Tag Archives: Prop 19

With so many undecided voters, it’s not too late to get involved in the campaigns you care about

26 Oct

It’s a week before the election, and believe it or not, there are still tons of undecided voters in many races. On Saturday I made some calls for Rebecca Kaplan and was astounded by how many regular voters were still undecided – even though many of them claimed to have given some serious thought to the race. Out of the 40-50 people I talked to, only two had voted already and one additional person had decided how to vote (one other refused to talk and I suspect supported someone else for mayor). Less than 10% of the people I talked to had decided!

Despite the deluge of mail from Jean Quan, Don Perata, and independent expenditure groups, plenty of voters still haven’t decided either who they’re voting for or in what order they’re marking their choices. For many, it takes a live discussion with a friend or a stranger to solidify their choice. Through the course of my calls, I was able to convince 5 more people to support Kaplan and several were leaning her way after talking to me.

And there are some issues on the ballot that voters have given even less thought to! I’m consistently amazed how many of my very politically involved friends are unaware of some of the ballot measures, particularly the one that scares me most – Prop 26. This initiative would force a 2/3 vote for fees, which might not sound so bad, except that it would make it incredibly difficult to pass local fees and it would make AB 32 basically unenforceable because 32 is fee based. So even if Prop 23 goes down, if 26 passes, buy buy AB 32, which is why some of us are calling it the Polluter Protection Act.

So I’m making one last plea to readers – go volunteer for a campaign. Find the website for the campaign you care about most, shoot them an email or give them a call. Any campaign would be super grateful to have you. It’s definitely not too late – there are tons of undecided voters out there, and soon campaigns will shift to get out the vote operations and will need help reminding their supporters to vote.

Need help plugging into a campaign? Email me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com and I’ll help you, unless it’s a campaign that goes against what I believe in (like Meg Whitman or Yes on 23). Even if you have an hour or two to spare, please do so – campaigns appreciate all help, whether you can be there for one or ten hours. And every voter you contact makes a difference.

Another way to help  is to spread the word to people you know. Post an endorsement note on Facebook, email all your friends with endorsements, call people you know vote but who aren’t very engaged, chat with your neighbors when you run into them, or forward campaign emails and videos when you receive them.

Speaking of campaign videos, I can’t help but share two amazing ads that the Prop 19 campaign has recently released. The first is a web ad that my friend Andrew Epstein, who I met in college through Students for Sensible Drug Policy, put together. It was great working with him again!

The next is a TV ad that started running today. It features former San Jose Police Chief Joe McNamara, who’s been an amazing spokesperson for the Yes on 19 campaign.

We did an initial decent sized buy to get it up on TV, but we’ll need contributions to keep in on through election day so if you want to keep it up, contribute at www.yeson19.com/ad. At that link you can also share the ad on Facebook and Twitter with one click.

There’s just one week left, so take some time to turn those undecided voters into decided voters. Whatever happens on November 2nd, it will feel so much better if you know you’ve made a difference.

Endorsements for the November Election

12 Oct

Even though Obama’s not on the ballot (and neither is McCain), there’s plenty to be excited about (or terrified of) on the November 2010 ballot. I know, I know, the election’s not for another month, but absentee ballots went out last week and many people have already voted so I wanted to post this right away.

There’s a LOT on the ballot this time, so to save some space and in hopes that folks would get through this entire post, I’ve left off some local races where the outcome is a foregone conclusion (like my friend Andy Katz who’s running unopposed for EBMUD or Joel Young who might as well be running unopposed for AC Transit), and I’ve skipped descriptions of some of the statewide candidates and initiatives because you can find those in many other places.

Instant runoff voting will be in place for the Oakland races. If you’re still confused about how it works, please read either the explanation I wrote last year or V Smoothe’s more recent explanation. It’s important to understand how voting works before you cast your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice votes!

(I’m working on several campaigns and the firm I work for is working on many more. I’ve marked all of those campaigns with asterisks.)

