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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.
Voting has changed in Sacramento County this year. The Voter’s Choice Act was enacted in the county to make voting more convenient. Changes include an expanded period of in-person early voting, every registered voter in the county will receive a vote-by-mail ballot, and every registered voter in the county is able to vote in-person at any Vote Center in their county. Have questions about the changes to voting in Sacramento County? Visit your county elections website.
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below congressional districts on your ballot.
Representative Doris Matsui was born in the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona; her parents had been forced from their homes in the Central Valley and met in the camp. Her family relocated back to the Central Valley, where Matsui was raised. She attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she met her husband, the late Congressman Bob Matsui. After his unexpected passing in 2005, she ran for his seat in a special election, which was then California’s 5th District, and won. The 2010 redistricting shifted her to the present 6th District; regardless, she has won every election since by comfortable margins.
Matsui serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and four subcommittees. Matsui has long campaigned on improving education, supporting green and renewable energies, and expanding access to healthcare. She has criticized the Trump administrations’ attacks on the EPA, and California's own efforts to combat air pollution and maintain CAFE standards. She supports tax incentives for clean energy, including loans for homeowners to retrofit homes and grants to modernize electrical grids.
She is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, and has fought for comprehensive mental health reforms. In 2014, she sponsored and helped pass helped the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which funded community behavioral health clinics in pilot states.
Matsui has also become increasingly outspoken against the Trump administration's fear mongering, and discriminatory immigration and detention policies. After visiting a detention processing center in McAllen, Texas, the Congresswoman wrote an op-ed stating she was “sickened” by the conditions, and called for “wholesale reform” that includes investment in Central American nations, ending the separation of families at the border, and ending the role of private prisons at the border.
Rep. Matsui is challenged by Benjamin Emrad (D), Chris Bish (R), and Sherwood Ellsworthy Haisty, Jr. (R). Matsui stands out as the best progressive choice because of her commitment to progressive values and vision for a healthier, more just and vibrant future.
According to our analysis, Matsui is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-25
Dr. Ami Bera was first elected to California’s 7th Congressional District in 2012, defeating Republican incumbent Dan Lungren after redistricting. Rep. Bera was born and raised in southern California, and earned his B.S. and M.D. from the University of California, Irvine. He moved to the Sacramento area in the mid 1990s and currently lives with his family in Elk Grove. As a doctor, improving access to health care and reducing prescription drug costs have been central to Rep. Bera’s platform, as has protecting Medicare and Social Security.
Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Bera served as Sacramento County’s Chief Medical Officer, and was a clinical professor and associate dean for admissions at the University of California, Davis.
In the House, Rep. Bera currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; he is also the Chair of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Rep. Bera has been a strong proponent of women’s issues, including improving early access to healthcare, protecting reproductive choice, increasing funding for Title X and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. He has fought the Trump administrations roll backs of clean air and water regulations, and supports investments in renewable, green energy, but is not a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution. After California’s devastating wildfires, he co-sponsored legislation to improve the resilience of electrical grids. He’s stated his support of publicly owned utilities but has not specifically called for public ownership of PG&E. He supported the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which, among other reforms, would allow Health & Human Services to negotiate the cost of 250 drugs for Medicare recipients. While he supports a path to universal healthcare, he has not supported Medicare for All plans.
Rep. Bera is running against Jeff Burdick (D), Jon Ivy (R), Buzz Paterson (R), and Chris Richardson (G). The district is a battleground district that can be tough for Democrats to win; the margin of victory was often less than 3% for Bera. While Rep. Bera is more conservative on some issues, this seat is a must-keep for Democrats, and his support on other key progressive issues is vital. Rep. Bera is the best choice for a progressive voice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-01
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
Tracie Stafford is a 53 year old resident of Elk Grove, born to a single mother and orphaned at the age of 12 along with her 4 siblings. She is the first in her family to earn a college degree. According to Stafford, she is running to end corporate-dominated politics and to give a voice to the unheard, under-served and disenfranchised.
Stafford is a community leader, an elected assembly district delegate, and was appointed by the governor as Chair of the city of Sacramento’s small business board. Stafford supports legislation that closes the gender and racial wage gap while ensuring that women, the LGBTQ+ community and people of color are provided with equal opportunities in the workplace. She will work closely with labor to ensure that workers are being treated justly and with dignity regarding pay, benefits, and access to promotions.
Stafford’s commitment to justice and equity is fueled by her personal experiences with poverty, discrimination, child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. She plans to advocate to preserve confidential, unrestricted access to affordable, high quality, culturally sensitive health care services, including the full range of reproductive services, contraception and abortion, without requiring guardian, judicial, parental, or spousal consent or notification.
Stafford brings a strong track record and deep relationships in progressive politics and public service. Among many other roles and affiliations, Stafford has served as President of the Women Democrats of Sacramento County, as Political Action Chair for the Sacramento NAACP, and as a founder of Indivisible Women of California.
Stafford is challenging incumbent Jim Cooper (D), who has consistently opposed progressive priorities by siding with corporate lobbyists and failing his constituents on many issues include the environment and worker protections. Other candidates include Mushtaq Tahirkheli (D), and Eric Rigard (R). Stafford is the strongest choice in a crowded field because of her track record as a progressive champion for the underserved and disenfranchised, and as an advocate for her region’s priorities in the Democratic Party.
Voting for Stafford is an opportunity to elect a legislator who will accurately represent the perspective and priorities of her district in Congress. Courage California strongly endorses Tracie Stafford for State Assembly.
Last updated: 2020-02-25
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
Susan Eggman is from Turlock, CA, just south of State Senate District 5, and currently resides in Stockton, CA. She is the incumbent in this race. According to campaign materials, she is running for State Senate to fight for her community’s right to clean water, ensure that veterans receive the care they have earned, and increase access to quality education throughout the Central Valley.
Eggman advocates for her community's needs in the state capitol. As an assembly member, she’s led the project to develop a California State University in Stockton, has challenged delays in establishing the French Camp CA Medical Clinic, and has been an ongoing voice of opposition towards the proposal to develop tunnels through the San Joaquin Delta. Prior to becoming a state legislature, Eggman worked as a social worker focused on addressing issues pertaining to substance abuse, and also served in the Stockton City Council and the United States Army as a combat medic.
Eggman is running against Mani Grewal (D), Jesús Andrade (R), Kathleen Garcia (R), and Jim Ridenor (R). In 2019, as an assembly member, Eggman scored 86 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting records. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Eggman 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, Eggman is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-24
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
Katie Valenzuela has lived in Sacramento for 10 years. According to campaign materials she is running for Sacramento City Council to build on her family’s legacy of community service by using her advocacy and organizing experience to effect change for District 4 constituents.
Valenzuela is an activist and advocate, and currently serves as the Policy & Political Director for the California Environmental Justice Alliance. She does this work to identify the systemic barriers to health and prosperity that face her community, and to find solutions to those issues through the amplification of local voices. Valenzuela was instrumental in forming the Sacramento Urban Agriculture Coalition, which was used to advocate for policies around the growing and selling of food, and the Sacramento Community Land Trust. She was eventually appointed to the California Environmental Justice Committee. Valenzuela has worked in a civil rights law firm, at the State Capitol for the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies, and as a private consultant. Her efforts have consistently been focused on providing community groups with the resources to influence the policies that impact them.
Valenzuela is running against Steve Hansen, the incumbent who has held the seat since 2012. Valenzuela stands out as the progressive choice because of her track record of working to advocate on homelessness and housing, and to empower local communities to work in support of diverse policy changes that eliminate systemic barriers to access.
According to our analysis, Katie Valenzuela is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
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