Don’t Miss California’s ‘Official Voter Information Guide’—Part Two

CommentaryIn Part One of this two-part series, I covered California’s “Official Voter Information Guide” for the offices of U.S. Senator, governor, and lieutenant governor. In Part Two I’m writing about the offices of attorney general, controller, and superintendent of public instruction. The Guide is important because it tells us a lot about what is going on around the state. Attorney General I covered this race last November in The Epoch Times in “California Crime Crackdown Inevitable in 2022.” I mentioned the two top Republican candidates, both included in my review below. And I was the first to point out the rise in crime means this race gives the Republicans the best chance of winning a statewide post. I wrote, “In 2010, Jerry Brown easily won back his old post as governor, 54 percent to 41 percent over billionaire Republican Meg Whitman. But on the same ballot, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, a Democrat, barely beat Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican, in the race for California attorney general by 46.1 percent to 45.3 percent. Harris, of course, went on to become a U.S. senator and is now vice president.” Rob Bonta, incumbent Democrat. As I have written in The Epoch Times, his main policy has been to attack Californians’ Second Amendment “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” He also bears some responsibility for the sharp increase in crime since he took office on April 23, 2021, after being appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, because it happened on his watch. Bonta stresses his anti-crime measures, including the “ghost guns” fake crisis. He writes, “Under my leadership, the Department of Justice has increased efforts to combat crime and get illegal guns off our streets. I am prosecuting ghost gun manufacturers and taking guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers. I launched new special investigative teams to apprehend sex traffickers, and I’m taking down criminal street gangs across the state.” We’ll see if that works. But Republicans are going to hammer him on crime. Nathan Hochman, Republican. The former federal prosecutor writes, “Only with new leadership can we hope to solve our state’s toughest problems: rising crime threatening our families and communities, out-of-control homelessness, and a fentanyl and drug epidemic claiming more Californians’ lives each day. My background, experience, independence, and common-sense policies will provide that new leadership and restore safety as a basic right of every Californian.” Eric Early, Republican. He writes, “As an attorney for 30 years who runs a nationally recognized law firm and been named one of America’s top lawyers, who has fought and won lawsuits for scores of Californians, received major endorsements, and who has never worked for the government, I am uniquely qualified to protect all Californians from a failed government that has turned California into a Criminals’ Paradise.” Anne Marie Schubert, No Party Preference. She’s Sacramento County’s district attorney. She has a chance if the two Republican split their votes for the No. 2 slot in the Top Two primary. She writes, “California needs a real prosecutor to be Attorney General. That’s me. I’ve worked for 30 years as a District Attorney, dedicating my life to keeping our communities safe. My passion for justice led me to be a national leader in pioneering the innovative use of DNA to solve crimes. That’s how I led my office to identify and convict the Golden State Killer.” Superintendent of Public Instruction Some voters I talked to don’t even know this position exists. Yet it is highly influential over their kids’ education. It’s a nonpartisan post, but everyone knows the candidates’ party affiliation. One candidate not in the Guide is Republican Lance Christensen, who was the chief of staff for state Sen. John Moorlach when I was press secretary. Christensen’s website is here. He told me the current law on the Guide is “antiquated.” Government Code section 85601(a) stipulates: “The candidate statement must be filed and received by the Secretary of State’s Elections Division no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16, 2022.” He said, “Ballot statements were due nearly a month before the nomination deadline. I didn’t decide to run until after the deadline for the statement was passed. None of this makes any sense for a candidate that is otherwise qualified but didn’t spend months or years preparing for a specific office.” Looks like it’s another way the system protects itself against upstarts and needs to be reformed. The state’s education problems are immense, beginning with it recently scoring last of the 50 states on literacy on a ranking by World Population Review, and locking down schools far too long during the pandemic. Tony K. Thurmond, the incumbent Democrat. He’s heavily supported by the teachers’ unions. He writes, “It has been my honor to serve as your State Superintendent of Public Instruction for ne

Don’t Miss California’s ‘Official Voter Information Guide’—Part Two

Commentary

In Part One of this two-part series, I covered California’s “Official Voter Information Guide” for the offices of U.S. Senator, governor, and lieutenant governor. In Part Two I’m writing about the offices of attorney general, controller, and superintendent of public instruction. The Guide is important because it tells us a lot about what is going on around the state.

Attorney General

I covered this race last November in The Epoch Times in “California Crime Crackdown Inevitable in 2022.” I mentioned the two top Republican candidates, both included in my review below. And I was the first to point out the rise in crime means this race gives the Republicans the best chance of winning a statewide post.

I wrote, “In 2010, Jerry Brown easily won back his old post as governor, 54 percent to 41 percent over billionaire Republican Meg Whitman. But on the same ballot, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, a Democrat, barely beat Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican, in the race for California attorney general by 46.1 percent to 45.3 percent. Harris, of course, went on to become a U.S. senator and is now vice president.”

