Hello my loves:  Please start early on this ballot and get good and comfortable because completing it is going to take a while; there are 32 races! The ballot must be received back in Norwalk by Flag Day, June 14, 2022. Be sure to follow instructions carefully, try not to spoil your ballot and sign the envelope as it will be difficult to obtain a replacement or cure it. Louis DeJoy remains at the USPS so mail early! Postage paid is only within the USA.

Candidates who receive 50% + 1 vote avoid a runoff in the general election: they’ve won. Otherwise the top-two vote earners advance to the November 8, 2022 general election.

So Here We Go XoxoX…

Race #3, p2

CoLA Mayor:

Kevin De León

From where I stand, the LA mayoral race is a little difficult. But not because I can’t choose, rather because there’s a surplus of problem. One dozen are on the ballot for mayor, but the consequential candidates are now (as of 5/17/22 – with a little more delay at this rate the decision will become moot) Bass-de León-Caruso. Buscaino, the DINO (“Democrat in Name Only”), threw his votes to Caruso, the Republican in Democratic sheep’s clothing. And now Feuer, the management-challenged, has thrown his votes to Bass, the establishment’s Democrat (which must not be intrinsically disqualifying). Caruso’s spent $22.5m on himself so far and such wanton auto-centrism will likely buy him a spot in the general election. The choice then is whom to put up against him, as well as other such derivative questions.

The one I dislike least is Kevin De Leon (KDL). He’s a streetfighter which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this weak-mayor office. As he says, much of the conversation and choice is not so much about policy as about leadership and administration. I’m very, very leery of the neoliberal, public-private partnership approach that Karen Bass adulates. And Villaraigosa is all over her campaign despite being warned that his is an oppositional presence. Her identification with the nonprofit she founded which has been a problem from my perspective on Education issues particularly, is worrisome, especially in tandem with Villaraigosa’s shadow-presence. Education just ought not to be in their purview, for any of them. And government ought to do its business itself, mitigating vulnerability from looting.

But the worst (imo of course) on educational views is the panacea-candidate offered by the DSA crew, Gina Viola. Perhaps this is expression of the neoliberalism among a certain class of Democrats, though they are vocal in decrying it at least in principle, in some arenas, sometimes. I was quite surprised to hear her essentially forsake our children and their public resources at the expense of a reductionist, single-issue, party-line.

KDL is very strong on issues of equity and climate justice and Education too (as in staying in his lane. I believe the harbor freeway is a fine metaphor separating City Hall from Beaudry, the better to isolate and safeguard the public pots of gold being predated by rather different sets of scallywag s). His approach to homelessness and housing has been lauded by some, said to be insufficient or also misled by others; I think it’s a terrible quagmire. I don’t myself feel I know “the answer” on these matters. I have a hard time comparing their advocacy.

I will be voting for KDL I think. But I believe reasonable minds can differ on Karen Bass. She is part of a power-juggernaut lining up here stemming from Holly Mitchell late of the State Senate now LA County, and Sydney Kamlager seeking to upgrade from State Senate to US Rep (see CD37 below). She is running for Bass’ relinquished congressional seat (where we no longer vote, having been redistricted to Ted Lieu’s coastal district. Excellent tool for contrasting old and new districts here). There may be value to such a machine but I worry about codifying it. I believe difference of perspective and also less blind loyalty (ie non-machine behavior) is in the interests of the people.

I’m finding this mayoral candidate forum very interesting and useful. Though I must allow that most of my decision is compelled by what I don’t like rather than what I do.

Race #10, p3 (col 3)

US Rep, CD36:

Ted W. Lieu

In jumping to the City-executive race I skipped over national elections. There are “2.5” though the last is out of order, down-ballot. Again, we have been districted-out of Karen Bass’ CD37 (old), joining Lieu’s CD33 (old). It’s confusing because the new districts are renumbered. Lieu is running for US Rep in CD36 (new). His race appears on p.3 (col 3) among “City/Local” races which seems odd, between State Assembly and a City of LA (CoLA) charter amendment, measure BB. I have heard from none of the 8 candidates for CD36; one other is Democratic too. I will vote for Ted Lieu because he seems an exemplary politician from impeachment manager to civil rights advocate and environmental supporter. He is very accessible and communicative to constituents. By all accounts we are lucky to be represented by him and I will eagerly join his supporters. Even while noting carefully that he accepts quite a bit of support from oligarchic-wannabe, Rick Caruso.

