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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 Monterey County? Visit your county elections website.
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Assembly races on your ballot.
Mark Stone lives in Scotts Valley. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2012. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election because he wants to continue to protect the most vulnerable Californians.
In the State Assembly, Rep. Stone has led reform in criminal justice, youth and education, LGBTQ+ rights, and the environment. Last year, his bill to eliminate copayments for medical and dental visits for incarcerated people became law, as well as a bill that allowed more incarcerated people to qualify to earn parole credits. He also introduced a Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights, and the Coastal Adaptation, Access, and Resilience Program (CAARP) to fund climate adaptation projects. He currently chairs the Judiciary Committee. Prior to their election to the State Assembly, he served two terms on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.
Mark Stone is being challenged by Shomir Banerjee (R). He scores a lifetime 100 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislators’ progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Mark Stone 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, Mark Stone is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Rober Rivas is from Paicines and moved to has lived in Hollister for most of his life. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2018. According to campaign material, he is running for re-election to continue to fight for the “resources local communities need and deserve.”
In the State Assembly, he authored the landmark Farmworker Housing Act, which would allow surplus agricultural land to be rezoned for farmworker housing. He also co-authored the bill to fund the Golden State Teacher Grant Program. The program provides $20,000 in scholarship grants for recent college graduates that acquire a teaching credential in high-need fields, such as STEM or special education, and teach for four years in select schools. Rep. Rivas currently serves as Chair of the Joint Committee on Fair Allocation and Classification. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, he served on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors.
Robert Rivas is running against Gregory Swett (R). He scored a 90 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator’s progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Rivas has consistently advocated for the needs of constituents and faced down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.
According to our analysis, Robert Rivas is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-24
Depending on where you live, you may have the below races on your ballot.
There are two well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates: Maria Cadenas and John Laird. After extensive research, we believe they are both good choices. Read the full descriptions below to find the candidate which best fits your values and priorities for State Senate District 17.
John Laird is from Vallejo and is a long-time resident of Santa Cruz. According to campaign materials he is running for State Senate to build on his long history of public service and activism by providing leadership on local environmental issues and pushing for continued social reforms.
Laird has recently completed eight years of service as the California Secretary for Natural Resources, which he did because of his strong interest and experience in advocating for environmental issues. Over the course of his career, Laird has been a leading voice on environmental issues, including advocating for the establishment of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, addressing the dwindling water supply, and responding to the frequent wildfires. Prior to his Secretarial appointment, Laird served two terms as the Mayor of Santa Cruz, sat on the Santa Cruz City Council, was the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project, taught environmental policy at UC Santa Cruz, and held a seat in the State Assembly for three terms. Laird was prolific in the Assembly, authoring 82 bills that were signed into law.
Laird is running against Maria Cadenas (D), John Nevill (D), and Vicki Nohrden (R) for this open seat. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Laird is a noteworthy progressive choice because of his track record of public service, and his commitment to important regional issues like environmental protections and education reform.
According to our analysis, John Laird is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
Maria Cadenas was born in Mexico, and moved to California with her family when she was 11. According to campaign materials she is running for State Senate because she wants to find innovative solutions to problems that plague our communities socially and environmentally.
Cadenas currently supports families through her work with Santa Cruz Community Ventures, which provides a variety of social supports, including seeking to create a college savings account for every child born in Santa Cruz County, reducing college debt, and providing resources for immigrant families. Cadenas does this work to ensure that vulnerable members of her community have access to crucial resources. She has worked as the Associate Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, fought to protect LGBTQ+ youth as the Executive Director of the Cream City Foundation, and supported career pipeline development through her work with Driscoll. Each of these roles have provided Cadenas with the opportunity to provide access and opportunity to underserved populations.
Cadenas is running against John Laird (D), John Nevill (D), and Vicki Nohrden (R) for this open seat. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Cadenas is a noteworthy progressive choice because of her demonstrated interest in complex progressive issues like reducing college debt, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and working to provide resources to immigrant families.
According to our analysis, Maria Cadenas is a strong 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
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