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.
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
Representative Juan Carlos Vargas was born and raised in California's 51st congressional district, which he was first elected to in 2012.
Vargas’ district includes Imperial county and the southern part of San Diego county along the U.S-Mexican border. To address local concerns about cross-border pollution, particularly of waterways, Vargas supported the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), specifically citing the $300 million that will be allocated to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Border Water Infrastructure Program (BWIP). He has been an advocate for action on climate change, and is one of the co-sponsors of House Resolution 109, which calls on the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.
Vargas has been critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, including the wall at the border, the Migrant Protection Protocols, and the deportation of veterans. He urged Democrats to take a strong stance against Trump’s efforts to divert Pentagon funds to build a border wall. Recently, he called for investigations in to efforts by Customs and Border Protection to send asylum seekers to Mexico by issuing documents for fake court hearings. He has also sponsored legislation that would allow Dreamers to apply for FHA loans, which HUD currently denies.
Courage California (then known as Courage Campaign) was deeply involved in the fight for the Homeowner Bill of Rights in 2012, a critical piece of state legislation to protect homeowners from predatory lending practices by mortgage lenders. Then Senator Vargas played a key role as head of the Banking Committee in the California Senate, prior to his election to Congress. Unfortunately, Vargas repeatedly attempted to protect Wall Street from accountability. However, after heroic organizing with our partners at ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), he stepped down as committee chair, which eventually allowed for the landmark bill to pass. This gives us great pause about Rep. Vargas’ commitment to progressive governance.
Representative Vargas is running against Juan M Hidalgo Jr. (R). While we have major concerns about Vargas and encourage a more progressive candidate to run against him in a future election cycle, there is no question that he is preferable to a Republican given his record, particularly on issues such as climate change and immigration.
Last updated: 2020-02-13
There are two well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates and leaders: Georgette Gomez and Janessa Goldbeck. After extensive research, we believe both are good choices. Read the full descriptions of each candidate to find the candidate who best fits your values and priorities for Congressional District 53 Representative.
Georgette Gomez was born in San Diego and grew up in the Barrio Logan neighborhood in south central San Diego, the daughter of working class immigrants. She continues to live in San Diego, where she currently represents Council District 9 on the San Diego City Council. According to campaign materials, Councilmember Gomez is running to represent Congressional District 53 in order to stand up against Trump’s dangerous agenda and put the focus back on what working families in our community need.
Councilmember Gomez was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2016 and became the first LGBTQ Latina to be elected as Council President in 2018. During her tenure, Councilmember Gomez has helped expand affordable housing and renter protections, helped lead the implementation of the San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, and secured funding for community priorities including street repairs, parks and libraries.
Prior to election to the City Council, Councilmember Gomez led the Toxic Free Neighborhoods Campaign at the Environmental Health Coalition to protect kids from lead paint and keep polluting industries out of residential communities and worked as a victims’ advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Her personal and professional experiences have opened her eyes to the issues faced by low income families and immigrant families, and has led to her unwavering commitment to creating a better, more inclusive government for all.
Councilmember Gomez is running for the open seat of Congressional District 53, as current Representative Susan Davis has announced her retirement. Other candidates include Annette Meza (D), Chris Stoddard (R), Devorah Ann Fox (D), Eric Kutner (D), Famela Ramos (R), Fernando Garcia (I), Janessa Goldbeck (D), Joaquin Vazquez (D), John E. Brooks (D), Jose Caballero (D), Joseph Fountain (D), Michael Oristian (R), Sara Jacobs (D), Suzette Santori (D), and Tom Wong (D). Councilmember Gomez stands out in a crowded field as a strong progressive choice for office because of her track record as a champion of progressive values and numerous endorsements from progressive organizations.
According to our analysis, Councilmember Gomez is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-24
Janessa Goldbeck, a veteran, was born and raised in San Diego, the daughter of a public school teacher and a tow truck driver. She currently lives in Talmage. According to campaign materials, she is running to fight for bold, progressive solutions that make a difference in the lives of San Diegans.
Janessa left active service in the Marines in 2019. During her time in service, Janessa served as a Uniformed Victim Advocate, providing support to Marines who had experienced sexual assault. Prior to joining the Marines in December 2012, she was a human rights lobbyist. She is a co-founder of the local chapter of the Truman National Security Project in San Diego.
Goldbeck holds progressive positions in areas including health care and electoral reform. She is a strong supporter of the Family and Insurance Medical Leave Act, which proposes a national program which would guarantee all workers up to 12 weeks paid leave no matter the size of the company or type of work they do. She pledges to support efforts to codify the right to an abortion into law, guarantee full Medicare coverage of contraception coverage and family planning methods, and ensure Title X funds only go to providers who offer comprehensive, evidence-based care. She also identifies as a supporter of the Second Amendment who favors common-sense efforts to reduce gun violence and promote gun safety.