Race #1 & #2, p1 & p2

US Senator:

Alex Padilla

So the first race is the national one for US Senator. I have heard nothing from any of the 23 candidates except the currently appointed Sen. Padilla. Governor Newsom selected him to temporarily fill Senator Harris’ unexpired term when she was elected Vice-President. This first election is for the next, full term which expires 1/3/29. The second race on the ballot (the “half-race”) is to essentially ratify Newsom’s selection for the remainder of the unexpired term through 1/3/23 (Yes, confusing but at least we avoid the expense of a special election).

I am happy to vote (twice!) for CA’s first Latino senator, Alex Padilla. Professionally he has worked in the shadow of fairly conservative Democrats, but I am told he has emerged as “more progressive” than former political constraints might have allowed or signaled. He has an important voice in immigration issues in DC. I don’t think he’s been a problem and I don’t know of compelling alternatives.

Race #4, p2

City Attorney:

Hydee Feldstein-Soto

I wrote a whole piece about the City Attorney race here. Since, only more evidence has come to light in support of my observations. There are 7 candidates. A lot of progressives and also LGBTQ+ groups favor Gill for reasons that flummox me. I believe Sanders has endorsed him stemming from interaction through VT’s Democratic Party. But he wrote the marriage equality act, campaigned on it, stumped for it, represented people pro bono around falling short of it. He wasn’t a bit player in that ideology; he was a leader. Likewise Kevin James was a right-wing radio shock-jock. Not a follower, but an instigator of all that entails. Some among his present LGBTQ+ supporters reflect the aggressive style he once triggered professionally. It is just beyond me as to how our “big tent” party can embrace hatefulness. Not to mention functional-Republicans. There are other candidates too with issues ranging from competence to morally challenged employment.

In Hydee Feldstein-Soto I recognize an approach to addressing issues similar to my own approach, really getting your hands around the problem, and striving to understand the entire landscape. I am excited that LA has such a good candidate at the ready in Feldstein-Soto. She is criticized as being from corporate, “Big”, law. But the experience provides important tests such as supervising lawyers and practicing competitively. Applying these skills to the public sector is good for us, and such employment hardly implies venality of character – as ironically is reciprocally the case among many of her competitors, past employment sectors notwithstanding.

Race #5, p3

Controller:

David T. Vahedi

The City Controller’s race has been very… derivative. Termed-out City Council District 5’s member Paul Koretz, despite having zero financial expertise, has simply worked back political channels to completely preempt endorsements from the get-go. Legions favor him seemingly reflexively, without considering his suitability for the job. It is very odd, as if the job does not matter, just the position. And reciprocally, similarly unreflective is the push-back with a young, politically, practically, and professionally inexperienced, former-Green candidate. I’m always eager for viable third-party candidates, but when the interest is more for office than the job of it, I get uneasy.

Professionally I have a lot of problem with the way a CPA straight out of school crowd-sources number-crunching from others and brands it as his own apparently without context or significance. This precludes conversation about the work and feels to me more akin to demagoguery than financial acumen; I don’t see it as a viable route to good public policy.

David Vaheedi lost to Paul Koretz in CD5 several years ago and is now matched against him in a financial context that should be Vaheedi’s bailiwick. I’d like to see what a locally rooted CFO can do with our City’s budget. Not as a snarky ping-pong ball, or from a Republican-lite perspective (there’s one of these in this non-partisan race too), but as a viable candidate actually familiar with life, politics and auditing massive balance sheets.

Race #6, p3

CD11:

Greg Good

We live in Council District 11 where the incumbent’s support seems to flow largely from elsewhere, other CDs. Following a contentious term, Mike Bonin has publicly stepped away from the office and the field behind him has flooded with contenders. Several are fighting hard to claim the furthest right-wing ground, where I have little difficulty rejecting the candidacy of Park, Newhouse, Murez. My trouble is threading through the leftward side of things.

I was all set to support Lex Steppling’s endorsement (an activist in CRJ whom I admire), Erin Darling, until I heard the candidate’s self-serving and avaricious POV which I find hard to countenance. It was very disappointing. Another candidate is a former VHS teacher and DSA adherent whom I have long been a fan of. However, I believe he is a casualty of the vaccine employment mandate (not the only fired teacher now running for public office (see LAUSD4 below)). I don’t think one absolutely misguided response to public health policy around a global pandemic is mandate for jumping into public office. In fact it belies democratic, public-spirited action which is rather a problem.

I know nothing about Mike Smith, and the penultimate candidate is a veteran of school-privatization ideology, and not on the right side. Allison Holdorff Polhill is a leader in the privatization of Palisades HS, a pillar in the annals of LA white-flight producing the epitome of a “segregation academy” if ever there were one (I’ve written extensively on this too).

