Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this! We are the Silicon Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. We promote democracy in not just our political system, but also within our economic system. We ultimately wish to see the dispersal of the hierarchical capitalist system we currently inhabit and to institute a more democratic, more co-operative, and less exploitative economic and political society. We are working on various projects centered around environmental justice, criminal justice reform, Medicare For All, intersectional feminism, and now electoral reform and advocacy.
This document is our voter guide for the March 3, 2020, primary election. This document was vetted and written by the Electoral Working Group, the chapter’s team of election watchers. We make our decisions and recommendations through the lens of our ideology, and thus choose the more progressive or socialist-leaning candidates and positions. That does mean we will not recommend any Republican or Libertarian candidates as they are opposite of our ideology.
For a shorter, printable PDF version of this guide, go to sv-dsa.org/guide.
Please note that even though we will recommend a number of Democrats, we are not part of the Democratic Party nor an affiliate of the party. Also please note that recommendations are not endorsements; endorsements are voted on by the chapter whole whereas recommendations are just decisions from the Electoral Working Group. We have specified on who we have endorsed in the guide.
A quick reminder to everyone who votes in Santa Clara County: the county has switched over to a vote by mail system where every voter will receive their ballot in the mail. This is the first time the county is using this system and there will be questions about this process and how people are to vote. Please contact the county Registrar of Voters office if you have questions or take a look at their handy FAQ. If you have not registered to vote or wish to change your registration status, you have through February 18th to do so. To register, please visit the CA Secretary of State website at registertovote.ca.gov.
Thank you again for your time! Hopefully this guide will be a help to you. Remember to vote!
- Bernie Sanders – President of the United States
- Alex Lee – California Assembly, District 25
- Sally Lieber – California State Senate, District 13
- Jake Tonkel – San Jose City Council, District 6
- Shahid Buttar – U.S. House of Representatives, California district 12 (San Francisco)
- NO on Mountain View Measure D
Table of Contents
Proposition 13, Statewide
Measure B, City of Sunnyvale
Measure C, City of Santa Clara
Measure D, City of Mountain View
Measure E, City of San Jose
Measures G-V, various school districts
Silicon Valley DSA has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. Time and time again Sanders has proven himself to be a consistent ally to the left. As far back as we can see, he has been an advocate for racial justice and workers’, women’s, and immigrants’ rights. He stands up for the poorest Americans. It’s really unusual to see a politician whose politics are so unwaveringly progressive, but here’s one who’s a frontrunner in the presidential race! He’s running a completely grassroots-funded campaign, staying out of the pocket of corporate interests by not accepting corporate donations. Any candidate who pushes for such a severe redistribution of wealth to working people would have to fund their campaign in this way. Sanders understands, as we do, that an organized working class is critical to winning not only the presidency, but also the following effort to redistribute wealth and power from the capitalist class to the working class. This is why he’s committed to keeping his base organized even after his win, and why he will continue organizing working people while in office. Sanders’ policy vision is unique amongst the Democratic field in that it asserts some really important things as rights rather than privileges. For example, his commitment to universal healthcare coverage under his single-payer Medicare for All demonstrates a right to healthcare. Likewise, his plan to cancel all student debt and make public college tuition free asserts a right to an education. He’s the only candidate who has consistently voted against Trump’s military budgets and his current opposition to a war in Iran and consistent record of voting against going to war position him as the most serious anti-war candidate. Sanders’ lone refusal to undermine Venezuela’s democracy by recognizing Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president and his opposition to the sanctions which primarily hurt the poor and working people of Venezuela demonstrate he’s the most anti-imperialist of the field. We could go on for much longer singing Sanders’ praises, but we’ll spare you. We think a presidential candidate like Sanders comes around once in a lifetime. He’s got our full endorsement!
Ro Khanna is a major booster of single payer, he co-founded the NO PAC Caucus, and he endorsed the Green New Deal. Khanna is a reliable ally in the global fight against fascism and his foreign policy is sound. We recommend that voters return this stalwart leader to the House.
