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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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Congress

Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below congressional districts on your ballot.

24th Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

Salud Carbajal photo
Democrat

Builds Power
Builds Progress
Builds Representation



Representative Salud Carbajal, a veteran, was born in Mexico and emigrated as a child with his family to Arizona and later Oxnard, CA. After high school, Carbajal attended the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and went on to obtain his Master's Degree in Organizational Management from the Fielding University. Carbajal spent eight years in the United States Marine Corps, including active duty during the 1991 Gulf War.

Carbajal was elected to the 24th District in 2017 after serving on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for 12 years. According to campaign materials, he is running for reelection on a platform that promotes a robust Central Coast through investments in infrastructure and housing, renewable energy and environmental protections, and workforce development.

Salud serves on the House Committee on Armed Services, the House Committee on Agriculture, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he was elected to serve as the Vice Chair. As part of his commitment to renewable energy, Salud’s first act in Congress was to introduce the California Clean Coast Act, which would ban future offshore oil and gas drilling on California’s coast. He also secured $1 million for the Santa Barbara Veterans Treatment Courts and has introduced legislation to combat veteran homelessness.

Representative Carbajal is being challenged by Andy Caldwell (R), a conservative radio host, and Kenneth Young (NPP). Based on our analysis, Rep. Salud Carbajal has consistently demonstrated a commitment to progressive issues, from protecting the environment to ensuring DACA protections remain in place.

According to our analysis, Rep. Carbajal is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in this district.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-05


26th Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

Julia Brownley  photo
Democrat

Builds Power
Builds Representation



Representative Julia Brownley is from Aiken, SC, and currently resides in Thousand Oaks, CA. She is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2013. According to campaign materials, she is running for congress to advocate for the needs of her constituents and defend the civil rights of all Americans.

In Congress, Rep. Brownley has worked to bring down high healthcare costs, fought to make higher education more affordable, preserve the environment, ensure that veterans receive the care and services they deserve, and defend Social Security and Medicare from Republican attacks. Rep. Brownley currently sits on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in 2019 received an appointment to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis due to her leadership on environmental preservation. Prior to her election to Congress, she served in the State Assembly and the Santa Monica-Malibu school board.

Rep. Brownley supports progressive environmental, healthcare, and education policies. That said, she has been silent on other progressive issues, and has cast unfavorable votes that increased funding to Immigration and Custom Enforcement, failed to extend paid family leave for federal employees, and rejected measures to limit federal employers from discriminating against job applicants with a criminal history.

Rep. Brownley is being challenged by Enrique Petris (D), Robert L. Salas (D), and Rounda Baldwin-Kennedy (R). Even though we don’t agree with all the votes cast by Rep. Brownley on the issues mentioned above, her relationships with progressive partners and support in her district helps to advance progressive policies, which makes her a strong choice in this race.

Last updated: 2020-02-28


30th Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

Brad Sherman photo
Democrat

Builds Power
Builds Progress


Representative Brad Sherman was born and raised in Southern California and lives in Sherman Oaks, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. He is the incumbent and is currently serving his twelfth term in Congress. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election to continue providing strong progressive leadership in Congress for the labor movement, human rights, animal rights, and the environment.  

As a congressional representative, Rep. Sherman has provided leadership in areas including fiscal policy and foreign relations and was among the first legislators to call for impeachment against the president in 2017 on the grounds of obstruction of justice. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. Prior to his election to Congress, he served on the California State Board of Equalization from 1991 to 1996. It is, however, important to note that Rep. Sherman has been called out by former aides for enabling a generally toxic workplace atmosphere, although he has not been accused of any specific abusive acts in or outside the workplace.

Rep. Sherman is being challenged by Courtney “CJ” Berina (D), Raji Rab (D), Brian Carroll (D), and Mark S. Reed (R), although none of them appear to meet our viability criteria. Despite the above concerns, Rep. Sherman stands out as the best choice because of his senior position in Congress, progressive voice, base of support in his district, and ability to successfully pass legislative reforms. 
 

Last updated: 2020-02-28


State Assembly

Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Assembly races on your ballot.

State Assembly, 37th District

Member of the State Assembly

Cathy Murillo photo
Democrat

Builds Progress
Builds Representation


Cathy Murillo is in her first term as the Mayor of Santa Barbara, and was previously the first Latina ever elected to the Santa Barbara City Council. Prior to her election to the council, she was the News and Public Affairs Director of KCSB. Murillo has been a long time education advocate, and is running on a platform that calls for more housing, improved educational opportunities, and addressing climate change. 

As mayor and council member, she had a reputation for being active in the community. She supported increasing housing stock, including the development of market rate as well as affordable units. She has advocated for a multi-faceted approach to addressing the city’s homeless crisis, including piloting a day time pop-up center with services, and setting up lockers near public spaces for homeless individuals to store their property. 

