🗳️ June 2022 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (IV): State-wide Officers

Here in California (and in Los Angeles in particular), we have an election coming up. For months, one of the wealthiest candidates has been blanketing the airwaves, together with ads from the Native-American Casino Lobby, fighting against a ballot initiative that isn’t even on this ballot. Now that both the sample ballots and the real ballots* have been mailed, the political advertising has increased by an order of magnitude. That’s where I come in. Every election, I do a detailed ballot analysis of my sample ballot. This is where I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.
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* California gives all registered voters the option to vote by mail and to vote early.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks (note: links may not be available until all segments are posted):

  1. National Offices** (including US Congress)
  2. Local Offices*** (excluding US Congress and State Assembly)
  3. Judicial Offices
  4. California Statewide Offices*** (including State Assembly)
  5. Summary

** Bucking the convention of my sample ballot, however, I’m including our Congressional Representative in this section.
*** Bucking the convention of my sample ballot, I’m including state legislative officers with the Statewide officers. In my case, that is my Assemblycritter, as we have no State Senator running for office this election.

This part covers the California State offices:

  • Local: Member of the State Assembly, 40th District
  • Statewide: Governor ❦ Lt. Governor ❦ Secretary of State ❦ Controller ❦ Treasurer ❦ Attorney General ❦ Insurance Commissioner ❦ Board of Equalization, 3rd District ❦ Supt. of Public Instruction

🗳️

California Legislature

Member of the State Assembly, 40th District

Ah, redistricting. It mixes things up every time. Our current assembly member is Jesse Gabriel, 45th District. Gabriel is good — he’s coauthored some bills in the area of cybersecurity. But he’s either termed out, or we’re no longer in his district. So instead, we get an open seat for the new 40th District. Let’s see who we have running… and based on all the campaign mail I’m getting, this is a nasty fight.

Assembly districts are one of those places where political newbies can get their start. For the longest time, there has been the tradition of the outgoing assemblycritter handing the district to an aide as a handpicked successor. That doesn’t seem to be happening this time.

🔘 Pilar Schiavo (D)

Schiavo is a Small Business Owner and Nurse advocate, with 20 years in the labor movement, 13 of those with the California Nurses Association. She currently lives in Chatsworth.  She doesn’t appear to have prior political experience. Based on the attack mail I’m receiving from the Republican opposition, she must be perceived as the front runner.  I don’t like her issues page. The problem is not her positions. At a high level, they are solidly in the Democratic camp. However, they don’t show a depth of understanding of the issues, and everyone seems to be targeted with an endorsement (“… and this is why she’s endorsed by …”). Water conservation is a good example of this. Here’s what she says: “And finally, drought continues in California, with 2022 on track to be the driest year in California history. AD40 has been struggling with severe drought. We face a real threat that there may not be enough water for our local communities. Pilar will fight for state investment to ensure our community has the water we need – in water table infrastructure, rainwater capture, and water reuse. That’s why Pilar is endorsed by the Sierra Club and California Environmental Voters.” But the issue is much more complex in the district, from groundwater contamination from the Santa Suzanna labs, to the need for water for fighting brushfires. I fear she really doesn’t understand the issues well enough, but her heart is in the right place. She has strong Democratic, labor, and union backing.

She’s being attacked by both opponents. Cho is attacking her for attacking Democratic Party icons, and supposedly peddling Trump-like conspiracy theories. Valladares is attacking her for being very progressive (i.e., in the Bernie camp, supporting single payer health care).  There is some truth to some of those claims. Her linked in page shows her as being based in Oakland. An article from one of the Mother Lode papers shows her background is Northern California. She’s being pushed by a group to get moms in office.

She’s a backup, but not my favorite.

Annie E. Cho (D)

Annie Cho appears to have been the top Democratic candidate against Valladares in the 2020 primary in the 38th district, but as that district was heavily Republican, she didn’t make it to the general. She’s been working in Democratic politics for a long time, working for the late US Senator Alan Cranston as a legislative aide, and later worked under former California Speaker pro Tempore Mike Roos. She’s worked in Public Relations and has served as a commissioner at the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power.  She is member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee, and serves on the Election Protection and Oversight Committee. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles.  She lives in Porter Ranch. She has run for LA City Council in the past.

She has a detailed position page. It appears to demonstrate an understanding of the issues. She has a good list of endorsements.

◯ Suzette Martinez Valladares (R)

I should mark Valladares as an Incumbent; she currently represents the 38th district and has been redistricted here.  But the 38th was heavily Republican — Santa Clarita, Saugus, Castaic, Simi Valley, and Porter Ranch.  The new district is less so. But this does mean she knows how the Assembly works and has the experience.  But I also know by the little (R) that her values likely do not align with mine. She’s was mentored by Buck McKeon (a very conservative republican), and was Executive Director of Southern California Autism Speaks (which neuroatypicals will tell you does not speak for them). She lives in Santa Clarita. She’s been involved in Republican politics for a long time.

But what’s more significant is: She does not have issue statements anywhere on her pages. I don’t know what she is for.  Endorsements tell some:  law enforcement and Republicans. Digging deeper, the dirt comes out.  It seems she promotes Trump’s lie the the election was fraudulent. She seems to not want to expand medicare. But other than that, she seems to say nothing about what she stands for. This makes me very nervous.

📋 Conclusion

I do not like Suzette Martinez Valladares; her values do not agree with mine. That said, I have a lot of problems with Pilar Schiavo. I’m not bothered at all with her progressive positions. But she’s not a long time valley person — she doesn’t know this area and its issues well. She doesn’t have a deep understanding of the issues. She hasn’t been involved heavily in politics — this appears to be her first run. She’s far too much of the clueless newbie, and is being perceived as a threat because the machine is behind her. I much prefer Annie E. Cho‘s background and issues. I think she would be a good assemblycritter. My choice: Annie E. Cho.

But, given the nature of California primaries, the General Election could well be Valladares vs Schiavo. In that case, I’ll go Schiavo.

California Executive Branch

Going in, you need to understand the following: I like where California is now. I like the leadership in Sacramento. We’ve got an unprecedented surplus. We have fair elections. We protect the rights of women and minorities. We keep the church where it belongs: where people go on their day of worship. To get my vote, a candidate needs to convince me they are significantly better than what is there now.

Governor

Here are the 27 folks who are battling for Governor. Tell me about them, Johnny…

Bradley ZInk (None)

Zink is a children’s book author from San Diego. No campaign website, only a facebook page.  According to Ballotpedia, Zink earned a bachelor’s degree from DeVry University at Irving in 2002. His career experience includes working as a children’s book author, a senior support engineer, an executive support engineer, and an asset manager. He has a vote-usa page where he details some goals, such as “Expand development of 200 miles of unused land along the Mexico border, to aid solving housing crisis. Develop infrastructure East towards Arizona, reducing the congestion in cities and freeways we see today.” That’s extremely naive, for such development would tax the already overtaxed Colorado River. On his Ballotpedia page, he says stuff like “I propose building an underground speed rail from San Diego to Yuma, fitted with wind turbines to collect energy. Building a light rail system above the speed rail, fitting solar panels along the walls surrounding the tracks. Build “tiny home” communities to house the homeless, with solar farms on-site to provide electricity. Increase the number of wind farms in key Santa Ana winds zones, to harness the power generated from these strong annual winds.”