SV DSA recommends no one for this race. The incumbent, Representative Anna Eshoo, is the number one career recipient of pharmaceutical corporation money in the U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Eshoo also touts her “highest approval” from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the largest biotechnology trade organization in the world with an extensive lobbying operation. Recently Representative Eshoo, as her role as the Chairwoman of the Healthcare Subcomittee, frustrated efforts to hold a fair hearing on the Medicare for All Bill of 2019. Instead, Representative Eshoo called a hearing on all current congressional bills on healthcare reform no matter how obscure they may be and only called an advocate for Medicare for All after national push back. Eshoo was also one of the main congressional backers for the monopolistic Verizon-T-Mobile merger. While we cannot recommend Representative Eshoo we also cannot recommend her Democratic opponent Saratoga Councilmember Rishi Kumar. Rishi Kumar has portrayed himself as the progressive of this race and has sought the endorsement of SV DSA, which SV DSA rejected. Rishi Kumar’s political stances are mercurial and his time on the Saratoga City Council suggests non-progressive views. Most concerning is Rishi Kumar’s questionable ties to the BJP, the Indian Hindu Nationalist Party that is currently in the process of destroying India’s multi-ethnic democracy.
Zoe Lofgren co-sponsored the Green New Deal and Medicare for All bills. While there are positions she has that don’t agree with us, her opponents offer nothing substantial. The other Democrat, Ivan Torres, has essentially no presence outside a minimalist website; same with independent Jason Mallory.
Adam Bolanos Scow supports the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, tuition-free college, and abolishing ICE. He has been active in organizing against water privatization on the Monterey Peninsula and has a strong platform centered around environmentalism.
We are choosing to not recommend in this race, as we do not support Marc Berman but cannot support his opponents either. He has publicly claimed to support the concept of Medicare for All, but he failed to support or advocate for SB 562 (2017), the California Medicare For All bill. Berman has spoken positively about charter schools, and the “education reform” Super PAC EdVoice spent almost $2 million to get him elected in 2016.
Kansen Chu, the current representative of AD-25, is not seeking reelection and is instead running for County Supervisor. A field of Democrats has emerged to succeed him. Of them, SV DSA has endorsed Alex Lee, a democratic socialist whose campaign is 100% grassroots funded. His policy platform incorporates many things we think are great for this state, including:
- Aggressive expansion of public housing
- Universal healthcare for Californians via a single-payer system
- Supports rent control and repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Act, the thorn in the side of rent control efforts within California
- Increased funding to public schools and tuition-free public college
We recommend Ash Kalra, the Democratic incumbent. We’re pretty happy with Kalra for a few reasons:
- He has endorsed Bernie Sanders with the rationale he will “restore workers rights”
- Co-authored SB 562, the Healthy California Act, which would have established a single-payer healthcare system in California
- Advocates for the protection of Juristac (near Gilroy, also known as Sargent Ranch), an open space upon which the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band for thousands of years has held sacred ceremonies, from corporate mining interests
We are choosing to not recommend in this race, as we do not support Evan Low but cannot support his opponents either. Evan Low does not support the Green New Deal or Medicare For All, and, at a town hall, ridiculed the idea of eliminating health insurance companies via legislation.
We recommend Robert Rivas, the Democratic incumbent.
SV DSA has formally endorsed Sally Lieber. She has supported progressive causes throughout her career, from co-authoring a bill for single-payer healthcare back in 2005 and a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 2007 to advocating tuition-free college and environmental protections. Her opponents include Burlingame councilmember Mike Brownrigg, a private equity partner and a person whose mother has a $400k independent expenditure campaign for him. There is Millbrae councilmember Annie Oliva, a realtor with real estate interests backing her. There is entrepreneur Josh Becker, who is supported by big establishment heavy-weights (Newsom, Liccardo) and by venture capitalists throughout the valley. Redwood City Vice Mayor Shelly Masur leans towards our ideals, but she does question a public ownership of PG&E or caps on medical service charges.
