Crowded, complicated and confusing - Election 2016
Election Day, Nov. 8, will bring one of America's longest, most contentious presidential election cycles to a close, but not before local voters will have to wade through one of the longest ballots in California history, picking a new President, a new U.S. Senator for California, a U.S. Congressman for the Fifth District, and a California Assembly member for the Second District. And if that isn't enough, there are 17 state referendums on the ballot, along with five county measures and one Santa Rosa tax item for Oakmont residents to consider.
In order to vote, you must be registered by Monday, Oct. 24. You can find out how to do that online at the County Registrar (vote.sonoma-county.org) or by calling them at 565-6800.
As the population expands and county funds for staffing polling places dwindle, more and more people will be voting by mail, and the Valley of the Moon has several districts that are vote by mail only, including parts of Kenwood and Glen Ellen. Sample ballots will be mailed out starting Sept. 29, and the actual ballots will go out on Oct. 10. You have until Election Day to get them postmarked or you can drop them off at any county polling place.
Local polling sites are Oakmont Gardens and the Oakmont West Recreation Center, and the Kenwood and Glen Ellen firehouses. Polling centers are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For this issue, we present the national and statewide issues on the ballot. Local measures will be taken up in the October 1 issue of the Kenwood Press.
If you don't know the Presidential candidates by now, nothing we can say is going to improve your knowledge of that race.
California's Attorney General Kamala Harris Kamala Harris is vying with State Senator Loretta Sanchez to replace retiring Senator Barbara Boxer. Both women are Democrats, and information about both is readily available online and will soon be in your mailbox.
Incumbent Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) is facing off against Republican Carlos Santamaria for the Fifth District seat in Washington, D.C. Thompson has had the job since 1993 and is considered close to the wine industry and North Coast ag interests. Santamaria lives in Napa and has no known website as of this writing. Thompson was top vote-getter in a four-person race in the June primary with 65 percent, trailed by Santamaria with close to 20 percent.
Measures, propositions and advisory itemsWhatever they are called, this year California has a bumper crop. Statewide, there are 17 measures; here is some information provided by the League of Women Voters and other non-partisan websites:
Prop. 51: A $9 billion bond to fund school construction. It has been eight years since the last statewide school bond measure was passed. The governor doesn't like it, but schools always need money.
Prop. 52: This will require voter approval to make changes to a hospital fee program making it harder for the Legislature to divert these funds from the original intended purpose of supporting hospital care to Medi-Cal patients and to help pay for healthcare for low-income children.
Prop. 53: This would require a statewide vote on any project requiring $2 billion or more in revenue bonds - projects like the Delta water bypass and the bullet train in the Central Valley.
Prop. 54: Bills in the California Legislature would have to be in print for 72 hours before a vote. Video recordings of all legislative proceedings would have to be posted online.
Prop. 55: If approved, this measure would extend the income tax portion of the Prop. 30 tax increase for another 12 years. It would apply to anyone making more than $250,000 a year.
Prop. 56: A $2 per pack tax on cigarettes would support health care programs, tobacco use prevention and control programs. Currently 87 cents per pack, the increased tax would apply to electronic cigarettes and other products containing nicotine.
Prop. 57: Gov. Brown aims to cut the state prison population by giving inmates a chance for earlier parole and allowing judges, instead of prosecutors, to decide whether a minor should be tried as an adult.
Prop. 58: This measure would repeal the 1998 initiative that ended bilingual education in the state.
Prop. 59: This urges California lawmakers to do whatever they can to overturn Citizens United, a decision that permits corporate contributions to political campaigns.
Prop. 60: Adult movie actors in California would have to wear condoms while filming sex scenes.
Prop. 61: This measure would cap the amount the state can be charged for the prescription drugs it purchases for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, retirees and prison inmates.
Prop. 62: This would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prop. 63: This package of gun control measures bans large-capacity ammunition magazines and requires background checks for ammunition purchases.
Prop. 64: If approved, California would join Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
Prop. 65: This would go into effect only if Proposition 67 passes (see below). Money collected from selling paper bags would go into a special state fund for environmental projects.
Prop. 66: The initiative would limit inmate death penalty appeals.
Prop. 67: The fight over plastic bags continues after plastic bag makers gathered enough signatures to force this referendum on the validity of a 2014 California ban. A yes vote will support the ban.
More information on these propositions can be found at California's Secretary of State website (www.sos.ca.gov/elections) and several others, including the League of Women Voters of California (lwvc.org), and the Voters Edge (votersedge.org/ca).