I think his heart is in the right place, but he’s clueless. Next…

◯ Jenny Rae Le Roux (R)

Le Roux is a business owner, author, and strategic advisor with a B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Columbia Business School. No political experience or government executive function experience. On schools, she writes “…championing school choice, banning divisive curriculum such as Critical Race Theory, and…”  The only folks that consider teaching the reality of history to be divisive tend to be the folks that want whitewashed history.  She thinks water shortages are man-made, and more dams will solve the problems. She is a Trump supporter. Next…

◯ David Lozano (R)

Lozano is a former LA Sheriff. His website prompted Acronis to identify it as a malicious website. As you might have figured out by now, I look at some key issues to assess candidates. On Water, Lozano writes: “California’s water shortage problem is so serious and so massive that there is no longer any time left to squander over petty differences. We must act and we must act now. There are numerous innovative ideas and solutions, some small, some large, some actually quite affordable, some quite costly, but they all produce, or conserve or save or reuse water. And water is what California needs. And the sooner we implement these solutions we will identify which ideas work best, are more efficient and affordable and lean heavier on those and quickly step away from the others.” Can you tell me what he is actually proposing? Sounds like doublespeak to me.

He wants to remove all masks. He wants industrial arts back in all schools.  His website isn’t all that deep, and doesn’t provide any justification that he is qualified to be chief executive of one of the top economies in the world. Next…

◯ Ronald A. Anderson (R)

Anderson’s qualifications are: “I’m a Republican and Businessman”. We all see how well that worked with Trump. He writes on his front page: “Gavin Newsom turned his back on us all. It has been said that all the Democrat Governors and Mayors throughout the country were told by the Obama administration to do nothing and let them Riot and destroy our towns by burning and looting.” Note the “them” in that sentence. That says a lot to me — let’s just call it a very “State of Jefferson” attitude.  He’s racist — this is from his issue’s page: “Every ship that comes from China and arrives in California will have to pay a Ca. Covid Tax,”. He has a section on rioting — with an image of angry black men. As for guns, he says “A must have item, No exceptions”

Nope. Next…

Gavin Newsom (D) Inc

I shouldn’t need to write much here. I like Gavin Newsom. I like what he has done as Governor. Has he had missteps? Sure. Has he created photo ops for the opposition? Yup. But overall, he’s taken the state in a direction that I like. Those in the State of Jefferson might not like it, but I like it. Right now, he has my vote. If I have to quibble with anything, it is the names of his children. Montana, Hunter, Brooklynn, and Dutch. Really. Dutch? 😁

◯ Robert C. Newman II (R)

Newman was a research clinical psychologist and later a farmer. He felt a calling to be Governor. His about page states: “What defines Robert as a person? First of all, Robert is a believer in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and believes in the Bible, and he reads the Word of God almost daily.” He also writes “Dr. Newman is Pro-God, Pro-life, traditional marriage” On free speech, he writes: “Let us now deal with the phenomenon of being “offended”. It is a travesty of maturity for chronology adults to get offended at the least little thing. My thought is “grow-up.”” I’ve found that the greatest offense is often taken by Republicans, who refuse to let others live by their beliefs. Next…

◯ Brian Dahle (R)

Dahle I’ll take a bit more seriously; after all, he represents the 1st Senate District. This is far north California, and it is State of Jefferson country. Reading through his issues page, his positions on climate change (“Climate is one factor, but even more important is our decision to ignore forest fuels while pretending that leaving forests unmanaged is good for the environment.”) make me think of Trump and his “sweep the forests”. He also writes “We need to repeal the gas tax and roll back excessive regulations that have increased the cost of every sector of living, from energy to housing.”. The fight against regulations is a key Republican position against the regulation state. The Gas Tax is another Republican hatred, but as someone who monitors what they are doing with that money, I know it is doing good and is not the reason behind high gas prices. Not my guy. Next…

◯ Joel Ventresca (D)

Ventresca is a Democrat running against Newsom; he ran to replace him in the recall. He’s a strong Berniecrat, and writes “Newsom represents a rigged economic & political system that makes the superrich richer while the rest of us are pushed down the economic ladder.” He writes that he is the “Most Qualified California Gubernatorial Democratic Candidate”, but his profile doesn’t back that up. I see no elected positions. I see no building of relationships up and down the political chain. I see no executive management experience. His platform is basic Berniecrat, with a few oddities: “Reopen Robert Kennedy murder investigation.” or “Launch advertising-free, public interest-oriented, high-value alternative media (television, radio & print) completely-funded by taxing corporate media & big tech 2.5% of gross sales in California annually.” He hasn’t convinced me he’s better than Newsom.

◯ Major Williams (R)

At the bottom of this fellow’s campaign page are a bunch of jingos with the American flag: Pro-God / Pro-Family / Pro-freedom / Pro-life / Pro-2nd amendment / Anti-mandatory vaccinations. In fact, those jingos are pretty much his platform. There’s no information on his background, no more details. Nothing that says he’s able to be a chief executive of a major economy. Next….

Ron Jones (R)

His campaign webpage comes up, and I go “Oh, God”. An old fashioned, basically pure text web page with a QR code for donations. You have this coded statement: “I support freedom: freedom of parents to raise their children, freedom to make our own medical decisions, and freedom to live our lives without government overreach.” There’s nothing on his page that would convince me.

◯ Anthony Trimino (R)

Trimino describes himself thusly “As CEO and founder of one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America…”  That company is an integrated marketing company. Not the experience one needs for governor.  What does he stand for? Freedom. Faith. Family. Medical Freedom. Reducing taxes. In other words, the basic Trumpublican mantra. Next…

◯ Daniel R. Mercuri (R)

Mercuri is a former congressional candidate of California’s 25th District, and ran in the recall attempt.  This statement is on his front page, and I find it troublesome: “I CAME TO OFFEND THE SILENT MAJORITY AND WILLFULLY COMPLICIT WITH THE TRUTH BECAUSE THE TRUTH OFFENDS. I CAN’T BE BOUGHT, I WON’T BE BOUGHT, AND I’LL NEVER BE A SELL-OUT. I’M HERE TO STARVE THE GOVERNMENT FEED THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE VIOLATED THEIR OATH WILL SEE THE INSIDE WALLS OF A PRISON CELL UNDER MY ADMINISTRATION.” Uh, no. I’m backing away, slowly…

◯ Cristian Raul Morales (R)

His linkedin page shows he’s been a director of operations and a consultant. No government experience. His campaign website makes him out to be more of Reagan republican focused on immigration than a Trumpublican. He writes “The California Republican Party would be wise to follow President Ronald Reagan’s lead as he indicated in his address to the nation on May 9th, 1984 saying “Central America is America.” This campaign is about addressing the past mistakes, repenting those mistakes with those in the community that were impacted, and confessing forgiveness.”  He has a detailed platform. Surprisingly, it is somewhat reasonable, modulo his vax mandate stance. He is truly a moderate, middle of the road Republican.

I don’t think he is ready to be Governor yet, but I would like to see more of this fellow. I encourage him to run for Assembly or State Senate to get some governmental experience and learn better how the sausage is made. His positions could resonate with moderate Democrats in California.

