Metro Santa Cruz's Comprehensive Election Guide
Our picks for races in town and beyond can be your best friend at the ballot box
President and Vice President
Recommendation: John Kerry, John Edwards
Recommendation: Barbara Boxer
Strong on protecting the environment and families, educating children (with special emphasis on after-school programs) and improving airline safety, she's earned a third term.
Recommendation: Anna Eshoo
Running for her seventh term, Eshoo faces Republican Chris Haughen and Libertarian Brian Holtz, who accuses Eshoo of being out of touch for "opposing Bush on Iraq." Funny, we see that opposition as one of the strongest cards in her hand. A member of the House Intelligence Committee, she has pushed the Bush administration to take the concerns of the 9/11 Commission seriously, and her records on the environment, the economy, education and health care are all strong.
Recommendation: Mike Honda
We like Mike, and here's why: He's fighting to defend civil liberties, force corporate accountability, help 43.6 million uninsured Americans access quality affordable health care and provide kids with decent education. His Republican opponent, Raymond Chukwu, is a political neophyte running a losing battle.
Recommendation: Sam Farr
Incumbent Sam Farr has presided over this Democratic stronghold since 1993, his decisions guided by his mantra of three E's-- economy, education and environment. He's scored big in recent years with peace-loving locals by voting against the authorization of the use of military force against Iraq. All of which gives us yet another good reason to send him back to Washington.
Recommendation: Peg Pinard
Democrat and San Luis Obispo County Supe Peg Pinard has Nancy Pelosi on her side as she battles Republican Assemblymember Abel Maldonaldo. An indication of how desperate the Republicans are to take termed-out Bruce McPherson's seat lies with Libertarian Brook Madsen, who says he was duped into running for this seat as a Green Party candidate by the co-chairman of the Monterey County Republican Central Commiteee, who paid his filing fees. Madsen has since withdrawn from the race, and backs Pinard, as does the Green Party.
Recommendation: Joe Simitian
State Assemblyman and Democrat Joe Simitian faces Republican Jon Zellhoefer and Libertarian Allen Rice (neither of whom holds a match to Simitian's experience) in the race to grab the seat of Democrat Byron Sher, who is retiring after 24 years in the Legislature.
Recommendation: John Laird
Incumbent John Laird, who was mayor of Santa Cruz twice and a city councilmember for nine years, faces Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jack Barlich, a candidate who has suspended active campaigning as he recovers from a severe back injury and heart problems. Sounds like Laird is a shoo-in, especially since the governor signed a ton of his bills this year. A strong advocate for higher education, coastal protection, environmental justice and an improved health-care system, Laird says his main focus is investing through the state for a prosperous economic future and protecting the environment.
Recommendation: Simon Salinas
The son of Texas farmworkers, incumbent Democrat Simon Salinas has worked to increase affordable housing, economic development and public representation for minorities. As a result, he's backed by everyone from firefighters and teachers to legislators.
Santa Cruz County Races
District 5 Supervisor
Recommendation: Mark Stone
Running on a platform of protecting the environment, preserving communities and making the county a better place to live, work and raise children, incumbent Mark Stone has been coming up to speed on issues of local importance, including the privatization of Felton's water system, since being appointed by predecessor Jeff Almquist. Endorsed by Anna Eshoo, Fred Keeley and John Laird, Stone promises to carry on their strongly progressive tradition.
Santa Cruz City Races
Recommendation: Ryan Coonerty, Scott Kennedy, Tony Madrigal, Emily Reilly
This is the toughest race we've seen in years. Word on the street is that incumbent Emily Reilly and challenger Ryan Coonerty will win the most votes. We can see why. Reilly has managed to build elegant bridges between the progressive and business communities, and local boy Coonerty promises to do the same, and then some, promises that don't feel hollow given that he was born here and knows this community and its issues inside out. All of which leaves incumbents Scott Kennedy, Ed Porter and Mark Primack fighting between themselves and challenger Tony Madrigal for two remaining seats. We value Primack for his work on affordable housing. We respect Porter's strong progressive values. But we feel Kennedy has the best record on the issues we care most about; he's strong on business, but also cares about labor issues and this town's working poor. As for Madrigal, he's the only candidate who's truly bicultural and bilingual--and his union background shows he cares about workers. We've gone out on a limb in past elections to support the fresh perspective and potential that certain lesser-known candidates can bring, and this time around, we say Madrigal deserves a shot.
In a perfect world, the effort to improve transportation corridors would take a broad view of the community's needs and forge a consensus, in which alternative-transportation demands as well as highway widening concerns were equally addressed. Sadly, this measure was not formulated in such a spirit, nor does it satisfy anyone but highway widening advocates. Configured to commit us to a 30-year half-cent sales tax to pay for a project whose costs, duration and environmental impacts remain unknown, Measure J wastes a huge opportunity to make meaningful inroads into a future vision for transportation.
Recommendation: No on J
No argument was filed in favor of Measure K, and we can see why. You may never call 911 in your life, but if you do, you'll be glad you voted no to repeal the county's existing emergency response fee and prohibit the adoption of such fees in the future without voter approval.
Recommendation: No on K
City of Santa Cruz Measures
A charter amendment that allows for special elections to be conducted by an all-mail ballot, Measure L provides a more efficient, less costly way to conduct such elections.
Recommendation: Yes on L
A charter amendment that clarifies that councilmembers who serve two full four-year terms are required by term limits to sit out one election cycle and can run again after that cycle.
Recommendation: Yes on M
This measure takes the city charter out of a 1948 paradigm and into the 21st century, where ordinances, in addition to being posted in a newspaper, at City Hall and the Central Branch of the Library, are filed online at the city's home page, instead of at the County Administration building, thus making a more efficient use of city staff time.
Recommendation: Yes on N
This measure eliminates most of the cost of paper used in the printing of ordinances and resolutions and the books used to bind such records, by allowing them to be electronically stored.
Recommendation: Yes on O
Voter Information Websites
voterguide.ss.ca.gov (Secretary of State)
votescount.com (Santa Cruz County Elections Department)
vote2004.ss.ca.gov (State Government Live Election Returns)
www.fec.gov (Federal Election Commission)
vote-smart.org (National Project Vote Smart)
rockthevote.org (Rock the Vote)
smartvoter.org (League of Women Voters)
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