Treehuggers International

Treehuggers International California Primary Guide

June 6th, 2010

Whether a primary or general election, remember to vote green.

“If you don’t vote, don’t bitch.”  –  Steve Earle

By Tommy Hough

These are partisan picks based upon a Democratic ballot for the June 8th primary election in California.

My picks are specific to San Diego County and the 53rd Congressional district, though statewide candidates, propositions, and U.S. Representatives for all San Diego County federal Congressional seats are included.  The judicial choices, city positions, and propositions are non-partisan and appear on both Democratic and Republican ballots, so feel free to apply my picks on GOP ballots in those cases.

Not all offices and primary races are included.

Polls open at 7:00 am and close at 8:00 pm, Tuesday June 8th.


Governor:  Richard Aguirre or Jerry Brown

Lieutenant Governor:  Gavin Newsom

Sec. of State:  Debra Bowen

Controller:  John Chiang

Treasurer:  Bill Lockyer

Attorney General:  Pedro Nava

Pedro Nava has consistently been recognized for his environmental work in the legislature, especially in writing the legislation which outlawed lead ammunition in California in order to save the California condor, and his early opposition to the Tranquillon Ridge offshore oil drilling project in the Santa Barbara Channel, which is looking like a pretty brilliant call today.  In the June 8th primary, “vote for Pedro.”

Insurance Commissioner: Hector de la Torre


U.S. Senator: Barbara Boxer

U.S. Representative(s):

49th District: Howard Katz

50th District:  Tracy Emblem

Enough.  Francine Busby has run enough times to lose each time out to Brian Bilbray, a GOP survivor who knows how to hang on in tight races, even as the 50th dwindles down to 40% GOP registration.  New blood, let’s give Ms. Emblem a whirl.

51st District: Bob Filner

Despite his occasional airport freakout, Filner is a reliable incumbent and has been a strong advocate for the 51st, even though I think his idea of moving the San Diego Airport to Imperial County and installing a high-speed rail system to move people out there is ridiculous, but might make a cool use of the Carizzo Gorge train trestle.  To his credit, Congressman Filner hasn’t said much about it since 2006 and has let the idea quietly go away.

52nd District: Ray Lutz

Ray Lutz is the guy who worked with the town of Potrero to kick out Blackwater; give him your vote if you’re in the 52nd.  Mr. Lutz is also a proponent of green energy and solar panels, which San Diego County should be the world leader in, and he likes to call incumbent Duncan D. Hunter, the first term son of long-running Congressman Duncan Hunter, “junior” (with all due respect to Duncan D. Hunter’s military service, if not his political positions).

53rd District: Susan A. Davis

State Assembly Member, 76th District:  Toni Atkins


County Central Committee, 76th Assembly District: Fred Rogers

Full disclosure, Fred Rogers is a friend of mine.  Nothing against Lori Saldaña, but I’m voting for Fred.  If I was actually running, it’s hard to see how my positions would differ from Fred’s.


Superior Court office 20: Richard R. Monroy

This next item is very important.

Judicial candidates are non-partisan seats.  As a result, candidates appear on both the Democratic and Republican ballots, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have agendas contrary to the ballot which they may be on.

Case in point in San Diego County: beware of judicial candidates put forward by the conservative group Better Courts Now, which is backed by a coalition of evangelical pastors, an El Cajon gun store, and opponents of reproductive choice and marriage equality.  The Rev. Don Hamer, the founder of Better Courts Now, recently died, but during the 2008 election cycle took an active role in the campaign for Proposition 8 and was one of the nutjobs who produced a series of videos “proving” Barack Obama was a secret Muslim.  Wrong morally and factually.

The Better Courts Now slate of four judges are challenging incumbent judges, and according to the June 2nd edition of the Los Angeles Times, “three of the four incumbent judges have been given the highest possible rating, ‘well qualified,’ by the local bar association.  The fourth, a veteran judge, was given a lesser ranking, apparently because she’s suing her colleagues in a dispute over probation policy.”