Michael Shellengerger (None)

Shellengerger is a Democrat turned independent who is a public policy leader and investigative reporter. The problem is that I read his issues page, and his solutions are unrealistic.  For example, he writes: “Abundant and cheap energy means we can have abundant and cheap water. As governor I’m going to end the unnecessary war between city-dwellers, farmers, and environmentalists. With abundant energy we can create abundant fresh water through water storage, water recycling, and water desalination. We can have green lawns, water for farmers, and water for fish. I have the vision for how to do this.” That will not solve the problem (read Cadillac Desert if you want to understand why). The issues are broader and much more complex. So I don’t think he’s convinced me.

◯ Frederic C. Schultz (None)

Schultz is a human rights attorney. Basic progressive polices. But he doesn’t build a convincing case against Newsom.

◯ Woodrow “Woody” Sanders III (None)

Sanders does have government experience: he has worked at the Franchise Tax Board, Department of Motor Vehicles, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Department of Consumer Affairs, and, most recently, the Department of Technology. What has he done? “Woodrow has nearly twenty years of experience in information technology, having served as a cyber security engineer, cyber security analyst, DevOps specialist, application developer, UNIX administrator, network administrator and software support specialist for several private and government organizations.” Now, I’ve been most (if not all) of those things, and I’m not qualified to be governor.  His positions are in areas different than most, such as “Allow Departmental Employees to Choose Their Department Head”. Next…

◯ Reinette Senum (None)

Senum is the former mayor of Nevada City. She says she’s independent, but she is on Rumble. She has a number of reasonable positions, but there are some that I disagree with (getting rid of the SB1 tax), and some coded language (references to bodily autonomy typically don’t mean a right to abortion, but being against vaccine and mask mandates).  She’s a potentially interesting candidate, but as with Morales, I think she should move to the Assembly or State Senate first. She hasn’t convinced me that we should toss out Newsom.

◯ Lonnie Sortor (R)

There’s an anger in Sortor’s rhetoric that bothers me: “I am running for Governor because I am fed up with the nonsense. Never before has California been so far off course that the people have no confidence in the leadership of this great state. Our voices have been muzzled by the drumbeats of a stand for nothing, fall for anything agenda.” I don’t think California is off course. He’s against masking, vaccines (“For two years, we were told to get a vaccine authorized under the “Emergency Use” designation to protect us from COVID”),  With respect to education, he’s also repeating typical R rhetoric “The introduction of “common core” and “CRT” teachings, has contributed to these failures.” Next…

Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato (D)

He says he’s a Democrat, but he writes “Instead of following fraudulent Black Lives Matter Organization that is Anti-American. They committed FRAUD and purchased a 6 Million Dollar Mansion with the Non-Profit Donations it received instead of supporting the Black Community.” Something isn’t right. Writing about Newsom, he says “He has turned our Golden State into a dangerous, crazy, MASS SHOOTING “WAR ZONE.” His goal is to close all prisons, eliminate police all together and make all crime legal with no punishment. We are all suffering and in danger under Newsom’s rendition of “The Purge” movie, playing out all over our great state causing death, injury & trauma. Newsom the “Putin of California” is only good at making the lives of the Working-Class extremely Difficult & Unsafe.” I think this guy is off the rails.

◯ James G. Hanick (None)

This guy is with something called the American Solidarity Party.  According to their page, “The American Solidarity Party is based in the tradition of Christian democracy. We acknowledge the state should be pluralistic while upholding a vision of the common good of all and of each individual informed by Christian tradition and acknowledging the primacy of religion in each person’s life.” Enforced primacy of religion? Nope. Next….

 Shawn Collins (R)

Collins is ex-Navy, and an attorney in Orange County. His positions echo the Trump line, such as “Ending the divisive curriculum taught under Critical Race Theory.” or “Restoring opt-in provisions for explicit material, allowing for age-appropriate instruction that provides basic physiological/biological/hygienic information.” (“explicit material” is the excuse often used to ban books such as Maus). Next…

◯ Heather Collins (Green)

Finally, a somewhat real candidate from a real party. I tend to like the Green Party positions, but she has some that are off (e.g., no vaccine mandates). However, this candidate just doesn’t have the experience to convince me to toss out Newsom.

◯ Anthony “Tony” Fanara (D)

Fanara is a restaurant owner. He has a simplistic agenda, and includes the notion of more aqueducts, without stating where they would get their water within increasing drought years. He hasn’t convinced me.

Serge Fiankan (None)

Fianken’s background is all over the place. Born to a Belgian mother and an Ivorian father, Serge grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In his early twenties, Serge moved to Europe before coming to the US. Has a degree in Broadcast Journalism, became disenchanged, then became an entrepreneur. In 2008, Serge became a real-estate broker, helping first-time homebuyers. More recently, he became the CEO of a consulting firm in Luanda, Angola, which aims at facilitating the development of local businesses focused on sustainability through local populations’ empowerment. But nothing there screams: “Hey, I can be a governor and run the 5th largest economy in the world”.  His platforms are reasonable, but I just don’t see the governor skillset.

◯ Luis Javier Rodriguez (Green)

From 2014-2016, Luis served as the official Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Luis is also a novelist/memoirist/short story writer/children’s book writer/essayist as well as a community & urban peace activist, mentor, healer, youth & arts advocate, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. That doesn’t qualify you to be governor.

Leo S. Zacky (R)

His page writes “Leo Zacky’s campaign is about fixing what has been destroyed by the liberal progressives.”. I’m one of those liberal progressives, and I don’t think liberal progressivism is the problem. He writes “I am strongly against mandatory vaccinations, lockdowns, and mask mandates. I support science and freedom of individual choice.” I don’t see how you can support science and be against vaccines. Nope.

📋 Conclusion

Just remember that I spent my Sunday doing this so that you don’t have to. None of the folks running against Newsom have convinced me that they are head and shoulders above him. Many would be markedly worse; others have good ideas but lack the experience to justify replacing him. My choice is still Gavin Newsom

Lieutenant Governor

Under California’s Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor serves as Acting Governor whenever the Governor is absent from the state, and automatically becomes Governor if a vacancy occurs in the Office of Governor. The Lieutenant Governor is also President of the Senate and votes in case of a tie.

The Lieutenant Governor serves as a voting member of the Board of Regents of the University of California, the Board of Trustees of the California State University system, and the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges system. The Lieutenant Governor also sits on the Calbright College Board of Trustees.

The Lieutenant Governor also serves on, and rotates with the State Controller, as chair of the three-member State Lands Commission, which oversees the control and leasing of millions of acres of state-owned land, including offshore oil resources, as well as use and permitting for all navigable waterways in California. The Commission also manages state land-use planning and revenues, and related interstate issues. During alternate years, when the Lieutenant Governor serves as Chairperson of the State Lands Commission, she also serves as a member of the California Ocean Protection Council and as a non-voting member of the California Coastal Commission.

◯ Jeffrey Highbear Morgan (D)

Not sure about this guy. He’s unclear on the limited role of the Lt. Gov. More problematic is his background: In 2018, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Christian Leadership from William Jessup University. I then went on to earn my Master of Arts in Executive Leadership from Liberty University in 2020. Today I am continuing my graduate studies and pursuing my PhD in Public Policy, also at Liberty University. Liberty University is a bit incompatible with claiming to be in the Democratic party. As for his experience, he writes “I am the Director of Cloud Professional Services for a leading Google partner. ” This isn’t the right guy.