That leaves the Garcetti administration centrist functionary, Greg Good, whom I vowed when first he announced I wanted to vote for anyone but. And yet. Perhaps it’s a function of my old age. I find him the most palatable, possibly a hopeful opportunity. From friends with whom he’s worked I understand he’s quite competent, seemingly untouched by the corruption surrounding so many at City Hall, keeps his nose down, works very hard and does fine at administering. That’s not terrible. My wish that he could have curbed City Hall knavery is perhaps naïve and unfair. He was TFA of an early vintage, appropriately motivated, (hopefully?) innocent of secondary trojan-horse privatization and union-busting agendas. He’s fallen on his feet usefully from that, if not Educationally. I don’t fear that he believes blending municipal and school politics is a good idea; I don’t fear he has designs on our children’s resources.

And so I will vote for Greg Good for CD11. YMMV.

Race #7, p3

LAUSD4:

I Can’t Even

The LAUSD Board District 4 race is a misery. Nick Melvoin embodies all that is wrong in neoliberal, DoingGoodByDoingWell, smug, anti-democratic and non-communal, essentially selfish faux-left ideology. The best to say about him is that it’s possible he truly believes he is doing god’s work. The trouble is with reality, not with fantasy: because he’s not. Nick Melvoin has been the driving force of privatization in LAUSD, working to catalog space available for his patrons to pilfer, engineer delivery of public programs and facilities to his privatized counterparts, reduce the entire complexity of humanity and its Education into a simplistic numeric metric for commodification. He delivers the public entity he is elected to work for, to its mortal foe, a privatizational and predatory private sector, from behind closed doors. As far as I am concerned, he is a traitor to the promise of educational opportunity for one and all.

So, I cannot vote for him. And both his opponents are anti-vax delusionals, one from the far Christian right, the other from who even knows; she has no website, no SM presence, and no knowledge of education politics so… no.

I considered writing-in a favorite teacher who might live in LAUSD4. But unqualified write-ins won’t be counted. I have never failed to vote on a single race I am aware of since 1980. Yet never say never, because I cannot vote for any of these candidates.

Race #8, p3

SD28:

Lola Smallwood-Cuevas

For State Senator in the 28th District (SD28) there are several disingenuously labelled candidates. The pick of the south-LA machinery is Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, a community-based nonprofit leader who has been quite effective for many years and seems highly regarded in her profession. I don’t think she intended to become a politician, but she has been anointed. I think she’s a better choice than the young, overtly religious Gulledge or the seasoned, small-landlord advocate Turner; she seems very impressive. As mentioned above I’m leery of the clout of this political juggernaut but don’t see how electing reactionary-democrats to office will improve things.

Race #9, p3

AD55:

Isaac G. Bryan

The choice for State Assembly 55th District (AD55) is even more prescribed. Isaac Bryan was the anointed beneficiary-candidate of Sydney Kamlager’s passage from assembly to senate. Bryan is running unopposed and while he has voted to date in some ways that do concern me, in other ways he has been a strong ally. I am learning that beyond predetermined synergy most important for constituents is that the elected be accessible and transparent. So far Bryan has been so, and I do not begrudge him my vote this time around.

Race #11, p3

CoLA Measure BB: 

No

There is a special Municipal Election Measure BB which can be found here. A few CoLA council members, the Controller and big business advocacy groups support prioritizing CoLA businesses over those from outlying municipalities, where operating costs are lower. Those “outside” vendors are presently better poised to win competitive bids with the City.

No money is registered either in support or against the measure. But it is curious not many council members are on record supporting it, and the opposition is unsigned, articulated from a very technical, “inside-baseball” POV. They object that the measure is not carefully written, lacks oversight and could have been implemented without statute. I cannot tell from whom the objections stem and am tempted to vote against it in an abundance of caution. However, the premise of halting the flight of money from City coffers is important; the concerns are with ex post facto events.

I have waffled back and forth but will opt to vote yes on the face of it. Law is set from principle not from tendency. If further nefarious details come to light, I will update this recommendation but for now will cautiously vote …no.  I have indeed changed my mind again. Same reasoning as above, but on balance I believe there should be overriding concern about timing and fixing the scale itself. This special consideration could be affected qualitatively. Setting the stage with pre-designed weighting really invites a vector for corruption.

Race #12, p4

BOS D3:

Henry Stern

LA County’s supervisorial districts were severely redistricted. We are now batched with voters in the far north Valley. Bob Hertzberg and Henry Stern, both Valley legislators, are running to be our next Supervisor, as is the former mayor of WeHo, Lindsay Horvath.

Bob Hertzberg is roundly discounted for his long-term cronyism and efforts to insert his son in his political footsteps. We are not a monarchy. I would worry about his bias toward Valley politics as I do with Henry Stern.

