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The Courage California Voter Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. Vote in every race on your ballot! It's our right and our responsibility. Please share this guide with your friends and family.
Have questions about voting in Contra Costa County? Visit your county elections website.
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below congressional districts on your ballot.
Representative Mike Thompson is from St. Helena, CA. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 1999. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election because he understands how to bring people together to solve his district’s needs.
In Congress, Rep. Thompson has advanced efforts to rebuild the middle-class, increase access to healthcare, ensure seniors and veterans aren’t left behind and preserve the environment. He currently sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, as well as the Health Subcommittee and serves as Chair of the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee. Prior to his election to Congress, he worked in the California State Senate and the United States Army, where he was recognized with a purple heart for his service.
Rep. Thompson has progressive positions when it comes to gun safety legislation and increasing access to affordable healthcare. That said, he has unfavorable positions when it comes to immigration and is a member of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition.
Rep. Thompson is being challenged by Jason Kishineff (D), John Wesley Tyler (D), and Scott Giblin (R). According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Though we disagree with Rep. Thompson's stances on immigration and his affiliation with the Blue Dog Coalition, his relationships with partners, his position of power in Congress, his progressive position on issues like gun safety, and his Democratic opponents' lack of viability makes Thompson the strongest choice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-18
Jerry McNerny is from New Mexico and has lived in California since 1990. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2007. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election to continue to be an independent voice for the 9th District.
Jerry McNerney currently serves in the House of Representatives, where he has written and passed laws that include the better treatment of veterans returning home with traumatic brain injury, as well as improved training for new green jobs and increased investment in infrastructure for electric vehicles. He currently serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Prior to his election to Congress, he worked as a renewable energy engineer and founded a company that manufactures wind turbines.
Jerry McNerney has introduced a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would limit funding for candidates and ballot measures from direct donations from individual citizens, restrict campaign contributions, and essentially eliminate Political Action Committees.
Jerry McNerney is running against William Martinek (R) and Antonio Amador (R). According to recent election results, Democrats can win this seat but it's often a close race. Though we disagree with McNerney’s often punitive stances on immigration, as well as calls for increased funding for law enforcement and surveillance at the border, his position in Congress helps to advance progressive policies on issues such as climate change and makes him the strongest choice for in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-25
Representative Mark DeSaulnier is from Lowell, MA, moved to California in the early 1970s and currently resides in Concord, CA. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2015. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election to continue to promote progressive values and work to create a more just and equal country.
In Congress, Rep. DeSaulnier has advanced initiatives to reform government, support labor, improve transportation, protect the environment, and improve public safety. He sits on the House Committees on Education and Labor, Oversight and Reform, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Rules, as well as an additional six subcommittees. Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. DeSaulnier served on the Concord City Council, California State Assembly, and California State Senate, where he successfully worked to improve local roads and highways, address homeowner foreclosures, and fought against the abusive practices with prescription drugs.
Rep. DeSaulnier is being challenged by Michael Kerr (G) and Nisha Sharma (R). Rep. DeSaulnier is the best progressive choice because of his track record of consistently advocating for the needs of constituents.
According to our analysis, Rep. DeSaulnier is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-13
Representative Eric Swalwell was born in Sac City, Iowa, and moved to Dublin, California, where he attended middle and high school. Swalwell was first elected in 2012, defeating 20-term incumbent Democrat Pete Stark after California moved to a “top-two” primary. He has made gun violence prevention a central part of his campaign and has also campaigned on economic issues in support of workforce training, infrastructure investment, and student loan debt relief.
As a college student, Rep. Swalwell interned for California Democrat Ellen Tauscher and went on to complete his law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law. After law school, he returned to California to serve as a deputy district attorney for Alameda County. He was elected for Dublin City Council in 2011 before running for Congress.
Rep. Swalwell currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Chair of the Intelligence Modernization and Readiness Subcommittee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He previously served on the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Rep. Swalwell has been vocal in both committees on issues pertaining to election security and the Mueller investigations, as well as the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Citing his prosecutorial experience, he wrote an op-ed in The Atlantic calling for an impeachment inquiry of the president. He is a strong advocate and has presented legislation for commonsense reforms to prevent gun violence and is working to address domestic terrorism. He is also a staunch supporter of women’s rights and protecting access to abortions. He co-sponsored the EACH Woman Act, which would repeal the Hyde Amendment, and supported The EqualityAct.