◯ Clint W. Saunders (R)

Reading through his statements, I get a strong Trumpian sense to his positions: “Schools and colleges are teaching that people are divided by the color of our skin.” “I will stand and fight for a limited government and the accurate U.S. history taught in schools”. Reading his pros and his antis confirms that. Next…

🔘 William Cavett “Skee” Saacke (D)

His home page gives the right positions — I agree with all of them. He has the start of the right background: “practiced law for 25 years, and during that time I’ve completed bench and jury trials in State and Federal Court, represented clients in mediation and binding/non-binding arbitration and been a mediator, arbitrator, and Temporary Judge in Los Angeles County.” Given the duties of Lt. Gov., he might work. There isn’t enough to convince to replace the current one, but he’s a good backup.

◯ David Hillberg (None)

He doesn’t have a candidate web page. He states no political preference, but previously ran as a Republican. One gets the sense of his positions in this quote from when he ran to replace Newsom: “Sanctuary state and city policies that violate law will be removed and those who pushed for it in government arrested for aiding and abetting illegal aliens”. Next…

◯ Angela E. Underwood Jacobs (R)

Jacobs is the Deputy Mayor of Lancaster. She has the official GOP endorsement. She has a broad list of issues to tackle, none of which are really in the Lt. Gov wheelhouse.  She’s not overly Trumpian. If you were looking for a R candidate, she might be good. I’m not.

◯ David Fennell (R)

Fennell is Sr. Partner at Media Bay Ventures. His campaign front page is a load of videos. Looking at his issues, he talks about crony capitalism, the 2nd amendment, sanctuary cities. This is all Trumpian rhetoric, and not in the Lt. Governor’s wheelhouse. Next…

Eleni Kounalakis (D) Inc

Eleni is the current Lt. Governor. Can one say the Lt. Governor has done a good job? She hasn’t done a bad one, that’s for sure.  She had no issues on her campaign website (but again, Lt. Governor). She’s done a great job of leading delegations and issuing proclamations. My only complaint is that she didn’t run to replace Newsom during the recall. That would have ensured Democratic control.

◯ Mohammad Arif (P&F)

His positions are a bit more progressive than the normal progressive Democratic positions, but don’t have a lot of depth. Then again, this is the Lt. Governor. He doesn’t have a lot of background. But most importantly, he hasn’t convinced me to replace Eleni.

📋 Conclusion

Based on the candidates, I’m inclined to stay with Eleni Kounalakis (although she hasn’t done all that much — she needs to build up that resume). William Cavett “Skee” Saacke might be an interesting alternative for those that want change — he doesn’t have a deep background, but this is the Lt. Governor.

Secretary of State

The California Secretary of State is an elected state executive officer established by the California Constitution. He or she serves as the state’s chief election officer, keeps the state’s key documents including the constitution and Great Seal, and keeps the state archives. Additionally, the secretary of state registers businesses in the state, commissions notaries public, and manages state ballot initiatives. The secretary of state is elected to four-year terms, concurrent with the other constitutional officers of California, and is restricted to two terms.

Given the shenanigans from the Republican party with elections, this is a vital office for California. I do not want a Trumpian Republican in this office. The current Secretary of State did a great job with the 2020 elections. I’m not inclined to change what isn’t broken.

◯ Gary N. Blenner (Green)

His campaign page is a Facebook page, and donations are via a Go Fund Me. He supports proportional representation for the State Assembly, ranked choice voting, and corporate accountability. I’m not sure how proportional representation will work within the confines of the Federal and State constitution. Ranked choice voting is a great idea, but most folks don’t understand it.  I can’t take him seriously…

◯ Rob Bernosky (R)

Bernosky is the Chief Technology Officer of LinkedIn. Wow.  He seems to say the right words on his issues page (although his site isn’t using HTTPS — a technology guy should know that). But he states his party preference as Republican, which is a concern. So when he talks about “Cleaning California’s voter rolls;”, is he referring to the Republican purges? When he says “eliminating messes like Motor Voter;” is he talking about making it harder to register? When he talks about “Modernizing voting technology that is safe and secure to protect every ballot cast;” — I know the folks behind the new systems in Los Angeles, and it is safe and secure. I just don’t trust him.

Shirley N. Weber (D) Appointed Inc

Weber is the current appointed Secretary of State, part of the chain of changes resulting from Kamala Harris becoming VP (Alex Padilla was Secy of State, he became Senator when Harris became VP). She inherited a smooth working machine. She has a strong record of defending civil and voting rights. Her priority is making California the national leader in running inclusive, trustworthy, and transparent elections – expanding the franchise to more of our citizens, ensuring election security, and empowering voters to make informed decisions. That’s the right stuff.

◯ James “JW” Paine (R)

Paine is a Teamster Truck Driver. That doesn’t translate well to understanding election technology.  He’s supported by the Tea Party Caucus. Again, wrong. He talks about the homelessness problem and creating jobs. Not the function of the Secretary of State.  Other than that, not much on his site. So: Wrong skillset. Doesn’t understand the job. Next…

Rachel Hamm (R)

Rachel Hamm is a #1 best-selling author, speaker, and the host of The Rachel Hamm Show. Not sure how that tracks to running elections. She’s endorsed by Michael Flynn and Mike Lindell of MyPillow fame. Uh, no. She’s parroting the Trump line on elections: “Our voter rolls are full of people that are dead, have moved out of state, and who are not US citizens. The use of mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting created a scenario where it was easy to cheat. Cyber security experts showed me one piece of evidence after another that the 2020 election was riddled with failures.” What does she want? “Voter ID requirements. Paper Ballots. Eliminating mail in ballots while keeping traditional absentee ballots. Single day voting. Aggressive voter roll clean-up.” These are all things that serve to disenfranchise voters, make it harder for minorities to vote, and make it take longer to count results (oh, and we do have paper ballots). Trumpian Parrot. Next…

◯ Matthew D. Cinquanta (None)

He states no affiliation, but has events from Trump on his website. His bio has statements like “I Love My Country – I will not stand by as this takedown of America unfolds, and stopping the disintegration of Integrity within our elections will be my first stop along the way toward restoring our FREEDOM. ” Trumpian speak. His issues page is all about claims of election fraud in California, when there is no evidence. Next…

◯ Raul Rodriquez Jr. (R)

When I search him, an article comes from WaPo about how he is a Latino supporter of Trump. He has no campaign website. Next..

📋 Conclusion

After reading through these folks, I’m sticking with our current Secretary of State, Shirley N. Weber. Rob Bernosky was potentially interesting, but his party affiliation makes me not trust him, so Shirley N. Weber it is.

Controller

The State Controller is the Chief Fiscal Officer of California, the sixth largest economy in the world. She helps administer two of the largest public pension funds in the nation and serves on 78 state boards and commissions. These are charged with duties ranging from protecting our coastline to helping build hospitals. The Controller is the state’s independent fiscal watchdog, providing sound fiscal control over more than $100 billion in receipts and disbursements of public funds a year, offering fiscal guidance to local governments, and uncovering fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. The current controller, I believe, is termed out.

Is this a good position for a Republican? I’m unsure. I’d be worried about their sabotaging the works. That’s the level of distrust they have created these days. To the (R) candidate I say: Convince me.

