Editorial: IJ’s Recommendations for State Offices

  ·  Marin Independent Journal   ·  Link to Article

Every four years, California voters have a chance to decide who will lead the state and run the public’s business.

The IJ editorial board offers these recommendations as food for thought on the Nov. 6 ballot.

U.S. Senate: Dianne Feinstein may be more of a moderate that some of her party prefer, but she’s proven to be a dignified and effective voice of leadership and common sense in a body where all too often both seem to be lacking. Her seniority and stature make her an important representative for California and for our country. Our strong recommendation goes to Feinstein.

Governor: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who grew up in Marin and lives here today, brings years of experience as a businessman and politician that can’t be matched by his Republican foe, John Cox. Newsom is the right pick to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, whose work righting the state fiscal ship should serve as an example to follow. Newsom’s campaign has focused on improving public schools, environmental protection and making California’s growing diversity an asset. We would like to see him also target more reforms for public pensions, which are draining local and state coffers and need strong leadership. Newsom is by far the best qualified choice in this race.

Lt. governor: Two Democrats are running: veteran lawmaker Ed Hernandez and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis. It’s a close call. Both are well-qualified. Hernandez offers greater in-the-trenches experience as a legislator, which makes him our recommendation.

Attorney general: Former Rep. Xavier Becerra was named attorney general in 2016, after the election of fellow Democrat Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate. He has been a strong voice challenging some of the legal strong-arming coming out of the Trump White House on issues such as immigration and environmental protection. He’s off to a strong start and should be retained.

Secretary of state: Alex Padilla, a Democrat, took over an important department that was poised for change and improvement. He’s delivered and still has more to do. He has helped make sure the focus is on the public and voters, not politics and politicians. We endorse the leadership that Padilla has brought to the office.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma, a San Francisco Democrat who has served on the state Board of Equalization, has built a reputation of focusing on fiscal responsibility. Her background as a state legislator and part of the state’s financial administration makes her a strong choice.

Controller: Betty Yee has done a fine job, bringing greater transparency to public finances across the state. It’s her job to keep a close watch on the state’s checkbook and provide public access to details on how taxpayer money is spent. That includes the rising cost of public pensions, an issue that Yee, a Democrat, has not sidestepped. She has proven to be an effective leader and advocate of good government.

Supt. of public instruction: This was a close call in June and it’s a close call on the Nov. 6 ballot. In June, we backed educational innovator Marshall Tuck, who is credited for helping improve charter schools in Los Angeles. Across the state, California’s public schools need help. Too many kids are being left behind. The run-off with Assemblyman Tony K. Thurmond has only increased focus on Tuck’s alliance with charter schools. Thurmond is a former school board trustee and he knows the challenges facing California’s public schools and the children who deserve a strong education. He’s shown a willingness to tackle this issue, as well as fix problems surrounding the funding and administration of charter schools. Both candidates are qualified, but on this ballot Thurmond is our recommendation.

Insurance commissioner: Steve Poizner, an independent, knows the issues and was an effective officeholder in the past, forcefully addressing insurance fraud. Given issues surrounding health care reform and the destructive wildland fires, this office needs the strong leadership Poizner has provided in the past and promises to bring to the job.