With Election Day looming on Tuesday, voters are besieged by a mounting volume of political mailers, signs and robocalls.
Not sure how to vote?
Here's an El Cerrito Patch election guide for key choices facing El Cerrito and Kensington voters on the Nov. 6 ballot. (If you're wondering why the El Cerrito City Council race is not included, it's because only three candidates for running for three seats.)
School board race
Four candidates are vying for two seats on the school board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Key issues include funding, class size, school bonds and how to balance academic enrichment for advanced students while increasing help for those who are struggling.
The four candidates are:
- retired school principal Randall Enos
- parent volunteer Todd Groves
- incumbent Antonio Medrano
- parent volunteer Robert Studdiford
Each candidates' platform statement can be found here.
Patch articles related to the school board race:
- In Their Own Words: School Board Candidates
- School Board Hopefuls at Forum Thursday
- Reports on School Board Candidates Forum at Harding
- School Board Candidates Forum Draws Dozens
- School Board Candidates at Harding School Monday Night
- School Board Candidates Show Much Common Ground in Forum
- Thurmond Not Running for Re-Election on School Board
Measure E is a $380-million, long-term bond program to replace or upgrade aging school facilities. It would add an estimated $48 in property tax per $100,000 of net assessed valuation. It requires 55 percent of the voters to pass and would be added to existing taxes on West County property tax bills from five previous school facility bond measures passed by voters since 1998.
Cumulatively, the five previous school bond measures currently total $215.70 in property tax per $100,000 of net assessed valuation. In addition, West County property owners pay a flat "WCCUSD Assessment" property tax of $72 per household, plus a parcel tax to WCCUSD of 7.2 cents per square foot of building area. This parcel tax would be extended by another measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, Measure G. (See below.)
Measure G is an extension of the current parcel tax – 7.2 cents per square foot of building area – that funds academic programs in schools. It requires a two-thirds yes vote to pass. Measure G would extend the tax to June 30, 2018.
The school board voted in July to place Measure G, along with Measure E, on the November ballot after the narrow defeat of Measure K, a parcel tax measure on the June primary ballot. Measure K received 65.52 percent approval, short of the necessary two-thirds. It would have both extended the current parcel tax and increased it to 10.2 cents per square foot of building area. Measure G would maintain the current rate of 7.2 cents per square foot.
Patch articles related to Measures E and G:
- Letter: Plea for Measure G from PTA Leaders
- Council Tones Down Anti-Prop 32 Measure
- Get a Jump on Election: Read the Ballot Language for WCCUSD Measures
- New Ballot Measures for West County Schools OKed
- School Board Eyes New Ballot Measure – Special Meeting Monday
- School Board Takes Step Toward New Parcel Tax Measure in November
- Support Parcel Tax at School Board Meeting Tonight
- School Board Candidates Show Much Common Ground in Forum
Kensington Governing Board
Among the most heated local contests is the race for two seats on the five-member board of the Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District.
The chief issues are the performance of the police chief and the board's oversight of spending by the chief and by the police department. Related topics include accusations of improper airing of personnel matters in public meetings and of refusals to disclose information about board issues and district finances.
Details of the issues can be found in the several articles, letters to the editors and guest columns listed below.
The candidates are:
- labor/employment lawyer Patricia Gillette
- retired teacher Jim Hausken
- incumbent Cathie Kosel
- incumbent Chuck Toombs
- IT consultant Kim Zvik
Gillette and Toombs are running together on a slate, while Kosel and Hausken are running mates. Zvik is running independently.
Patch articles related to the KPPCSD board election:
- Kensington Election Clash over Crimes 'Solved'
- Letter: Kensington Candidate Zvik Responds to Questions
- Toombs and Koosed – Deliberate Lies?
- View: 'Big Lie' About Kosel-Hausken Stand on Police
- Letter: Paper's Kosel-Hausken Endorsement Ill-Informed
- View: Kensington Board's Failure to Disclose Information
- View: Should Kensington "De-Contract" the Police Chief?
- Letter: Fiction vs. Facts in Kensington Election
- Perry Mason in the Outlook?
