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Hello, My Name Is 'Viable Candidate': Mark Stone is our pick for District 5 county supervisor.

United We Stand

Metro Santa Cruz's rundown of the March 2 election

With the president trading his commander-in-chief flight suit for the cassocks of a culture war czar, the Bushites are clearly hoping a makeover will distract voters from pesky questions about missing WMDs, sexed-up intelligence, rising body counts, lost jobs and a record $7 trillion in national debt. If you haven't been fooled, it's time to get off your butt and vote March 2.

Whatever you think about John Kerry as the Anointed One of the Democratic primary, there's so much more going on in this March 2 election that you'd have to be crazy--John Ashcroft crazy--not to get to the polls on Tuesday. To help you out, here's a rundown of Metro Santa Cruz's election endorsements, with a reminder that while U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (District 14), state Assemblymember Simon Salinas (District 28) and state Assemblymember John Laird (District 27) are running unopposed this primary, they still count up their votes. Let's build some momentum and turn March 2 into a dry run for regime change in November.



Democratic Presidential Nomination
Recommendation: Make 'em sweat

We're not going to waste a lot of time on this, but look: if John Kerry's going to win, John Kerry's going to win. That doesn't mean we all need to fall into lock-step behind him in the freakin' primary. John Edwards' "Two Americas" bit is the strongest stump speech we've heard in years, Howard Dean got robbed and Dennis Kucinich has the progressive values that need to be championed at the convention. So for chrissakes, stop worrying about "electability" and vote for the candidate you really believe in, whether he's still on the ballot or not. Every delegate counts, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

17th Congressional District
Recommendation: Sam Farr

Since incumbent Sam Farr was elected to this seat a decade ago, he's shown an unwavering commitment to the economy, education and the environment. And since Sept. 11, 2001, we've seen Farr score high marks with our community, thanks to his increasingly vocal opposition to, and criticism of, all things Bush. Sure, Farr isn't likely to be seen in a tie-dye T-shirt with a peace sign tattooed on his forehead anytime soon, but that's all the more reason to send his seersuckered self back to Washington, where he can continue to represent local values and hopefully chair a subcommittee, while he continues to speak his mind.

11th State Senate District
Recommendation: None

It would take too long to explain here why we aren't endorsing Ted Lempert or Joe Simitian, the two Democratic contenders for this seat. Both have law degrees from Stanford and are advocates for education, the environment and civil rights. We recommend you read our cover story in this issue on the continuing role of money in politics and then decide who you think would best serve the 11th District, which, thanks to some pretty crafty gerrymandering, has left us without a county resident in the Senate, and in the awkward position of being the tail that will have to somehow wag the district's largely inland dog.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor, District 2
Recommendation: Ellen Pirie

Incumbent Ellen Pirie is our pick for this district, where Highway 1 widening and a proposed coastal trolley continue to be hot topics. Sure, we have our criticisms of Pirie, but in general we feel she is well tuned in to the realities of both her district and the county. A good example of this is her belief that an array of transportation projects needs to be listed as part of an upcoming November ballot measure, so as to entice the two-thirds voter approval needed to pass the quarter-cent, 30-year sales-tax hike--unlike her challenger Corralitos resident Peter Truman, who wants said tax to focus solely on the highway and not other transportation projects. That said, we hope Pirie, who is currently opposed to the coastal trolley from Aptos to Capitola, either reverses position or comes up with some very creative solutions to accessing $11 million in state funds that will help buy the right of way to 31 miles of Union Pacific rail.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor, District 5
Recommendation: Mark Stone

Though we are endorsing appointed incumbent Mark Stone for this seat, in the hope that he will continue to be a thoughtful and fast learner, we would like to tip our hat to the efforts of software developer and local activist Tod Landis with regard to his commitment to buy back Felton's water system. We're reminded of presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich's fight to retain control of his city's public utilities, when he was mayor of Cleveland, a move that got him branded as a menace at the time. Indeed, with Landis being the only candidate involved in tracking this issue from start to present, we trust that Stone, if elected, will draw on Landis's expertise and move forward with efforts to put Felton's water system back in the control of its residents.

Measure D
Recommendation: Yes

An important resource during tough economic times, Cabrillo College educates roughly 50 percent of all local high school graduates and has seen a steady increase in enrollment in the last decade, with even more expected next year, as the governor proposes to cut University of California and California State University freshman admissions by 10 percent and send them to community colleges, instead. All of which are good reasons to support this $118.5 million facilities-improvement bond measure, which will allow Cabrillo to build a center on its Aptos campus that would hold all its health-related fields-- including nursing, radiology technology, dental hygiene, medical assisting and transcription, physical therapy and the Stroke Center. The move also would give the Stroke Center's disabled students access to campus amenities, with remaining funds set to establish and improve classrooms and laboratories on campus in Watsonville and in Scotts Valley, and upgrade electrical/mechanical systems. Best of all, the state won't be able to take away a single dollar of this fund.

