressed people more, looking at uneven prosecution based on socio-economic factors, etc.). I’m also concerned about the fact that Lacey is going for the death penalty disproportionately for people of color. As such, I have come to think a change may be appropriate in the DA’s office.

But then again, I have folks in the Bay Area who are reporting problems with San Francisco under Gascon. So I looked into the issue further. I found an interesting article in the publication Mission Local about the legacy of Gascon in the Bay Area. They note that Gascon may “be the most progressive DA this city has ever had. Whether it’s moving away from cash bail, de-emphasizing incarceration for nonviolent offenders, reintegrating prisoners into society, pushing for funds to be invested in mental health services instead of jails, expunging marijuana convictions, or advocating for undocumented immigrants, Gascón’s c.v. is full of things San Francisco voters ought to like.” But then they note that a lot of people don’t like him. They write:

Gascón’s problem, or at least one of them, was that he was never able to define himself — to the media, to voters, and, not insignificantly, to the City Family that runs this town — as the guy who pushed for all of the above. Rather, to the city’s left, focused to the exception of all else on police shootings, he was the guy who, repeatedly, failed to bring charges against killer cops. To the city’s right, he was the guy who, resplendently, fumbled the Kate Steinle shooting case. All the while, Gascón was caught up in a series of running battles with his successors atop the San Francisco Police Department and their bellicose union — which, to too many, came off as an internecine pissing contest undertaken while the rest of the city trudged through streets ankle deep in shattered car windows.

That echos what I heard from a few bay area folks. Now Gascon wants to come to Los Angeles and reform the LA District Attorney’s office. To the appeal.org website, Gascon said, “The problem is that LA County has come to a place where they use the most expensive and the most intrusive tools of the criminal justice system to deal with every behavior, and that is prosecution and incarceration.” The article goes on:

He made the case that some behaviors—including sex work, and acts like public urination that are associated with homelessness or mental illness—should not be criminalized or prosecuted.

When it comes to behaviors that are no more than a “nuisance” to others, he argued prosecution harms public safety. It hurts the people targeted and their families, replaces other “interventions” such as treatment, and distracts from investments in “education, public parks, and other activities that are more likely to create safer and healthier communities over a longer period of time.”

The alternative, Lacey, has her share of problems. An ACLU release notes: “A new ACLU report reveals troubling racial bias, unfairness, and overuse of the death penalty in Los Angeles under District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s watch.  […] During her almost seven-year tenure as District Attorney of the county, Jackie Lacey has sent 22 people to death row. These sentences have been characterized by racial bias — every single one of the 22 people was a person of color — as well as serious concerns regarding the quality of lawyers who represented defendants who couldn’t afford private counsel. Out of the 22 cases, nine defendants had lawyers who were previously or subsequently disbarred, suspended or charged with misconduct. A tenth defendant had a lawyer who repeatedly fell asleep through his trial.” An article from The Appeal notes additional problems with Lacey: “Los Angeles still leads the country in law enforcement shooting deaths. And last year it had the second-highest death toll for police shootings in the nation after Phoenix, which had 21. Black residents are disproportionately victims—24 percent of the deaths but only 9 percent of the county’s population. And since 2000, only one member of law enforcement has been charged for killing a civilian. […] Since taking office in 2012, Lacey hasn’t charged a single LAPD officer for a shooting. According to Black Lives Matter LA, over 400 people have been killed by law enforcement or died in custody in the county during Lacey’s tenure. But she has charged only one man, Luke Liu, a deputy in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, for shooting an unarmed man while on duty.”. That article goes on to note:

But Lacey has largely disappointed those who looked to the new, Black, female and Democratic district attorney to enact change. And, over time, once progressive prosecution ideas have become mainstream and Lacey seems woefully behind, in the model of the same tough-on-crime DA that residents had experienced for decades. Lex Steppling, the director of campaigns and policy for Dignity and Power Now, described Lacey as “a Black woman who claimed her roots openly and publicly, but has carried on the same racist, deadly legacy that preceded her.”

So, ultimately, the question comes down to: Do we stick with a DA that is light on prosecuting problematic officers and shows some racial bias in prosecution, but is strong generally on pursuing prosecution, or do we attempt to reform the office yet with someone who may be less inclined to prosecute the lower value crimes — meaning possibly more visible vandalism goes unprosecuted. Note also that this is in the period where we are leading up to the 2028 Olympics. I think, given the problems with Lacey, I’m inclined to go for the reformer.

