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.
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.
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
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
Rep. Lofgren was born and raised in the Bay Area, and attending Stanford and Santa Clara Law School. Lofgren is the incumbent, having served in the House of Representatives since 1995. According to campaign materials she is running for re-election to protect dreamers, end gun violence, protect the free and open internet, and getting dirty money out of politics.
In Congress, she helped pass the DREAM Act of 2019 (and 2010), and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the House. She has opposed the Trump administration's immigration policies, and has called for an end to the detention centers, and for foreign aid to end the instability in Central America that leads to people fleeing their homes. As the representative for the heart of Silicon Valley, she has been active on Internet and technology issues. She fought the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), NSA surveillance of Americans, and recently introduced the Online Privacy Act. Lofrgen has been a strong supporter of women’s rights, abortion protections, LGBTQ equity and has led the implementation of the House of Representatives' mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination trainings.
Prior to her role as Congresswoman, she was an immigration lawyer, taught at Santa Clara Law School, and served as Staff Assistant to Congressman Don Edwards.
Lofgren is being challenged by Ivan Torres (D), Justin Aguilera (R), Ignacio Cruz (R), and Jason Mallory (NPP).
According to our analysis, Lofgren is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-17
Evan Low was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2014. According to campaign materials, as a young member of the Assembly, he is running to continue to build his career of serving his home community and working toward equitable solutions for his constituents.
In the State Assembly, he has worked to strengthen protections for the LGBTQ community, pushed for more affordable housing, and has passed bills to protect victims of crime and human trafficking. Low has been a responsive legislator, working to improve college admissions reforms since early 2019, and establishing the California Legislative Technology & Innovation Caucus. Low currently serves as Chair of the Business & Professions Committee and is a member of five additional committees. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Low was the first Asian-American and openly gay person to be elected to the Campbell City Council. He later served as Mayor of Campbell and was a community college instructor at De Anza Community College.
Low has progressive positions on LGBTQ protections, the importance of continued technological innovation in the state, and improving the number of affordable housing units in the state. That said, he has voted against bills that provide public access to police misconduct records, that increase employer responsibility in preventing workplace harassment, and that limit the establishment and continued operation of charter schools in the state. In 2018, he was included on a list of lawmakers who had accepted gifts of access, receiving a pricey concert ticket from AT&T. As an advocate for continued technological advancement in the state, this action raised questions about a conflict of interest with a large tech company.
Low is being challenged by Sam Ross (NPP), and Carlos Rafael Cruz (R). He scores a lifetime 74 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislators’ progressive voting record. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Though we disagree with Low’s stance on the issues named above, his work to build influence on most progressive issues and relationships in the community will advance progressive policies and makes him the strongest choice in this race.
Last updated: 2020-02-21
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Senate races on your ballot.
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: 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.
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: 2020-02-24
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: 2020-02-24
Board of Supervisor Races
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below county races on your ballot.
There are three well-qualified candidates in this race who have received broad support from progressive advocates: Kansen Chu, Magdalena Carrasco, and Otto Lee. After extensive research, we believe they are all good choices. Read the full descriptions below to find the candidate which best fits your values and priorities for Santa Clara Board of Supervisor, District 3.
Kansen Chu is from Taiwan and moved to the United States in 1976. According to campaign materials, he is running for Santa Clara Board of Supervisors to bring government, business, local community leaders, and organizations together to solve critical issues.
Kansen Chu currently serves in the State Assembly, where he works to promote economic development, increase access to quality education, and advance environmental preservations. While in the State Assembly, Chu has used his position as Chair of the Health and Human Services committee to ensure vulnerable communities have access to efficient support services. Chu has fought to improve child welfare programs, the foster care system, and other support services such as Cal-Works and Cal-Fresh. Chu has also worked as an electronics engineer and served on the San Jose City Council and Berryessa School Board.
Kansen Chu is running against Magdalena Carrasco, Otto Lee, and John Leyba for the open Board of Supervisors seat. In 2019, Chu scored a 98 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting records. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Kansen Chu has consistently shown great courage in standing up for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.
According to our analysis, Kansen Chu is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
Magdalena Carrasco grew up in San Jose, CA. According to campaign materials, she is running for Santa Clara Board of Supervisors to be a voice for the voiceless and strengthen her community.