Ron Galperin (D)

Galperin is the current Controller for the City of Los Angeles. Termed out, he is setting his eyes on Sacramento. He is endorsed by the outgoing controller and the controller before that, as well as unions and Democratic organizations. His is not endorsed by the LA Times, who said “Galperin has spent two terms as L.A.’s controller, and certainly knows the job. But he has not been as aggressive as he could have been.” I’m not sure that’s a damning condemnation.  His priorities seem to be in the right place. My major complaint is his background is as a lawyer, not an accountant.

Yvonne Yiu (D)

Yvonne Yiu is a small businesswoman and Monterey Park Mayor running for California State Controller. She has a BA degree in Economics from UCLA and her MBA in Finance from Loyola Marymount University.  She served as a financial advisor at Charles Schwab and Citibank, Branch Manager at E*Trade and as a Regional Manager at Merrill Lynch. This could be useful for dealing with pension funds.  She thinks investment firm audits for FINRA will translate into state organization audits. I’m not sure about that.  She also has some past controller endorsements, but no strong list on her website. The Times states nothing for or against her. I’m just not sure she makes a sufficient case with what she is presenting. I think there are stronger candidates.

◯ Laura Wells (Green)

She is part of a “Left Unity” slate with Peace and Freedom, whatever that means. Most of her “Meet Laura” statement is about how she found the Green party. For her background, she states “Laura was born and raised in Michigan. As a scholarship student, she earned her BA in foreign languages from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1969, and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society. Laura went on to earn a Masters of Education at Antioch University, and lived in Boston, Massachusetts for ten years working in finance, computer programming, and systems analysis.” That’s not the greatest background for a Controller. Her issues page reads like a general political office. I don’t think she understands the job of the Controller.

🔘 Lanhee Chen (R)

Chen’s about me page says he earned four degrees from Harvard University, including a law degree and doctorate in political science, and served in senior roles in both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations. Wow. But what does that have to do with financial issues? He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as a member of the independent and bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. OK, a little more financial, but…. His “Why I’m Running” statement shows the right passion, but I’m still not convinced. He’s endorsed by Republicans, and he has the LA Times endorsement. The Times explained the reason was “Because he is a sharp thinker with experience analyzing large financial systems, and because the controller should be as independent from the party in power as possible.” I get the independence. As for Chen being a Republican, the Times wrote: “Many Californians will balk at the idea of voting for a Republican. That’s understandable because the conspiracy-fueled wing of the GOP has grown too powerful under the influence of former President Trump and his litany of lies. But one way to restore some sanity to the GOP is to elevate Republicans, like Chen, who operate in the world of facts. Chen would not tell us whom he voted for in the 2020 presidential race, but he is unequivocal in stating that the election was legitimate, that Joe Biden won and that Trump has been untruthful in describing it otherwise.”

But after reading his campaign pages and the endorsement, my problem is not his being a Republican. It’s that he has no financial background. He’s a wonk, but a really smart policy wonk. There’s no evidence that he knows finances, that he knows audits, that he knows what the controller does. At least Galperin has been in the job for 8 years, being a controller.  Perhaps as a backup candidate.

◯ Malia M. Cohen (D)

Cohen was on the State Board of Equalization (which deals with taxes), and is now trying for Controller. She has some financial background: Prior to being elected to the Board of Equalization, Cohen served as President of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco, where she served as the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. In that role, she oversaw the adoption of an $11 billion budget, and measures concerning bond issues, taxes, fees, and redevelopment and real estate matters. She also served as a fiduciary member of the San Francisco Transportation Authority. She also served as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System (SFERS), which manages a $23 billion pension fund.  She has a lot of Democratic leader and union endorsements, which could be problematic if their oxen get gored. Her issues page talks about equity, but I’m not sure the issues she mentions are in the scope of a controller. The Times wrote of her “Cohen is a rising star in the California Democratic Party with strong ties to powerful politicians. Endorsed by the party, most statewide officials and dozens of lawmakers, she is positioned to work well with the Democrats who run the state. But California will benefit more from a controller who will stand up to them.” That’s a concern, but I also want a controller that understands the financial side.

◯ Steve Glazer (D)

Glazer is a State Senator from the 7th District. Steve attended San Diego State University and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in 1979. He served as California State University Trustee, Mayor of Orinda and state Senator. He has been on the Senate Budget Committee and the Legislative Audit Committee. His main page talks about his independence; so does the LA Times “Glazer is the Democrat most likely to demonstrate political independence. As a legislator, he’s bucked Democratic leadership by voting against a gas tax increase in 2017 and against a raise for prison guards in 2021. With a career in California politics that dates back to his work for Jerry Brown in the 1970s, Glazer knows the ins and outs of state government.” But does he know the finance? He has no endorsement page.

📋 Conclusion

As I did with the LA City Controller, my first priority is someone who understands the duties and functions of the Controller, and who understands the finances. The Controller is a specialized wonky position. For this, there are just a few possibilities: Ron Galperin, who has been City of LA Controller (although he is an attorney by training) and is endorsed by past controllers. Lanhee Chen, who is a super genius, endorsed by the Times, but only has a little financial background. Yvonne Yiu, who does have finance background but weaker endorsements and more investment than audit finance. I think I’m going to go with Ron Galperin because of his experience in Los Angeles.

Treasurer

The Treasurer provides financing for schools, roads, housing, levees, public health facilities, and other crucial infrastructure projects. The Treasurer managed in excess of $3.2 trillion of banking transactions in 2021. One of the primary duties of the Treasurer is to provide transparency and oversight for the state’s investment portfolio and bank accounts. Funds held in the treasury that are not needed immediately are invested in safe, liquid securities designed to use the state’s financial resources efficiently. As such, the Treasurer oversees an investment portfolio that has averaged more than $100 billion, about one-third of which are funds beneficially owned by more than 2,200 local governments in California. In addition to these banking and investment activities, the Treasurer serves as the agent for the sale of all state bonds and is the trustee on a majority of the state’s outstanding debt.

Fiona Ma (D) Inc

Ma is the current Treasurer of California, and is a CPA by training. She is endorsed out the wazoo. I have heard no complaints about how she runs her department. I see no reason to change.

🔘 Jack M. Guerrero (R)

Guerrero is a CPA and past Mayor of Cudahy. Reading his page, he certainly has the experience. There are no 2022 endorsements yet, but he had lots of Republican endorsements in 2018. If this were an open seat, I would consider him for the position: No Trumpian stuff, and loads of financial experience. But this isn’t an open seat, and he doesn’t identify a single problem in the current Treasurer’s operation. So why change?

Meghann Adams (P&F)

According to her announcement page, Adams is the president of SMART 1741, the San Francisco school bus drivers’ union Her campaign will focus on a wide range of issues directly affecting working class Californians including more money for education, increased funding for public transit, clean water access and more parks and much more. The problem? Issues is not the job of the Treasurer — it is to oversee financial operations. Further, being president of a bus drivers union is not the right experience to bring to the job. Next…

◯ Andrew Do (R)

Do is an Orange County Supervisor. He is a former deputy District Attorney, and was Chief Financial Officer of his business. CFO ≠ CPA.  His plans are a bit muddy: “As Andrew rolls out his proposals over the coming months, expect to see thoughtful policies designed to strengthen our investment in California’s economy and its people. From increased low-cost, tax-exempt investments in affordable housing to further economic transition toward renewable energy investments it’s clear Andrew Do will bring a thoughtful approach to the Treasurer’s office.” He does have some interesting investing priorities. He has no endorsements listed.