However Stern has lived on the westside and is clearly familiar with its culture. His strong suit is environmental and social justice (and public health) issues about which he is very knowledgeable and empathic. I have some concerns over his education positions but have grown impressed with his sensitivity and smart response to complexity. I can only hope he is open to listening. It is a little concerning he was AWOL from some important Sacramento votes. I was told this was “for the best reason,” in the wake of his firstborn. And far be it from me to ding someone for prioritizing FamilyFirst. Still I’m sure this and criticism he expresses repeatedly here regarding a “broken” culture among politicians themselves, is also part of the story. The supervisorial position provides opportunity to continue in public service closer to home.

That said if as is argued for the mayor’s race the selling point for Karen Bass is knowing ‘where the federal money lies’, Surely Senator Stern (and presumably former speaker Hertzberg too), knows where the State money is buried. His familiarity with the structural and legal interplay of State-county-municipal workings is formidable. There is no question he is as he says of himself, a “policy wonk”. I think this is an important skill for the county BOS (though Mitchell provides this role there too).

The interview linked above is excellent and worth a listen, as is the whole series (amusing that billionaire Caruso reneged on his interview at the last moment. He does this repeatedly. His audience is almost exclusively curated media buys). The moderator is visibly biased and also not very current on facts; he is no match at all for Stern. However the questions and discussion are insightful. Stern doesn’t really manage the prejudice well highlighting a concern with his public communication skills. In contrast with, say, Lindsay Horvath (whose counterpart interview is worth a listen) because she’s gregarious and appealing.

Horvath is a hard-working, earnest policymaker of a very small city circumscribed by the giant City of LA. She is closer to the westside geographically and arguably spiritually. She is endorsed by the current Supervisor and would strengthen the political machinery referenced by me here fore and aft (cf mayoral race, CD37, SD28). However she is nowhere near as conversant in policy or budget or good ideas as Stern. And though they are similarly unfamiliar with Education issues, she has been willing to listen during her tenure at WeHo, within LAUSD’s footprint. I hope Stern’s affluence and Calabasas constituency does not close him to Horvath’s generous listening-capacity. Horvath sets a good example of the political “leaning in” that I think Stern decries the absence of.

I am uneasy with Horvath’s alignment on YIMBY issues and Developer and hotelier money; she is a full-throttle adherent of SB9 and SB10. She is enthusiastic about defining collaboration through public-private partnerships rather than functionality within and between public agencies. I think as the mayor of hip West Hollywood she is perceived as perhaps more progressive, but in truth she is relatively centrist and conventional in political leaning. She may be eager for change and may have the personality to force some, but I’m not sure she presents the political knowledge to synthesize new ideas and collaborations favorable to the people as opposed to plutocrats.

So on balance I would see more leadership around climate and environmental issues at LAC which are also worrisome. Horvath’s focus is the human catastrophe on our streets, which is undeniably vital. Fortunately there is no dearth of folks pledging to make this their business on “day 1”. Fewer are conversant with how to affect this priority and fewer still are pitching into our environmental peril. I think this breadth is important on such a sparse board.

This is arguably the most powerful “local” electoral position in the country. There are still nearly 10m residents here population flight notwithstanding. That means just 6 states aside from CA itself are larger. I am more comfortable consigning its legislation to one with the ideas and skill to craft collaborative policy on a large scale, rather than to the other who while undeniably popular, is nevertheless mayor of what is still, relatively, a very tiny town. I will vote for Henry Stern and look forward to their second round.

Race #13, p4

Sheriff: 

Eric Strong

The Sheriff’s race has mesmerized Los Angeles for months if not years. Villaneuva is appalling (it was fascinating that Stern said he did not support him previously. I don’t know anyone else who admits to this and I wonder what tipped him off). Here is an excellent run-down of the candidates and discussion with which I agree whole-heartedly. I differ from several of the group’s other picks but am in full-throated agreement with their research and assessment about the sheriff.

There are eight alternatives to Villaneuva ranging from reactionary to reactionary-lite. These are law enforcement officers. Most are or were Republicans, most are or were scary. I trust the endorsement of Stonewall’s president, Alex Mohajer, who said he attended interviews with a careful ear to the perspective that Stonewall Democrats should endorse no police, ever. But he heard creative, compassionate ideas for reform, with experience that suggests its true possibility. The interview with candidate Eric Strong changed his mind.

If you google any of these candidates’ onomatopoeic last names, you will encounter a surprising amount of malfeasance among a number of them. I am not myself sensitive to the subtle mannerisms of state-sanctioned oppression but trust those on more frontward lines to be getting this right. Strong has the clearest, most hopeful record so I will cast my vote for him, trusting in part to this instinct and imperative from among those closer to the fight.

