President

 

Barack Obama — Democrat

 

We’re in Santa Monica. What would you expect?

Seriously though, Obama has done a respectable job during extremely difficult times, helping to keep the country afloat and avoid a second Great Depression, all while championing healthcare reform and cracking down on Wall Street during a time of extreme partisanship in Congress.

Employment numbers are improving, the stock market is coming off of an historic run, our troops are finally coming home from Iraq, the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has been abandoned, America is producing more of its own energy thanks to new technologies and Osama bin Laden has been executed. Looking back it has been a fairly successful four years despite the immense challenges. Just imagine how effective Obama could have been if not for the Tea Party extremists and obstructionists in Congress.

Now that’s not to say Obama has lived up to the hope and change he promised when he took office. More Americans believe Congress is dysfunctional. While Obama can barely be faulted for that, true leaders find a way. He has failed to enact true immigration reform and was late to the game when it came to supporting marriage equality. Last we checked, the prison at Guantanamo Bay is still in operation, and he continues to use some of the indefensible national security policies of the Bush administration.

But consider the alternative. When looking at Republican-nominee Mitt Romney’s record, it’s difficult to determine exactly what he stands for. He created the model for universal healthcare in his home state of Massachusetts when he served as governor, but now bashes Obamacare. And that’s just the main flip-flop. His platform also leaves many scratching their heads, in particular his plan to keep taxes where they are, increase defense spending yet, at the same time, close the deficit. That math just doesn’t add up. His foreign policy experience is also lacking and comments he has made along the campaign trail (47 percent, cutting funding for PBS) seem to reinforce the belief that Romney is out of touch with the average American.

The next four years would clearly be more uncertain under Romney than under Obama and the American public doesn’t need any more surprises. We need to allow Obama to continue his work cleaning up the mess left by the previous administration while setting the country on solid ground so that the middle class can rebound and carry this country once again. After examining the speeches, platforms and debates, it is clear that Obama represents the party of we, while Romney represents the party of me.

U.S. Senator

 

Dianne Feinstein — Democrat

 

Feinstein has been a proven leader in Washington, tackling some of the most complex and divisive issues. She has a progressive voting record, having supported healthcare reform, and is leading the effort to reenact a lapsed ban on assault weapons. She has also proposed the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and is pushing for rational immigration reform. She understands what issues matter to Californians and will fight for our interests better than the alternative, who has no proven track record. This could very well be Feinstein’s last hurrah given her age, and we trust she will work hard to leave a lasting legacy.

 

U.S. Representative

 

Henry Waxman — Democrat

 

Waxman has a long history of supporting liberal causes and holding those in power accountable. He’s an old-school progressive whose views mirror those of most Santa Monicans. That said, it has felt at times as if he has taken us for granted. No movement on building housing for homeless veterans. Letters sent but nothing accomplished in regards to limiting flights at Santa Monica Airport or saving the Downtown post office. But then again, there’s no guarantee that any of that would have been accomplished if his challenger, millionaire Bill Bloomfield, were in office. We liked Bloomfield and believe his efforts to rid Washington of obstructionist forces are needed, but his disinterest in local issues concerned us, as well as his lack of a voting record. We believe Waxman should be given another term, while Bloomfield should be supported in his efforts to reform politics from the outside.

 

 

State Assembly — 50th District 

 

Betsy Butler  — Democrat

 

Butler, a Democrat, is already serving in Sacramento and has been fairly productive in her first term as an elected official. She has the liberal credentials and the connections within the political establishment to get her bills the attention they deserve and the votes they need to be signed into law. She will be an effective advocate for education, the environment and equal rights.

 

 

County measures 

 

Measure A — NO

 

Appointing the county assessor — who is in charge of setting property values, and therefore the tax one pays on their property — instead of electing them will do nothing to eliminate the possibility of corruption. What Measure A will do though is take the decision of who our assessor should be out of the hands of voters. That doesn’t sound like smart reform. Instead it’s disenfranchisement.

 

Measure B — NO

 

Requiring porn actors to wear condoms while filming their sex scenes is not necessary since the industry is already heavily self-regulated. Measure B will push production out of the county, which will mean fewer jobs available and less tax revenue. We feel there needs to be more evidence that STDs are being spread on porn sites. So far, the urgency isn’t there.