📋 Conclusion

For this position, I really like the incumbent, Fiona Ma. Jack M. Guerrero has a lot of experience and might do a good job — if this was an open seat. But it isn’t, and I haven’t seen a justification for replacing Fiona Ma.

Attorney General

The Attorney General is the state’s top lawyer and law enforcement official, protecting and serving the people and interests of California through a broad range of duties. The Attorney General’s responsibilities include safeguarding Californians from harm and promoting community safety, preserving California’s spectacular natural resources, enforcing civil rights laws, and helping victims of identity theft, mortgage-related fraud, illegal business practices, and other consumer crimes. The AG also defends California’s laws when they are challenged in court.

The current AG, Rob Bonta, was appointed when Xavier Becerra departed to become U.S. Health and Human Services secretary in the Biden administration. This is a position where I do not want a Republican, for I wouldn’t trust a Republican AG to defend laws that are Democratic priorities.

◯ Eric Early (R)

Early is Managing Partner at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae LLP. He doesn’t appear to have previous experience in government. Not a DA. Not a Public Defender. Not a City Attorney. He was, however, a talk show host on AM 870. He has mostly Republican endorsements. His priorities are Trumpian (the all caps are his): SECURING OUR ELECTION. PROTECTING THE SECOND AMENDMENT. CRITICAL RACE THEORY IN OUR SCHOOLS. INVESTIGATING THOSE WHO HAVE KEPT OUR KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL. PROTECTING GIRLS SPORTS. In short, he would push Trump’s agenda, not the laws passed by the state. Next…

◯ Anne Marie Schubert (None)

Schubert is the Sacramento County DA, and is a career prosecutor with 31 years of law enforcement experience.  She is famous for her successful prosecutions in cases such as the Golden State Killer, the Second Story Rapist, Californian unemployment fraud (EDD), and other well-known criminal cases. She has a lot of Law Enforcement backing. Does she have too much to hold law enforcement accountable? Her priorities seem reasonable. As she is not indicating a preference, there is no indication of a preference in her endorsements or positions. The Times, in endorsing her opponent, wrote: “Anne Marie Schubert is a Republican-turned-independent who has positioned herself as a vigorous opponent of most of California’s landmark criminal justice reforms. Her statements blaming those reforms for increases in crime that began during the pandemic — for example, her false statements that Proposition 47 is responsible for so-called smash-and-grab armed robberies — mislead and frighten Californians who instead deserve an attorney general who provides fact-based guidance. Schubert’s election would strike a blow on behalf of a rollback movement long supported by many law enforcement organizations but so far has been wisely rejected by California voters. Judging from her rhetoric, it seems as if she believes she’s running against her counterparts, L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón and San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin.” I don’t think she’s the right person.

◯ Nathan Hochman (R)

Nathan J. Hochman is an American attorney who served as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice in 2008. He also worked in the Criminal Division as an Assistant US Attorney, prosecuting over a hundred cases, from going after corrupt government officials and tax evaders to narcotics traffickers and violent gang members. Nathan also ran the Environmental Crimes Section targeting air, water, and land polluters. OK, he has suitable experience. He is endorsed by a large number of Republican organizations and law enforcement agencies. But with any Republican, the concern is his position on the issues. Would he support the laws the state passed even if he disagrees with them? On that, his issue page is silent.  Is he worth the risk?

Dan Kapelovitz (Green)

Kapelovitz is a criminal defense and animal rights attorney.  He teaches Criminal Procedure and Evidence at the People’s College of Law. Before becoming a lawyer, Dan had a successful career in journalism. He was the Features Editor of Hustler Magazine, and wrote more than 100 articles for numerous publications, including the LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Bizarre Magazine, Men’s Edge, and more. At Hustler Magazine, Dan won the Project Censored Award for his reporting on depleted uranium, and was the editorial point man for Larry Flynt’s First Amendment lawsuit against the Pentagon. His platform, however, is unchanged from when he ran for Governor during the recall. I don’t think so.

Rob Bonta (D) Appointed Inc

Bonta is the current AG, appointed from the Assembly when Becerra went to the BIden Administration. Before that, he was a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, where he represented the City and County and its employees, and fought to protect Californians from exploitation and racial profiling. He has a slew of endorsements, including the major papers. The LA Times wrote: “Bonta is the right choice. He should be elected to a full term as attorney general. He has shown a commitment and an ability to effectively enforce laws that Californians have adopted, either directly by ballot or through their elected representatives. By contrast, the three leading challengers want to undermine or overturn many of those same laws — a dangerous stance for candidates seeking to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer. Bonta’s brief tenure has been solid so far. In the midst of California’s housing affordability and availability crisis, he has stood firm against cities resisting laws requiring them to make space for more residents. For example, he called out Pasadena for its ploy to restrict multifamily housing in broad swaths of the city, and similarly warned Woodside to drop its plan to designate the entire city as a supposed mountain lion sanctuary.” Given the opposing candidates, I agree.

📋 Conclusion

We need someone that will work to uphold California’s laws, and there’s only one choice who will do that: Rob Bonta

Insurance Commissioner

The California Insurance Commissioner (1) oversees and directs all functions of the Department of Insurance; (2) licenses, regulates, and examines insurance companies; (3) answers public questions and complaints regarding the insurance industry; (4) enforces the laws of the California Insurance Code and adopts regulations to implement the laws; (5) and enforces the department mission to ensure vibrant markets where insurers keep their promises and the health and economic security of individuals, families, and businesses are protected. The position is especially important right now, with the ACA and Health Insurance marketplace issues.

But note that the focus of the job is insurance. This is not a job that deals with things like homelessness or public safety. This is also one of those positions that does require a legal background, as well as the ability to deal with numbers (although a CPA is not required). Lastly, the position requires someone who is not to close to the Insurance industry.

◯ Veronika Fimbres (Green)

Fimbres is the founder and CEO of Black Trans Lives Matter. Her background is in transgender studies.  She has a number of Green party endorsements. Her goals are to generally enforce the department’s mission, and to “work with the state leaders to help ensure we get UNIVERSAL single payer comprehensive HEALTH care for ALL Californian”. Laudable, but I’m not sure that’s within the position’s responsibilities. In any case, I don’t see a lot of relevant experience being brought by her to the position.

