Primary election information released

CORRECTION: In an earlier edition Jason Kishineff’s name was omitted in the voter guide. He is running under the Green Party for the U.S Congressional District 5 seat. Mike Thompson, Jason Kishineff, Anthony Mills, Nils Palsson are the candidates.

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez voters are receiving primary election information from Joseph E. Canciamilla, Contra Costa County’s registrar of voters, who has been mailing a 176-page sample ballot.

The statewide primary election will be June 5, although many voters are choosing to cast their ballots earlier, either by mail or at regional early voting sites, Canciamilla said in his letter to voters.

The sample ballot will give voters the chance to apply to be permanent “vote by mail” voters, which Canciamilla described as “an easy and convenient way to exercise your right to vote from the comfort of your own home.”

One-time vote-by-mail ballots are available by emailing ballot@vote.cccounty.us, and those who want to change permanently to vote by mail may do so online at https://registertovote.ca.gov/. Other election information available through the Secretary of State’s office can be read online at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections.

Recent changes in state law provide that if someone mails a ballot so it is postmarked by Election Day, and the ballot is received by the Friday after the election, it would be counted.

Martinez voters’ ballots also can be dropped off at the Martinez City Clerk’s office at City Hall, 525 Henrietta St., or at the Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department, 555 Escobar St.

They have other local options as well – the Martinez Senior Center, 818 Green St.; and the Contra costa County Administration Building, 651 Pine St.

Other area city halls also accept ballots, as do some libraries and community centers.

Regional voting sites are at Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch; Ambrose Community Center, 3105 Willow Pass Road, Bay Point; Monument Crisis Center, 1990 Market St., Concord; Ell Cerrito City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito; San Ramon City Hall, 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon; Bay Hills Community Church, 4000 Klose Way, Richmond; and Walnut Creek Civic Center, 1375 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.

Besides the races and measures that will be decided during the primary, the information booklet explains that all candidates running for voter-nominated offices appear on the combined ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

The two candidates who receive the most votes in June will progress to the General Election in November, according to California law. That means two people of the same party may be in the runoff later this year, the packet explains.

Assistance is offered voters with special needs when they go to the polls June 5, including magnifying sheets that help the visually impaired, wheelchair-accessible booths, curbside voting and ballot marking devices, the booklet said.

Incumbents in the House of Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Napa, District 5) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek, District 11) are seeking re-election.

These two districts include portions of Martinez.

Thompson is citing his support of infrastructure and renewable energy investments and his dedication to reducing the nation’s debt through fiscally-responsible policies. He also said he has worked to preserve his district’s pristine lands.

“I’m leading the effort to ensure criminals and the dangerously mentally ill don’t have easy access to guns, while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said, and promised to protect Social Security and Medicare.

Thompson said he would fight for comprehensive immigration reform and, as a Vietnam veteran, he would support veterans and their families. His campaign website is www.mikethompsonforcongress.com.

His challenger is Nils Palsson, who is not affiliated with a particular party. Palsson has been a high school teacher, is a radio host involved in community activism, and said he is running for office because “big money has taken over politics, while our families struggle to survive.”

He said he would work on “pressing issues of our time,” including wealth inequality, climate change, social and racial justice, affordable housing, education and health care.

A political newcomer, Palsson said that would give him the advantage of bringing a fresh outlook to the post. He cited the experience of losing his father to cancer while mounting medical bills caused his family to lose its home.

“I believe in Medicare for all. I will stand up for our elders and youth, protect Social Security, expand veteran services, make peace, improve public education and eliminate student debt,” he said. His campaign website is www.nilsforcongress.com.

Before entering politics, DeSaulnier has been a probation officer, a truck driver and a hotel services employee as well as restaurant owner. A Concord mayor and member of that city’s Council and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, DeSaulnier was elected to the California State Assembly in 2006, successfully ran for the California Senate in 2008 and was elected to the House in 2015.

He faces three challengers in the primary. Dennis Lytton is a Democrat, John Fitzgerald is a Republican, and Chris Wood has no party preference.

Lytton (lyttonforcongress.org), a supervisor of operations at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), is advocating for electoral reform, universal national health care, repair and expansion of infrastructure, human rights, gun control a foreign policy that honors the American military, and improvement to schools without adding to student debt.

Fitzgerald (johnfitzgeraldforcongress.com) wants to end the Federal Reserve so Congress will resume issuing money, have large banks investigated, end the immunity of prosecution of vaccine manufacturers to let patients sue if they are injured by untested vaccines and work toward ending exploitation of children and sex trafficking.

