Voters’ Guide

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.

Join Silicon Valley DSA today!

This document is our voter guide for the November 3, 2020 general 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.

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 (with a 75%-in-favor requirement) to allow chapter resources to support, whereas recommendations are just “better out of a mixed bag.”

Congressional Races

District 14

We recommend Jackie Speier. She supports the Green New Deal and strong environmental protections. She supports Medicare for All and reproductive health protections. She supports raising the nationwide minimum wage, including abolishing the ridiculously low tipping wage.

District 17

Note: our language surrounding this recommendation has changed based on feedback from our members.

Ro Khanna has a history of signature left-of-center stances on national issues, but also of troubling associations with right-wing local figures. He is a major advocate of single payer healthcare, the Green New Deal, and other progressive legislation; co-founded the NO PAC Caucus; and voted to end US involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen. However, he refused to pull his endorsement of far-right, pro-Prop 8, anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice city council candidate Yang Shao in 2018 after Shao expressed transphobic rhetoric in opposition to inclusive sex ed in Fremont schools. When local activists pressed him, Khanna doubled down, calling the withdrawal demand an “ideological purity test” and claiming he’d spoken privately to Shao about the matter and come away satisfied. In 2016, Shao and Khanna shared an endorsement from the Silicon Valley Chinese Association (SVCA). Khanna appeared at a SVCA event against affirmative-action components in the AHEAD Act, a curious choice given the fight with his current opponent over Prop 16 (the repeal of the ban on affirmative action). Khanna accepted maximum donations from Trump delegate and Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel in 2016, calling criticism of his acceptance of the donations “a vicious attack.” We appreciate the role Khanna plays in Congress and recommend a vote for him in November; however, voters need to maintain pressure concerning his repeated coziness with conservative figures.

District 18

We have a no recommendation position on this race. Incumbent Anna Eshoo remains a major opponent of Medicare-for-All, being head of the health subcommittee. Rishi Kumar, on the other hand, remains a forceful defender of police with a history of anti-Black remarks, an opponent of affirmative action, and has attended events run by allies of the far-right Hindu nationalist organization BJP.

District 19

We recommend incumbent Zoe Lofgren. She was an impeachment manager against Trump, led the congressional opposition against the termination of DACA, and supports net neutrality and other checks on tech.

State Assembly Races

District 24

We are choosing to not recommend anyone in this race, as we do not support Marc Berman nor his opponent, Peter Ohtaki. Berman 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.

District 25

We have endorsed Alex Lee, a democratic socialist running a corporate-free campaign. His positions align with our values, such as declaring housing as a human right, pushing for universal healthcare, banning corporate money in the political system, and supporting workers. In parallel, he has participated in the recent protests and continues to assist the unhoused during this pandemic.

District 27

We recommend Ash Kalra. He remains a forceful advocate of workers rights and criminal justice. In the past year, he has authored and co-authored bills to crackdown wage violations, require the state attorney general to investigate police shootings, block the state from starting racist and sexist court cases, and improve workers conditions in the pandemic.

District 28

We are choosing to not recommend in this race, as we do not support Evan Low nor Carlos Cruz. 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.

District 30

We recommend Robert Rivas. He has supported worker and rural protections with bills to make COVID cases at work known, require meaningful involvement of all communities in state planning, and streamline housing for agricultural workers.

State Senate Races

District 13

We recommend Josh Becker. He places environmentalism high in his priorities, seen with his work on Menlo Spark and supporting an oil tax to fund childhood education. He supports stronger pressure on large companies to provide money for housing, as well as more efforts in building housing overall. His opponent, on the other hand, asserts that the government should steer clear from many areas, though previously he was on a Los Altos commission reviewing two-story home design changes.

District 15

We recommend Dave Cortese. He directed the county to declare a climate emergency and push for environmental initiatives. He has long supported the labor movement. And unlike his opponent, he supports Prop 15 (taxing wealthy companies their fair share) and opposes Prop 22 (Uber/Lyft bid to avoid making their workers employees).