Murillo is running against Jonathan Abboud (D), Steve Bennett (D), Stephen Blum (D), Jason Dominguez (D), Elsa Granados (D), and Charles W. Cole (R).  Murillo is a strong progressive choice because of her community support and track record of housing and educational advocacy. 

According to our analysis, Murillo is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.

Last updated: 2020-02-21


Elsa Granados photo
Democrat

Builds Progress
Builds Representation


Elsa Granados was raised in Los Angeles, and has worked in Santa Barbara for over 20 years.  According to campaign materials, she is running for State Assembly because she wants to use her extensive leadership experience to advocate for policies that protect her community and local natural resources.

Granados is the longtime Executive Director of Standing Together to End Sexual Assault, a nonprofit that amplifies social injustices, and advocates for policy and cultural changes to eradicate violence against women. At the state and national level, Granados has been a proactive advocate for sexual violence prevention. She has lobbied at the statehouse for increased rape crisis funding, provided feedback on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and advocated for supports specific to women who are incarcerated, farm workers, and indigenous. She has centered women's rights, environmental issues, and affordable housing in her campaign, arguing for the importance of a level playing field for all residents. Granados serves on the board of the Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee and has received their endorsement in this race.

Granados is running against candidate Charles Cole (R), Jonathan Abboud (D), Steve Bennett (D), Stephen Blum (D), Jason Dominguez (D), and Cathy Murillo (D) for this open seat. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat. Granados is a strong progressive choice because of her long history in the community and her collaborative approach to social justice advocacy.

According to our analysis, Elsa Granados is a strong choice for progressive leadership in office.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-21


State Assembly, 38th District

Member of the State Assembly

Currently tracking this race AD 38 photo


We're tracking this race. Please check back soon for an update. 

Last updated: 2020-02-04


State Assembly, 44th District

Member of the State Assembly

Jacqui Irwin photo
Democrat

Builds Power
Builds Representation


Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin currently resides in Thousand Oaks, CA. She is the incumbent, having served in this position since 2014. According to campaign materials, she is running to keep her seat to continue to create jobs, ensure her community is safe, and advocate for fiscally responsible governance.

In the State Assembly, she has advanced legislation to increase funding for education, mental health services, expand consumer protections, and address sexual harassment in the workplace. Irwin currently serves as Chair of the Veteran Affairs Committee and the Cybersecurity Select Committee, as well as sits on three additional committees. Prior to her election to the State Assembly, she worked as an engineer and served as Mayor of Thousand Oaks.

Irwin has progressive positions as it pertains to education, consumer protections, and increasing access to mental health services. That said, she has voted against key progressive bills on criminal justice reform, labor rights, and increasing access to affordable housing.

Irwin is being challenged by Denise Pedrow (R). Irwin has a lifetime score of 46 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator’s progressive voting record. According to recent election results, Democrats can win this seat but it's often a close race. Though we disagree with Irwin’s votes on the issues named above, and know that a stronger progressive candidate would more accurately represent the 44th district, Irwin is the most progressive candidate on the ballot. That said, we encourage more progressive candidates, that will better reflect this community’s needs, to run in future cycles.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-29


State Assembly, 45th District

Member of the State Assembly

Jesse Gabriel photo
Democrat

Builds Power


Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel grew up in the Oak Park community in Ventura County and currently lives in the San Fernando Valley. He is the incumbent, having served as Assemblymember for the 45th District in the State Assembly since 2018. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election to continue to advance the legislative priorities of the Democratic Caucus in the State Assembly.

Assemblymember Gabriel currently serves in the State Assembly, where he was appointed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve in the Assembly Leadership as Assistant Majority Whip. Prior to his election to the State Assembly, he worked as a constitutional rights and general litigation attorney. In this role, he sued the Trump Administration to protect Dreamers who were promised protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Assemblymember Gabriel is an advocate for stronger gun violence prevention, protection against hate crimes, and bringing jobs and innovation to the San Fernando Valley. That said, he has voted against key progressive bills on issues including criminal justice reform and worker protections.

Assemblymember Gabriel is running unopposed. Though we disagree with his stance on the issues above, his strong base of support and prominent position in the Assembly Leadership make him a strong choice in this race.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-29


State Senate

Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Senate races on your ballot.

State Senator, 19th District

Member of the State Senate

Monique Limón photo
Democrat

Builds Power
Builds Progress
Builds Representation


Monique Limón is a lifelong resident of Santa Barbara. According to campaign materials, she is running for State Senate because she understands the values of the region and will use her public service experience to advocate for environmental protection, educational reforms, and improved healthcare access.

Limón is a member of the California State Assembly, where she uses her understanding of her community to establish meaningful legislation to positively impact educational outcomes and environmental protections. She acted as the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Natural Disaster Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding, and worked to improve emergency communication and fire prevention. Prior to serving in the Assembly, Limón served two terms on the Santa Barbara Unified School Board, and acted as the Assistant Director for the McNair Scholars program at UCSB.