Chris Wood (chriswood-public.com/mission-1/) has said American families are seeking quality leadership, and said he would develop innovative ideas and better organizational systems that would lead to strategies to address such issues as a bottlenecked government access, wealth inequality and money’s impact in politics, climate change and safer energy production, drug dependency, civil rights, criminal justice reform, Social Security and elder poverty, health care, housing shortages and increased costs and multiple other issues.

Far more candidates are entered in another federal race, for the U.S. Senate seat held by the incumbent candidate Dianne Feinstein, the longtime Democrat from San Francisco.

Her challengers are author Ling Ling Shi, bus driver John Crew, author Erin Cruz, retired attorney Derrick Michael Reid, constitutional solutions advocate Colleen Shea Fernald, community advocate Adrienne Nicole Edwards, business owner Paul A. Taylor, retired Air Force sergeant Donnie O. Turner, civil rights attorney Pat Harris, political director Alison Hartson, attorney and engineer Jason M. Hanania, policy analyst David Hildebrand, aerospace systems engineer Lee Olson, businessman and developer Roque De La Fuente, State Senator Kevin De Leon, wireless safety advocate Kevin Mottus, special education teacher David Moore, scientist Mario Nabliba, construction project manager Gerald Plummer, retired planner Tom Palzer, activist John Thompson Parker, missing children’s advocate Douglas Howard Pierce, retired aerospace engineer Herbert G. Peters, chief financial officer James P. Bradley, teacher and engineer Arun K. Bhumitra, Victorville businessman Jerry Joseph Laws, civil rights advocate Patrick Little, paratransit operator Tim Gildersleeve, real estate broker Michael Fahmy Girgis, chiropractic doctor Don J. Grundmann and water scientist and professor Rash Bihari Ghosh.

Martinez voters will help narrow the California gubernatorial field from 27 candidates.

Running for the governor’s seat, since Jerry Brown is terming out, will be environmental executive Michael Shellenberger, entrepreneur and lecturer Zoltan Istvan, puppeteer and musician Christopher N. Carlson, business chief executive officer Thomas Jefferson Cares, California state treasurer John Chiang, businessman John H. Cox, justice department officer Amanda Renteria, Youth advocate Delaine Eastin, marketplace minister Jeffrey Edward Taylor, Educator Klement Tinaj, business owner Hakan Mikado, retired educator Albert Caesar Mezzetti, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, psychologist Robert C. Newman II, Author Josh Jones, retired medical doctor J. Bribiesca, graphic artist Gloria Estela La Riva, former Oakland mayoral candidate Peter Y. Liu, public policy advisor Antonio Villaraigosa, judicial assistant Yvonne Girard, economist Robert Davidson Griffis, virtual reality manager Shubham Goel, Assemblymember Travis Allen, mathematician Akinyemi Agbede, business owner Johnny Wattenburg, recording artist Nickolas Wildstar and senior software engineer Desmond Silveira.

The lieutenant governor also has attracted a full field, with no incumbent since Newsom is running for governor.

Candidates are attorney Cameron Gharabiklou, programmer Tim Ferreira, entrepreneur David Fennell, dentist Danny Thomas, businessman Cole Harris, State Senator Ed Hernandez, retired business owner David R. Hernandez, economists Lydia Ortega, educator Gayle McLaughlin, attorney Jeff Bleich, economic advisor Eleni Kounalakis, electoral reform consultant Michael Feinstein, paramedic and educator Ruben Major, election law attorney Mark P. Meuser, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, retired nurse Gail K. Lightfoot, retired government analyst C.T. Weber, community organizer Erik Rydberg and retired warehousing employee Raul Rodriguez Jr.

State controller candidates are retired educator Mary Lou Finley, incumbent Controller Betty T. Yee and entrepreneur Konstantinos Roditis.

The race for state treasurer, which has no incumbent, has attracted businessman ande accountant Greg Conlon, accountant Fiona Ma, governor office advisor Vivek Viswanathan, economist and accountant Jack M. Guerrero and retired steam engineer Kevin Akin.

Four, including the incumbent, are vying to be attorney general: retired judge Steven C. Bailey, incumbent Xavier Becerra, attorney Eric Early and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

Insurance Commissioner candidates are California Senator Ricardo Lara, teacher Nathalie Hrizi, internal medicine physician Asif Mahmood and businessman Steve Poizner.