Fair enough, but most importantly the piece goes on to say (italics are mine), “the bar found three of the four challengers unqualified; the fourth had too spotty a legal record to permit a rating.”  Understand what’s going on? Here are the judicial candidates you need to AVOID.  Tell your friends to AVOID these judicial candidates too and VOTE AGAINST them:

Superior Court office 14:  Vote AGAINST Craig Candelore (vote for Lantz Lewis)

Superior Court office 21:  Vote AGAINST Bill Trask (vote for Robert C. Longstreth)

Superior Court office 27:  Vote AGAINST Harold Coleman Jr. (vote for DeAnn Salcido)

Superior Court office 34:  Vote AGAINST Larry “Jake” Kincaid (vote for Joel R. Wohlfeil)

In fairness, Mr. Candelore has an impressive 32-year military career to draw upon, including a Combat Action Badge and Bronze Star.  However laudable, Mr. Candelore is regrettably the kind of judicial candidate who brings out the straw man argument, “we need judges to uphold the law.”  What, because they don’t already?

Mr. Candelore also indicates he’s running “to restore people’s trust and confidence in our courts.”

Did we miss something?  Since when have people lost faith in the courts to adequately and impartially serve justice?  When I hear rhetoric like this from a local judicial candidate, I cut and run to the other guy.  Mr. Candelore writes on his Facebook page “judges simply need to be held accountable for their rulings, rule within their established boundaries, and display common sense,” which sounds like Mr. Candelore has been on the receiving end of too many losing decisions and is feeling discriminated against, despite the fact he is the founder of the Men’s Legal Center and therefore should not be a stranger to the inside of a courtroom.

All of this is simply O’Reilly Factor grandstanding, and the fact Mr. Candelore is already part of a far-right slate of judges makes it much easier for me to say avoid him and his Better Courts Now colleagues.


Member, Board of Supervisors 4th District: Stephen Whitburn

Assessor-Recorder County Clerk:  Howard Johnson

District Attorney:  Bonnie Dumanis

Sheriff:  Bill Gore

This is not necessarily an endorsement, but incumbent Sheriff Gore is a better and more equable choice than his two challengers (sorry Treehuggers International fans, Sheriff Gore has no familial connections to the former Vice President).

Treasurer-Tax Collector: Dan McAllister

I don’t necessarily approve of Mr. McAllister, he’s run unopposed twice and I think it was about time he was challenged for a job which pays over $150,000 a year, but the guy running against him, while a public service and city treasury veteran, pops up as a pick on several far-right websites, so I will go with a presumed lesser-of-two-evils choice here.


Propositions are a crapshoot, and I’ve never liked the odds.  Yes, I agree partisanship has grown unworkable in Sacramento.  Yes, I agree the only way California will ever really solve its budget problems is by undoing or reforming Prop. 13, but it’s become political kryptonite to do so in Sacramento and both parties are cowardly in the face of it.  The classic Prop. 13 (of 1978, not 2010) highlights the problem with the proposition system in the first place; it handcuffs the legislature to a certain year and a particular era, where the results are usually designed to be short-term.

If you don’t like the way a candidate is voting, vote them out.  You can’t do that with propositions.  If you can’t vote an incumbent you don’t like out, organize a group to elect candidates which will vote your way.  The right wing is exceedingly good at this, and they’re also adept at using business interests to push propositions designed as the taxpayer’s friend.

The problem with propositions is they are faceless, and can easily have their true meanings hidden by cryptic ballot language.  Vote for humans to make the laws, not broad law-making measures.  My two cents.


Despite my cantankerous attitude toward propositions, okay, I am cautiously voting yes on this, even though the main endorsement for this proposition comes from Kern County State Senator Roy Ashburn, who was one of the most staunchly (and some would argue, cruelly) anti-gay legislators in the statehouse until, you may recall, he was revealed to be a practicing homosexual after a few too many drinks at a Sacramento bar in March.

For what it’s worth, there is no active opposition to this proposition, and it would eliminate a dangerous disincentive for property owners to upgrade un-reinforced masonry structures in order to improve earthquake safety (think of all those brick buildings in San Luis Obispo which warn you to get away from them if there’s an earthquake). The state’s own website says the “proposition promotes fairness by eliminating the unequal treatment of different types of property which undergo seismic safety improvements.”