Ricardo Lara (D) Inc

Lara is the current Insurance Commissioner. Commissioner Lara previously served in the California Legislature, representing Assembly District 50 from 2010 to 2012 and Senate District 33 from 2012 to 2018. Commissioner Lara earned a BA in Journalism and Spanish with a minor in Chicano Studies from San Diego State University. That’s also not a strong background for this position. He has the endorsement of a bunch of Democratic leaders, unions, and affinity organizations. Notably, he does not have the endorsement of the LA Times, who writes: “Ricardo Lara’s first year as California insurance commissioner — the elected office charged with regulating the state’s $310-billion insurance industry — was an ethical disaster. In March 2019, Lara, a Democrat, held a lunch meeting with insurance company executives who had business pending before his department, for the purpose, records showed, of building a relationship that would benefit his reelection campaign. In April, he accepted more than $50,000 in campaign donations from insurance industry representatives and their spouses, including from people with ties to the company at the lunch meeting the month before. In June, Lara overruled decisions his department had previously made in ways that benefited the company.” Technically not illegal, but visually stupid. But that was only one of many such problems; the Times piece details them all. His priorities seem reasonable. Still, given a weak background and ethical issues, I wonder if there is someone better…

Marc Levine (D)

Levine is the current assemblyman from the 10th District. He serves Marin and Sonoma counties, which have had a lot of wildfires. He is currently Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Food Systems and serves on the Agriculture, Appropriations, Higher Education, Revenue & Taxation, Rules and Water, Parks & Wildlife committees. Levine earned a BA in Political Science at California State University, Northridge and a Master’s Degree in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School.  That’s a bit closer to relevant training. He has authored legislation on insurance reform.  He is endorsed by the leading newspapers, Democratic clubs, and a goodly number of Democratic leaders. The LA Times writes: “Lara is a California Democratic Party insider who rose through the ranks with strong ties to labor unions and other powerful interest groups. Levine has an independent streak, as shown by his move to challenge an incumbent Democrat in this race — and in 2012 when he bested another Democratic incumbent to win a seat in the Assembly. During his decade in the Legislature, Levine has built a reputation as a somewhat-prickly but conscientious lawmaker who has proposed bills to tax guns to fund violence prevention programs, make environmental reviews available online and require government agencies to retain email and other public records for at least two years. He operates outside of the Capitol’s social-climber atmosphere, and is known more for focusing on constituents than for partying with lobbyists in Sacramento.” They also note how Levine has been focused on insurance of late given the wildfires in his district. The Times notes: “As a result, he wrote bills meant to prevent homeowners from becoming under-insured by requiring insurance companies to send updates on their property values and to give businesses and homeowners more leeway to rebuild in a different location following a fire.” His vision is strong and appears to hit the right points: accountability, helping victims, working on affordability and rates, and more. As someone who has recently been dealing with insurance company and doctor’s games (“surprise billing”), this is particularly imporant. He also pledges to “Ensure the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is protected and continues to be implemented as promised.” That’s important, considering the continuing Trumpublican attacks on the ACA.

◯ Vinson Eugene Allen (D)

Dr. Allen went to Delta State University, where he received two college degrees, a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry, and a Bachelors in Education. He then spent one year teaching Biology and Chemistry and coaching football at Clarksdale High School. Dr. Allen completed the Advanced Respiratory Therapy Program at the University of South Alabama prior to entering medical school. He went to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, then trained in Emergency Medicine at Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles where he learned the skills of emergency and major trauma care. After residency, he worked throughout many of California’s busy emergency rooms and then began his vision of opening Dusk to Dawn Urgent Care.  Dr. Allen is very well known in southern California for the annual Thanks Giving Turkey giveaway and Toy drives during holiday season for families in need. He is currently CEO of a service organization in LA.  So we’ve established this is someone who likes to give. But is it qualification to be insurance commissioner? One thing I do find interesting is that the campaign biography neglects to mention that the medical degree is in Osteopathic Medicine.

Allen has a small number of endorsements, mostly focused on the medical side. The biggest problem I have with Allen is his vision, or lack thereof. The site goes on and on about him, but with respect to what he wants to do as commissioner, we get “As a doctor and small business owner, Dr. Allen has experienced the failures of California’s insurance system, personally. Once elected, Dr. Allen will convene major insurance groups, consumer groups, and other stakeholders to address the full scope of our insurance industry. It’s time we have someone in office that isn’t thinking about the next higher office.”. I think that’s insufficient, and it fails to reflect the breadth of the insurance industry. His expertise would be in medical insurance. How does that relate to auto, home, casualty, fire, flood, earthquake insurance? How does that relate to privacy concerns. He’s ill prepared for that.

◯ Jasper “Jay” Jackson (D)

I cannot find a current campaign website for Jackson; all I can find is one from when he ran for Compton City Treasurer in 2013, where he ended up suing to contest the election results. That site notes Jasper earned an AA degree in Paralegal and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.  I don’t think that’s a suitable background Given the lack of experience, and a lack of drive and vision, he’s not the guy…

◯ Robert J. Molnar (None)

Molnar is a Healthcare Advocate and Senior Policy Advisor for the Healthcare Consumer Rights Foundation. Before that, he was Senior Strategist and Campaign Manager for Steve Poizner For Insurance Commissioner 2018, and was Chief Operating Officer for Arctica Health, Inc. Translation: He has big ties to the healthcare industry. He was also Senior Strategist for Kasich for President. Kasich was a Republican candidate, so that party preference of “None” is suspect. He has a BA, Political Science, International Relations, Security Studies, Minor in Business Management from San Jose State University. His issues page indicates he is not accepting insurance industry contributions, and seems to address some of the right issues. He doesn’t list any endorsements. He has a large somewhat silly graphic on his front page saying why you should vote for him. He has a lot of anti-Lara cartoons on his page. Reading through this, it is clear he doesn’t like Lara, but I’m not sure he has the breadth of background to be a good commissioner. He would be better than Lara, but he’s not the best candidate I’ve seen.

◯ Nathalie Hrizi (P&F)

The first words on Hrizi’s campaign page are “Vote Socialist”. Ummm, no. Hrizi is a librarian with the SF Unified School District, with an MSIS degree from San Jose State. She states “I am running for Health Insurance Commissioner because working people in California deserve free high quality healthcare. I call for abolishing the insurance companies and replacing them with a single-payer system”. Note to Hrizi: The Insurance Commissioner deals with more than health insurance, and insurance companies do more than health insurance. Insurance is a valid way of transferring risk.  She doesn’t bring the experience, and she brings the wrong vision. Next….

◯ Robert Howell (R)

Robert Howell owns and operates an electronics firm in the Silicon Valley. He has a degree in Engineering from San Jose State. He’s running as a Reagan Republican. His focus seems to be on wildfire victims. But more troubling is this element of his vision: “Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the Golden State due to the high cost of living and a broken, unresponsive state bureaucracy.” How he connects that to the responsibilities of Insurance Commissioner is unclear? Does he believe it is the cost of insurance that drives people away?  But other than that, he has no broader vision, and no endorsements. He also doesn’t have the experience needed. Next…

◯ Greg Conlon (R)

I recognized Conlon’s name, so did a little digging. Conlon ran in 2012 for Senator, and in 2014 for Treasurer. Back then I wrote “Greg Conlon, the Republican, is a CPA and served on the California Transportation Commission and PUC. He wants to improve the state’s credit rating and address unfunded pension liabilities.” Note that he didn’t have public service background related to insurance.  His bio is disingenuous. He states “Greg Conlon has devoted his career — as a CPA and senior partner in a Big Five accounting firm for nearly three decades.” Problem? I found his linkedin page. He hasn’t worked for Arthur Anderson since 1991 — that’s hardly “devoting a career” (although he was there for 32 years).  Since then, he’s been a high powered lawyer in Washington DC — essentially since 2001. He doesn’t state who is clients were. His PUC experience was back in the 1990s. He has a JD from the University of San Francisco and a BS in Business from the University of Utah. His focus appears to be fire, homeowners, and liability insurance. There is no mention of healthcare on his site. He does not list any endorsements. The Times seems to lump him in the group of lesser-knowns that have never held public office. As for me, I see some suitable training, but a bad focus. More troubling is the fact that he isn’t forthcoming about potential conflicts of interest. In his 20 years as a lawyer since leaving Arthur Anderson, who have his clients been? Not taking the … risk ….