Conclusion: [✓] George Gascon (FB)

Los Angeles City Offices

Los Angeles City Council, 12th District

This race is, essentially, a grudge rematch of the June 2019 Special Election to fill the seat when Mitch Englander left.

[✗] John S. Lee Inc.

Of John Lee, back in June 2019, I wrote:

John Lee (R) is the heir apparent to the seat, having served as Chief of Staff to Englander, who was Chief of Staff to Greig Smith, who was …  He is active in the community and attended Prairie Street Elementary, Robert Frost Middle School, Granada Hills High School, and California State University, Northridge. I think he lives in Porter Ranch.

Surprisingly, although there is a lot on what Lee has done working for others, he doesn’t have any issues or positions on his website.

He has loads of endorsements.

Searching did uncover accusations of sexual harrassment against him.

Given the lack of issue statements, and the potential accusations, he’s not on the list. I also think we need to stop this tradition of Chiefs of Staff moving up.

For this campaign, he has updated his website with a section on the issues. He has four main issues areas on his website: homelessness, safe and clean streets, economy, and the Nordhoff Bus lane. His approaches strike me as problematic. On homelessness, I don’t think he really understands the problem, viewing it mostly as the few folks visible on the corners, and not understanding the importance of “Housing First” without being punitive. His notions on improving traffic focusing on synchronizing lights, as opposed to initiatives to get single-passenger cars off the streets, doing intelligent street plans to have some streets focused on car traffic and others on mass transit. That’s why I have a problem with his position on the Nordhoff Bus Lanes. He should be working to improve the bus transit in the entire North Valley.

I didn’t like him in the special election, because his candidacy struck me as an anointed successor. I’m still not impressed with him.

[✓] Loraine Lundquist

Of Loraine Lundquist, back in June 2019, I wrote:

Loraine Lundquist (D) lives in Northridge, and has a Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley, and served as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences and a research scientist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  She is currently a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Sustainability at CSUN. She organized community opposition to the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility when it blew out in 2015, and is the Northridge East Neighborhood Council’s 2nd Vice President.

Her positions include making LA a leader in the green economy, and wants to move  rapidly toward Hal Harvey’s four zeroes: zero net energy buildings, zero waste manufacturing, zero carbon electric grid, and zero emissions transportation. We also need to radically transform the way we view water stewardship and our agricultural systems so that we grow our food in a sustainable way. She doesn’t have many details on addressing homelessness, other than providing permanent supportive housing for the homeless to clean up our streets and save taxpayer money. With respect to transit, she want to start by making public transit frequent, fast, and more accessible, and redesign our transit corridors so that buses do not share the right of way with cars, and bikes have dedicated lanes where their riders will be safe. She wants to shut down Aliso Canyon.

The KNOCK endorsement of Lundquist notes: Lundquist is a founding member of the West Valley Neighborhood Alliance on Homelessness, whose goal is to educate area residents on the benefits of housing-first policies, and help the district site affordable housing.

She has the endorsement of the LA Times and a large number of groups, including the DSA.

I still agree better with her positions in all areas.

📋 Conclusion

[✓] Loraine Lundquist

Los Angeles Unified School District

Board of Education, District 3

[✗] Marilyn Koziatek

Marilyn Koziatek (FB) is the mother of two young boys who attend their neighborhood elementary school in Chatsworth, and she’s part of the leadership team at Granada Hills Charter High School. She also chairs the Education Committee for the Valley Industry Commerce Association and sits on the 38th Assembly Education Advisory Committee. Her position at Granada has lead to some charges of financial improprieties from Patch (written by a past candidate who had Charter support and ran against Schmerelson).  There’s a long interview with her over on SpeakUpParent that is worth reading. She clearly wants to bring the parent’s view to the board, is dissatisfied with Schmerelson (partially, it seems, because he vetoed Granada’s expansion), and wants to bring some of the innovations at Granada (such as improved communication and more modern education standards) to the rest of the district.

She has a small number of endorsements, including the LA Daily News and the Charter Schools Association.

[✓] Scott Mark Schmerelson Inc.

Scott Mark Schmerelson (FB) is the incumbent board member. He’s endorsed by all the Democratic clubs (even though he used to be a Republican and changed his affiliation post-Trump), and the all important Teachers Union, UTLA. He has the LA Times endorsement, a number of other school unions, and the other board members. He seems to be the establishment candidate. His background is more as a teacher than as a parent.