- Letter: Candidate Kosel Throws Darts to Hide Poor Record
- Letter: Kosel's Position on Kensington Police a "Lie"
- Letter: DA Findings Show Kosel Shouldn't Be Re-elected
- Letter: "Misrepresentation" from Toombs-Gillette Slate in Kensington
- Letter: "Falsehoods" in Kensington Candidate Kosel's Letter
- Some Barbs Tossed at Candidate Endorsement Forums
There are 11 statewide ballot measures in California covering a gamut of issues, including proposals to ban the death penalty, genetically modified foods and payroll deductions for political funds. Two other, competing measures would raise taxes to boost state revenues.
The nonpartisan websites below contain summaries and in-depth analyses of the propositions. Some also include chief funders, endorsers, latest polls and links to news coverage.
Nonpartisan Online Sources of Election Information:
- California Choices – includes an endorsements table featuring where non-profits, newspapers, unions and political parties stand on each proposition
- Smart Voter – from the League of Women Voters
- Maplight.org - includes in-depth campaign spending information
Below are summaries of the propositions from California Choices, a nonpartisan collaboration by UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, UC San Diego's Department of Political Science, and Next 10, an independent nonpartisan organization founded by venture capitalist and philanthropist F. Noel Perry.
Prop 30 – temporarily increases the state sales tax rate and the personal income tax rates for taxpayers with incomes above a certain level. The revenues generated would be used to fund schools and public safety programs. The state’s 2012-13 budget plan—approved by the Governor and the Legislature in June 2012—assumes passage of this measure.
Prop 31 – establishes a two-year state budget, and changes certain fiscal responsibilities of the Governor and the Legislature. State and local budgeting and oversight procedures would be changed. Local governments that create plans to coordinate services would receive funding from the state and could develop their own procedures for administering state programs.
Prop 32 – prohibits unions, corporations, and government contractors from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees, and government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.
Prop 33 – would change state law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company. Companies would be allowed to give discounts to drivers who had prior coverage. Drivers who have not had continuous coverage could be charged at higher rates under the measure.
Prop 34 – would repeal the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Persons currently sentenced to death would have their sentences converted to life imprisonment. The measure would create a $100 million fund for law enforcement efforts to combat violent crime.
Prop 35 – would increase prison sentences and fines for human trafficking. A person convicted of human trafficking would be required to register as a sex offender. Registered sex offenders would be required to disclose Internet activities and identities.
Prop 36 – would alter California's "Three Strikes" law by imposing a life sentence only when the crime committed is a serious violent crime. Some offenders with two prior serious or violent felony convictions who are currently serving life sentences for many nonserious, non-violent felony convictions could be resentenced to shorter prison terms. Life sentences would remain for felons with a non-violent third strike if the prior convictions were for murder, rape, or the sexual abuse of children.
Prop 37 – would require labeling of any raw or processed food that is made from plants or animals which have had their genetic material altered. The measure would prohibit marketing genetically engineered food as "natural". Certain foods are exempted.
Prop 38 – would increase the state income tax rates for most Californians on a sliding scale, resulting in increased revenues of about $10 billion a year. Revenues would go to K-12 schools and early childhood programs, and to repay some state debt. The income tax increase would end after 12 years, unless voters reauthorize it.
Prop 39 – would repeal an existing law that allows multistate businesses to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California. It would require require multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. Some of the increased revenues would be used to fund projects that create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs.
Prop 40 – is a referendum on the California State Senate redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. A "Yes" vote approves, and a "No" vote rejects the new State Senate districts. If the proposition does not pass, the districts will be adjusted by officials supervised by the California Supreme Court.
Patch articles related to the state propositions:
- Nonpartisan Info – Plus Endorsements Lists – on State Ballot Measures
- Voters Need to Know
- Props 30 and 38 Explained. Which Do You Support?
- Nancy Skinner Offers Thoughts on State Propositions
- Council Tones Down Anti-Prop 32 Measure
- Council Ponders Vote Against Prop 32
The complete El Cerrito Patch archive of election-related articles can be found under the elections tab on our homepage.