Race #14, p4

Assessor: 

Jeffrey Prang

My attention was caught by Assessor Prang when first he redirected a non-professional inquiry made of him via public channels, to a non-work email. I don’t think I can recall a public official displaying this degree of careful integrity for the oath of their public office.  Subsequently during regional (State) Dem Party “pre-endorsement” voting he distinguished himself courageously from the drift of the crowd. I inquired after, how he came to vote so differently from the pack and learned that he hoped to lend support to a young, alternative candidate. Though not necessarily his final choice, he wished not to preclude their candidacy. That seemed very fair and decent; it inspires me for next time. As it happens I would not have voted differently, but I would feel supported if the circumstance merited it, in voting differently for pre-endorsement from my eventual choice if warranted.

By all accounts Jeff Prang has really cleaned up the assessor’s office and is a very decent man. This accords with my experience and I am excited for the opportunity to vote for such a strong incumbent.

Judges of the Superior Court

There’s a real dilemma in consigning these judgeships to election. We of the general public really do not comprehend the issues and process of the legal system. And I hear a lot of falsehoods propagated as well as see gaps not explored. We are therefore relegated to an even more derivative decision-process than for less-specialized public servants. I make my decision from listening to numerous forums where most of the 39 (actually, there are 34 on the ballot – 3 dropped out, 2 are uncontested) candidates have spoken, and from several friends of varying judicial “flavor”. Some of my recommendations stem from sources I cannot reveal which makes me very uncomfortable. And more, those candidates not present at any forums held for constituencies around the city might be more committed than their absence suggests, but it nevertheless leaves us voters either without information or superfluous in a field that is already severely information-challenged. My choices also incorporate online research. Indecorously interesting is this trade review featuring “insider information” aka, sometimes, essentially gossip. Here’s the professional’s association summary assessment of their colleague’s qualification; this report details their decision process. Membership on the LAC Bar Association judicial elections evaluation committee has been criticized, and I have heard praise as well. The description of their process is daunting, involving seemingly approximately 2500 written questionnaires, numerous interviews and conferences and due process. But still, it is hard to adjudicate from away and GIGO is a thing. We are left with the fail-safe of allowing that this is, at least, an electoral process.

A “model code of judicial conduct, canon 5” informs these evaluations. It expressly prohibits that “All Judges and Candidates: publicly endorse or publicly oppose another candidate for public office…” Which would seem to me to preclude a judicial electoral slate (IANAL). I dislike the concept of slates in general, often even in instances where they are commonly used and accepted. They permit and enable low-information from the electorate, and give cover for an individual’s poor candidacy. They subsume the individual to the group. If group-punishment is wrong (and indeed I am understanding it to be one of the tenets of our judicial system), its inverse of individual’s assimilation must be as well.

In any event, for judicial races which typically arrive as a big clump here in LAC, slates have never been a thing of which I am aware, and are seemingly expressly discouraged professionally. I don’t understand why for this election, there has been so little common discussion about the matter. But I guess the reason is that it simply reinforces the stated justification for the singular slate anyway: that there is insufficient representation of defense attorneys among the judiciary, which as a body is refractory to modern efforts to reform the criminal justice system. And as a consequence, this violation of the group norm justifies deviation for an individual’s stance within it.

The “Defenders of Justice” slate is overtly partisan, and I am conflicted by a personal acquaintance within it. This makes feelings about the slate and its constituents hard for me to remark. I feel that their partisan position is most effectively expressed from the place designed for adversarial presentation: as an advocate. Not as a judge. I understand their feeling that an unwillingness to address systemic imbalance holistically is giving expression to the bias. But I feel fairly consistent in looking to regulation as a corrective rather than internal or structural revolution. Subpar schools should be remedied, not turned over to private outfits. Insufficient affordable housing should be remedied by subsidized construction and rental, not bargained against relaxed rules or regulations. Violation of a group norm is not justification for forgiveness of individuals’ integrity which comprise the group.

Race #15, p4

Judge, Office 3:

Sherilynn Peace Garnett

For Office No. 3 Judge Sherilynn Garnett still appears on the ballot. She has been confirmed by the US Senate to serve as federal judge for the Central District of CA. But I have concerns from the interviews I observed with the Democrat who remains on the ballot regarding judicial temperament and fairness. If Judge Garnett wins but declines the post, appointment will default to the Governor from a pool of LACBA-vetted candidates. The odds seem better to me in that direction.

Race #16, p4

Judge, Office 60:

Sharon Ransom

For Office No. 60 Sharon Ransom is inspiring. A popular slate attorney is in this race but compared with the formative life experiences shared by Ransom and the unswerving insistence on even-handedness she maintains, I feel more comfortable with this choice.

