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DSA Santa Cruz Nov 2020 Election Voter Guide

DSA Santa Cruz - 10.07.2020
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Vote for Sandy Brown, Kelsey Hill, Kayla Kumar, and Prop 15! Endorsements from the members of DSA Santa Cruz and recommendationos from the Electoral Action Working Group for 2020's General Election.
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Endorsements

The members of DSA Santa Cruz voted to endorse the following candidates and ballot measures.

Santa Cruz City Council

  • Sandy Brown (https://sandybrownforcitycouncil.org/)
  • Kelsey Hill (https://kelseyhill4council.com/)
  • Kayla Kumar (https://www.kumarforcouncil.com/)

To volunteer for these campaigns, fill out this form which will connect you with all three: https://airtable.com/shrHGu7MfI7RFVZFQ

We are also working to elect these candidates, reach out to the Electoral Action Working Group. You can email electoral@dsasantacruz.org to get involved.

California Propositions

  • YES on Proposition 15 – Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative

Recommendations

The DSA Santa Cruz Electoral Action Working Group recommends strategic votes on the following candidates and ballot measures.

Santa Cruz City Council

  • Sandy Brown
  • Kelsey Hill
  • Kayla Kumar
  • Alicia Kuhl

CA Propositions

  • YES on 15
  • YES on 16
  • YES on 17
  • YES on 18
  • NO on 19
  • NO on 20
  • YES on 21
  • NO on 22
  • YES on 23
  • NO on 24
  • YES on 25

From the Electoral Action Working Group:

Download the voter guide. (Credit to DSA LA for some of the language).

Last year at our national convention, the DSA passed a resolution committing to not make any presidential endorsement in the event that Bernie Sanders loses the primary. This summer when sexual assault allegations emerged against Joe Biden, our local chapter also passed a resolution at the request of the group "Socialist Survivors" that bars our chapter from endorsing him. Hence, there is no recommendation here about the presidential race.  

Our process for making these decisions is democratic and open to all and if you are interested in getting involved with future endorsements, you can join the Electoral Action Working Group which is where most of these discussions happen. You can email electoral@dsasantacruz.org to get involved.

Last, the stakes of our local city council race are high and we need all hands on deck to keep business and real estate interests from further eroding the livability of this town for working people. If you have any time to give, you might consider getting involved with the campaigns for the candidates we have endorsed. You can do so by filling out this form (filling out this form will connect you to all three candidates that we have endorsed). 

Ballot Summaries

Note: each recommendation comes from one of the following sources. Ballot Summaries are found here. DSA-LA releases a great packet of information on all races in LA county jurisdictions every year, including statewide ballot initiatives. The 2020 guide is here. For Props 24 and 25 the Santa Cruz EAWG wrote its own analysis.

Proposition 14: Bonds for stem cell research.

The DSA EAWG has NO RECOMMENDATION for this ballot measure

  • BALLOT SUMMARY: Authorizes $5.5 billion state bonds for: stem cell and other medical research, including training; research facility construction; administrative costs. Dedicates $1.5 billion to brain-related diseases. Appropriates General Fund moneys for repayment. Expands related programs. Fiscal Impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds estimated at about $260 million per year over the next roughly 30 years. 

Proportion 15: Schools & Communities First.

This measure rolls back property tax windfalls for commercial and industrial properties and modifies parts of Prop 13 which limit property taxes. [NOTE: the DSA Santa Cruz membership has already endorsed Prop 15]

  • DSA LA: Proposition 15, Schools and Communities First, is on the ballot this November with the goal of ending a tax loophole that gives billions of dollars a year to large commercial property owners and wealthy investors. It reallocates those funds to K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local public services such as parks, libraries, homeless services, health clinics, and public transit. Prop 15 will reclaim $10-12 billion annually by requiring wealthy owners of commercial properties with assessed value over $3 million to pay taxes based on market value, rather than purchase price.The current and foreseeable economic distress triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the demand for racial justice make Prop 15 urgent. This ballot measure will direct much needed resources to working-class communities of color that for far too long have been underserved and underfunded. The capitalist class continues to hoard absurd levels of profit while California schools, services and communities suffer, but we can begin to put a stop to that with a Yes on Prop 15. Now is the time to tax the rich to fund our schools and services.DSA-LA as well as DSA chapters across California have endorsed Prop 15 and are working together to tax the rich to fund our schools.

Proposition 16 :Affirmative Action in public employment, education and contracting, repeals Prop 209 of 1996. The DSA EAWG Recommends: YES

  • DSA LA: This proposition undoes the 1996 Prop 209 “California Civil Right Initiative” which sounds nice but wasn’t. It was introduced by the high rolling, white Southern CaliforniaRepublicans that were defending their right to be at the front of the line no matter what, even if they were late. Prop 209 essentially banned any form of affirmative action in public education, public employment, or public contracting and really caused Black and Latino enrollment in the UC system to plummet. Prop 209 thought reverse racism is a thing, Prop16 says it is not.