The loss to local property taxes as a result of this measure is probably going to be minor, and we at Treehuggers International would rather see owners retrofit their un-reinforced masonry structures before the next Medium One arrives.  We all know it’s coming, and frankly, it’s overdue.

PROP 14:  NO

Again, this sounds like a novel idea, but while the proposition’s backers argue this will enable more moderate candidates to advance into the general election by making the top-two vote getters from either party the two to face each other in a general election, I think it’s an invitation for extremists and would rather have a defined choice in the general election. Why? Candidates will no longer be required to list their party affiliation on the ballot.  Being an alleged Independent is sexy these days, but it’s also deceptive if you don’t list the party whose apparatus actually got the candidate there in the first place.  Business as usual disguised as reform with too many risks for my liking.  The more I learn about 14, the more I’m against it.


I know, I know, the “California Fair Elections Act” sounds like more plastic apple pie, but the proposition would create a pilot project to make voluntary public financing available to Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018, in other words, marking the beginning of public financing of elections and taking companies and corporations out of the loop.  The Sierra Club argues, “cleaning up our political system is crucial to cleaning up our air and water and preserving our coast, parks, forests and deserts.  Public financing is a way to get politicians out of the fundraising game and back to solving California’s problems.”  We at Treehuggers International are on board, but cautiously.  The far right also seems to hate this idea, which makes me as a moderate like it.

PROP 16:  NO

Not just no, (exclamation of choice) NO.  Tell your friends to vote no on this, the whole initiative is bankrolled by Northern California’s Pacific Gas and Electric utility, and they hope by framing this as a “taxpayer’s right to vote” argument Southern California will pass it for them.  Say no. The Green Chamber of Commerce writes, “Prop 16 would impose new voter approval requirements on local governments before they can use ‘public funds,’ defined broadly in the measure to include tax revenues, various forms of debt, and ratepayer funds, to start up electricity service, expand electricity service into a new territory, or implement Community Choice Aggregation.”  In other words, it has nothing to do with “your right to vote.”  This will eliminate your community’s choice to opt out of PG&E’s high rates, and some argue it even violates state law by thwarting local control of energy.  No on 16.  No on 16.  Say it with me.  No on 16.  Seriously, anyone who frames something as the “taxpayer’s right to vote,” if you’ll pardon the choice of words, has got to be full of shit.

PROP 17:  NO

Mercury Insurance is Proposition 17’s primary sponsor, and they’ve been responsible for about 98% of the funding for the Yes on 17 campaign, kicking in about $14.6 million dollars.  Think about how much they could’ve reduced their customers’ rates with that money instead.  When it’s too good to be true, it usually is, and believe me, insurance companies are worse than banks when it comes to giving a customer a break.  Also, Prop 17 is opposed by the editorial boards of almost every major newspaper in the state.  The only major newspaper in favor of Prop 17 is the Orange County Register, which is enough to be a cause for concern, but even the Bakersfield Californian, not exactly an editorial board known for even vaguely leftist sympathies, says Prop 17 “isn’t about lowering the cost of insurance; it’s about raising the cost for those who can least afford it.”



Despite the fact the official argument in favor of a new landfill in Otay Mesa was written by an out-of-town consulting firm which incorrectly identifies State Route 905 as an Interstate highway, I have a problem with building a new recycling collection center and landfill because I think it’s going to be 99% landfill and 1% recycling.  While doing better than it was a few years ago, San Diego is still not holding up its end of recycling as well as other major cities in the state.  I also don’t like building a sizable facility in what is an otherwise wild area of the lower Otay and carving wildlife habitat into smaller and smaller pieces.  However, the landfill at Miramar will soon be full, and it has been exceedingly well run and managed in a way which all San Diegans should be proud of; that’s an official Treehuggers International position.  If the same management is applied at this new facility, I’ll be happy.  Plus it’s supposed to run entirely on solar energy, which would set a nice precedent, albeit about time.  A reluctant yes, with my arms crossed.


Pam Slater-Price is my hero on the Board of Supervisors, so no offense meant here.  Normally I’m against term limits, but in the case of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, I think it may be about time to shuffle the deck.



Tommy at the Shadow of the Giants Sequoia Grove, Sierra National Forest.

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  1. Thanks! Very helpful.

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