He has recently expressed support for the Green New Deal, however, we’re still waiting for Rep. Swalwell to embrace Medicare for All.
Eric Swalwell is being challenged by Samantha Campbell (D), Austin E. Intal (D), Tuan Phan (D), Alison Hayden (R), Peter Yuan Liu (R), and Don Grundmann (NPP). Given the district’s strong democratic leaning, and Swalwell’s record and strong progressive support, he is the best choice for progressive leadership in the district.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Assembly races on your ballot.
Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D) is the incumbent, having served as Assembly District 11 Representative since 2013. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Assemblymember Frazier has shown that he does NOT advocate for the needs of constituents or face down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians. Frazier scored a shocking 15 out of 100 on this year’s Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting records.
Assemblymember Frazier is running unopposed. We here at Courage encourage you to write in a candidate of your choice to show support for progressives in this district. Keep reading for progressive recommendations in other key races and on ballot measures where your vote can make a critical difference.
Assemblymember Tim Grayson has lived in the East Bay for nearly 20 years. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2017. According to campaign materials, he is running to keep his seat to continue to prioritize safe and secure neighborhoods in his district.
In the State Assembly, Assemblymember Grayson is currently working on passing a cap on interest rates on consumer loans that target financially vulnerable families with unaffordable loans that they cannot repay. He has also authored legislation that aims to increase transparency and accountability in the University of California system and to streamline the development of areas affected by military base closures into commercial and residential areas. Assemblymember Grayson currently serves as Chair of the Select Committee on Streamlining Services for Victims of Interpersonal Violence, and is a member of committees including Banking and Finance, Business and Professions, and Insurance. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, he served as Concord Councilmember and Mayor, and founded the Family Justice Center to support victims of domestic violence, child and elderly abuse, and human trafficking in the Concord area. He also worked as the City of Concord’s police chaplain directly working with survivors of violent crimes, their families, and first responders.
Assemblymember Grayson has helped to protect consumers and victims of domestic violence, child and elderly abuse, and human trafficking. He has also supported key legislation that strengthens the rights of formerly incarcerated people. That said, he often votes against or abstains from key progressive bills that address the needs of those very same communities, leading to a mixed track record on progressive legislation.
Assemblymember Grayson is being challenged by Janell Proctor (R) and Cassandra Devereaux (PFP). According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Though we question Assemblymember Grayson’s lack of support for key progressive legislation and would encourage him to use his close relationship with the police to push for criminal justice reforms, his strong base in District 14 and commitment to protecting Californians in a variety of ways makes him the strongest choice for progressive leadership in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-05
Buffy Wicks was raised in rural California and permanently moved to Oakland in 2016. She is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2019. According to campaign materials she is running for re-election because she is a lifelong Californian and a former grassroots organizer who wants to use her federal and local experience to continue to fight for equity and economic security in the region.
In the State Assembly, Wicks has introduced a renter’s protection bill, championed consumer protections, authored a bill to reestablish California's Healthy Start program to connect children and families with critical services, and joined a gun violence prevention working group. Wicks serves on five Assembly committees, including Budget, Public Safety, Banking and Finance, Privacy and Consumer Protection, and Rules. Prior to her election to the State Assembly, Wicks campaigned for Howard Dean, and ran field operations for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Wicks served as the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement during the Obama Administration and worked to advocate for the Affordable Care Act. After leaving the White House, Wicks was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress where she focused much of her work on seeking innovative ways to establish economic security for women and families.
Wicks is being challenged by Sara Brink (NPP) and Jeanne Solnordal (R). In 2019, she scored a 100 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislator's progressive voting records. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Wicks has consistently shown great courage in advocating for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.
According to our analysis, Buffy Wicks is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Rebecca Bauer-Kahan was raised in the Bay Area. She is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2018. According to campaign materials she is running for re-election to continue to use her leadership position to advocate for social issues and improve equity in the community.