Proposition 17 : Free the Vote, restores the right to vote to people convicted of felonies who are on parole. The DSA EAWG Recommends: YES

  • DSA LA: Changes the California Constitution to allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote. Everyone that wants to vote should be able to vote, period. 

Proposition 18; Youth Vote, allows 17-year-olds to vote in a Primary if they turn 18 by the next General Election.

DSA EAWG Recommends: YES   

  • DSA-LA You can vote in a primary if you are 17 as long as you will be 18 when the general election takes place. Real simple stuff. I don’t know what anyone opposing this law is trying to do with their lives but they should get a hobby.

Proposition 19 Property Tax Breaks and Wildfire Fund, changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules.

The DSA EAWS Recommends; No

  • DSA LA: It’s no wonder that REALTORS® are spending millions to push Prop 19: it will increase displacement in rapidly-gentrifying neighborhoods while draining the state treasury to give some of the wealthier people in society more property tax breaks. Specifically, it will limit the value of the capped assessment that children who live in their parents’ home can get to $1 million, allowing the value above that amount to be assessed at a higher rate. $1million is already less than the market value of increasing numbers of houses in areas like the Crenshaw District and Echo Park that working class families used to be able to afford. Having to pay property tax on the full market value above the cap will force these working class families to sell and move out, which means more sales for REALTORS®.Also, Prop 19 increases the number of times homeowners can claim this cap from once (i.e., when you retire) to three times, further increasing inequality. While removing the current cap on houses inherited by people who don’t live in them is good, and ear marking some revenue for wildfires is too, this ballot measure causes more harm than good. Some people might confuse this with Prop 15 because both change property taxes, but they couldn’t be more different, so please let people know: No on Prop 19.

Proposition 20 Restricts access to parole for certain offenses and allows some misdemeanors to be charged as felony.

DSA EAWG Recommends: NO

  • DSA LA: In 2011 the Supreme Court ordered the State of California to immediately let people out of jail so that their prisons were no more than 137% over capacity. Many jails are still in violation of this and operating at over 137% capacity which is cruel to people and a great way to spread COVID-19. In 2014, Prop 47 turned some felonies into misdemeanors (shoplifting, theft up to $950, personal use of most illegal drugs), and people convicted of those crimes were eligible to come out of jail. Two years later, Prop 57 changed the rules around parole, allowing people convicted of nonviolent offenses to be eligible for parole and requiring judges, rather than prosecutors, to decide whether or not to charge juveniles as adults.Tough-on-crime politicians blame the rise in homelessness on Props 47 and 57. Prop 20would turn some of these measures back so that it would be easier to put people in jail and change some misdemeanors back to felonies at a judge’s discretion. The proposition also includes language allowing for the collection of DNA samples for state and federal  crime databases—a red flag given the myriad ways California police can abuse that sort of information. This prop is being heavily funded by the FOP, the prison guards’ union and the police union because it gives them the two things they love most: more hours to work overtime and more freedom to put more people in jail.

Proposition 21 Expands local government's ability to enact rent control.

DSA EAWG Recommends: YES

  • DSA LA: This modifies Costa-Hawkins, eliminating the statewide requirement that rent control cannot be applied to any housing built more recently than 1995, and imposes a new“rolling rent control” so that any housing unit over fifteen years old would be eligible for local rent control policy. The measure allows for vacancy control to be implemented where it already exists but is not currently allowed by Costa-Hawkins. According to a study fromStanford, people who lived in rent-controlled properties when Costa-Hawkins was passed ended up saving a cumulative total of $7 billion over eighteen years, which is a hell of an argument that rent control is a big tool to have when trying to solve our homelessness crisis

Proposition 22 Exempts App based transportation and delivery companies from providing employee benefits.

DSA EAWG Recommends: NO

  • DSA LA: All the way back in the fall of 2019, AB 5 reclassified gig employees as employees of the companies they work for, not independent contractors. This meant that their employers had to pay them minimum wage and all worker protections from the state and federal government applied to the people from whose labor they were profiting.The companies that built their business model on pretending they were just some tech company middle man and not, in fact, an employer of hundreds of thousands of workers didn’t care much for this regulation—so they cooked up Prop 22 to rewrite it. Prop 22reclassifies app-based drivers as independent contractors and not employees.Needless to say, struggling mom-and-pop apps like Uber, Door Dash, Lyft, etc. have spent a whopping $181,389,136.51 trying to get this to pass! Nobody spends this kind of cash unless they are betting that they will at the least double their money. And it certainly doesn’t seem that paying their drivers minimum wage for a year has hurt their bottom line. Protect workers and vote no. And if you know anyone that owns Postmates, hit them up for a million dollars because they have money to burn.

Proposition 23 Establishes certain requirements for kidney dialysis and requires on-site doctors.

