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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.
Endorsed By: Stonewall Democratic Club, Bend The Arc (PAC), California Democratic Party, California Federation of Teachers, California League of Conservation Voters, California Teachers Association, Democracy for America, Flip the West, NARAL Pro-Choice California, National Union of Healthcare Workers, Orange County Democrats, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, SEIU 221, United Farm Workers
Representative Mike Levin was raised in South Orange County and Los Angeles before moving away briefly for university and law school. He has returned to live in Orange County, where he currently represents District 49 in Congress.
Rep. Levin was elected to Congress in 2018 and he has been a champion on issues of sustainability and climate change. He is a member of the Natural Resources and Veterans Affairs Committees, as well as the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. He has sponsored legislation across a broad range of progressive issues, including electoral reforms, protection of voting rights, protection against discrimination, pay equity, and environmental protections. Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Levin was a bold advocate for clean energy and sustainability in Orange County, San Diego, and beyond.
Rep. Levin is being challenged by Brian Maryott (R), a conservative businessman and mayor of San Juan Capistrano. Rep. Levin stands out as a strong progressive voice in Congress who has had significant impact in his first term. According to recent election results, this has been a tough race for Democrats to win, as Levin did in 2018. His strong progressive track record and ability to keep this flipped district make him the strongest choice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-28
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
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
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.
Last updated: 2020-03-02
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.
Last updated: 2020-03-03
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.
Last updated: 2020-03-03
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