 

Measure J — YES

 

Extending the already-approved sales tax increase to fund transit will help secure more money at cheaper rates and push projects along faster, creating more jobs, which are sorely needed. In the end, the continuation of a half-percent tax is a small price to pay for the future of transportation, even if the length of the extension initially gave us pause. There’s always going to be potholes and bridges to repair.

 

Golden State measures 

 

Prop. 30: School funding — Yes

 

While we want to send a strong message to Sacramento politicians that we are fed up with their inability to balance the budget and instead rely on accounting gimmicks and borrowing, now is not the time for tough love — not when our kids are being threatened with billions in cuts to public education at all levels. Prop. 30 is a modest increase in the sales tax and income tax for those in the best position to afford it. The increases are temporary and will plug holes in the budget. If not approved, automatic cuts will be enacted. That means teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, shorter school years and possibly another parcel tax for Santa Monicans.

 

Prop. 31: Changes to state budget process — NO

 

While there are many aspects to Prop. 31 that we like, such as forcing legislators to show how they will pay for new programs before they are approved, it’s far too convoluted and confusing for most voters and therefore shouldn’t be approved. It’s a perfect example of why California needs to reform the initiative process, which is too often corrupted by special interests. Another reason to vote no is that Prop. 31 gives too much power to the governor to make budget cuts. We shiver at the thought of a governor like Arnold Schwarzenegger with even more power to wield. Now that would be more frightening than a sequel to “Junior.”

 

Prop. 32: Political contributions — NO

 

Speaking of special interests, Prop. 32 claims to be real reform, but it’s actually a ploy by corporations to have even more control over the political process by targeting unions and the way they fill their campaign coffers. If approved, Prop. 32 would do nothing to limit the influence of special interests. What it would do is make it harder for middle-class workers to make their voices heard. Prop. 32 on the surface looks good, but once you unwrap the package you’ll find out it’s rotten.

 

Prop. 33: Auto insurance — NO STANCE

 

The editorial board was split on this one. We liked the idea of being able to take a longevity discount with us as we shop around, which would make the market more competitive, but we also felt that the insurance industry is already well-regulated and drivers with good driving records can still get significant discounts. It came down to the question of whether or not this would encourage more people to get insurance, and we couldn’t come to an agreement on that.

 

Prop. 34: Death penalty — YES

 

While arguments that the death penalty is barbaric and not fitting for a civilized society are compelling, what’s more is the cost savings that will come from eliminating the death penalty, which has failed to act as a deterrent for criminals. Millions will be saved annually and no innocent person will lose their lives if the death penalty is abolished.

 

Prop. 35: Human trafficking — NO

 

Establishing penalties for criminals is best left up to the lawmakers. There are too many unexpected consequences with initiatives and taking away someone’s freedom is an arena where mistakes should be limited.

 

Prop. 36: Three strikes — YES

 

Too often we have heard of the horror stories of a drug addict being sentenced to life for stealing CDs. Three strikes should only be used in the case of violent crimes. This reform will ensure that the punishment fits the crime and help alleviate overcrowding in our prisons.

 

Prop. 37: Food labeling — YES

 

Santa Monicans are all about eating healthy, and that means knowing where their food comes from. This measure, while not perfect, does move us in the right direction by requiring food distributors to provide more information on genetically-modified foods. It’s a good first start that will hopefully lead to more information being released on what we eat.

 

Prop. 38: Tax to fund education — NO

 

While education is critical, this measure would do nothing to stop cuts to public schools this year. Only Prop. 30 can do that. This measure would also do nothing to help community colleges or public universities, and it raises taxes on those who can least afford it.

 

Prop. 39: Taxes on multi-state businesses — YES

 

This measure simplifies the corporate tax code and dedicates money to the creation of a green economy. California needs to become a leader in alternative energy generation and this measure will help.

 

Prop. 40: Redistricting — Yes

 

We support the work done by the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which has taken the task of drawing legislative districts out of the hands of elected officials, who most benefit from safe districts. We have seen the positives in the form of more competitive districts, forcing incumbents to run real campaigns and answer to the voters.

 

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