DSA EAWG Recommends: YES

  • DSA LA: Kidney dialysis centers are, for some reason, not subjected to the same levels of oversight as other healthcare centers. They go largely unregulated and cause harm not only to people’s health but also to their finances. Prop 23 requires that dialysis centers have a licensed physician or a nurse practitioner on site during treatment in outpatient facilities.You might think to yourself, why isn’t there already a doctor on site?! How is there not a doctor on site?! They are cleaning people’s actively circulating blood, how is this legal?! ...There’s also plenty of evidence that non-white residents of Los Angeles County have profoundly higher rates of diabetes than white residents. This is one of the ways global corporations profit from keeping BIPOC sick and giving them inadequate care. 

Proposition 24 Amends consumer privacy laws.

DSA EAWG Recommends: NO

  • DSA SANTA CRUZ:  The ACLU notes that this bill makes confusing changes to the California Consumer Privacy Act before it has taken effect, making it harder for the Legislature make necessary changes. They also note that it willl delay a rule in the California Consumer Privacy Act that allows workers to find out what information employers have collected about them, make it easier for businesses to charge you more if you don’t let them sell your data, and allow tech companies to grab your data when you leave California. The bottom line is that this proposition is supported by the same industry that profits off your data and makes changes to a the California Consumer Privacy Act before we can assess how it works. 

Proposition 25 Eliminates Cash Bail in California.

DSA EAWG Recommends: YES

  • DSA SANTA CRUZ: This was the only recommendation where we actively disagreed with DSA-LA’s voter guide, and we felt it necessary to provide our own reasoning. While the criticisms of the “risk assessment” system proposed to replace cash bail as discriminatory, racist, arbitrary, and undemocratic are absolutely valid, the end result of this vote is not going to be interpreted as “do you support risk assessment algorithms over cash bail?”, but rather “do you support cash bail, and the bail bond industry?” A NO here would restore the power of the (faltering) bail bond industry, and suck the winds out of criminal justice reforms for several years. We do not believe Prop 25’s failure will translate to a “better” abolition of cash bail next year. [one will remember Measure M’s detractors who “support rent control but not this measure” in fact changed their minds and interpreted its defeat as “no rent control, ever,” and that is where we remain]. We must also remember that the current system (of cash bail) is just as arbitrary, racist, and inaccessible to the most marginalized, but also decentralized and impossible to change except DA by DA. A problematic, but centralized system we might be able to change all at once, statewide. A YES vote will abolish cash bail, helping in our view more people than it hurts, and the fight to democratize and decarcerate the “risk assessments” can and should begin immediately after its passage. We believe that it is generally easier to make radical changes to a new system (after its flaws are made apparent, which will be far easier today than it was even two years ago during the original fight over SB10) than it would be to abolish an old system which was just ratified by voters.

Note from our EAWG on Prop 25

There has been a very robust and productive conversation within our chapter this election about proposition 25 and as you are contemplating your own vote, we wanted to pass along some of the positions both from within and outside of our org on this very messy ballot proposition. First, no one really thinks that prop 25 is going to fix our deeply flawed criminal justice system. One of the problems when politics gets refracted through elections is that everything turns into a binary choice and a lot of the nuance and context drops out. At the end of the day, if 25 were to pass, it wouldn't really be a win for anyone since it would keep in place and strengthen the currently used pre-trial custody arrangements, which have known racial biases. On the other hand, if it were to lose it would also not be a win for abolitionists in that it would keep in place and politically strengthen the bail-bonds industry, who would be shielded from future legislative attempts to dismantle their parasitic industry. This ballot measure really shows the limitations of thinking about complex problems like criminal justice reform in binary electoral terms. What is actually needed is a long term fight that will end both cash bail and pretrial detention. This compromised measure is a lose-lose all around and a decision about it should not be solely based on what you think is a better or a worse policy but also on what you think the strategic possibilities for further criminal justice reform and abolitionist organizing are should this prop pass or fail. Viewed as a strategic vote, there are cases to be made on either side. We trust our members to weigh the options and to realize that whether prop 25 wins or loses, the key thing is for people to get involved with organizing around this issue after the election.

One other thing to note here. DSA Santa Cruz makes a distinction between things that we have officially endorsed and other types of political positions. For instance, this election our chapter voted on and formally endorsed the following: Kelsey Hill, Sandy Brown and Kayla Kumar for City Council, and Yes on Prop 15. We also voted explicitly NOT to endorse Joe Biden. This means that we as a chapter have collectively decided that all of these things are central to the aims of our chapter. None of the other things on the ballot, including prop 25, have gone through this process and as a chapter we don't have an official "line" on the things we haven't endorsed. Individuals can vote as they will, however to aid these individual decisions our Electoral Working Group had a process to discuss the complexities of this election and out of that came a set of voting recommendations. This message is intended as a continuation of that process of open discussion and debate within DSA about this very important election.

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