The fellow who brought up the potential financial improprieties of Koziatek has a good piece as well on Schmerelson. Essentially, it provides his history, and explains how the Charter school supporters — and especially the folks at Granada Hills CHS complex — are gunning for him. This explains Koziatek’s place in the election, her dearth of endorsements, and some of her backstory. He has a small issues page.

[✗] Elizabeth Bartels-Badger

Elizabeth Bartels-Badger (FB) is trying again for this seat. She has a registered website, but the IP address can’t be found (sad trumpet: 🎵 wonk wonk wonk 🎵). According to Ballotpedia, Bartels is the founder and CEO of Minority Outreach Committee, Inc., a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage and facilitate political, economic and social development in Los Angeles, California. She is also co-owner and office manager of a small, family business. A self-identified Democrat, Bartels was a delegate to both the 2008 and the 2012 Democratic National Conventions. She was named Democrat of Year by the Los Angeles Democratic Party. Bartels earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and her master’s degree in public administration and policy from California State University at Northridge. She also graduated from the University of Southern California’s Public Policy Institute. Bartels has three children and three step-children.

Although she lacks a website, she does have a good interview in SpeakUpParent (which appears to be a Charter-backed site). In many ways, I agree with what she is saying. She’s a parent who actually has a child in this board district. She’s a long-term Democrat, unlike Schmerelson, who got Democratic backing because of his UTLA backing. She knows the problems with special needs kids in the district. The only thing I disagree with her on is her stance regarding Proposition 13. More on that when I cover the new Measure 13 and its non-relationship to Prop. 13 in Part IV of this series.

Carl Petersen also has a profile on her. In it, he notes “Badger did not provide very many details about how she would provide solutions. She has not been a regular face around the district since her last run and her lack of knowledge about the issues is readily apparent in the Speak Up article. ”  As an example, he notes: “Badger also states that Schmerelson did “absolutely nothing” to support the special needs community. However, at the time he was elected, the special education centers had been targeted for elimination by his predecessor. These schools had been eliminated as a choice for new parents and their populations were dwindling. Schmerelson reversed this trend and today the Lokrantz Special Education Center in Reseda is thriving. In fact, plans are now in the works for it to increase the number of grade levels they serve.”

📋 Conclusion

Koziatek and Bartels-Badger are correct when they indicate that we really need a parent on the LA Unified board. Unfortunately, from what I’ve read, neither are it. Koziatek seems to serve the Charter interests too closely; I’d worry about her serving them to the detriment of the non-charter schools. Bartels-Badger, while having strong Democratic credentials, seems disconnected from where the district currently is. That leaves Schmerelson, the incumbent. I don’t always like to give into the power of the UTLA, and I don’t like the fact that he voted for Trump. Further, although I like his teaching experience, I don’t like that fact that his teaching wasn’t predominately in the Board District he serves. Yet by process of elimination, he’s the best candidate of the three.

Conclusion: [✓] Scott Mark Schmerelson (FB)

Democratic County Central Committee

45th Assembly District

Vote for no more than seven

In many ways, this is a difficult downselect to make, because both the people and the office are unfamiliar. To my eyes, being on the Democratic Central Committee does two things: promotes your view of what the Democratic party is to the larger group, and in do so, shapes the party for years to come. Secondly, it often prepares one for future runs for local, state, and Federal offices, and provides connections for those runs.

Let’s look at the first case: Promoting your view of what you want the Democratic party to be. Keeping that in mind, I’m very troubled by the Bernie-crats this election. They seem to be making an attempt to take over the Democratic party, just like the Trumpistas took over the Republican party. This bothers me to a great extent, especially when all that comes with them is Social Democrat position, lots of enthusiasm, and not much more. I cannot support the Berniecrat slate, because I am not a supporter of Bernie’s positions.

Let’s look at the second case: Preparing one for future runs. This leads me to eliminate those candidates who are retired, as they are likely to run for future office.

Doing those down selects leaves me with eight possibilities, and I have to pick seven. Looking through the list, I’ve got six solids. The two maybes are de Jesus Sanchez and Badger. Sanchez just doesn’t have all that much information out there. Badger does, but is also running for school board. Do we want youth or experience? What representation do we want on the County Central committee? Doing some more searching on Sanchez shows that he has a long history of involvement in the Democratic groups. I’m inclined to go with the youth.

📋 Conclusion

[✓] Scott Abrams
[✓] Jeff Daar
[✓] Noah Sachartoff
[✓] Marcos de Jesus Sanchez
[✓] Richard M. Mathews
[✓] Cicile S. Bendavid
[✓] Raymond J. Bishop

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