Four candidates are seeking to be the District 2 member of the Board of Equalization: Councilmember and business owner Barry Chang, San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, Realtor and businessman Mark Burns and State Senator Cathleen Galgiani.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction race has four candidates: parent Steven Ireland, educator and state legislator Tony K. Thurmond, school improvement director Marshall Tuck and educational administrator and instructor Lily Espinoza Ploski.

Some of the state-level decisions before voters are ballot measures.

They are State Measure 68 that would issue $4 million in bonds for funding parks and other natural resources, climate adaptation, water quality supply and flood protection; Measure 69 that would require new transportation revenues to be used for transportation purposes rather than other reasons; Measure 70 that would amend the state constitution to require mandate a legislative supermajority approval to spend cap-and-trade reserve money; Measure 71, that would require measured approved by a majority of voters to become effective five days after the Secretary of State certifies election results; and 72, which would amend the state constitution to let the Legislature exclude newly-constructed rain-capture systems from property tax reassessment requirements.

Some elective offices specifically affect Martinez.

In the California Assembly, Tim Grayson (D-Concord) is seeking re-election, and is opposed by Aasim Yahya, a student and student advocate.

Grayson has backed priority admission to the University of California for qualified California students, streamlined regulations to increase affordable housing construction and has organized a bipartisan group to promote business while protecting the environment and provide livable wages.

If returned to the Assembly, he said he will oppose the bridge toll hike and promote efficient spending and accountability by both BART and Caltrans, improve education and workforce training and encourage infrastructure investment for repairs of roads and bridges. He said he opposes both the water tunnels and other systems that would disrupt the Delta and Sacramento River system to move water south.

Yahya (www.aasimyahya.com) said elected officials are too focused on personal agendas. “To me, running for the California State Assembly, means more than a gateway to politics,” the candidate said on the campaign web page.

“It is about giving a voice to our youth who are severely underrepresented in our government,” Yahya said. “It is about disregarding political parties and finding a balanced platform where we can focus on issues we agree need to be reformed. More importantly however, it is about strengthening the transparency and bridging the disconnect between our leaders and citizens.”

Voters will have three choices for Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools.

Ronald E. “Ron” Leone (ronaldleone.net), district assistant superintendent, said he would focus on vocational programs, technology, challenges for advanced students and preparation of all students for the future.

He said he is worried that half of the county’s students don’t meet state standards in English and mathematics, and that the county has the worst school attendance in the Bay Area, and is willing to make tough budget decisions, especially since the district has not been paying its unfunded retirement liability.

Deputy Superintendent Lynn Mackey (lynnmackey.org) said she understands at-risk students, because she once was one. A 21-year veteran of the Contra Costa County Office of Education, she manages special education, early learning and alternative and adult education.

She promises to address fiscal soundness, students’ education success, recruiting and retaining top teachers while providing them with excellent working conditions and giving parents and students a better voice in educational programs.

Cheryl Hansen (cheryl-hansen.com) is a two-term Mount Diablo School Board trustee and has had a career as a county Office of Education administrator, principal, vice principal and teacher. She promises to collaborate with teachers, administrators, parents and the community at large to make sure pupils are prepared for college or careers.

She said she believes in fiscal accountability, that she wants to recruit and retain quality educational staff. She said as a Mount Diablo trustee, she has changed the district’s direction to obtain “the best professionals,” and improve student opportunities; has trained more than 1,700 administrators throughout the state as well as teachers; and as a principal “built quality educational programs for the ground up.”

Robert Campbell is the sole candidate for Auditor-Controller, and said he will emphasize customer service. A fiscal conservative, he said he would encourage restrained spending. In this job, he said he improved the county’s credit score to the highest AAA bond rating, built financial reserves and prepared annual reports that are recognized for excellence in financial reporting.

He has been appointed to the Task Force on Bond Accountability and the California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Commission and has served on multiple committees for the State Association of County Auditors.

Besides elected offices, Martinez voters will see regional and local ballot measures.

Two are open space measures that affect Martinez directly.

One came about through a grass-roots effort, and the other was placed on the ballot by the Martinez City Council.

Measure I was put on the ballot after Tim Platt, Mark Thomson and Kerry Kilmer gathered voter signatures on their open space initiative, then prevailed in a court ruling that let the measure proceed to the ballot.

It would amend the Martinez General Plan to create a protected open space and parks overlay designation and apply that overlay to specific parcels as defined in the 1973 General Plan. In addition, it would call for adoption of related land use regulations.

