A lot of folks around the country are unaware that there are elections today 3/3/2009. Actually a lot of people here in L.A. are also unaware or don't care that there are elections today for Mayor and other city offices, as well as seats on the LAUSD School Board and the LACCD Community Colleges Board and city ballot measures. Those of us who do vote get to have our votes count for more because so few others bother to vote. Polls are open today until 8:00PM Pacific time. If you have an absentee ballot you can carry it in to any open precinct and it will count. I like to walk in my mom's and my ballots to the polling place at Squirming Oaks Elementary School (where I went to school many years ago). It saves the cost of postage and I know the election workers got the ballots. Let's look at the ballot together, and I will tell you why I am writing in Lizard People for Mayor and Flying Spaghetti Monster for City Attorney
Zack's picks for the 3/3/09 elections:
Los Angeles Mayor: There is no doubt that the incumbent Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be re-elected, most likely today avoiding a runoff (by getting 50% + 1.) You certainly could do worse than Tony V. (any other oldtimers remember Sam Yorty?...) While Antonio's ideas are mostly good sometimes he tries to do too many things at once and doesn't focus on the city enough. Last year he campaigned for Clinton and then Obama; later this year he may be running for Governor of CA. He is the most charismatic politician west of the Colorado River and has that kind of personal magnetism that makes you want to like him. In this election he refused to debate his opponents, which is bad for democracy. Zack's Pick: No Endorsement. I am writing in Lizard People for my vote, but if you don't want to abstain or do a write-in there are other options like Craig X Rubin, the stoner pastor, Carlos Alvarez, a 22 year old Socialist activist and David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg, a community activist and regular attendee at city council meetings. You don't want to vote for Walter Moore, Phil Jennerjahn or David Hernandez, the Greedy Old Party oriented candidates.
Los Angeles City Attorney: This race will be most likely won by Jack Weiss, who is the outgoing Councilmember for CD5 (where I live). He is the best qualified for this position of those running but was not an especially responsive member of the City Council. He also was an unquestioning supporter of the LAPD's actions during the 2000 Democratic Convention, a topic I questioned him about when he first ran for CD5 back in 2001. I have doubts about his commitment to civil liberties and the rights of peaceful protesters. Zack's Pick: No Endorsement. I'll probably go with F.S.M. for this one. I am not up on the other candidates but think this may go to a runoff with Carmen Trutanich, who got the L.A.Times endorsement and has a somewhat visible campaign.
Los Angeles Controller: Wendy Greuel will be an able successor to Laura Chick in this position. Zack's Pick: Wendy Greuel
L.A. City Council:
Third District CD3--I like Jeff Bornstein, a progressive Democrat challenger against incumbent Dennis Zine.
Fifth District CD5--The "Fightin' Fifth" features the only open seat race for City Council. Paul Koretz is the best of a half dozen candidates . He is a progressive activist, our former Assemblymember, a former West Hollywood Councilmember,and was a staffer to an L.A. Councilmember. He has been endorsed by a wide range of groups like the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and the LACDP. He is a longtime environmentalist and has the enthusiastic support of the Sierra Club and CA League of Conservation Voters. He also has labor and other community support. He's a nice and modest guy but very talented and hard working. This is the most important race for me today, and I strongly endorse Paul Koretz.
CD7: Richard Alarcon is OK and is unopposed, I believe...
CD11: Bill Rosendahl, the incumbent, deserves reelection
CD13: Eric Garcetti is another one worth keeping
CD15: Janice Hahn will be back for one more term
West Hollywood City Council: Jeff Prang and John Duran are the incumbents. As you might expect in WeHo they are liberal to progressive Democratic gay men. I dont know anything about the challengers, or much about WeHo politics...
LAUSD School Board: There are two open seats with four fine candidates. LAUSD4: Both Mike Stryer and Steve Zimmer are teachers. After hearing them speak at forums I give a slight edge to Stryer, but Zimmer is endorsed by the UTLA teachers' union so he is the likelier winner.
LAUSD6: Nury Martinez is Mayor of the City of San Fernando, and Louis Pugliese is a former teacher and trainer of teachers. Both are good people, but I'd vote for Nury if I lived in the district (Northeast SFV), based on her experience dealing with intergovernmental issues while on the SF City Council (plainly speaking, she knows how to beg for money from Sacramento, a useful skill nowadays.) She has the UTLA endorsement as well.
LACCD Community Colleges Board: These are elected at large (not by district) so you can vote for all four seats. Seat 2: Angela Reddock
Seat 4: Kelly Candaele Seat 6: either Nancy Pearlman or Robert Nakahiro
Seat 7: Miguel Santiago
This board is functioning reasonably well. Kelly is the longest serving member; recently appointed incumbents Angela and Miguel bring youth and diversity to the board. Nancy always draws a bunch of challengers, but she is OK, though perhaps a bit eccentric. She didn't make it to any of the three forums I attended. Of the two Democratic challengers I heard I liked Robert Nakahiro better, but Greg Akili, a labor organizer and former Obama campaign staffer also had a lot of energy and ideas.
Ballot Measures: A--Fire Department Independent Assesor: Yes
B--Solar Energy: Yes The process for putting this together was flawed and it is tilted in favor of the DWP's union instead of others, but we really need to get L.A. moving forward on developing local and renewable energy resources. On balance it is worth it so let's vote YES on B. It will provide local jobs and start programs to train the next generations of workers in this vital field.
C and D--Survivor Benefits: Yes on both
E--Economic Incentives: No
So that is today's ballot in L.A. There are other local races in other local communities, while others like Pasadena are voting next week, and Burbank voted last week. The Burbank runoff is Tu 4/14, with six candidates running for three seats at large. I recommend Garen Yeghparian for Burbank Council. He is an environmental leader and community activist, a great grassroots candidate.
Thanks for reading and for voting. What do you think about today's election? Who did you vote for and/or what are your predictions?