Measure E
Recommendation: Yes

Live Oak voters get to decide on a $14.5 million bond measure that would renovate local schools, upgrade computer labs and keep the Live Oak Senior Center, which houses the countywide Meals on Wheels program, in its current home. The 31-year bond would cost homeowners an average of $85 annually, and would enable a $7 million renovation of Live Oak Elementary School, including work on fire alarms, roofs and plumbing. Live Oak is the only district school that didn't get a major facelift after voters approved a similar bond in 1990, and also the only one with a AAA bond rating.

Measure F
Recommendation: Yes

Billed as the "Save Our City measure," Measure F won't actually save specific programs, but will help prevent slashing and burning what remains of services after a tough year in which the city cut $7.2 million from its $50 million General Fund. Indeed, even if Measure F passes, the city will still have to cut another million dollars--and soon. Bleak as this sounds, it's a way prettier picture than if Measure F fails, in which case the city will have to chop another 2 million dollars in coming months, meaning further scaled-back hours for public services such as Louden Nelson, and cuts to law enforcement, such as traffic operations, investigations and stings. Passage of Measure F will increase the city's 8 percent sales tax rate by a quarter-percent for a five-year period, thus increasing revenues by $2.2 million annually, while costing consumers an extra nickel on every $20 they spend--a small price to pay, we think, to keep the city afloat.

Measure I
Recommendation: Yes

Summit voters on both sides of the Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County lines get to decide whether to extend a 13-year-old tax, which costs homeowners $150 a year and provides the two-school Loma Prieta Joint Union Elementary School District with about $283,000 per year-- paying for music, arts and small class sizes.


I'm No. 1: Ellen Pirie's experience is one reason we support her for the District 2 supervisor seat.

Proposition 55
Recommendation: Yes

Voting yes on Prop. 55 , a.k.a. the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond, is a no brainer for us, since clearly the state needs to be able to fix rundown classrooms and build new schools to reduce overcrowding, if California kids are to succeed. This proposition also gets our support because it enacts strict accountability standards that make sure school bonds go directly to repair and build new classrooms where they're most needed.

Proposition 56
Recommendation: Yes

Dubbed the "Budget Accountability Act," Prop. 56 seeks to lower the Legislature's threshold for passing the state budget and budget-related tax increases from the 66 percent established by Prop. 13 to 55 percent. It would also penalize the governor and Legislature for missing the June 30 budget deadline, which occurred 11 times in the past 17 years, and would instead force officials to postpone time-off and to work without pay until the budget is passed. The initiative also requires that up to 25 percent of any excess state revenues be set aside in a reserve fund. While opponents fear that products like oil, tobacco and alcohol may be subject to new taxes, we think this proposition offers a much needed way to end the legislative gridlock.

Proposition 57 and Prop. 58
Recommendation: Yes on Prop. 57 and 58

Yes, we know that these two propositions are listed separately on the ballot, but to our minds they're more like a pair of conjoined twins for whom separation could be mutually life-threatening. Because if voters don't approve Props 57 and Prop. 58, then "Armageddon cuts" are expected to decimate government services statewide.

Sure, we agree that the idea of borrowing $15 billion, which is what Prop. 57, a.k.a. the Economic Recovery Bond Act, will do, is not a great or even a good choice. That said, we see no sign that the governor, still riding a wave of popular support, is preparing to raise taxes. And we fear that if his bond package does not pass, programs that save the government money in the long term, such as preschool, substance-abuse-recovery and gang-interdiction programs, could be scrapped to balance Arnie's short-term budget. But for Prop. 57 to be enacted, voters must also approve Prop. 58, the California Balanced Budget Act, which amends the enactment and maintenance of a state budget and puts restrictions on future deficit-related borrowing, so our current mess can't ever (hopefully) happen again.

Voter Info Websites
www.voterguide.ss.ca.gov (Secretary of State)
www.votescount.com (Santa Cruz County Elections Department)
vote2004.ss.ca.gov (state government, live election returns)
www.fec.gov (Federal Election Commission)
www.vote-smart.org (National Project Vote Smart)
www.rockthevote.org (Rock the Vote)
www.smartvoter.org (League of Women Voters)

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From the February 25-March 3, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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