Goldbeck is running for the open seat of Congressional District 53, as current Representative Susan Davis has announced her retirement. Other candidates include Annette Meza (D), Chris Stoddard (R), Devorah Ann Fox (D), Eric Kutner (D), Famela Ramos (R), Fernando Garcia (I), Georgette Gomez (D), Joaquin Vazquez (D), John E. Brooks (D), Jose Caballero (D), Joseph Fountain (D), Michael Oristian (R), Sara Jacobs (D), Suzette Santori (D), and Tom Wong (D). Goldbeck stands out in a crowded field as one of two openly LGBT progressive candidates competing for the same office.
According to our analysis, Goldbeck is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-24
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
Olga Diaz is a lifelong California resident and has lived in Escondido for over 10 years. According to campaign materials she is running for Board of Supervisors to use her unique understanding of the diverse needs of the community to advocate for environmental and social justice issues at the county level.
Diaz is a member of the Escondido City Council, which she does to apply her academic background in public administration and accounting to the city’s challenging issues of budgeting and priority setting. Diaz has collaborated with a variety of stakeholders and, as the first Latino elected to the City Council, has worked to put inclusive community relationships at the front of her local work. She has been instrumental in the Escondido Creek restoration project that is in progress, which demonstrates a dynamic focus on environmental protection, urban renewal, and public safety. As a member of the Board of Supervisors, Diaz would build on this experience to take actionable steps to improve the region's response to climate change, to produce more affordable housing, and to provide wrap-around services for individuals experiencing homelessness. As a citizen, Diaz has served on the Board of Directors for the Voice of San Diego, the Community Advisory Council for San Diego Gas & Electric, the California Coastal Commission, the CSU President’s Advisory Committee, and the San Diego Union Tribune Latino Advisory Board.
Diaz is running against Kristin Gaspar, who is the incumbent and has held the seat since 2016, as well as Terra Lawson-Remer. Diaz is the best progressive choice because of her experience in local government and her track record of working to be an effective consensus builder to get things done for constituents.
According to our analysis, Olga Diaz 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.
Vote YES on Measure A
Both Measures A and B on the San Diego County March ballot deal with housing development in the county’s unincorporated areas. While Measure B is related to the future of a specific development -- the one that inspired both of these measures -- Measure A would address the approval process for all developments in the unincorporated lands around San Diego.
Dubbed by advocates as the “Save Our San Diego Countryside Measure,” Measure A would require a countywide vote on any major projects granted a General Plan amendment. (The county’s General Plan covers zoning and land use was last updated in 2012. Large housing developments generally require an amendment in order to proceed.) Developers rarely fare well in these kinds of public votes, but proponents of the measure believe residents should have a greater voice in any changes that involve building in the fire-prone areas in the outskirts of the county. They also note that the county government is too easily bought off by donations from the building industry and developers.
The opposition, unsurprisingly, comes primarily from those very people -- the building industry and developers. Opponents claim it’s being financed by the ultra wealthy and primarily designed to save properties like the Golden Door Spa, the luxury retreat funding the opposition to Measure B, from development despite the fact that over a dozen environmental groups support the measure. They reiterate the conservative claim that Measure A would stymie new housing projects due to the expense involved in putting anything before a public vote.
Developers often are irresponsible stewards of our responsibility to build and expand affordable housing. Measure A would ensure that the public's voice is heard when it comes to amending the General Plan, which impacts both affordable housing and safety. It would prevent elected officials from changing the General Plan without justifying those amendments to voters in order to appease developers. While it might be well-meaning to build more housing in an attempt to address the housing crisis, if it's done in high-risk areas where families may lose their homes and potentially their lives down the line, it is misguided -- as we've seen with the countless wildfires throughout the state that have devastated various communities in fire-risk areas.
Vote YES on Measure A.
Vote NO on Measure B
Both Measures A and B on the San Diego County March ballot deal with housing development in the county’s unincorporated areas. While Measure A is designed to increase public oversight and approval over any large development project in San Diego County, Measure B reaffirms the approval of a specific large development project called Newland Sierra by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
San Diego County’s Measure B would uphold the approval of Newland Sierra, a planned high density development just north of Escondido on land currently zoned as rural or semi-rural. The Newland Sierra project would build 2,135 homes on land previously zoned for 99 residences, as well as the development of about 2 million square feet of commercial space. In addition to approving the land rezoning, the San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the county’s development guidelines specifically for Newland Sierra.
The Supervisors have failed to set in place any long-term action plans on affordable housing or climate for the county, which is how Newland Sierra was approved with no affordable housing guarantees in part of the county identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as an area of severe fire danger.
Proponents of Measure B argue that a legal agreement signed by the the developer of the project guarantees affordable housing be included in the project, and that the project will help alleviate the housing crisis in the area. Opponents of Measure B, have pointed out that the signed legal agreement can be changed at any time by the developer and is therefore not enforceable by the county or the public. This is a strong example of how developers are often irresponsible stewards of our responsibility to build and expand affordable housing, while making sure that this housing is built in areas safe from excessive wildfire danger.
We recommend a NO on Measure B.
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