Carrasco currently serves on the San Jose City Council, which she does to improve the quality of life for the residents of East San Jose and the rest of the city. She has helped to pass the city’s Women’s Bill of Rights, which increased resources to support survivors of domestic abuse, as well as improved policies to combat human trafficking, and increased access to economic opportunities. Also, while on the city council, she has developed clean energy programs, promoted infrastructure improvements, increased access to affordable housing, been a champion for labor rights, and increased access to educational opportunities. Carrasco has also served as Vice Mayor of San Jose where she focused on increasing representation of women and people of color in all levels of government.
Carrasco is running against Kansen Chu, Otto Lee, and John Leyba candidate for the open Board of Supervisors seat. Carrasco stands out as a progressive choice because of her track record of successfully advancing progressive initiatives and increasing political representation in all levels of government.
According to our analysis, Carrasco is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
Otto Lee is from Hong Kong and immigrated to California at 15 years old with his family. According to campaign materials, he is running for Santa Clara Board of Supervisors to continue his public service and to use his experience to address challenges his community faces, such as the increased cost of housing and traffic congestion.
Lee is an intellectual property attorney, where he fosters economic development by protecting the rights’ of innovators. Lee has served on the Sunnyvale Planning Commission, the Sunnyvale City Council, and as Mayor, where he championed environmental issues such as banning single-use plastic bags, successfully promoting solar energy, and ensuring that development projects are environmentally sustainable. He has also served as a Democratic National Committee member and in the US Navy, where he received the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal for his honorable service.
Otto Lee is running against Kansen Chu, Magdalena Carrasco, and John Leyba for the open Board of Supervisors seat. Lee stands out as a progressive choice because of his strong environmental track record and his vision to address issues that directly impact his community, such as the rising unhoused population and the need to invest in sustainable infrastructure.
According to our analysis, Lee is a strong 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.
City Council Races
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below races on your ballot.
There are two impressive candidates running for San Jose City Council in District 4: David Cohen and Huy Tran. Both candidates have received support from partners on the ground and are running progressive campaigns to address issues district four faces.
David Cohen has resided in District Four for the past two decades. According to campaign materials, he is running for City Council to bring his community together and make his distinct a place people are happy to call home.
Cohen is an engineer and serves on the Berryessa Union School District Board as trustee, which he does to contribute to innovation in high technology and build strong community relationships among families, teachers, staff, and students. While serving on the school board, Cohen has created a dual immersion program for Mandarin and Spanish speakers, pushed back against increases to class size, preserved art and science programs. Furthermore, he has worked to ensure that students have access to counselors and social workers, secured additional funding for local schools, and transformed Berryessa’s school's energy source off of fossil fuels to solar. Cohen has also served as Chair of the San Jose Library Commission, where he advocated for local libraries and led an effort to ensure that community libraries have sufficient funds to operate.
Cohen is running against Lan Diep, who is the incumbent and has held the seat since 2016, as well as Huy Tran. Cohen is a noteworthy progressive choice because of his track record of bringing his community together, his ability to find solutions to issues his community faces, as well as his support from local progressive partners.
According to our analysis, Cohen is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
Huy Tran is from Hawthorne, CA, and currently resides in San Jose, CA. According to campaign materials, he is running for City Council to be the voice his community needs to protect and improve the quality of life for all residents of San Jose.
Tran is a Steering Committee member on the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition and serves on the board of Vietnamese American Roundtable, which he does to advocate and fight for working families. Furthermore, Tran is a co-founder of Justice at Work Law Group where he successfully represented the interests of working families on employment issues involving wage theft, cases of harassment, and discrimination. He was also appointed to the Housing and Community Development Commission for the City of San Jose by the incumbent, Lan Diep; through this experience, he gained further insight into the housing issues District Four is facing and the type of representative his community needs to advocate on their behalf.
Tran is running against Lan Diep who is the incumbent and has held the seat since 2016, as well as David Cohen. Tran is a notable progressive choice because of his dedication to real solutions to issues his community faces, such as access to affordable housing, as well as his support from local progressive partners.
According to our analysis, Tran is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
Last updated: 2020-02-27
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