There is former Republican Johnny Khamis, who wants no changes to Prop 13, wants to get rid of sanctuary policies, and wants to roll back criminal justice reforms (Props 47, 57). There is former FEC commissioner Ann Ravel, best known here as a vocal defender of Aaron Persky. She believes cities should keep with the current local control with respect to housing. There is former SJ councilmember Nora Campos, whose campaign has brought back the same oil money as the last time. As such, we recommend Dave Cortese out of this bunch. He pushed for Measure A, funding affordable housing for the vulnerable. He was the author of the Climate Emergency resolution and has kept pushing for environmental initiatives. He has supported worker interests, creating the OLSE to fight against wage theft.
SV DSA recommends Cindy Chavez for District 2. Cindy Chavez has a long history in the labor movement and is endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council. Her opponent, Jennifer Celaya, is a political newcomer and an unknown quantity. She has promised independent audits on county departments to ensure “the departments are being run efficiently and effectively” and that taxpayer money is being spent appropriately suggesting a pro-business viewpoint. As such a vote for Cindy Chavez will be a vote to preserve the power of labor on the Board of Supervisors.
SV DSA recommends Magdalena Carrasco or Otto Lee for District 3. Current San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco and Former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee have both been strong advocates for housing, the environment, and helping the unhoused. However, Carrasco was not part of the labor faction of the San Jose City Council. The Bay Area Municipal Elections Commission (BAYMEC), a four-county political action group that advocates for LGBTQ rights, has endorsed both Carrasco and Lee for District 3. Otto Lee has been endorsed by the Silicon Valley Democratic Club. Carrasco was endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council while Lee has an open endorsement from the SBLC. Their opponent Kansen Chu doesn’t seem to have done much during his time in the Legislature. Their other opponent John Leyba currently works for PG&E.
SV DSA recommends no one for this race. Current Supervisor Joe Simitian is running unopposed in this race and we do not see him as someone we would agree with.
These races are specifically partisan, so only Democrats can vote in these races. These races are for multiple seats for each district, so you will need to vote for multiple candidates for each election (i.e. if there are 6 seats available, you can vote up to 6 candidates). There are too many candidates and too little information for us to weigh on each and every person, so we will promote our members and known progressives on this page.
- Emily Ramos
- Johannes Muenzel
- Margaret Okuzumi
- Steve Chessin
- Alex Lee
- Michelle Hua
- Peter Ortiz
- Jessica Matthew
- Jesse Hoefer
Incumbent Democrat Sergio Jimenez is running for re-election with a challenge from Republican Jonathan Fleming. Jimenez worked on Measure B to increase sales tax to subsidize the operations and maintenance of a BART line in Santa Clara County in 2008, and worked on Measure Q endorsement committee in 2014 to levy a parcel tax to increase revenue for the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority. He’s worked with Working Partnerships USA. Disappointingly, Jimenez’s priority issue is crime and wants more police substations, more cops, more community policing, and after school youth programs. He believes in the Housing First model of assisting the homeless, yet thinks developers do great work. Endorsed by South Bay Labor Council (SBLC). He’s not great, but we do recommend Sergio Jimenez over Fleming.
Incumbent Lan Diep is running for re-election against a trio of challengers, all Democrats- lawyer Jamal Khan, Berryessa Union Trustee David Cohen, and labor lawyer Huy Tran. We recommend that folx vote for Huy Tran for the general election. Tran is a dedicated community advocate and will fight to ensure that people in the district and city will be protected and listened to. His plans to address the housing crisis are rock-solid and he will be a voice for the homeless and renters. Cohen holds many similar views and policies as Tran, but we believe Tran will be a better councilmember for the marginalized. Meanwhile, Khan offers more platitudes than solutions and does not have as great a track record for local activism compared to Tran, while Diep does not align with us to garner any of our support.
Note (Feb 11 2020): We initially stated Diep’s party as Republican. This was incorrect. As of March 2019 he is registered as No Party Preference.