📋 Conclusion

Ricardo Lara is clearly an ethical mess. Out of the rest, the best choice is Marc Levine.

State Board of Equalization, 3rd District

The State Board of Equalization (BOE) was created in 1879 by constitutional amendment and charged with the responsibility for ensuring that county property tax assessment practices were equal and uniform throughout the state. Through the years, legislative changes expanded the BOE’s role to administer additional taxes and fees. Effective July 1, 2017, the BOE returned to its Constitutional responsibilities. The BOE is responsible for property tax programs, alcoholic beverage tax, tax on insurers, and private railroad car tax. The BOE is also constitutionally responsible for the Alcoholic Beverage Tax and Tax on Insurers. By way of agreement, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), performs billing and audit services for those programs.

◯ John Mendoza (D)

Mendoza does not appear to have a campaign website. Ballotpedia notes that Mendoza was also a candidate for an at-large seat on the Pomona Unified School District Board of Trustees that was up for general election on November 5, 2013. Voter’s Edge notes that he’s a former member of the Water Board (2008-2020), and that his priorities are (1) Transparency in decision making process and streamline outreach of all tax funds available at state and federal level. (2) Oversight of taxes imposed by local government-legislators-water districts-schools-special districts to insure proper use and positive results. (3) Establish a expert team to insure all tax exemptions are immediately processed and establish a task force to report on all homeowner who have become homeless because of excess property taxes imposed. Given that the BOE deals with taxes on utilities, his priorities seem to be based on his experience. He has some good priorities, but the lack of a website (easy to set up these days) indicates lack of drive for the job.

Tony Vazquez (D) Inc

Vazquez is a current member of the Board of Equalization. He was elected to the Board in November 2018. His district includes most of Los Angeles County, all of Ventura County, and a portion of San Bernardino County. He’s a former mayor of Santa Monica. He has a large number of endorsements. His “why I’m running” doesn’t say much. But so far, I’m not seeing a strong argument as to why he should be replaced, and as the current Chair of the BOE, he has the historical background that is important.

◯ Y. Marie Manvel (None)

Manvel does not have a campaign website (well, she lists one on Voters Edge, but it doesn’t resolve). Voters Edge notes that  she is a social services commissioner, and that her priorities are: (1) Review unfair taxation; (2) California to be more business friendly; (3) Reduce redundant taxes. Not all of these are BOE responsibilities.  She has an MBA from USC (Finance, Entrepreneurship), and a BS in BIological Studies from UCSB. Linkedin provides no additional data. Again: No campaign website indicates little drive for the position; and her priorities are both wrong and far too high level.

📋 Conclusion

Only one candidate had the drive to even build a website: Tony Vazquez. None of the others gave any reason to replace him. So Tony Vazquez it is.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

The superintendent oversees the California Department of Education (CDE) and, by extension, all of the state of California’s public schools. He or she executes the policies of the California Board of Education, which is the school system’s primary governing body. The superintendent also manages the operational side of the school system; he or she licenses teachers, maintains school property, and fulfills other administrative duties. The CDE and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction are also responsible for enforcing education law and regulations; and for continuing to reform and improve public elementary school programs, secondary school programs, adult education, some preschool programs, and child care programs.

🔘 Marco Amaral

Amaral claims to be an independent. He is a Special Education Teacher, a School Board Trustee for South Bay Union School District, and a member of various community organizations and collectives. He has a very progressive platform. He is for things like free public universities, respecting education workers, curbing military recruitment, respecting gender ethnic and womans studies. He also thinks there should be no school polices. That’s a problem for me, especially in this era of school shootings. We can’t get rid of safety officers until schools are safe, and the one thing missing from his vision is school safety. He has a small number of endorsements, including Green party endorsements. He’s not the wrong candidate, but I’m not sure he’s the best candidate.

◯ George Yang

Yang’s campaign page makes clear that although the office is non-partisan, he’s a Republican. His proposal page talks about various afterschool activities including a choir at a local church, and a Latin class at a Catholic school. Seems a bit to heavily Christian for me.  It is on his issues page that his agenda becomes clear: Fighting vaccine mandates. Fighting CRT (code word for anything that teaches an accurate view of racial history, not a whitewashed one). Fighting transgender acceptance. Pushing school choice (which allows white students to avoid integration). For a non-partisan office, this fellow’s agenda is too Trumpian. His endorsement page is light, but his front page notes he has the endorsement of Republican Central Committees and the California Republican Assembly. Next…

Tony K. Thurmond Inc

Thurmond is the current Supt. of Public Instruction. Per his bio, “Superintendent Thurmond is an educator, social worker, and public school parent, who has served the people of California for more than ten years in elected office. Previously, he served on the Richmond City Council, West Contra Costa Unified School Board, and in the California State Assembly representing District 15.” He appears to have good plans. He has a large number of endorsements, including the teachers. I don’t recall hearing any scandals or problems from his administration (except from the R side, which doesn’t like progressive education in general). So far, my fav.

◯ Lance Ray Christensen

Christensen is a California Education Policy Specialist and Vice President, Education Policy & Government Affairs at the California Policy Center. His issues platform seems to be focused on more parent input (which is often R code words for targeting books and ideas they don’t like). The agenda becomes clear when you see his endorsements: California GOP, California Congress of Republicans, Lincoln Club, various Republican parties, various Republican legislators. This guy is not non-partisan, but has a R agenda. Next…

◯ Joseph Guy Campbell

Campbell is a Montessori Educator. Reading his vision statement, he seems to be pushing the notion that public schools should adopt Montessori techniques. His issues page confirms this: more public Montessori. He also wants schools to pay reparations. But he doesn’t have a lot of specifics, and he has no endorsements.

◯ Jim Gibson

This IS NOT the Jim Gibson that is Superintendent at Castaic Union SD. This guy is a cybersecurity professional. He was a Trustee, Vista School Board 1998-2018 and CEO, Nova Voice and Data Systems, Inc. (1990–current). He seems to have a R agenda. His about page notes “Public education must focus on the basics. Teaching math, science, history, and other basic subjects while not focusing on political nonsense or cultural opinions. In other words no Critical Race Theory. No sex education for K through 3rd grade.” This is reflecting the Trumpian rhetoric that is popular.  I disagree with that rhetoric. Next…

◯ Ainye E. Long

Long is a Mathematics Teacher at San Francisco Unified School District. She has been a regional superintendent at a charter school, and has taught at charter schools.  The problem is that her agenda is skimpy, at least on her campaign site: “1. Prioritize the Schoolhouse; 2. Measureable Impact; 3. Informed & Invested Public”.  No endorsements. At least this isn’t the R agenda in hiding, but it also isn’t enough to propel her to office.

📋 Conclusion

The field for this office makes the selection for me easy. The bulk of the opposition are Republicans pushing the Trump agenda in non-partisan clothing. Nope. The others just aren’t bringing the justification as to why the incumbent is doing a bad job. So that just leaves the incumbent: Tony K. Thurmond

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