Statewide Candidates

As you can probably tell, I’m voting the Democratic slate. One race I want to especially point out is the Attorney General race. Kamala Harris is an excellent candidate, and there are probably few people I would choose over her, but what you might not know is that her opponent is seriously bad news. Steve Cooley is anti-marriage equality, anti-environment, and anti-medical marijuana. For more on why not to vote for Cooley, check out the Not Cooley website, created by some of my very good friends and colleagues in the medical marijuana community.

Statewide Ballot Initiatives

I’m reluctantly linking to the Courage Campaign Voter Guide for descriptions. Reluctantly because I think they are off on Prop 22, which would protect local governments and transit agencies from having their funds raided by the state legislature. As is crystal clear here in Oakland, our local agencies are in huge financial trouble and the last thing they need is the state stealing their money. If Prop 22 had been passed in 2008, it’s likely AC Transit could have avoided many of its most drastic service cuts. Vote Yes on 22 to protect Oakland and East Bay agencies!

The other initiative I want to point out is Prop 19.  I’ve been working on marijuana policy reform for a decade, and I must admit that ten years ago I never could have imagined that marijuana legalization would be on the ballot so soon. Thanks to Richard Lee, it is, and thanks to the amazing team of people I’ve been working with for the past year, it looks like marijuana will soon be legal in California. This is a historic measure and even though I feel good going into our last month of campaigning, we’re going to need every last vote. It’s time to end cannabis prohibition, end the arrests of marijuana users and grower, and provide much needed tax revenue to our state and city. Vote yes and talk to everyone you know about this measure – there are few undecided voters left but we need ever supportive voter to turn out.

Local Candidates:

*Alameda County Superior Court – Victoria Kolakowski

I’m working on Vicky’s campaign, but even if I wasn’t, I’d vote for her, just as I did in 2008 when she first ran to be judge. I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know Vicky over the past several months. I immediately knew she was dedicated and experienced, but over time I’ve learned about her level-headed temperament and compassion, which are very important qualities to me in judges. She has served for several years as an administrative law judge, and she is the only one in the race with extensive civil law experience. Why is this important? Well, governors tend to appoint prosecutors to be judges and it’s important to have a diversity of legal experience on the bench because many cases are not criminal. Issues like divorce, family conflicts, employment issues, etc. come before the court frequently.

Vicky would also bring a different kind of diversity to the courts. In Alameda County, less than a third of the judges are women! When Vicky wins, she will make history by becoming the first transgendered trial court judge in the entire country. There’s no way I can explain this as eloquently or powerfully as she does, but having a transgendered judge on the bench would be huge for the transgendered community. Transgendered people often struggle with the legal system, with issues ranging from changing their names to being the victims of violence so its important for this community to be represented well. Though I am not a person who votes for someone simply because of gender or sexual orientation, Vicky brings both diversity and experience so she is the clear choice. Please cast your vote for Victoria Kolakowski to help make history.

*BART Board, District 4: Robert Raburn

I’m not sure I could be much more excited about this race, especially since I recently moved into the district and now get to vote – both for Robert Raburn and against Carol Ward Allen. Regular blog readers shouldn’t be surprised that Ward Allen is one of my least favorite elected officials in the East Bay. She was the major champion of the Oakland Airport Connector, the half billion dollar boondoggle that will do nothing for Oakland and very little for transit riders. But beyond that, she’s incredibly rude to her constituents, telling at least one of her constituents that if he didn’t like how she voted, he should move. Luckily, I won’t just be casting a vote against Ward Allen because Raburn is a very qualified candidate for this seat. He used to run the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and has been involved with improvements at just about every BART station in the district. He’s a transit wonk, exactly what we need on this board, and has the interests of BART riders (and potential BART riders) in mind. I hope you’ll join me in enthusiastically voting for Robert Raburn for BART Board!