Rob Bonta, incumbent Democrat. As I have written in The Epoch Times, his main policy has been to attack Californians’ Second Amendment “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” He also bears some responsibility for the sharp increase in crime since he took office on April 23, 2021, after being appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, because it happened on his watch.

Bonta stresses his anti-crime measures, including the “ghost guns” fake crisis. He writes, “Under my leadership, the Department of Justice has increased efforts to combat crime and get illegal guns off our streets. I am prosecuting ghost gun manufacturers and taking guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers. I launched new special investigative teams to apprehend sex traffickers, and I’m taking down criminal street gangs across the state.”

We’ll see if that works. But Republicans are going to hammer him on crime.

Nathan Hochman, Republican. The former federal prosecutor writes, “Only with new leadership can we hope to solve our state’s toughest problems: rising crime threatening our families and communities, out-of-control homelessness, and a fentanyl and drug epidemic claiming more Californians’ lives each day. My background, experience, independence, and common-sense policies will provide that new leadership and restore safety as a basic right of every Californian.”

Eric Early, Republican. He writes, “As an attorney for 30 years who runs a nationally recognized law firm and been named one of America’s top lawyers, who has fought and won lawsuits for scores of Californians, received major endorsements, and who has never worked for the government, I am uniquely qualified to protect all Californians from a failed government that has turned California into a Criminals’ Paradise.”

Anne Marie Schubert, No Party Preference. She’s Sacramento County’s district attorney. She has a chance if the two Republican split their votes for the No. 2 slot in the Top Two primary. She writes, “California needs a real prosecutor to be Attorney General. That’s me. I’ve worked for 30 years as a District Attorney, dedicating my life to keeping our communities safe. My passion for justice led me to be a national leader in pioneering the innovative use of DNA to solve crimes. That’s how I led my office to identify and convict the Golden State Killer.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Some voters I talked to don’t even know this position exists. Yet it is highly influential over their kids’ education. It’s a nonpartisan post, but everyone knows the candidates’ party affiliation.

One candidate not in the Guide is Republican Lance Christensen, who was the chief of staff for state Sen. John Moorlach when I was press secretary. Christensen’s website is here. He told me the current law on the Guide is “antiquated.” Government Code section 85601(a) stipulates: “The candidate statement must be filed and received by the Secretary of State’s Elections Division no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16, 2022.”

He said, “Ballot statements were due nearly a month before the nomination deadline. I didn’t decide to run until after the deadline for the statement was passed. None of this makes any sense for a candidate that is otherwise qualified but didn’t spend months or years preparing for a specific office.” Looks like it’s another way the system protects itself against upstarts and needs to be reformed.

The state’s education problems are immense, beginning with it recently scoring last of the 50 states on literacy on a ranking by World Population Review, and locking down schools far too long during the pandemic.

Tony K. Thurmond, the incumbent Democrat. He’s heavily supported by the teachers’ unions. He writes, “It has been my honor to serve as your State Superintendent of Public Instruction for nearly four years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the most challenging time of our lifetimes, I have led efforts to keep our schools open and safe by providing our 1,000 school districts with millions of units of computing devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), and rapid COVID tests. As we forge ahead, I am leading a plan to hire 10,000 mental health counselors to help our students heal from the trauma associated with this pandemic. I will also be pushing to recruit, retain and support 15,000 teachers so our students can recover from the learning gaps they have experienced.”

Marco Amaral, Independent. He writes, “As a school board member, currently Board President of the South Bay Union School District, I have pushed for more equitable salaries across the district and a more transparent governance process. I am running for State Superintendent to transform public education, because our children deserve much better. Our platform includes: 1) Paying teachers in California a minimum of $70,000 per year and every classified employee a minimum of $25 per hour. 2) Fully fund schools to meet both the academic and human needs of every student. 3) Making public universities tuition free and canceling student-loan debt. 4) Ending standardized testing. 5) Keeping politicians accountable.”

George Yang, Republican. He writes, “Empower Parents. Invigorate students, help every student find his/her passion. Keep schools open; Create the environment that fosters new innovations. I am a parent and an engineer.”

Controller

The controller has the power to conduct audits of any government agency. What would the winner for this office find if he started digging—for real?

Steve Glazer, Democrat. When I was with Moorlach, 2017-20, he often saw eye-to-eye with Glazer, one of the few legislators of either party who understood state and local budgets and tried to rein in the wild spending. For that, Glazer’s own party often attacked him. Glazer writes, “Senator Steve Glazer is the Legislature’s toughest fiscal watchdog. On the Senate Budget Committee and the Legislative Audit Committee, he demonstrated integrity, independence, and the courage to stand up to special interests.”

