Along with every election season comes its fair share of controversy. This is the time where everyone seems to be seeing only in colors of red and blue, and one’s political colleague becomes his or her foe. This election is no different.
Partisan infighting seemed to be the name of the game this time around. Republicans Geoff Dean and Dennis Carpenter divided their department in the race for sheriff. In the primary race for 35th Assembly district, the battle ensued between Democrats Das Williams and Susan Jordan over offshore oil drilling. In the race for the nonpartisan Ventura County district 2 Supervisor seat, the Ventura County Republican Party did a smear campaign on moderate Republican incumbent Linda Parks.

The propositions on the state ballot also had some major issues. Whether corporate sponsored or well intentioned to create  balance in our electoral system, the proof is in the fine print. We encourage readers to look past the propaganda and see what is really in store.

Doing these endorsements, for the most part, was no easy task. We know there are some good people running in various races. We also know that the some propositions, pass or fail, may backfire when it comes to progressive change. Overall, the decisions made to endorse or not to, came with much thought and debate, with the hopes that our endorsements would lead to the sort of leadership we need in our community and the kind of change we need in our state. Don’t forget to vote June 8.

 

Proposition 13: Limits on property tax assessment

In 1978, 65 percent of registered voters in California passed the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, which lowered property taxes by rolling back property values to their 1975 value and limited annual increases in assessed value of real property to an inflation factor, not to exceed 2 percent per year. It also prohibited reassessment of a new base-year value except upon change in ownership or completion of new construction. However, the proposition did not stipulate that government-mandated improvements, which automatically increased property values, would not equal higher taxes.

Proposition 13 is on the ballot again to set the record straight. While Prop. 13 is still in full effect, this additional language closes the loophole to prevent policymakers and tax collectors from gouging property owners with higher reassessed values because of such improvements, specifically seismic retrofitting. This one’s easy. It’s just semantics.

Vote yes on Proposition 13.

Proposition 14: Increases right to participate in primary elections

On paper, Proposition 14 looks good — and we don’t just mean in the simplified, more streamlined way candidates running for public office would appear on voter ballots. Developing a primary system that cuts to the chase and allows residents of any party affiliation to vote for whomever they want, gives people more choice in who they nominate.

The system proposed by Prop. 14 calls for the top two vote getters in a primary election to be placed on general ballots, regardless of their party affiliation.

But there are too many side effects to Prop. 14 for us to endorse it, not the least of which is an exclusion of political parties from the electoral process.

We’re all for nonpartisan campaigns, but in a primary election, Democrats need to stand behind Democrats, Republicans behind Republicans, and so forth, to guarantee that the chosen candidate for a particular party gets a spot on a general election ballot. Sometimes, tradition is good, and we mean in the tried-and-true sense.

With Prop. 14, the top two vote getters nominated in a primary could be from the same party, excluding other party nominees and their viewpoints. Come November, Democrats, Independents and so forth may not show up to the polls because nobody from their party made the final cut.

During primary election season, Democrats and Republicans need to stand firm on important issues relevant to their parties’ philosophies. But with Prop. 14, party lines will become blurred on the campaign trail. Politicians will begin assuming moderate voices and flip-flop tactics to appease all sides.

Other parties that hardly ever gain traction on general ballots, such as the Independent and Green parties, could be left out altogether if they can’t make it through primaries.

At best, the “open primary” system becomes a convoluted mess of candidates who differ in no way. At worst, we’ll see the dissolution of political parties. While the state, or the country, for that matter, may be a better place without partisan lines, people are creatures of habit, and we don’t believe the majority of the voting public is ready to set aside its political parties.

It’s no surprise why Democratic and Republican central committees, on this rare occasion, are both against Prop. 14, which is a bad idea all around for politicians, political parties and voters with a voice.

Vote no on Prop. 14.

 

Proposition 15: California Fair Elections Act

One of the good things about pilot programs is that they’re experimental; they can be canceled if they’re not working out. It’s even better when the program puts to the test public financing for political campaigns obviously meant to be public.

That’s why Proposition 15 works: it would temporarily raise lobbyist fees (from $12.50 to $350) during the next two races for secretary of state. Judging by the overall success of the program, and how much money is raised, those funds could eventually be used to finance campaigns for offices statewide.

