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.
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Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below congressional districts on your ballot.
Representative Raul Ruiz grew up in Coachella, CA, and currently resides in La Quinta, CA. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2013. According to campaign materials, he is running to fulfill his pledge to serve his community and address the issues his district faces by being a strong advocate in Washington.
In Congress, Rep. Ruiz has utilized his knowledge as an emergency physician to make the case to save programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Furthermore, he has been a strong advocate for veterans, and a voice of opposition against the influence of special interests in Washington. Rep. Ruiz currently serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and sits on three additional subcommittees. Prior to his election to Congress, he worked as an emergency physician in the Coachella Valley and was the founder and director of the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative, where he successfully brought together members of his community to improve access to healthcare and address public health issues.
Rep. Ruiz has progressive positions when it comes to preserving the environment and ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare. That said, he has voted against key progressive bills pertaining to military spending and other issues involving trade and earlier votes on the impeachment of the President.
Rep. Ruiz is being challenged by Erin Cruz (R), Patrice Kimbler (R), and Milo Stevanovich (R). According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Though we disagree with Rep. Ruiz’s votes on military spending, trade, and impeachment, his relationships with partners and position of power in Congress supports progressive momentum and makes him a strong choice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-05
Representative Mark Takano is from Riverside, CA. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2013. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election to continue to fight for his district’s progressive priorities and be an advocate for veterans, seniors, students, local businesses and hardworking families.
In Congress, Rep. Takano has authored and advanced legislation to limit for-profit colleges’ abusive practices, protect veterans earned benefits, and increase access to vocational training programs. He currently serves as Chairman on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, and sits on the Education and Workforce Committee, as well as four additional subcommittees. Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Takano served on the Riverside Community College District’s Board of Trustees, where he increased access to higher education and job skills training programs for adults seeking new careers. Furthermore, Rep. Takano’s public service in the Riverside community includes positions on the Community Advisory Board of the Children’s Spine Foundation, as well as the mayor of Riverside’s Task Force on the Digital Divide, and he served as Chairman for the Asain Pacific Islander Caucus of the California Democratic Party.
Rep. Takano is being challenged by Grace Williams (D) and Aja Smith (R). Rep. Takano stands out as the best progressive choice because of his track record of public service in Riverside county and his reputation of successfully advancing his district’s progressive priorities.
According to our analysis, Rep. Takano is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-05
William “Liam” O'Mara resides in Lake Elsinore, CA. According to campaign materials, he is running for Congress to advocate for his community’s needs and to fight for an America that benefits all, not just those at the top.
O’Mara is a history professor at Chapman University, where he works to spread knowledge and share his expertise, as well as learn from his students about the difficult experiences people face in today’s society. He put himself through college and pursued a Ph.D. in history while working as a cook, longshoreman, and in technology.
O’Mara is committed to enacting progressive policies such as Medicare for All so that people have access to quality healthcare regardless of financial circumstances, paid sick and family leave to provide stability when people experience unexpected situations, a $15 minimum wage, and tuition free public college so that people have access to learn the necessary skills for a job in today’s economy.
O’Mara is running against Ken Calvert (R), who is the incumbent and has held the seat since 1993, as well as Regina Marston (D). According to recent election results, it's rare that Democrats wins this seat.
According to our analysis, O’Mara is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-03
Ammar Campa-Najjar was born and raised in San Diego. According to campaign materials he is running to represent District 50 in Congress to fight for real ethics and campaign finance reform, while protecting an individual’s right to personal health, safety, and economic dignity.
Campa-Najjar has served in a White House position in the Executive Office of the President, at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and at the U.S. Department of Labor, where he led the Office of Public Affairs for the Employment and Training Administration. His first work experience was as a church janitor to help contribute to his family’s economic security. Through his professional experiences, Campa-Najjar has helped to promote the economic growth of more than 4 million Latinx-owned small businesses, expanded aid for farm workers, launched youth summer jobs programs, and advanced veteran employment opportunities.