City & County Races

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dist 3

We recommend Otto Lee. He has been very clear on his support of Prop 16 (affirmative action), whereas his opponent abstained on even placing it on the ballot. He supports the work of unions, such as protesting alongside nurses at Regional Medical Center or supporting SEIU’s push for a billionaires tax.

City of Campbell, Dist 2

We recommend Sergio Lopez. He supports the demilitarization of police, bringing regularly ignored communities to the table, and properly funding social services. He also supports shifting the land dedicated to commercial properties over for housing and fighting against plans to cut transit service.

City of Cupertino

We recommend Joseph (J.R.) Fruen. His opponent is the incumbent famed for his “build a wall and make San Jose pay for it” part of his State of the City address, as well as having the audacity to make rainbow campaign signs while Fruen is openly gay. Fruen also recognizes the need for housing and a city that isn’t stuck in “property values above all”-mode.

City of Gilroy

We recommend Rebeca Armendariz and Zach Hilton. Rebeca is a union representative for county employees who also worked on the Recall Persky campaign. She is also a member of Mijente, who advocated to get Palantir out of the Valley. Zach is a firefighter who works to make his streets safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

City of Menlo Park

We recommend voting for Max Fennel, the only candidate in this race who supports reallocating police funds to other social services. Max Fennel also supports badly needed rent control to protect Menlo Park’s renters.

City of Milpitas

We have endorsed Tiffany Vuong, a democratic socialist and housing activist running on a robust pro-renter platform, including expanding renter protections and pushing for terrific models of affordable housing like community land trusts and limited equity co-ops.

City of Mountain View

We have endorsed John Lashlee, a committed democratic socialist running a pro-rent-control, pro-defund-the-police agenda. He commits to taking no corporate money and has made clear his pro-working class agenda.

We also recommend Sally Lieber, Alex Nunez, and Lenny Siegel, who have demonstrated their work in protecting renters in previous campaigns.

City of Palo Alto

We recommend Raven Malone, Steven Lee, Cari Templeton, and Rebecca Eisenberg. In a race where others talk about terrorism being reason to defend police or block a park from “outsiders” to “be environmental,” we instead would like candidates to recognize and address the racial disparities in the city, as well as make equitable initiatives to address climate change and housing.

City of Redwood City, Dist 3

SV DSA has endorsed Lissette Espinoza-Garnica.Lissette is a democratic socialist fighting to protect renters, defund the police, and fight back against unsustainable development practices in Redwood City, as well as securing an eviction moratorium for the length of the COVID-19 pandemic.

City of San Jose, Dist 4

This is the runoff election from March between former Republican Lan Diep and Democrat David Cohen. We recommend voters choose David Cohen to sit on the city council. His vision for a sustainable, housed, and connected community is a vision that will put San Jose on a path to a better future.

City of San Jose, Dist 6

This is the runoff election for the March general election between ex-Republican, now Independent Dev Davis and Green Party member Jake Tonkel. SV DSA has endorsed Jake Tonkel, and therefore, we encourage voters to choose him to replace Davis on the council. Jake has been working hard to help the District 6 community during the Covid-19 crisis packing supply kits for those in need, passing out PPE for healthcare workers, and staying connected with his community via senior outreach calls. He has also been present and active at the BLM rallies and has proven to be a staunch ally in fighting for justice, equity, and accountability.

City of Sunnyvale, Mayor

We recommend Nancy Smith. She supports non-police intervention, encourages worker cooperatives, pushes for bridging the digital divide, and advocates for new affordable housing.

City of Sunnyvale, Dist 2

We recommend Alysa Cisneros. She pushes for unarmed crisis responders, a move away from our current car-centric transportation culture, and continued outreach within the community in governmental decisions. Additionally, she’s also on the NAACP-ACLU lawsuit to open the exclusionary Palo Alto park to all.

City of Sunnyvale, Dist 6

We recommend Omar Din. A renter, he supports policies that encourage housing for all people and safer non-car ways to travel. His platform includes ensuring worker rights are still in place during the pandemic, including higher hazard pay and listening to our public health officials.