Measure I, according to Kilmer and other proponents, including former City Councilmembers Harriett Burt and Bill Wainright, Thousand Friends of Martinez spokesperson Kay Cox and the Sierra Club Mount Diablo Group chairperson Jim Blickenstaff, would allow the City Council to convert open space and parks to more intensive development, but those changes for both public and private land would be subject to a Martinez referendum.

Allowed uses remain the same, the advocates said, and more than 4,000 Martinez voters signed the initiative petition.

Opponents to this measure, including Mayor Rob Schroder and Councilmembers Debbie McKillop and Noralea Gipner, say it would affect 560 privately-owned parcels, including those in Sunnyside Terrace, Muir Oaks, Alhambra Valley, Tavan Estates, Reliez Valley, Franklin Canyon and Vine Hill, and could expose the city to numerous “costly lawsuits paid for by the taxpayers.”

They said it would increase housing costs, and verbiage appears to conflict with state housing law. City advisers said it is “fatally flawed.”

A competing Measure F, proposed by the city, would protect publicly-owned open space, but would not affect private property.

It would designate and protect public permanent open space and park and recreation land, and should any changes to those protections be proposed, voter approval would be required.

The General Plan defines eight open space designations, for scenic areas or environmental resources, and three parkland designations, for parks, playgrounds and other recreation-use areas, about 1,706 acres. These area lands owned by the city, East Bay Regional Park District or other governmental entities.

The measure would designate those areas as “Public Permanent Open Space” or “Park and Recreation,” and those designations couldn’t be repealed or amended without voter approval.

Opponents say Measure F was added to the ballot to confuse voters and accuse the Council of “giving away to developers the right to intensive development on open space land.” They say Measure F would defeat real open space and park protection, and nullifies competing land use initiatives.

They said the city rushed to develop the measure, and it hasn’t had public review, and warn it may not protect anything, since Councils can’t prevent future Councils from changing its decision, while citizen-sponsored initiatives can’t be changed except by public vote.

Proponents dispute the allegation that the Council is “giving away’ open space lands to development. They say Measure F strengthens the protection for public open space, parks and recreation land, and point out Martinez has “a bounty of beautiful open space, parks and recreation lands that are a treasure for all.”

The advocates reiterated the Council’s commitment to preserve those lands without impacting private property, and said that if it is passed, only another referendum could repeal Measure F.

Should both measures be approved, the one receiving the most votes would be enacted.

Regional Measure (RM) 3, to be decided in all nine Bay Area counties, is called the “Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan” and asks voters to authorize raising tolls to cross Bay Area bridges, except the Golden Gate Bridge, by and additional $1 in 2019, another $1 in 2022 and again by a dollar three years later, which would put most tolls at $8 a trip by 2025. After that year, tolls would be increased for inflation.

By law, the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) would have to use 16 percent of the new revenue to pay for up to $60 million in designated annual transportation operating programs, and the remaining estimated $4.45 billion for designated transportation capital project throughout the Bay Area. The revenue expenditures would be audited independently each year.

Those projects include buying new BART cars; extending BART from the planned Berryessa/North San Jose Station to San Jose and Santa Clara; widening U.S. 101 to add carpool lanes through the Marin-Sonoma Narrows; improving State Route 37; expanding ferry service; improving Interstate-680, State Route 4 and exchanges on I-80, I-680 and State Route 12; and extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco.

BATA would allow discounts for high-occupancy vehicles or those that pay tolls without cash and would be required to provide discounts to commuters who must cross two bridges.

To pass, it must be approved by a majority of participating voters in all nine counties combined.

Proponents say the measure would be a long-term solution that would reduce both the current traffic crisis and the impact when 2 million people move in during the next 20 years, would expand bus service as well as Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor trains to make commuting easier.

Opponents say it would disproportionately cost low-wage earners making long commutes, wouldn’t reduce overland shipping traffic, and said the agency promoting the increased tolls spent $257 million on its offices that can’t be reached by public transit.

The Contra Costa County Voter Information Guide features photos taken by county residents. The cover photograph, winning the contest to illustrate “civil life in the county,” is by Nat Rajanasathira and shows Danville youth near their city’s Town Green complex.

A calendar of candidate forums is available at www.cocovote.us and www.contracostatv.org. Those who want to check their voter registration status or determine where they should vote may do so online at https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/.

Information about the primary election is available online at https://www.cocovote.us. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 5.

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