This is Campa-Najjar’s second attempt at running for Congressional District 50. In 2018, Campa-Najjar came in second, after what was widely described as an ugly, racist congressional campaign in which Campa-Najjar was smeared by Representative Duncan Hunter, as well as Hunter’s father, a former congressman. Rep. Hunter has since resigned after pleading guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds.
Camapa-Najjar’s campaign has decent childcare, education, and campaign finance reform positions. That said, in this second attempt at running for Congressional District 50, Campa-Najjar has fallen short on advocating for large structural healthcare reform, has said that we would have abstained from voting on impeachment, and has even claimed that he will be a conservative voice for his district.
Challengers include Brian Jones (R), Carl DeMaio (R), Darrell Issa (R), Helen Horvath (NPP), Henry Ota (NPP), Jose Cortes (Peace and Freedom), Lucinda Jahn (NPP), Marisa Calderon (D), and Nathan Wilkins (R). One notable challenger is former House Congressmember Republican Darrell Issa, who was in office from 2001 to 2019. While in office, Issa played a prominent role in GOP-led investigations of the Obama administration in his role as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Rep. Issa is currently attracting attention for his troubling campaign advertising strategy, which has been criticized for attempting to use another challenger’s sexual orientation against him.
According to recent election results, it's very challenging for a Democrat to win this district. Though we disagree with Campa-Najjar’s healthcare and impeachment stances, as well as his self-proclaimed conservative title, in this crowded field, Campa-Najjar stands out as the best choice because of his commitment to public service, his campaign’s comprehensive policy platform, and his proven ability to compete in his district.
According to our analysis, Ammar Campa-Najjar is the strongest choice for Congressional District 50 and deserves your vote.
Last updated: 2020-02-28
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Assembly races on your ballot.
DeniAntoinette Mazingo was born in Los Angeles and now lives in Hemet, CA. According to campaign materials, Mazingo is running to bring programs to the most vulnerable among us, to ensure affordable housing, to create competitive jobs, and to ensure a great quality of life for her community.
Mazingo is an attorney and Riverside County’s Third District Commissioner for Women. She believes that she can help represent the interests of people in need, such as unhoused seniors, single mothers struggling to care for their children, and veterans struggling to survive. Healthcare, housing, and veteran assistance are significant priority areas for Mazingo, and she believes she can make the biggest difference in the area of housing and veteran affairs.
Mazingo is challenging incumbent Chad Mayes (R), who has consistently opposed progressive priorities and sided with corporate lobbyists and failed his constituents across a wide spectrum of issues. Other candidates include Andrew Kotyuk (R). Mazingo is the strongest choice because of her passion for progressive causes and strong slate of endorsements from progressive groups. According to recent election results, Democrats have the potential to win this seat, and Mazingo’s narrow loss in the same district in 2018 indicates her chances are strong in 2020.
According to our analysis, DeniAntoinette Mazingo is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Eduardo Garcia is a lifelong resident of the Coachella Valley and currently lives in Coachella. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2015. According to campaign materials, Assemblymember Garcia wants to continues to champion healthcare, and environmental and economic development for the Coachella and Imperial Valleys.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia has authored several critical pieces of legislation. In 2016, he authored a landmark bill that mandates the reduction of emissions, improves oversight of the Air Resources Board, and lays the groundwork to ensure future policies prioritize investments in the disadvantaged communities most affected by pollution. He currently chairs the Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, and the Select Committee on Renewable Energy Development and Restoration of the Salton Sea. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, he served as Coachella’s first elected mayor.
Eduardo Garcia is being challenged by America Figueroa (R), a vocal anti-LGBTQ+ parents’ rights activist. In 2019, he scored a 92 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislators’ progressive voting records. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Eduardo Garcia has consistently shown great courage advocating for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.
According to our analysis, Eduardo Gacia is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-24
Courage Score: https://www.couragescore.org/people/eduardo-garcia/
Sabrina Cervantes is a lifelong resident of Riverside County and currently lives in Corona. She is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2017. According to campaign materials, she is running to continue being an independent and effective advocate for District 60 residents.