Republican-turned-Independent incumbent Devora Davis is running for re-election against three challengers- Democratic central committee member Ruben Navarro, student activist Marshall Woodmansee (also a Democrat), and biomedical engineer Jake Tonkel, a Green Party member. SV DSA has endorsed Jake Tonkel, and therefore, we encourage voters to choose him to replace Davis on the council. Jake’s advocacy for the passage of AB 857, the public banking bill, is a major accomplishment that will benefit the state immensely. He also has a great series of plans for addressing traffic, public transportation, and housing that incorporate environmental sustainability and justice.
Incumbent Democrat Sylvia Arenas is running for re-election against Republican Jim Zito, a member of the Evergreen Elementary School Board. Arenas has been an ally of working class families and has voted to protect renters and low income families from displacement. Her work to increase education opportunities and access are admirable and she continues to promote women’s rights on the council. Zito is backed primarily by business interests such as the Silicon Valley Organization and Mayor Sam Liccardo, so we ask that voters choose to re-elect Sylvia Arenas.
We’re recommending no one for this race due to some unfortunate circumstances. Three candidates are running in this race–two Democrats and one Republican. Between the two Democrats, one is significantly more progressive than the other. In December the progressive Democrat hit and killed a pedestrian; charges are still pending, and not all the details regarding the accident are yet public. Given these circumstances, we simply don’t feel comfortable furnishing a recommendation for this race.
Prop 13 is a $15 billion bond that will be used to fund statewide education. $9 billion is slated for Pre-K and K-12 education, $4 billion for public universities, and $2 billion for the community college system. This measure was placed on the ballot by the State Legislature. We recommend a yes on Prop 13 as California desperately needs to increase funding for education. The measure isn’t perfect- it gives $500 million to charter schools, and $2 billion is not enough for the 114 community colleges in California to share equitably- but we will take what we can get until we can establish permanent, sustainable education funding.
Establishes by-district elections for city council, and the direct election of mayor. It partitions Sunnyvale into six districts and residents of these districts vote to elect a council member, also from that district, to represent them. As it stands, Sunnyvale uses an at-large system where all city residents vote on a candidate for a specific numbered seat, those council members then appoint a mayor from amongst themselves. At-large systems are widely criticized for diluting minority votes, a condition which this measure seeks to help remedy. The district map chosen was submitted by a coalition of Sunnyvale community groups. We recommend voting yes on Measure B.
In 2018, Santa Clara was sued by a group that argued the city had a history of marginalizing the interests of racial minorities with their at-large-by-seat city council elections. A judge agreed and six temporary city council districts were created. Newly elected council members were from a greater diversity of neighborhood, ethnicity, and gender. Measure C seeks to implement a permanent districting solution, but also whittles down the number of districts from six to three. With only three districts, city council elections will be less diverse and more subject to influence from special interests. Since the proposed permanent solution is worse than the current temporary one, we recommend voting no on Measure C.
In an attempted compromise with the California Apartment Association’s Sneaky Repeal, city council has submitted this weakening of rent control protections (CSFRA). It will bump the maximum rent increase, allow landlords to pass extra rent for “extending the building’s lifetime,” and prevent the CSFRA from being applied to mobile homes. It additionally ties the Rental Housing Committee to the whims of City Council, depriving it of its independent legal status. Therefore, the chapter has formally endorsed a no vote.
Levies a tax on real estate transactions, with funds being placed in the city general fund. The tax is stated to be helping provide affordable housing and services for the homeless, but general fund monies are not restricted in their usage. This is not an ideal measure, but in the presence of the housing crisis, we will encourage San Jose residents to vote yes on E.
These measures are school bonds and parcel taxes spanning across various school districts in Santa Clara County. We recognize that the way these measures generate funds are not the best way to fund our education system and that these are ultimately regressive and affect everyday people more so than the rich or business community. However, given how poor our education funding system is in California, these are the only viable ways to maintain current school funding. We recommend that everybody vote yes on their respective measure, then call Governor Newsom, Lt Governor Kunalikis, Superintendent Tony Thurmond, your local state representative, and the UC, CSU, and the California Community College boards of regents to demand that they develop plans to fund education in California.