Politics is already marred by private special interest money, and Prop. 15 targets lobbyists that control that money.

Testing the waters of public financing gives more people with no corporate financing the chance to run for public office with public funds to stand on. It’s not called the Fair Elections Act for nothing.

Vote yes on Prop. 15.

Proposition 16: “The PG&E initiative”

Even though Pacific Gas and Electric doesn’t serve Ventura County, we still encourage our readers to vote down Proposition 16, a manipulative ballot measure that could ultimately, over time, allow PG&E to set up shop statewide and monopolize the energy market.

Supporters of Prop. 16 would like us to believe the “Taxpayers Right to Vote” means just that — that the passage of Prop. 16 empowers residents to vote for the formation of their own community choice aggregators (CCA, or independent electrical service providers). Sounds like an easy, neat idea until considering that the two-thirds vote needed to start a CCA is downright impossible to obtain electorally.

Of course, PG&E has spent $43 million to ensure burial of this piece of information in the spin of its campaign, because it believes Ventura County voters are gullible enough to pass Prop. 16 with a simple majority without reading the fine print.

The “Taxpayers’ Right to be Conned and Manipulated” is a better title for Prop. 16 because it tries to fool ecologically aware residents, who care about SOAR initiatives, greenbelts, open space, less oil drilling and more energy efficiency, into handing over power to a major conglomerate. And that’s where Prop. 16 works at its basest level — by trying to convince voters that it’s a ballot measure with the best environmental interests in mind.

Vote no on Prop. 16.

 

Proposition 17: Reward/penalty for history of continuous insurance coverage

Proposition 17 is like the sibling of Proposition 16 because it tries to confuse voters — in this case, motorists — into thinking that the millions of dollars spent by the measure’s main bigwig corporate sponsor is all in the spirit of saving consumers some of their own hard-earned money.

Prop. 17 seems attractive on the surface, tempting motorists with the idea that they can switch to another auto insurance carrier and still maintain their “persistency discount” for being a longtime client.

The main benefit, they say? With Prop. 17, people can seek out cheaper insurance rates elsewhere and still have their persistency discount. But enormous surcharges — up to $1,000 per motorist — that companies like Mercury Insurance, its primary sponsor, and others would be allowed to hand down to their customers through Prop. 17, cancel out its perceived benefits.

Those opposed to Prop. 17, including groups like Consumer Watchdog, project that the surcharges will leave more motorists, especially low-income residents, driving on the road uninsured. No $250 courtesy discount can compensate for that. The measure is a metaphorical lemon with a flat tire on ballots next week.

Vote no on Prop. 17.

 

24th Congressional District

Unseating Elton Gallegly from Congress is a difficult task. Redrawing of District 24’s lines hasn’t done it. Nor has Gallegly’s on-again/off-again retirement. Neither have Democrats with strong campaigns like Marta Jorgensen or Jill Martinez, who, after contested races with the ultra-conservative Gallegly the past two election cycles, left him re-elected once again.

Not until Tim Allison announced his candidacy in the Democratic primary last year have we felt as strongly about someone who could not only defeat Gallegly once and for all, but represent portions of the 24th District on the House floor that have long been left, for lack of a better term, fallow. (Outside of the farthest tip of the East County, we’re talking about the remainder of District 24, all the way to Orcutt in Santa Barbara County.)

Allison has firmly supplanted himself in the political and public arenas of Ventura and Santa Barbara. He’s that rare kind of candidate who can back up his platform of education, environmental change and healthcare reform with real experience, having led environmental and political campaigns, and directed nonprofit organizations. He’s a familiar face, usually as leader, of voter groups and Democratic caucuses up and down both counties.

These are some of the same reasons why we can’t support either Marie Panec or Shawn Stern for the Democratic nomination; their reach doesn’t extend as far. And this is a large district that needs better coverage than it’s been getting for almost 25 years.

While we admire Gallegly’s dedicated foray into animal rights advocacy, at this juncture of his partisan and very insular career, Tim Allison is the one best suited to finally replace him.

Vote for Tim Allison.

 

35th Assembly district

This election season has been pockmarked by partisan infighting, and one of the most controversial races has been the Democratic primary for 35th Assembly district. Once colleagues, Das Williams and Susan Jordan are now foes, battling to win the votes of local residents, unions and other notable organizations.