Assemblymember Cervantes has authored several bills that have been signed into law that expand and protect voters’ rights, protect survivors of domestic violence, and support people with disabilities. She currently serves on the Committee for Banking and Finance, the Committee for Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, and chairs the Assembly’s Select Committee on Veteran Employment and Education. However, she has opposed critical measures on gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform. Prior to their election to the State Assembly, she worked as District Director for the State Assembly and as a Director for the California Voter Registration Project.
Sabrina Cervantes is being challenged by Chris Raahauge (R). In 2019 She scored a 35 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislator's progressive voting records. Recent election results indicate Democrats can win this seat but it's often a close race. Though we disagree with Assemblymember Cervantes's stance on gun violence prevention legislation and criminal justice reform, her strong base in a recently flipped district in the State Assembly supports progressive momentum and makes her the strongest choice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-29
Assemblymember Jose Medina has been a resident of Riverside County for over 30 years, having received both his undergraduate degree, master's degree, and teaching credentials from UC Riverside. Medina is the incumbent and has served in this office since 2012. According to campaign materials, Medina is running for re-election to continue his efforts to provide affordable, quality higher education to California students.
During his time in the Assembly, Medina has authored a number of bills that provide financial assistance to students in need—including those with DACA status and those who are homeless. Medina currently serves as chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Medina was a teacher in the Riverside Unified School District, where he was also a member of the Riverside City Teachers Association and the state council of the California Teachers Association (CTA). Additionally, he served three terms on the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees and had previously been elected to the Jurupa Unified School District Board of Education.
Medina’s commitment to progress is reflected in the bills he’s authored surround Californian’s access to affordable, quality higher education. That said, he’s abstained from voting on some progressive bills that address climate change and corporate transparency.
Medina is running against Ali Mazarei (R). According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Though we disagree with Medina abstaining from voting on issues having to do with corporate transparency and climate change, his commitment to education supports progressive momentum and makes him the strongest choice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Jerry Carlos has been a resident of Lake Elsinore since 1999 and worked in the district in the 1970s. While we do not have sufficient information about this candidate to confirm his viability, we recommend supporting Carlos as a potentially progressive candidate running for this open seat.
Carlos has run for office in the past, running on a platform of expanding educational and recreational opportunities for city residents, as well as promising to include residents in the policy decision making process. Carlos has worked in public service in law enforcement, fire department administration, and recreational services. He has also worked as a tennis coach in local public schools and is a small business owner.
Carlos is running against Steve Manos (R), Nick Pardue (R), Kelly Seyarto (R), and Jeremy Smith (R) for this open seat. According to recent election results, it's a long shot for a Democrat to win this seat.
According to our analysis, Jerry Carlos has the potential to provide strong progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-04
Elizabeth Lavertu lives in Spring Valley, CA. According to campaign materials she is running for State Assembly because she wants to reinvest taxes in the community to improve schools, infrastructure, healthcare, and affordable housing.
Elizabeth Lavertu is a Co-Chair of the Spring Valley Community Planning Group, where she uses the position to improve roads and other infrastructure and bring economic development to the community. In this role, she has been an advocate for preserving arts programs in schools, and raised over $100,000 for an outdoor fitness circuit at the Jamacha Elementary School. She has also vocally opposed the Cottonwood Sand Mine developments over concerns about the health impacts to students and residents nearby.
Lavertu is running against candidate Randy Voepel (R), who is the incumbent and has held the seat since 2016. According to recent election results, it's rare that Democrats win this seat. Elizabeth Lavertu is the best the progressive choice because of her commitment to universal healthcare, quality education and a living wage.
According to our analysis, Elizabeth Lavertu is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Karen “Kate” Schwartz has lived in the Bonsall and Fallbrook areas for over 20 years. According to campaign materials she is running for State Assembly because she is frustrated by the District’s Tea Party representation.
Kate Schwartz is an elected Director on the Fallbrook Regional Health District board where she has advocated for healthcare patients and their families. In 2017, Fallbrook Regional Health District decreased its operation costs while increasing its affordable public health services for low and fixed income populations by over a third. Kate Schwartz has also created new programs for youth, and evaluated the communities she serves for needed services. She has been a licensed behavioral healthcare provider for 34 years.
