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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 San Mateo 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 San Mateo County? Visit your county elections website.
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below congressional districts on your ballot.
Jackie Speier was born and raised in San Francisco. She has been a lifelong public servant, having first been elected to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 1980. She won a special primary election for the 14th Congressional District on April 8, 2008 and has run on platforms advocating for gender equity, gun violence prevention, and LGBTQ equality.
Speier began her political career as a congressional staffer for Congressman Leo Ryan. While a congressional staffer for Congressman Leo Ryan, Speier went on a fact finding mission to investigate the Jonestown settlement, where she sustained five gunshot wounds during the massacre. She has co-sponsored and supported numerous pieces of legislation on gun violence prevention in her time in office since.
Speier has long fought for women’s rights as well as LGBTQ equality. She supports adding LGBTQ protections to ENDA, Title IX protections, gender pay equity, the Equal Rights Amendment, the #MeToo movement, and abortion protections. She has opposed discrimination on the basis of religious protection, and Trump’s Transgender Military Service Ban.
In Congress, Speier also helped secure funding for the district’s CalTrain services, and been active on legislation to address climate change. She supports the Green New Deal and policies to develop renewable energies and make them more accessible.
Jackie Speier is being challenged by Cristos Goodrow (D), Ran S. Petel (R), and Eric Taylor (NPP). Based on our analysis, Speier has consistently been a strong progressive voice in Congress and is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-05
Rep. Eshoo was born in Connecticut, and moved to California after high school. She is the incumbent, having served in Congress since 1993; after the 2012 redistricting the district was renumbered from the 14th to the 18th. Her campaign materials highlight her commitment to gun violence prevention, taking action on climate change, protecting the Affordable Care Act, ensuring net neutrality, as well as immigration reform.
In Congress Eshoo has worked to pass legislation to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, lower prescription drug prices, and authored an op-ed with Rep. Adam Schiff on the need to reduce American dependence on drugs produced overseas. She supports universal healthcare, but has stopped short of supporting Medicare for All, citing concerns about how it would be funded. She has opposed Trump’s immigration policies, including the Muslim ban, detention centers, the border wall, separating families at the border and making it harder for immigrants to obtain public services, like food stamps. She has fought to protect net neutrality, end robocalls, and worked with Rep. Lofgren on new data and privacy protections.
Eshoo is being challenged by Rishi Kumar (D), Bob Goodwyn (L), Richard Fox (R), and Phil Reynolds (R). According to our analysis, Eshoo 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 Assembly races on your ballot.
Phil Ting is from southern California and has lived in the Bay Area for over 20 years. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2013. According to campaign materials he is running for re-election because he believes in the importance of California’s continued technological innovation to build a cleaner economy, promote education reform, and increase equity across the state.
In the State Assembly, Ting has worked on legislation that helps more students access Cal Grants, provides bathroom and tax protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and improves healthy food access for food stamp recipients. Ting has also been outspoken on clean energy issues, pushing for improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, encouraging the installation of electric car charging stations, and helping homeowners invest in water and energy technologies. He serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, and sits on three additional committees. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Ting worked as the Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus, and was appointed to serve as the Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco. In this role, he increased solar power use in the city, and completed the assessment backlog to bring in millions in unpaid property taxes.
Ting is being challenged by John McDonnell (R). He scores a lifetime 96 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Ting 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, Phil Ting is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Kevin Mullin is from San Mateo County and lives in South San Francisco. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2013. According to campaign materials he is running for re-election to continue to build bi-partisan cooperation around election reform and improve economic opportunity and infrastructure.
In the State Assembly, Mullin has authored 52 bills that were signed into law. Much of his legislative work is focused on election reform, including enhancing vote-by-mail operations, strengthening campaign disclosure laws, automatically registering eligible Californians to vote, and moving the 2020 California presidential primary election earlier in the primary cycle. He has served as Assembly Speaker pro Tempore since 2014, and serves on four other committees. Prior to his election to the Assembly, Mullin was an entrepreneur, founding KM2 Communications to produce public affairs programming and documentaries for local television. Mullin was also a state legislative staffer, and was elected to the South San Francisco City Council where he served as Mayor.
Mullin is being challenged by Mark Gilham (R) and Bridget Mahoney (R). He scores a lifetime 95 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislators’ progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Mullin has consistently shown great courage advocatig for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.
According to our analysis, Kevin Mullin is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Marc Berman was raised in Palo Alto. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2017. According to campaign materials he is running for re-election because he wants to use his long history of public service to continue to push California forward on election security and higher education accessibility.
In the State Assembly, Berman has authored bills that sought to improve election cybersecurity and campaign finance disclosure, improve the census process for 2020, and ease the food stamp and public housing verification process. Berman has also been deliberate in working to ensure that California students have access to the public university system in the state regardless of their socioeconomic status. He currently serves as the Chair of the Elections & Redistricting Committee, Chair of the Select Committee on Master Plan for Higher Education in California, and Chair of the Select Committee on Census, and is also an acting member of two additional committees. Prior to his election to the Assembly, Berman worked with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation to support efforts to close the achievement gap through STEM education in Silicon Valley. Berman was then an elected member of the Palo Alto City Council where he worked to develop public infrastructure projects, and increase the city’s financial transparency.
Berman is being challenged by Peter Ohtaki (R) and Kennita Watson (L). He scores a lifetime 92 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislators’ progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Berman 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, Marc Berman is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
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: Josh Becker and Shelly Masur. 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 13.
Josh Becker has lived in Menlo Park for 20 years. According to campaign materials he is running for State Senate because he hopes to build on his extensive track record leveraging the intersection of technology and public policy to create community systems and social change.
Becker is an attorney and public policy innovator, which allows him to invest in community organizations that are working to support public infrastructures like healthcare, education, and environmental sustainability. He was appointed and served five years on the California Workforce Development Board, and acted as the CEO of Lex Machina where he supported efforts to create more transparency in the law. Becker has also co-founded several companies and organizations focused on social responsibility: Full Circle Fund, New Cycle Capital, Stanford Board Fellows, and a cancer research biotech company.
Becker is running against Shelly Masur (D), Sally Lieber (D), Mike Brownrigg (D), Annie Oliva (D), Alexander Glew (R), and John Webster (L) for this open State Senate seat. Shelly Masur presents a strong progressive challenge to Becker’s campaign. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Becker is a notable progressive choice because of his proven track record of creating infrastructures to support social innovation.
According to our analysis, Josh Becker is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-24
Shelly Masur has lived in Redwood City for 15 years. According to campaign materials she is a strong advocate for women and family issues and is running for State Senate so that she can build on her accomplishments in affordable housing, childcare, and community outreach.
Masur has served on the Redwood City Council since 2015, and is currently the Redwood City Vice Mayor. As Vice Mayor, she leverages her experience and Master of Public Health to create social benefits around issues related to equity and access. In this role, she has spearheaded efforts to increase minimum wage, and improve access to affordable housing. Masur has also sat on several internal and regional committees, including Finance & Audit, Charter, and Redwood City 2020. Prior to serving in City Council, Masur acted as the CEO of the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, served three terms on the Redwood City School Board, and as President of the San Mateo County School Boards Association.
Masur is running against Josh Becker (D), Sally Lieber (D), Mike Brownrigg (D), Annie Oliva (D), Alexander Glew (R), and John Webster (L) for this open seat. Josh Becker presents a strong progressive challenge to Masur’s campaign. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Masur is a notable progressive choice because of her demonstrated commitment to working to increase equity for marginalized populations in housing, healthcare, and education.
According to our analysis, Shelly Masur is a strong 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
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