Race #17, p4

Judge, Office 67:

Fernanda Maria Barreto

Running in Office No. 67 is another popular slate public defender. The other two candidates were rated by LACBA more highly and I will opt for the diversity provided by Fernanda Maria Barreto; both candidates while from the DA’s office, were very compelling in interviews.

Race #18, p5

Judge, Office 70:

Renee Yolande Chang

Another of the Public Defenders is running in Office No. 70. The righteous anger of Holly Hancock quails before the amazing heart of Renee Yolande Chang. The contrast of an advocate’s stance with the equanimity of a truly “judicial temperament” is striking. That energy of the former is such an important asset, but it belongs in front of the judge not underneath robes.

Race #19, p5

Judge, Office 90:

Melissa Lyons

Melissa Lyons from Office No. 90 is another with a heart that just feels good. She talks about “from what place that judge will make decisions” in relaying her story and case for providing a compassionate and fair perspective. She is qualified as highly as the public defender running in this race and additionally will provide much-needed diversity.

Race #20, p5

Judge, Office 116:

David B. Gelfound

Office 116 provides a snapshot of the odd place we are in politically. The sitting judge, David Gelfound, is according to MetNews, seemingly not an obvious transgressor of the sort who has motivated the candidacy of so many judicial candidates today. Yet the Public Defender who is challenging him is reputed by reputation and ranking to be considerably less qualified. And still his is the perspective championed as a panacea for systemic ills which need redress. I will vote to retain what is not broken as this candidate offers neither diversity, temperament nor even the righteous anger of the slate Defenders.

Race #21, p5

Judge, Office 118:

Georgia Huerta

Office 118 is the most crowded race. Another of the slate’s candidates and a former compatriot of the LAC central committee is running here, but only the DAs and administrative law judge were deemed well qualified. Mindful that high-stakes, reductive screens can get the answer wrong, I’m impressed by the exhaustive professional evaluation process, and I understand it would reserve the most “judicious” for its “bench”. Clearly this is not a system of ranking comparative merit, but rather of absolute temperament and experience. “Fit” is a vital concept for everyone’s role. Objectivity is retained for the judge, presiding over partisan advocates who drive the process.

In numerous forum it was Georgia Huerta’s words I found myself looking forward to. In another’s words she “expresses nuanced appreciation for how alternative courts can be effective and need to be expanded responsibly. She brings a native Angeleno’s experience, rooted in her community.” I think this sounds like the right fit for the adjudicative center and I will vote for Georgia Huerta, recognizing value added to the courtroom all around.

Race #22, p5

Judge, Office 151:

Patrick Hare

Patrick Hare is that candidate, in Office No. 151, who is both Public Defender and most qualified. He exemplifies the intersection of judicial temperament and professional perspective that is so desirable toward redressing its systemic bias.

It could be that the prejudice and unreformed habits which motivate overcorrection might be less likely to enter the system anew today. Many of the candidates seemed at pains to exhibit synergy with criminal justice reform. Most races appear to have several candidates who could furnish that corrective to the judiciary group without partisan imbalance.

Race #23, p5

Judge, Office 156:

Carol Elswick

Office No 156, like Office #3 and Office #116, is another held by challenged incumbent, Judge Carol Elswick. She indeed was reprimanded several years ago for transgressions that she acknowledges, has apologized for, and has by most accounts ceased. Her challenger comes clad in difficulties of his own and is not considered qualified. Judge Elswick deserves to be retained.

Two incumbent superior court judges, James Kaddo and Gloria White Brown, are running unopposed for Offices #141 and #152 respectively, and do not therefore appear on the ballot.

Finally, it is astonishing to note that after all the drama pitting candidates against one another by “office”, that delineation is artificial. Selected judges are subsequently placed together in one pool from which they are assigned court-types by a supervisor, not popular election.

The system is gratuitously destructive as one-time candidates and ongoing colleagues compete against each another serendipitously, and not even for an integral office. It would be far more equitable, collegial, and effective were the entire field of 39 candidates evaluated by ranked choice ballot to select the 11 most judicial candidates.

These people are all lawyers. Why doesn’t one of them write this into law?

Statewide Offices

Many candidate statements are in the Secretary of State’s Voter Guide found online as a pdf or in your (LA County) USPS mailbox.

Race #24, p5

Governor:

Gavin Newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom has led our State through a global pandemic and into a moment of unprecedented budgetary surplus. Certainly having more money is better than less. But the excess presents its own issues including incumbent inflation and social and political polarization and all the rest of it. These are interesting times, and I see no reason to obviate the hard-fought partisan recall with anyone who hasn’t already established they are not the source of our problems. I wouldn’t know whom else to choose and I am voting again for Gavin Newsom.