Oakland Mayor: Rebecca Kaplan

Though on policy Kaplan is often in line with my ideologies, that’s not the main reason I’m supporting her. There are a few qualities I’m looking for in a mayor, and Rebecca has all of them:

  1. Managerial skills & the ability to get things done
  2. Fresh ideas & the willingness to thing outside of the box
  3. Ability to work well with others

Policy is taking a back seat for me in this race because what we need right now is someone who’s ready to manage this city hands on. We need someone who will hire the right city administrator and who isn’t afraid to shake up department leadership. We need someone who will bring people together to fix our city. We need someone who’s innovative and who can get things done with basically no money. That person is Rebecca Kaplan. In her two years on the Council she’s accomplished so much, including passing a blighted property ordinance that had been stalled for years, authoring and helping pass the first cannabis tax measure in the country, and bringing Oakland the free Broadway shuttle. I can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish as mayor.

Oakland Mayor, 2nd Choice: Don Perata

I know there are a lot of people going around saying “anybody but Don,” and my response is “anybody but Quan.” I know, I know, Don hasn’t played nicely in this race and his people have done some pretty bad things. But ultimately, it comes back to the three things I’m looking for in a mayor, and Don exhibits most of those qualities. Quan, meanwhile, doesn’t exhibit any of them. She’s not a leaders. She doesn’t get along well with people. She doesn’t get stuff done (though she often takes credit for stuff other people do). She drove the Oakland schools budget into the ground, as president of the school board, and Oakland’s budget into the ground, as chair of the finance committee. I think she’d be a disaster for Oakland, just as Dellums has been. So for 2nd choice, I’m voting for Perata, and for 3rd choice, anybody but Quan.

*Oakland City Council, District 2: No Position

I’m sure I’ll get shit for doing this, but I’m not taking a position in this race. The firm I work for is running Pat Kernighan’s race, and Jenn Pae’s on the board of East Bay Young Dems with me. I know and respect both of the candidates and don’t feel comfortable taking a position in this race. I don’t live in the district so won’t have to make a choice on who to vote for either. For those who do live in the district or have opinions, feel free to discuss in the comments here.

*Oakland City Council, District 4: Libby Schaaf

The only good thing about Jean Quan running for mayor is that her council seat is opening up. Seven candidates are vying for her seat, but only one has the experience needed – both in City Hall and in the community – to be ready on day one to deal with the financial and other crises the City is dealing with. I told Libby early on that I would support her (long before I started working on her campaign) because I’ve seen how effective, intelligent, and accessible she was while working for Ignacio De La Fuente. But since working on her campaign and getting to know her even better, I feel much more strongly that we need her on the Council. Though Libby understands the deep, structural problems the City has, she maintains hope and optimism. She focuses on the strengths Oakland has and how we can improve those strengths. Another quality of hers that has immensely impressed me is how well she gets along with basically everyone. Her supporters include environmentalists, business people, housing advocates, developers, labor leaders, and just about everyone in between. We need more councilmembers who can bring people together like Libby does. I don’t live in District 4 so won’t be able to vote for Libby, but I strongly urge District 4 residents to vote for her. And if you’re already supporting her, join us at the East Bay Young Dems phone bank for her tonight at the Oakland UDC.

Oakland City Council, District 6: Desley Brooks

I know there are mixed feelings about Desley Brooks – she sticks to what she believes in and sometimes that rubs people the wrong way. But I think it’s incredibly important to have a councilmember who’s willing to say what she believes, even if it’s not popular. It’s important to have a councilmember who will question an incredibly popular project for good reason when no one else is willing to. As I’ve watched council meetings over the past years, I’ve grown to greatly appreciate this quality in Desley. Beyond that, though I don’t live there, I’ve heard much from district residents about what she’s accomplished for her district, including a huge focus on parks. If you live in District 6, please re-elect Desley Brooks.