Williams, having once supported Jordan in her campaign for 35th Assembly district, jumped into the race right after the announcement of a contentious proposal that would allow for a new offshore oil drilling lease for the first time in 40 years. The proposal became the main focus of the candidates’ campaigns. Jordan, wife of Assemblymember Pedro Nava, adamantly opposed any new offshore drilling; and Williams, a Santa Barbara City Councilman, supported the plan even after the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Williams has now called for a moratorium on any new offshore oil drilling though he continues to support the EDC/PXP proposal — the new offshore oil drilling lease — that the state lands commission found was unenforceable.)

Beyond that, things get a little fuzzy.

We know, without a doubt, where Jordan stands on offshore oil drilling — we have read countless articles and press releases on it. She has stated that her other top priorities are California’s economy, public education and affordable health care. However, her main platform has been offshore oil drilling. Now that there is a slim to nil chance of it being approved by the state’s land commission, what will she do next? We have yet to find out because she hasn’t been nearly as fierce in campaigning about anything else.

As for Williams, we know that he has mysteriously garnered support of many unions and politicians, but for what particular reason remains unclear. Williams has debated with Jordan on his list of key goals — ironically, they practically mirror hers.

So, if the only thing dividing these two candidates is the offshore oil drilling proposal, and that proposal is near extinction, then what will these two candidates offer their constituents and what are the differences between them? From all appearances, either candidate will be OK, though we aren’t certain either one is just right for the job, which is why we aren’t endorsing either candidate.

 

Ventura County Sheriff

It’s somewhat fitting that the first contested race for county sheriff in more than 35 years has brought out the two candidates best-qualified for the job. There are more than 60 years in combined experience between Dennis Carpenter and Geoff Dean, men whose law enforcement accolades precede them as candidates.

Both men share decorated, high-ranking careers with the sheriff’s department and tend to agree on most issues pertinent to the advancement of public safety in Ventura County going forward. Both men have also made fine leaders in their respective positions within the department.

But Dean, a 33-year department veteran, exhibits the same kinds of qualities we’ve sought out in our administrators: an accessible, more approachable and amenable vision of community policing than we’ve seen on the local level for some time.

For that reason Dean gets our endorsement to succeed Bob Brooks as sheriff.

Dean proves that he’s got the authoritative and managerial chops to get the job done as a capable and solid administrator. Most importantly, though, his campaign taps in to one important goal — bringing an end to the seemingly perpetual succession of hand-picked sheriffs disconnected from the public’s needs. That philosophy makes him the underdog in his race against Carpenter, but Dean has won the public’s devotion and trust for it.

Part of that trust we admire is attributed to Dean’s willingness to truly improve community policing with his forward-thinking ideas on crime prevention over strict punishment. Dean not only de-emphasizes the need for things like new jail facilities, he stresses tangible ways to keep people out of jail to begin with.

Dean is honest, admitting to past infractions on his record. He takes the high road when others have tried to cast aspersions on his credibility.

He strikes the balance of being the kind of sheriff who remains tough on policy and enforcement, but one that is able to shed the adversarial image many people see in our police. In areas of Ventura County where the true adversary is gang violence and crime, that’s a makeover only someone like Dean can make come true. He appears to be the stronger leader and has the deputy’s trust.

Vote for Geoff Dean.

 

Treasurer-tax collector

In the race for treasurer-tax collector, we cannot deny we have come across some nice, sincere, well-intentioned people. Although there was some concern earlier this year that the treasurer position was up for grabs by anyone who had a heartbeat, the supervisors made a bold move to ensure the public had the most qualified candidates on the ballot.

Though it looked politically motivated at the time, the supervisors passed a policy that candidates for treasurer-tax collector must meet at least one of the following requirements: experience in a “senior financial management” position at a public agency; a bachelor’s or graduate degree in business administration, public administration, finance, accounting or a related field, with at least 16 units in accounting or finance; or certification as an accountant, financial analyst or cash manager.

Given that everyone in this race in some way has met the criteria, we feel confident that no matter who wins the race, at least he or she will have some experience in doing this job. But, of all the candidates, retired Judge Steven Hintz stands out the most. Not only does he meet the criteria, but he is articulate, well-informed and has been a civil servant for most of his life — working in another public position should be an easy transition. He has received numerous accolades in his professional career and continues to serve his community in and out of the courtroom.