Race #25, p6

Lieutenant Governor:

Eleni Kounalakis

Likewise with the incumbent Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, I wouldn’t know whom else to vote for and she has not been a problem. The present administration deserves to retain its position.

Race #26, p6

Secretary of State:

Shirley N. Weber

The incumbent Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, was appointed to the position when Alex Padilla went to the US Senate following Kamala Harris’ national VP victory. I was not thrilled with Weber’s voting record in the assembly establishing her as an important supporter of charter schools and other privatization positions. However, in a brilliant example of how important is “fit” (cf judicial office #118 above), I recognize that in the office of Secretary of State, she has risen to her political calling. Listening to Dr. Weber speak of her trajectory to this point is deeply moving. I am thrilled to vote for her in this position and note there is not another single Democratic challenger for it.

Race #27, p7

State Controller:

Malia M Cohen

From here in the southland, the statewide race for Controller is interesting. Malia Cohen first came to my attention long before this race had heated up and long before CoLA’s favorite son, Ron Galperin, sidled into the race. Cohen presents a rather thrilling example as young, working, professional mother multitasking it all with competence. I cannot know whether internally she is emotionally stretched by conducting high-level financial discussions while a toddler crawls all over her clamoring for mommy’s attention. But superficially what I can see is the aplomb with which she never missed a beat in erudite conversation while offering herself up as human escalator. What she expressed was an acrobatic and intellectual feat.

I understand her bid for this position was made at the expense of a safe, productive electoral position, relinquished at the behest of, and only with the promise of support from, the current State Controller. Betty Yee was addressing equity in seeking to empower women of color in statewide office, and accordingly she promoted Malia Cohen for this post.

Subsequently the City of LA’s termed-out controller, Ron Galperin, was redistricted from his preferred supervisorial seat. He withdrew that candidacy which would have pitted him against popular elected officials, seeking instead to leverage his CoLA experience of the same title to statewide office, also for Controller. As a successful politician in Los Angeles, where the central Democratic Committee comprises 1/3 the rest of the state’s population, the opportunity to fill this seat from within LACDP was strongly embraced by local leadership. And suddenly the sole endorsement of Controller Yee became duplicated.

This set the stage for an endorsement showdown locally. With two highly competent candidates, LACDP leadership favored local representation and the newer, more progressive membership favored Cohen’s professionalism, progressive politics, and representation of diversity. The membership closely prevailed.

I have spoken at some length with Cohen and believe her to be completely fluent in high finance. She has used her position to champion progressive action from single payer and environmental advocacy to social justice divestment. Galperin’s position despite being similarly titled, does not reflect comparable policy-setting experience. So despite public election, his actual political views are more opaque. He is unpopularly but not very transparently, against single-payer healthcare; he has rejected any role for an ethical vantage in the caretaking of State investment resources. His election would be an opportunity-lost for progressive change, driven via the Californian purse. Cohen is another candidate it feels amazing to be able to vote for; her willingness to use the mandate of election to effect social change progressively, for the people, is trailblazing.

Race #28, p7

Treasurer:

Fiona Ma

The incumbent, Fiona Ma, is the only Democrat in the race for State Treasurer. The absence of a challenger is seemingly a sign that the incumbent has been doing fine. To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand well what a State Treasurer does. Due to the absence of competition, I have not seen her discuss her job or her performance. It’s not clear to me that a school bus driver will be a reasonable substitute and I am not voting Republican, so this race for me and most of the rest of the state I suspect, is a foregone conclusion.

Race #29, p7

Attorney General:

Rob Bonta

Casting doubt on my theory attaching meaning to the absence of challenger in a race, Attorney General Rob Bonta in fact has been controversial, but is running without meaningful competition. Progressives in particular have been quite fussed about his campaign contributions and his wife’s dynastic run for the assembly seat he vacated when appointed attorney general by Governor Newsom. They have both been supporters of state privatization in a general way that is most distressing.

I am committed by my office to electing Democrats and I do believe there is peril in relinquishing ground to anti-democratic forces. I would say, however, that if ever there were a candidate race for third-party this is where I might look.

Race #30, p7

Insurance Com-missioner:

Marc Levine

The Insurance Commissioner race is filled with challengers despite its well-known incumbent. There are no fewer than four Democratic challengers though one is particularly visible politically, assemblymember Marc Levine. Levine is not shy in broadcasting criticism of the eminently criticizable Lara, at the center of a torrent of financial pay-to-play and campaign contribution scandals. Lara expresses contrition regularly until a fresh iteration of shenanigans surfaces. Levine is not himself without contributions from the FIRE sector, and his legislative voting record is a little more moderate than Lara’s. I agree with Calmatters’ Dan Walters that the two represent factionalization in a hegemonic Party. Without expectation of transformative change, I will tentatively vote for Marc Levine in the belief that when there is a problem, do make adjustments until something new improves it. Unfortunately there are a lot of ways something new can become worse. But responding to Lara’s blatant ethics violations is at least a nod toward accountability.