Local Measures:

  • Alameda County Measure F: Yes
  • Oakland Measure L: Yes
  • Oakland Measure V: Yes
  • Oakland Measure W: Yes
  • Oakland Measure X: No
  • Oakland Measure BB: Yes
I know there are some people who are going to look at the slate of local measures and cringe because they’re all taxes and fees, but some of them are very important. Measure F is an obvious yes – it’s just a $10 vehicle license fee and will mostly be used to fix local streets. There would also be some funding set aside for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit improvements, and since it’s a relatively small pot of money, none of the funds would be used for highways or transit boondoggles like the Oakland Airport Connector. Measure L is also super important – Oakland schools are terribly funded and we’re losing teachers because pay is so low. The one measure I’m conflicted about is Measure V – the marijuana tax. I think it’s inappropriate to tax medicine at such a high rate, but I fully support the other half of the measure – taxing recreational marijuana so that immediately after Prop 19 passes, our city will be able to tax and regulate the sales of marijuana immediately. I’m reluctantly supporting the measure but am disappointed about the trend of cities viewing a medicine as a revenue source.

Returning to Broadway & 19th, the center of Oakland’s campaign universe

23 Sep

Life can be a strange thing. It’s odd how I can realize that I love something, but then stop doing it for a months or years and totally forget how happy it makes me.

This happens to me a lot with yoga. I do it regularly for several months, get too busy, and stop doing it for months. Then I start up again and wonder why I ever stopped, only to stop again in a few months when life gets hectic again.

It apparently also happens with voter outreach. Back in 2008, I was practically a phone banking machine, phoning for Rebecca Kaplan’s City Council once a week for months leading up to the June election and then several times a week in September and October. Why? Well, I of course wanted Kaplan to win, but I also did it because I absolutely loved it. I apparently loved it so much that I wrote a blog post in September 2008 titled “Voter Outreach as Therapy“:

If you’ve never phoned for a candidate or issue before, it might seem strange, but electoral phoning is extremely therapeutic. You have to focus, pay attention, take cues from voters, so there’s no energy left to think about anything else. It really is a great form of meditation.

The energy in the office also helped lift my mood. The space is huge, and there were several volunteers downstairs and upstairs calling for various campaigns – Kaplan, Obama, Yes on 2, No on 4, No on 8. And because of the office’s excellent location at Broadway and 19th, people were literally walking in off the street to help out.

But then many months passed without another election. I think I managed a night of phoning for the special election in 2009, I phoned once for Victoria Kolakowski this Spring, and I phoned from home several times this summer for John Laird, but I fell out of the phone banking groove.

Last night, I got back into the groove, phoning at the United Democratic Campaign (UDC) headquarters for Boxer and Brown. And even though practically all I’ve been doing for the past few months is election related – at work and through East Bay Young Dems – it felt really good to talk to voters one on one.

After phoning, I felt so good that I stopped into Rebecca Kaplan’s campaign office and picked up walk lists and maps for the precinct I live in so I can walk it this weekend.

Regardless of who you’re supporting this November, I highly encourage you to get out there and walk or phone for at least one campaign. Not sure where to go? Chances are that you’ll find a campaign to volunteer for at 19th and Broadway, which has become the center of Oakland’s campaign universe. Here’s what you’ll find at that intersection:

United Democratic Campaign
1931 Broadway
Phoning for Boxer, Brown and the entire statewide Democratic ticket (will also be phoning for Libby Schaaf for City Council starting next week and probably other local candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party).
Contact Carla Woodworth at carla@tennypress.com or Alex Boskovich at alex.boskovich@gmail.com.

Yes on 19 Campaign
1776 Broadway
Phoning every day and every night for Yes on 19 to control and tax cannabis. Stop in anytime – we could use your help!
Contact James Rigdon at james@taxcannabis.org.

Rebecca Kaplan for Mayor Campaign
1773 Broadway
Phoning for Kaplan Monday-Thursday from 5:30-8:30pm, and walking on Saturdays from 10am-1pm and Sundays from 11am-2pm.
Contact Jason Overman at jason@kaplanformayor.org.

And who knows, depending when you stop in, you just might see me there. I’ll be the one dialing rapidly, totally engrossed in phone conversations, and smiling.