We can appreciate every candidate for running a clean campaign, but in the end, we believe Hintz to be the most qualified person for the job.

Vote for Steve Hintz.

Ventura County Supervisor, District 2

Voters who reside in East County will have to ask themselves if incumbency is something they wish to continue for their representative in District 2 of the Board of Supervisors.

The Reporter believes so, and endorses Linda Parks for re-election to her third term on the board.

Parks has achieved notable progress politically, socially and environmentally in the greater Thousand Oaks area during her tenure on the board, and before. She should be given due credit, especially for the last of the three. She’s taken great steps to facilitate cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Lab site, known as Rocketdyne, embraced SOAR guidelines, and was also the driving force behind saving the Ahmanson Ranch as a state park.

Her opponent, Audra Strickland, the termed-out assemblywoman, has done nothing but bully and shove, in trying to unseat Parks. Strickland’s campaign is characterized by an inability to shake off allegations of carpetbagging following her move to District 2, with the sole intent of opposing Parks.

Electing Strickland, whose conservative principles align more with District 4’s Peter Foy than they do with Parks’ moderate voice on the board, would effectively remove the progressive influence Parks brings to the board — regardless of Parks’ Republican party affiliation.

Some of Parks’ West County supervisory mates — Steve Bennett and Kathy Long — may not always agree with her politics and choices, and neither do we. But we appreciate her clean campaigning and consistency on the board, and support keeping her on the Board of Supervisors.

Vote for Linda Parks.

 

County Supervisor, District 4

The ticket for our Board of Supervisors District 4 election is a lot like what we’re seeing in the Allison/Panec/Stern competition this year for Congress: Democrats pushing for better representation in the East County, where, out of five supervisory areas, it’s only in the East County’s two districts — 2 and 4 — that registered Republicans outnumber Democrats.

We stand behind Democrat Bruce Thomas for wanting to change that, and support him in his bid to unseat Peter Foy as District 4 supervisor.

Thomas has deeper political and community roots than Foy, having previously pursued an Assembly seat in 2002 with several good ideas to better engage residents in the Fourth District. Eight years later, none of them has been fulfilled by any sitting supervisor, Foy included.

If elected, Thomas would follow in the footsteps of forward-thinking supervisors Steve Bennett and Kathy Long by working to establish municipal advisory councils, or MACs, ad hoc citizen groups that Foy has neglected to take the lead on forming.

We also take into consideration Thomas’ stance on issues that would better align him with other board members than what’s dictated by the current status quo. His ardent opposition to expansion of the Simi Valley landfill, for example, makes for a good partnership, so to speak, with the environmental advocacies of Linda Parks, whom we also support for District 2 supervisor.

Vote for Bruce Thomas.

 

Ventura County Superior Court judges

There’s a paradoxical element to a completely subjective peer review that aims to determine if an attorney is objective enough to be a good judge. But we won’t deny that the county bar association’s Judicial Evaluations Committee, those “judges of judges,” was spot-on in its assessments of four candidates in the superior court’s judicial race.

It gave top marks to Gay Conroy, an incumbent seeking re-election to the court’s Office 10, and to Ryan Wright, journeyman deputy district attorney, in his bid for Office 1.

We agree with most everything the committee said about Conroy and Wright, praising their litigative demeanor, strong work ethics and legal experience, and we also endorse both to preside as judges for the respective offices of 10 and 1 of the court.

Conroy is a shoo-in for re-election. She’s been a popular presence in the courts as both an attorney and judge for almost 30 years, and she has the support of nearly 30 past and present judges, as well as former all-star District Attorney Mike Bradbury. She’s an advocate for litigant rights — especially the self-represented ones — but what really clinches her campaign is her reputation as a studied, non-impulsive decision maker. The committee’s “exceptionally well qualified” rating is an afterthought to why she was appointed as a judge to begin with.

District Attorney Greg Totten’s shining endorsement of Wright as a “prosecutor’s prosecutor” at first caused us concern that coming down on the defense, rather than impartiality, could be a problem in a Wright-presided courtroom. But we appreciate Wright’s strong platform of public safety, crime prevention and mediation methods for resolving cases before they reach the courtroom. Electing Wright as a judge ushers in this new-school approach needed in our superior court.

Vote for Gay Conroy and Ryan Wright.