In the State Assembly, Bauer-Kahan has worked on legislation to reallocate public funding to parks and schools and transportation projects, to protect women’s health and abortion rights, to codify standards for serving food allergens, and to instate protections for California college students. Shortly after her election in 2018, she was selected to serve as Assistant Speaker pro Tempore in the Assembly. She currently serves as Chair of the Select Committee on Women’s Reproductive Health, and sits on an additional four committees, including Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials, Privacy and Consumer Protection, Public Safety, and Banking & Finance.
Prior to her election to the State Assembly, Bauer-Kahan worked as an attorney, primarily on cases related to corporate environmental compliance and intellectual property. Her work involved an investigation of company practices, a detailed understanding of existing regulations, and how to balance compliance with profitability. Additionally, she has taught law at Santa Clara University and Golden Gate University. Bauer-Kahan has also used her professional credentials to benefit her community by growing her office’s pro-bono program to address cases related to civil rights and homelessness, and by partnering with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to provide legal services at San Francisco International Airport after the Trump Administration’s travel ban.
Bauer-Kahan is being challenged by Joseph Rubay (R). In 2019, she scored an 81 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislator's progressive voting records. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Bauer-Kahan has consistently shown great courage in advocating for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.
According to our analysis, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Senate races on your ballot.
Senator Bill Dodd (D) is the incumbent, having served as Senator for the district since 2013. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Senator Dodd has shown that he does NOT advocate for the needs of constituents or face down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians. Dodd scored a shocking 57 out of 100 on this year’s Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting records.
Senator Dodd is running unopposed. Courage California encourages you to write in a candidate of your choice to show support for progressives in this district. Keep reading for progressive recommendations in other key races and on ballot measures where your vote can make a critical difference.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Marisol Rubio is a second-generation American, raised by a single mother who was a public school teacher. She now lives in San Ramon with her daughter. According to campaign materials, Rubio is running to fight for accountability from our legislature, and to demand that our biggest and wealthiest corporations pay their fair share so we can provide the support blue-collar, working people of California deserve.
Rubio is a scientific researcher, health care provider, and advocate for high-need students. Her passion for science and discovery was fueled by her personal experiences as a young single mother of a chronically-ill disabled daughter who is an early childhood brain cancer survivor. As she explored solutions to support her own daughter’s health and wellbeing, Rubio came to understand how we can best support families experiencing hardships through the advancement of innovative and proven healthcare, educational, and socioeconomic policies.
Rubio also brings a strong track record and relationships in progressive politics and public service. As Co-Chair of the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County Issues Committee, Rubio has co-authored two resolutions that were adopted by the California Democratic Party and helped pass several progressive bills and resolutions including the Green New Deal for California, a call for a Climate focused Presidential Debate, and support for the public banking movement, which gives localities the ability to open banks to serve residents not well served by traditional banks. She has also served as an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention and is an SEIU Local 2015 member.
Rubio is challenging incumbent Steve Glazer (D), who has consistently opposed progressive priorities by siding with corporate lobbyists and failing his constituents on criminal and juvenile justice reform and healthcare. Other candidates include Julie Mobley (R). Rubio is the strongest choice because of her track record as a champion for the disabled community and their caretakers, and as an advocate for her region’s priorities in the Democratic Party.
Voting for Rubio is an opportunity to elect a legislator who will accurately represent the perspective and priorities of her district in Congress. Courage California strongly endorses Marisol Rubio for Congress.
Last updated: 2020-02-25
Nancy Skinner has lived in Berkley, CA for over 40 years. She is the incumbent State Senator in District 9, having served in this position since 2017. According to campaign materials, she is running for re-election to continue to build on her record of fighting for criminal justice reform, affordable housing, and increased environmental protections across the state.
In the State Senate, Skinner has authored two significant criminal justice reform bills to increase police accountability and overhaul the felony murder rule. She has also authored legislation to improve California’s affordable housing shortage, and to protect the environment through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Skinner currently serves as the Chair of the Public Safety Committee and the Public Safety Budget Committee, and is a member of an additional six committees. Prior to her election to the State Senate, Skinner served three terms in the State Assembly, was the first student to be elected to the Berkeley City Council, and served as the Executive Director of ICLEI’s United States office which worked with international cities to stop climate change. As a graduate Student at Berkeley, Skinner co-founded the labor union that represents graduate student instructors.
