By Courage California
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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
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
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
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/
Board of Supervisor Races
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below county races on your ballot.
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.
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