Unfortunately, he’s helped attack our Second Amendment “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” He writes, “Senator Glazer took on the gun lobby, writing legislation that closed the assault weapons loophole.” The real “loophole” is there’s no such thing as “assault weapons,” only mean-looking rifles. He should read the work of gun scholar John Lott, especially “More Guns, Less Crime.”

Lanhee Chen, Republican. He writes, “As Controller, I will force Sacramento politicians to answer tough questions about the $20 billion in unemployment benefits sent to convicted felons and fraudsters, the billions spent each year on homelessness with dismal results, and the lack of a detailed accounting for the $300 billion in checks our state writes every year. My experiences in policymaking, business, and teaching at Stanford University have prepared me to be an independent voice as California’s next Controller.”

Laura Wells, Green. She writes, “Tax the super-rich; stop billionaires from buying the media and politicians. Implement public banking to invest in California not Wall Street. Use water wisely, never for fracking. Spend money on necessary, meaningful jobs that don’t destroy the planet, and less money imprisoning people in an unjust system.”

Board of Equalization

In one of his worst acts as governor, Jerry Brown in 2017 eviscerated what he branded the “powerful but obscure” Board of Equalization. He created yet another government department, the even more obscure but unelected Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

The old board was a haven for taxpayers objecting to mistreatment by state tax authorities. They could call and get a hearing. Although the new, eviscerated board still exists, and can help taxpayers, it’s less powerful, leaving us more at the mercy of the faceless tax authorities and their financial thumbscrews.

Here’s the new BOE map, based on the 2020 U.S. Census, to take effect for these four districts in 2023.

Epoch Times Photo

There are five board members, four elected in the districts. The fifth is the controller (see above), currently incumbent Betty Yee, who is not running for re-election. I’ll just pick out a couple of the statements of those running for these four offices. Most, including Democrats, support upholding Proposition 13, the 1978 property tax limitation measure.

Nader Shahatit, Democrat, District 1. He writes, “Taxes are complicated. We need a board of tax professionals, not career politicians. We are weaponizing taxes to penalize innovation; rather than incentivizing businesses to grow. Count on me to uphold proposition 13.”

Jose S. Altamirano, Democrat, District 1. He writes, “For almost 32 years, I have worked at the California State Compensation Insurance Fund, assisting policyholders with their workers’ compensation insurance needs, first as an Underwriting Manager, then as Assistant Program Manager, Interim VP of the Customer Service Center and most recently as the Business Services Operations Manager. Each of those roles has taught me the special nature of public service and public trust when your taxpayer dollars are involved.”

Braden Murphy, Democrat, District 1. He writes, “While property taxes provide vital government funding, the property tax system hits the middle-class hard and prevents people from being homeowners. I believe it’s time to make giant corporations pay their fair share and return fairness to California’s property tax system.”

That means he favors the split-roll change to Prop. 13, which would allow higher taxes on business property. In 2020, voters rejected Proposition 15, which would have done just that.

Sally J. Lieber, Democrat, District 2. She writes, “I am a corporate-free candidate running to represent you on the Board of Equalization. The Board oversees property taxes and other revenues for our State. Too often it’s a place where big money interests drown out the voices of average Californians. It shouldn’t be that way. I will fight to ensure that everyday people are heard; that our tax system is fair and equitable for homeowners, renters, people living with disabilities, small businesses, and communities of color; that utilities and other big money interests pay their fair share; and that every state agency works to combat climate change.”

Peter Coe Verbica, Republican, District 2. He writes, “Trained in business, real estate, law, and as a Certified Financial Planner®, he brings extensive professional experience to the Board of Equalization, which oversees 58 county assessors who value and tax property throughout California. … Peter believes in a clear-eyed, efficient, and fair approach to governance and will bring a fresh perspective to this 143-year-old office.”

Michela Alioto-Pier, Democrat, District 2. Her grandfather was San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto. She writes, “As a two-term member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors I emphasized job growth and economic development. I established San Francisco’s Office of Economic Impact, created the City’s first Economic Stimulus Plan and launched a Biotech Payroll Tax Exemption and Film Rebate Program, all of which created thousands of new jobs.”

Mike Schaefer, incumbent Democrat, District 4. He writes, “When the pandemic struck, I worked with Governor Newsom to initiate an Executive Order which aided small businesses by postponing penalty deadlines for property tax statements helping to keep businesses afloat during challenging times. I co-led a 50-person statewide COVID-19 Task Force that created innovative tax solutions to protect Prop 13, veterans, individuals, families and seniors.

Matthew Harper, Republican, Distict 4. He’s a former assemblyman. He writes, “Like you, I continue to be frustrated with our state government. The California Board of Equalization needs to do better for you, and I am committed to doing better. I will never forget that the People are in charge. Vote for the candidate that you can count on who; signed the Pledge to Protect Proposition 13, signed the Pledge to Oppose Tax Increases, and consistently earned an ‘A’ rating from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. He has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com