Election Analysis: Assembly District 45 Special General Election

userpic=voteAs promised, here’s my analysis of the upcoming election. You’re probably saying, “What election?”. In my state assembly district, we’re having a special election because our former state senator, after winning his state office in 2012, opted to run for Los Angeles City Council to start over again. He won… leaving a vacant seat in AD45. Back in September, we had a special primary election.  Neither of the top two candidates got over 50%, meaning we won a special general election. As for all elections, I’m doing a fresh analysis and posting my thoughts.

What’s interesting about this special general election is the dearth of advertising and calls. For the primary, we were deluged with mailers from most of the 7 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and one unaffiliated person. We were getting loads of phone calls and door to door visits. For the general election, there has been nary a mailer or call. The sole publicity has been some advertising signs for the Republican candidate along some of the streets. Could they believe the election is a forgone conclusion given the political makeup of California and this district?

In any case, we’re down to two candidates:

  • Susan Shelly, Author/Publisher (R). Her splash page on her website emphasizes the Daily News endorsement, that she supports Prop 13, and her Republican nature. Her emphasis is cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes. This is a bad refrain, and Prop 13 has been one of the worst things for our state because (a) of how it led to corporations not paying their fair share through loopholes, and (b) how overtime it has created significant inequalities in the property tax rolls.  Her bio shows her as a valley girls — El Camino Real HS and CSUN, and the author of some political books such as “The 37th Amendment” and “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing”. She ran for Congress in 2012 and lost. She’s endorsed by a number of Republican Groups and the Howard Jarvis association. Her issues? Prevent tax increases, cancel the bullet train, reduce efforts for renewable energy, protect students, not listening to unions, and reducing the number of smog checks.
  • Matt Dababneh, Congressman’s Chief Deputy (D). His page also claims he has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party (which contradicts Damian Carroll). The answer is that the endorsements are split: the state organization backs Dababneh, the SFV organization backs Carroll. Born in the Valley; UCLA grad (Poli Sci/History). District chief to Brad Sherman. Issues: the same as everyone else: economy, jobs, health care, accessibility, education. Endorsements are Daily News (presumably on the D side), California Democratic Party, Brad Sherman, Mike Dukakis, Grey Davis, Dianne Watson (who also endorsed Badger?), Ed Begley Jr., and a number of other politicians and organizations.

The descriptions above were from the post on the primary. What’s interesting is that both of the candidates are still claiming the endorsement of the Daily News.

Last time, I supported Audra Hoffman, one of the Democratic candidates. She lost. So I’ve revisiting each candidate’s web site to see if there’s something that is either convincing me to vote for them, or (correspondingly) to not vote for them.

I started with Susan Shelley. Right on the top she states “Protect Prop 13”. That’s actually a negative in my book. Prop 13 was good in its day, and it is still benefitting some really older homeowners and those who have passed on their homes to family. Who it benefits most, however, is business that takes advantage of loopholes to avoid paying property tax. It also hurts those of us who have entered the housing market since it passed, as we’re paying current market rates for our assessed values while many others pay artificially depressed rates. It also continues to hurt the schools and the infrastructure, which no longer has the funding it used to. I’d support modifications to Prop 13 to fix the business loopholes, and to periodically adjust the base value for everyone, with a maximum increase per adjustment. Shelley would opposed that.

Looking at some of her other issues: She wants to cancel the bullet train. I can see the issue with the cost, but I can also see the need for some visionary infrastructure thinking such as California had in the 1950s and 1960s. Under her discussion of protecting students, she doesn’t talk about what she would do to protect them, but goes off on the teacher’s union. There’s no mention of what she would do to address gun violence in the classroom — or more importantly, bullying in the classroom and on the Internet, which is what is the proximate cause of the gun violence. She talks about good sense in Government, which is a great idea in concept… but she gives no specifics. She also talks about smog checks every three years… which is a good idea, but is also a minor issue.

Reading through this, she seems to be narrowly focused in her statements on her opposition to changes in Prop 13, and reading through the lines, the main reason to elect her is to eliminate the supermajority of the Democrats in Sacramento.

So what about Matt D, who makes me think of the line in Fiorello of “Nobody wants a candidate whose name they can’t spell”.  My main objection to Matt at the time was that he seemed to be poised to use the Assembly as a stepping stone for Congress… meaning a lack of local attention. I still have that fear, but I don’t see any more of a local attention from Shelley, meaning my concern is addressed by neither side.

What about Matt’s position on the issues? Upfront, he doesn’t talk about what he opposes (“changes to Prop 13”); rather, he emphasizes what he wants to do: “I am committed to setting California on a responsible and sustainable fiscal path. I will work to grow our state’s economy and create new good paying middle class jobs by creating a competitive business environment in California.”. This is good — positive thinking, instead of an objectionist and obstructory attitude. He wants to promote economic growth by reducing the cost of doing business in California, spur infrastructure investment (which is sorely needed), promote the entertainment industry, and protecting the vulnerable. He’s also opposed to changes in Prop 13 ( 🙁 ), but at least doesn’t make it the center of his position. He wants to continue to protect the environment and ensure health care is provided. He also wants to keep higher education in California affordable.

I tend to agree with Matt’s positions. More importantly, I know what they are and can see that they address multiple areas, provide specifics, and cover a broad range. Shelley’s issues seem to be more in what she opposes; there’s very little said on her website about what she wants to do (except in a few minor areas).

So, my conclusion (probably not surprisingly) is in favor of Matt Dababneh.

I’d welcome your thoughts on the various candidates, if you live in the area.