Limón is running for this open seat against Gary J. Michaels (R), and Anastasia Stone (NPP). In 2019 she scored a 90 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting records. According to recent election results, Democrats can win this seat but it's often a close race. Limón is the most progressive choice because of her track record of championing education reform, working toward stronger environmental protections, and pushing for improved emergency responses.

According to our analysis, Monique Limón is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-24


State Senator, 27th District

Member of the State Senate

Henry Stern photo
Democrat

Builds Progress



Senator Henry Stern is a sixth-generation Californian and native of this district. He is the incumbent, having served in the State Senate since 2017. According to campaign materials, he is running for re-election to continue to be a voice for common sense policy that uplifts families and neighborhoods through community-driven, local policy solutions.

In the State Senate, Senator Stern has pushed for community-based resilience solutions that protect families and has authored legislation to empower communities to take a local approach to fight human trafficking. He currently chairs the Senate Elections Committee. Prior to his election to the State Senate, he worked with businesses to construct clean energy projects, co-founded a technology incubator, and taught civics classes.

Senator Stern is being challenged by Houman Salem (R). Based on our Courage Score analysis, Senator Stern has consistently shown courage advocating for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.

According to our analysis, Senator Stern is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-28


Board of Supervisor Races

Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below county races on your ballot.

Ventura County Board of Supervisors

Ventura Board of Supervisors, District 1

Matt LaVere photo
Non-Partisan

Builds Power
Builds Progress


Ventura City Councilmember, and current Mayor, Matt LaVere is from Ventura and has lived there for most of his life. According to campaign materials, he is running for Supervisor to ensure the county that the next generation inherits is even better than the county is today.

LaVere is an attorney. He also serves on several county boards and is an Executive Board Member of the Ventura College Foundation, which supports thousands of students with scholarships and programs. During his time as Mayor, the city began construction on its first full-service 24-hour homeless shelter and began its recovery from the devastating Thomas Fire.

Councilmember LaVere is running for an open seat. The other challenger is clerk Jeff Ketelsen. Supervisor seats are non-partisan, but this seat has most recently been held by Steve Bennett, who identifies as a progressive. LaVere is the best progressive choice because of his deep experience in the Ventura area and a vision for the county that includes all Californians.

According to our analysis, Councilmember LaVere is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-27


Ventura Board of Supervisors, District 3

Kim Stephenson photo
Non-Partisan

Builds Power
Builds Progress
Builds Representation


Kim Stephenson is from Ventura County and has lived there for over 40 years. According to campaign materials, she is running for election to emphasize sustainability, affordability and accessibility throughout the county.

Stephenson is the Principal of Camarillo High School, where she works to build a positive culture around education for the school’s 2400 students and over 200 employees. She supervised the construction of a Student Wellness Center to address students’ social and emotional needs, and has 25 years of teaching experience in diverse communities across California.

Stephenson is running against Kelly Long, who is the incumbent. Supervisor elections are non-partisan, but Long was endorsed by the local Republican Party in 2016. Stephenson is the progressive choice because of her commitment to put people before profit, and her deep experience working with labor unions (who have endorsed her) and diverse student populations as a successful principal. Stephenson is also being vigorously opposed by Big Oil group California Resources Corporation, which has spent $825,000 to attempt to influence all three Ventura County Supervisorial races.

According to our analysis, Kim Stephenson is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.
 

Last updated: 2020-02-26


Ventura Board of Supervisors, District 5

Carmen Ramirez photo
Non-Partisan

Builds Power
Builds Progress
Builds Representation


Oxnard City Councilmember Carmen Ramirez is from the San Gabriel Valley and has lived in Oxnard for over 25 years. According to campaign materials, she is running for Supervisor to fight for environmental justice, economic development, and to put the health of citizens at the center of every decision.

Councilmember Ramirez is an attorney. In a 40-year law career, she has been a legal aid attorney helping low income families, worked for the Superior Court helping Spanish-speaking people understand their rights and responsibilities, and served as the Director of Channel Counties Legal Services.

Councilmember Ramirez is running for an open seat. Other challengers are Veronica Robles-Solis, Jess Herrera, Tim Flynn, and Jeffrey D. Burum. Supervisor elections are non-partisan, but this seat has most recently been held by John Zaragoza, a self-identified Democrat. Ramirez is the best progressive choice because of her long track record of championing inclusive policies and environmental justice while increasing transparency and investment in the local economy. Ramirez is also being vigorously opposed by Big Oil group California Resources Corporation, which has spent over $417,000 on attacks against her campaign. Overall, they have spent $825,000 to attempt to influence all three Ventura County Supervisorial races.

According to our analysis, Councilmember Ramirez is the strongest choice for progressive leadership in office.

Last updated: 2020-02-27


Statewide Ballot Measures

Proposition 13

VOTE YES

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.



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