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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 Santa Clara 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 Santa Clara County? Visit your county elections website.
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below congressional districts on your ballot.
Why is this race important?
Rep. Ro Khanna was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Khanna served the Obama Administration in Washington D.C. from 2009-2011; afterwards he accepted a position at a law firm and moved to Silicon Valley. He is the incumbent in the district, having served in this position since 2017. He is running for re-election on a platform supporting the Green New Deal, internet privacy reforms, Medicare for All, immigration reform, and economic growth.
In Congress, Khanna has been outspoken in support of legislation to fight climate change, including the Green New Deal. He has called for various online and cybersecurity reforms, including helping to draft an Internet Bill of Rights. He sponsored the VALOR Act, which became law in 2019 and makes it easier for employers to create apprenticeship programs for veterans. He is a member of the No PAC Caucus, which has pledged to not take donations from any PACs.
He currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, House Budget Committee, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Prior to the election in 2016, Rep. Khanna was an attorney at Wilson Sonsini, and taught Stanford University, Santa Clara University, and San Francisco State University. From 2009-2011, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce and in 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the California Workforce Investment Board.
Khanna is being challenged by Stephen Forbes (D), Joe Dehn (L) and Ritesh Tandon (R). Khanna has consistently demonstrated a commitment to progressive values, and a willingness to challenge the corporate power in his district. According to our analysis, Khanna is the strongest choice for continued progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-05
Why is this race important?
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
Why is this race important?
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 one of the below State Senate 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.
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: 2020-02-13
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: 2020-02-13
There are two well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates: Anne Ravel and Dave Cortese. 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 15.
Dave Cortese is from East San Jose and is a lifelong resident of Santa Clara County. According to campaign materials, he is running for State Senate because he has a long history of public service at the local level that has provided him with a strong understanding of the unique challenges of the region. Cortese hopes to build on his progressive foundation by continuing to legislate on affordable housing, homelessness, and environmental protections.
Cortese has been a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors since 2008, which he does to bring increased social equity and justice to his community. Cortese served as Board President for four years, and has several accomplishments as a member, including addressing and reducing homelessness in the region, advocating for changes to criminal justice custody operations, and decreasing the number of children involved in the child welfare system. Prior to his election to the Board, Cortese ran a large family agriculture and real estate business, served as a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Valley Transportation Authority, and as a trustee for the East Side Union High School District. In each of these roles, Cortese worked to build funding for capital projects intended to support local communities.
Cortese is running against Nora Campos (D), Ann Ravel (D), Ken Del Valle (R), Robert Howell(R), Johnny Khamis (NPP), and Tim Gildersleeve (NPP) in this open race. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Cortese is a noteable progressive choice because of his long career in public service and his track record of pushing for policies that benefit vulnerable populations, and improve the wellbeing of the community.
According to our analysis, Cortese is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-17
Ann Ravel was born in Chile, moved to San Jose when she was 11 years old, and raised her family in District 15. According to campaign materials, she is running to bring her lifetime of advocacy and social justice experience to the State Senate to continue to work for the protection and empowerment of marginalized communities.
Ravel is an accomplished attorney, which she says allows her to hold special interest groups accountable and improve equity for Californians. Ravel’s interest in activism began before she completed her law degree, when she worked to improve labor conditions by helping to unionize the wait staff at a restaurant where she worked. After completing her J.D., Ravel acted as the Santa Clara County Counsel for over a decade, working to restrict Big Tobacco and Big Banks, challenge Prop 8, protect children from lead paint, and create the Educational Rights Project to protect youth living in foster care. Ravel then served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice, where she continued her work to hold corporations accountable, including BP and the pharmaceutical industry. Ravel was then appointed by Governor Brown to serve as the Chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, where she led efforts to push back against the dark money being used to push through Proposition 32. After demonstrating her ethics in this role, she was selected by President Obama to serve on the Federal Election Commission and was confirmed with a unanimous Senate vote. Today, Ravel is suing Google to adjust their practices around sexual misconduct and retaliation against female employees.
Ravel is running against candidate Nora Campos (D), Dave Cortese (D), Ken Del Valle (R), Robert Howell(R), Johnny Khamis (NPP), and Tim Gildersleeve (NPP) in this open race. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Ravel is a noteable progressive choice because of her lifelong commitment to working to improve the experience of Californians by holding powerful entities accountable.
According to our analysis, Ann Ravel is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-17
Board of Supervisor Races
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below county races on your ballot.
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. Without question, 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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