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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.
Have questions about voting in Ventura 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?
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: 2020-02-20
Why is this race important?
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: 2020-02-24
Why is this race important?
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: 2020-02-21
Board of Supervisor Races
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below county races on your ballot.
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
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
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
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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