March 2020 California Voter Guide

President, California, Oxnard, and San Francisco

On Tuesday, California Democrats will play a major role in selecting President Trump’s November challenger. They will also join non-Democrats in approving on a bond measure and deciding on hundreds of other races and ballot measures in their local jurisdiction.

While I’m living in Cambridge, Massachusetts through May for graduate school, I’m registered in Oxnard, California, my residence from July through January. Prior to that, I’d been in San Francisco since 2016. I’ve followed politics in both California locations, so this guide includes suggestions for both my own ballot and San Francisco voters.

My general stances haven’t changed substantially compared to my voter guides from prior elections. I vote blue; I believe we need more housing; I support responsible budgeting, unconstrained by set-asides and unsustainable deficits; I worry about climate change — and fake remedies to it; I value evidence, economics, and expertise; I like markets; I oppose unnecessary ballot measures; I despise poverty; I love immigration; I want to reward honesty, inclusion, and true democracy. I do my best to tie these stances to my voting positions, and to defend the stances in more detail in the context of the guide.

This guide begins at the national level, then state, then Oxnard, and finally San Francisco.


President: JOE BIDEN
Vice President Biden has a vision to restore the promise of America, not only by ending Trump’s corrosive presidency, but by building on the social-democratic policies he created with President Obama. Biden’s plans would reduce inequality, uninsurance, and emissions, without sacrificing our economic dynamism, blowing up the deficit, or cutting off our international relationships. He will motivate a broad electorate to vote blue up and down the ticket, giving us the best shot of implementing liberal policy.


Proposition 13: NO
Rather than levying taxes, this general obligation bond would require future legislators to divert general funds to school investments, reducing their ability to reprioritize the budget based on changing circumstances and newly available data.

See my No on 2018 Proposition 1 article for more on the problems of set-aside state bonds.


Measure B: NO
The reforms to campaign finance and lobbying sound reasonable, but they could be enacted more flexibly outside the ballot measure process (especially important as these kinds of laws are hard to design well). The term limits are likely to be ineffectual and counterproductive.

House of Representatives: JULIA BROWNLEY
Incumbent Representative Brownley is not facing serious Democratic challengers: one is focused on UFOs, and the other wants to cut taxes (and lacks a campaign website).

Senate District 19: MONIQUE LIMÓN
Assemblymember Limón is the sole Democrat running to replace Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat who has termed out.

Assembly District 44: JACQUI IRWIN
Irwin is the incumbent and sole Democrat running.

County Supervisor, District 3: KIM MARRA STEPHENSON
Stephenson, an educator, is taking on incumbent Kelly Long from the left. While the race is nonpartisan, Long is known to be a Republican, and Stephenson has earned the endorsement of the Greater Oxnard Organization of Democrats for her willingness to take on the local oil and gas industry.

County Supervisor, District 5: CARMEN RAMIREZ
Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Ramirez is also endorsed by the Greater Oxnard Organization of Democrats, after a long record of fighting fossil fuel projects and engagement with the Democratic Party. Her major opponents include Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn and businessman Jeffrey Burum, who previously ran against Representative Brownley as a Republican. Ramirez and Flynn both opposed the Oxnard Fisherman’s Wharf apartment development, which I supported with Ventura County YIMBY, but Flynn’s opposition was more forceful. Ramirez led Oxnard’s Save Open Space and Agriculture (SOAR) ballot measure, which has resulted in sprawl and contributed to our housing shortage, but she is now supporting more housing in downtown Oxnard and has passionately advocated for more homeless shelters.

Superior Court Judge Office #2: G. MARTIN ZAEHRINGER
The Ventura County Bar Association rated Zaehringer, a private attorney, “exceptionally well-qualified.” They rated Zaehringer’s opponent, Senior Deputy District Attorney Catherine Voelker, “well-qualified.”

Superior Court Judge Office #8: PAUL BAELLY
The Ventura County Bar Association rated Baelly, a court commissioner, “well-qualified.” They rated Baelly’s opponent, private attorney Steve Pell, “not qualified.”

San Francisco

See Steven Buss’s voter guide for deeper explanations of each recommendation (the brief inline context is mine). My only divergence from Steven’s guide is on California Proposition 13. Steven is also running for DCCC.

The DCCC grows the Democratic Party and endorses candidates for election, and its members often go on to other elected offices. In heavily-Democratic places like San Francisco, party endorsements make a major difference in election results, making the DCCC election unusually important. I support the below Grassroots Progressive Movement slate, which advocates inclusive solutions to San Francisco’s challenges, such as allowing more people to live there by legalizing more housing.

Vote for all the listed names.



Proposition A: YES
Funding City College facilities with future property tax revenue is the kind of bill we need more of.

Proposition B: YES
This would similarly fund earthquake safety projects with future property taxes.

Proposition C: YES
This minor administrative change to city retirement benefits is supported by all relevant parties.

Proposition D: NO
Taxing commercial vacancies would create new compliance costs while raising little revenue and ignoring the real reasons for vacancies: retail-only zoning in an era of declining retail demand, and other excessive planning regulations.

Proposition E: NO
Capping office development will make it harder for startups to locate in San Francisco, leading to job sprawl and a stunted economy. San Francisco’s dynamism is not the problem; lack of housing is.

State Assembly AD 17: DAVID CHIU
Assemblymember Chiu is among the most pro-housing politicians in the state, even as I disagree with him on some issues like rent control.

State Assembly AD 19: PHIL TING
Assemblymember Ting, in addition to representing San Francisco’s inclusiveness on the housing front, has led the state’s expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which directly reduces poverty by giving low-income families cash at tax season.

State Senate: SCOTT WIENER
Senator Wiener is the most productive pro-housing politician in the state, if not the country. While his most ambitious proposal, SB 50 (and previously SB 827), which would legalize apartments near transit and in job-rich areas, has yet to pass, his other bills have spurred housing production and changed the conversation around housing supply.

House of Representatives: NANCY PELOSI
Speaker Pelosi has been extremely effective since reclaiming the gavel, from passing legislation like the For the People Act to reform elections, to strategically and judiciously leading Trump’s impeachment.

Economist. Founder and president of the UBI Center. Studied at MIT and UC Berkeley. YIMBY. Former Google data scientist.