Race #31, p7

BOE3:

Tony Vazquez

There are three candidates for the State Board of Equalization, D3. Two are from Santa Monica. The third, John Mendoza, is an activist from Pomona, a long-time water board member, voter protection advocate and school board watcher who lost a 2013 bid to serve on it. He is running now for the BOE’s Third District to displace incumbent Tony Vazquez, a figure more central to the region’s Democratic establishment. As former mayor of Santa Monica, Vazquez is the only candidate to have been raising money for the race, unsurprising given his incumbency and the financial issues at stake. Marie Manvel is a social services commissioner in Santa Monica. Neither Manvel’s nor Vazquez’ website is current. Vazquez’ online presence reveals little of his politics beyond strong union support. From this comparison I surmise Manvel to be fairly conservative and Mendoza relatively inexperienced. I wish there were more to be gleaned about any candidate’s plans for the job. But without that information and in the absence of troubling reports of the incumbent’s record, I will simply vote for VHS graduate Tony Vazquez (and update the recommendation should I learn more anon).

Race #32, p8

Superintendent of Public Instruction:

Tony K Thurmond

Last but not least, is the State Superintendent of Instruction, Tony Thurmond. He was a terrific legislator whom we fought hard for against privatization maven Marshall Tuck. But since gaining statewide office in a come-behind nail-biter, Thurmond has been distant and his leadership faint. It could be that he has been just as supportive of public education as anticipated, and with the pandemic, it is simply communications that have broken down. Significant charter school statutes passed under his watch (AB 1505 and AB 1507), and yet a determined program is hard to discern. Nonetheless I remain enthusiastic about Thurmond’s clear vision of public education, and will have no trouble voting for him to take another term to support it.

Other Races I have followed that we do not vote for here in our section of Mar Vista.

I have written elsewhere about the race in AD61 (new). Tina McKinnor’s primary opponent is another candidate with dismaying expectations of ascendency. The corporate source of outsized campaign contributions and his past opportunism suggest he would be a legislator very much not in the interest of the people. While McKinnor is a policy expert operating from out of the neoliberal paradigm of public-private partnerships, that model is nevertheless preferable to fealty owed oil and gas concerns.

Parts of my former Mar Vista Community Council’s footprint, including the campuses of Palms MS and beyond to Hamilton HS, fall within Council District 5’s. There is an embarrassment of great representative capacity there. If I could likely I would vote for Jimmy Biblarz, hoping to see some of his ideas enacted in a context of smart oversight and compassion. I wish CD5 would share some of its surplus excellence in candidates westward.

There are many more terrific candidates scattered further out. Rocio Rivas for LAUSD2 in the stronghold of Monica Garcia. That old board member’s long-game, hand-picked, deviously-cultivated choice literally includes gerrymandering and outright misrepresentation of political ideology. It is sickening to realize the extent to which the charter school privatization movement will scheme and dissemble in cleaving the “public” – including its money – from school.

Further afield is another great friend of public schools running to be Glendale Unified’s Area B Trustee, teacher Ingrid Gunnell.

Likewise is Elen Asatryan a true friend of public education, running for City Council in Glendale. Not AD 55 to be sure, but perhaps you have friends in the northeast.

Another great educator running to oust Mike Garcia and flip the Antelope Valley blue in US Congress, CA27 is LAUSD teacher Ruth Luevanos. While I’m leery of the environmental consequences to curtailing fossil fuels via gas tax, everything else about her platform – her fluency, her quick understanding – is wonderful.

Also running for US Congress, CA32, and likewise out in the great beyond of the West Valley, is another terrific political wunderkind, Shervin Aazami. A new Dad, he yet has brain cells left, managing to express socio-political reality in positively literary terms. He folds passion and politics into poetry; it is rousing to hear him speak.

Closer to home is a race in our former congressional district, CD37. The political machine expects to advance its favorite child, and while she is sharp and knowledgeable, her experience is less than Jan Perry’s. Perry’s record of accomplishment is practical and tactile, essential skills for this moment when what we need are homes that work for the homeless. Yesterday.

There are many more such exciting electeds in the offing, but this letter is long overdue never mind past its suitable length. I will amend my blog with updates as new information of choices come to light or those I have inadvertently forgotten come to mind.

And now: it’s “I Voted” sticker time!