The Kenwood Press
News: 03/15/2018

Governor, senator, sheriff, gas tax and regional transportation top June 5 ballot

Jay Gamel

Mid-term elections – the ones between presidential elections – are usually considered to be the lesser of our electoral challenges as citizens, but 2018 is turning out to have some very important, if somewhat confusing, issues on the ballot. There are a lot of offices up for election, and as always in California, a number of state propositions and local measures to consider.

Over 40 people have declared their candidacy to replace outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown, and 39 are challenging long-time U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Closer to home, while Sonoma County has few elected officials, most of them are up for election this year, including the Sheriff, 2nd and 4th district supervisors (Rabbitt and Gore, respectively), the District Attorney, and the County Clerk.

The Sheriff’s race has three people looking to replace retiring Sheriff Rob Giordano, who replaced former Sheriff Steve Freitas. Freitas left mid-term during the fallout surrounding the shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a deputy, Erick Gelhaus.

The candidates are Ernesto Olivares, a Santa Rosa City Councilman and former career policeman, Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Essick, and retired Los Angeles police Captain John Mutz. As of press time on March 12, Essick had not finished his paperwork. The deadline is March 14.

County races where no one runs against the incumbent may appear on the ballot, including Superior Court judges and some school officials.

U.S. Congress and the State Assembly members are up for election every two years, so everyone who represents you at those levels is running again, but for the most part with little opposition, now that California puts the top two vote getters on the November ballot regardless of party affiliation. Non-partisan offices can be settled at the primary level if one person gets over half the votes.

So far, popular 5th District Congressman Mike Thompson has three challengers.

In the State Assembly, races that affect Sonoma Valley voters include the 2nd District, currently represented by Jim Wood, and the 4th district’s incumbent Cecilia Aguilar-Curry. Both are standing for reelection.

Half of California’s Senate seats are up for election every two years, including Mike McGuire’s. The Healdsburg native was elected to the State Senate District 2 in 2014 with 70 percent of the vote. He announced his intention to run again almost a year ago. If he wins, he will then be termed out of the State Senate.

Other state officers on the ballot this year include Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Controller, Insurance Commissioner, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Propositions and Measures

There are five state propositions approved for the ballot, ranging from encouraging water conservation to arcane voting requirements for allocating cap-and-trade revenue. One is a bond and the other four are amendments to the California Constitution. In order:

Prop. 68: $4 billion in bonds for parks, environmental protection, and water infrastructure.

Prop. 69: Requires certain tax and fee revenue related to transportation be used for transportation purposes. A continuing dogfight over last year’s gas tax increase.

Prop. 70: Requires a one-time, two-thirds vote to use revenue from the cap-and-trade program.

Prop. 71: Changes the date for when voter-approved ballot measures take effect to allow for late mail vote counting before energizing new laws.

Prop. 72: Excludes rainwater capture systems from property tax assessments.

The biggest item on the local ballot in June may be Measure 3, a huge regional transportation fundraiser before the voters in all nine Bay Area counties. Years in the making, the measure brings something to the table for everybody who uses the maze of highways, train and bus lines that tie them all together.

The measure would insure continued funding for many active transportation projects, like finishing the Highway 101 expansion from Petaluma to Novato, extending SMART train service, and buying more rail cars and buses for the county. It also provides some serious funding to develop a solution to the impending sea level changes threatening to inundate State Highway 37.

In all, the measure is looking to raise $4.5 billion by raising tolls incrementally over the next six years.

Local measures B, C, D and E include three school bonds and an extension of coast life support district appropriations, none of which will be before Sonoma Valley voters.
Register to Vote

The county Registrar’s office is taking extraordinary measures to make sure that people displaced by the October firestorm last year aren’t shut out of the voting process this year. Affected people fall into three basic categories: moved but coming back to original site, moved but not coming back to original site, and those leaving the area. Provisions have been made for all three.

Getting your registration straightened out for June means getting in touch with the Registrar.

Call the Registrar of Voters at 565-6800 or (800) 750-8683 to report your new mailing address.

Send a note with printed name, new mailing address, and confirming the impacted residence address to Registrar of Voters, P.O. Box 11485 Santa Rosa, CA 95406-1485.

You can fax 565-6843, send email to ROV-Wildfires@sonoma.county.org, or bite the bullet and actually visit the office at 435 Fiscal Dr., Santa Rosa to provide your new mailing address.

If you don’t know what’s next, you can vote in your temporary residence district. If you are living in another county, call that registrar’s office and get registered.

The convenient way is to vote by mail, but you have to request that by May 29. Otherwise, the last day to register to vote in Sonoma County is May 21.