Kate Schwartz is running against Marie Waldron (R), who is the incumbent and has held the seat since 2012, as well as Roger Garcia (D). According to recent election results, it's challenging for Democrats to win this seat. Kate Schwartz stands out as the progressive choice because of her stated commitment to prioritizing universal healthcare, climate change, homelessness, and public education.
According to our analysis, Kate Schwartz is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-18
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Senate races on your ballot.
Abigail Medina currently resides in San Bernardino County. According to campaign materials, she is running for State Senate to improve educational opportunities for her district and to be a voice for historically marginalized communities.
Medina serves as the Board President of the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) and Executive Director of Inland Region Equality Network (IREN), where she works to improve youth educational opportunities and elevate disadvantaged communities. While sitting on the school board, Medina has helped improve SBCUSD’s graduation rate from 70 percent, in 2013, to 90 percent, in 2018, and as ED of IREN, Medina has advanced initiatives in the Inland region to empower the LGBTQ+ community. Medina has also worked for the California Association for the Gifted, Congregation Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), Health Advocates, and the District African American Council.
Medina is running against Kris Goodfellow (D), Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R), Cristina Puraci (R), and Lloyd White (R) for this open seat. According to recent election results, it's rare that Democrats win this seat. Medina stands out as the progressive choice because of her proven track record of being a community advocate and her ability to solve the issues faced by her community.
According to our analysis, Medina is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-28
Joy Silver is from Pennsylvania and has lived in Palm Springs since 2007. According to campaign materials she is running for State Senate because she was motivated after the 2016 Presidential election to use her experience in the healthcare and housing industries to fight for equity in her community.
Silver helped found Courageous Resistance of Palm Springs, a grassroots organization that was established to push back against the Trump administration’s immigration policies and their efforts to ease gun violence prevention legislation across the country. Throughout her career, she has worked to improve healthcare access, and to increase funding for affordable housing. Silver has emphasized sustainable growth and environmental protections, and has spoken out against the gas tax repeal effort. Under this platform, Silver came within 3% of flipping State Senate District 28 in the 2018 election. She lost the race to the incumbent, but was endorsed by Courage Campaign in her bid for the seat. Since that time the incumbent has accepted a position with Trump’s Department of Labor, prompting this special election.
Joy Silver is running against Elizabeth Romero (D), John Schwab (R), and Melissa Melendez (R) in this open race. According to recent election results, it's rare that Democrats win this seat, but Silver lost only narrowly in 2018. Silver stands out as the progressive choice because of her diverse track record of working for healthcare reform, social justice, and affordable housing.
According to our analysis, Joy Silver is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-01-30
Richard Roth is from Columbus, Ohio and moved to Riverside in 1978. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2012. According to campaign materials he is running to keep his seat to continue to build on his military and legal career by working on budget and healthcare issues in the legislature.
In the State Senate, Roth has worked on legislation to improve funding for a public medical school in Riverside and transportation improvements, to provide protection for the Mojave, to expand access to higher education in underserved communities, and to support K-12 mental health services. Roth currently serves as Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Education, and the Vice-Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. He also serves on an additional 10 policy committees, including Rules, Transportation, Veteran’s Affairs, Budget & Fiscal Review, and Housing. Prior to his election to the State Senate, Roth served in the JAG Corps and the Air Force Reserves, acting as a reserve judge advocate and reaching the rank of Major General before his 2007 retirement. As an attorney, Roth practiced labor and employment law in private practice and has taught law at UC-Riverside. As a community member, Roth served as the Chairman of the Board of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, and President of the Monday Morning Group. He has been an active board member with several legal organizations and worked with the Parkview Community Hospital and the Riverside Art Museum.
Roth has progressive positions on education funding, healthcare, and transportation infrastructure. That said, he has voted against several progressive bills, including tenant housing protections and prohibiting biometric data being recorded by police body cameras.
Roth is running unopposed in this race. This year, he scored 58 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislators’ progressive voting record. According to recent election results, Democrats can win this seat but it's often a close race. Though we disagree with Roth’s stance on the issues listed above, his long record of public service and strong base in a difficult to win district supports progressive momentum and makes him a strong choice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
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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