Nancy Skinner is running unopposed in this race. She scores a lifetime 97 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislators’ progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Skinner has consistently shown great courage by advocating for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.
According to our analysis, Nancy Skinner is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Courage Score: https://www.couragescore.org/people/nancy-skinner/
Diane Burgis lives in Oakley with her family and has lived in Contra Costa County for most of her life. She has served as the Supervisor for District 3 for three years. According to campaign materials she is running for re-election to continue advocating for responsible environmental stewardship, improved transportation infrastructure, and effective delivery of county services.
As the Supervisor for the County’s largest geographic district, Diane serves on over two dozen committees including the 2020 Census, the Delta Protection Commission, and the Contra Costa County Family Justice Center. Before her election to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, she served in the East Bay Regional Park District as the Ward 7 Director. While there, she managed a $205 million budget for over 120,000 acres in both Alameda and Contra Costa County.
Diane Burgis is running against Paul Seger, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Diablo Water Project. Despite Paul Seger’s seemingly progressive agenda, Diane Burgis' notable strong support from local officials and organizations make her the stronger candidate.
According to our analysis, Diane Burgis is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
Vote YES On Prop 13, School and College Facilities Bond
This proposition would provide $9 billion for desperately needed renovations to public preschools and grade schools throughout the state, and $6 billion for construction to community colleges, the Cal State system, and the UC system. This will allow the state of California to use tax revenue to pay for improvements that local communities cannot afford.
The funding would come from bonds the state would pay back over 35 years, totaling an estimated $26 billion, which includes $15 billion in principal and $11 billion in interest. This investment is well worth the costs. It takes money, after all, to ensure that students -- especially those in districts that can’t afford major capital improvement projects -- do not have to learn in dangerous environments.
The vast majority of Democrats in the state legislature support it, as does Gov. Newsom, and the only major opposition is a group called the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. This is the group famous for destroying California’s school funding system in 1978 through another proposition, ironically one that was also dubbed Prop 13. The group spends most of its time lobbying to reduce tax rates. It has never shown any interest in supporting California’s children, at least if that means wealthy individuals or giant corporations would pay their fair share in taxes.
Critics of the measure have pointed out that the ballot measure’s language includes a provision that frees new multi-family developments around subway stops and bus stations from school impact fees. This provision will make it easier for developers to build apartment buildings within a half-mile of public transit but could also drive up the cost of new housing and take funds away from school districts across the state. Despite this provision, the measure is still supported by most education groups in the state, who believe the overall funding allocation to schools outweighs the impact of reduced funding to school districts located near transit hubs. 2020’s Prop 13 is worth the investment since it means children will soon be able to attend school in buildings that are retrofitted to withstand earthquakes and no longer have lead in their water.
We strongly recommend a YES vote on Prop 13.
Last updated: 2020-03-02
Vote YES on Measure L
Wondering why there are always school funding props on your ballot? It’s probably because the state of California ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending and local communities are left to make up a lot of the shortfall. The state also allocates its money to prioritize districts with high concentrations of English language learners, low income, and/or foster youth as students -- a policy with which we very much agree! That said, Lafayette doesn’t have many students in those categories, so it hasn’t benefited much from recent increases in state funding. Still, Lafayette’s public schools are some of the best in the state, and that’s of incredible value to the community.
In this measure, owners of a parcel of land are being asked to pay an additional $290 towards local schools to help the district cover rising costs. The local Governing Board has already cut almost $3 million in staff and instructional programs from the District’s General Fund, so while a tax increase is not ideal since residents of the district already pay high school taxes, the measure is worth the cost to ensure the district can meet its funding obligations without cutting services or programs further. The tax increase also has a seven-year limit, so voters will get to review whether the money was well-spent at that time. The measure requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
We strongly recommend a YES vote on Measure L.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
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