Education Boards & Special Districts

There are an abundance of school board and special district elections this year. These elections are notoriously obscure and we believe that it is important to help the public be informed about these races. Below is a selection of candidates who we believe can make positive, progressive change in their communities by serving on these boards.

  • Santa Clara County Board of Education, Area 4 – Ketzal Gomez
  • San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, Area 7 – Ali Sapirman
  • Alum Rock Union SD – Brenda Zendejas
  • Campbell Union SD, Area 4 – Basil Saleh, endorsed
  • Franklin-McKinley SD – Maimona Afzal Berta
  • Mount Pleasant SD – Derek Grasty
  • Palo Alto Unified SD – Katie Causey
  • San Jose Unified SD, Area 3 – Carla Collins
  • Santa Clara Unified SD, Area 3 – Andrew Knaack
  • El Camino Healthcare – Meghan Fraley

State Propositions

Proposition 14 (recommend YES)

This is a bond measure that will provide $5 billion of funding for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). We recommend a yes on Prop 14. Stem cell research has shown promise for future medical advancements and we should continue to fund scientific research and endeavors.

Proposition 15 (endorse YES)

We endorse Proposition 15, the Schools and Communities First Act. Supported by unions, this measure taxes commercial properties at their real values, not the purchase prices that may date back to the 1970s if the owner played the long game. In doing so, the revenue goes directly to our underfunded public education system, as well as local governments. Given the pandemic and its hit on our economy, we need the money from the large corporations to create a just recovery for the people.

Proposition 16 (recommend YES)

We recommend a yes on Proposition 16, the restoration of affirmative action. Our societal institutions are plagued with systemic racism and sexism, and Prop 209 making government operations blind to it remains to be a bad decision. With this proposition, the state can better take measures to assist communities of concern, especially in our education system.

Proposition 17 (recommend YES)

We recommend a yes on Proposition 17, which restores voting rights to those on parole. We are skeptical that a criminal conviction should deprive citizens of the defining right in a democracy, especially in a legal system with systemic injustice. This proposition gets us closer to a more just society.

Proposition 18 (recommend YES)

A lot of California races get decided in the March primary. 17 year-olds who will be able to vote by the general election should be able to also participate in the primary. Prop 18 expands the right to vote for young people by allowing 17 year olds to vote in the primary if they turn 18 by the general election. DSA believes in expanding the franchise and therefore recommends a yes

vote on Proposition 18.

Proposition 19 (recommend YES)

While we are not fans of realtors, we recommend a yes on Proposition 19. Prop 13 created a system of massive property tax disparities, with inherited property keeping their tax benefits. This new proposition cracks down on wealth hoarding by properly taxing inheritances that aren’t the inheritor’s primary home, as well as allow the elderly and disabled to move to a smaller home without spiking their property taxes. And while we’re also not fans of tying the legislature’s hands too much with props, this proposition directs the money to firefighting, which given our climate is ever more constant.

Proposition 20 (recommend NO)

We cannot return to a period of even more mass incarceration. Proposition 20 increases prison sentences for nonviolent crimes and is antithetical to our mission of decarceration and prison abolition. We recommend a vote of no.

Proposition 21 (endorse YES)

We endorse Proposition 21. Rent control is essential to protecting tenants from displacement, especially in the covid era. Proposition 21 would enable cities to use a much greater variety of stronger rent control tools to protect renters and is essential to slow the displacement crisis.

Proposition 22 (recommend NO)

We recommend a no on Proposition 22. Created and funded by DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber, this proposition is nothing but a guise of labor protections to avoid giving their workers the same protections and benefits as other workers. We join the labor movement against this attack on AB 5, which while not perfect, shouldn’t be touched by corporations worried about giving workers a living wage. The yes on 22 campaign also funnels money to local Republican groups.

Proposition 23 (recommend YES)

Proposition 23 is a cousin to 2018’s Prop 8. 23 will impose new patient safety and oversight regulations on dialysis clinics. We recommend a yes on 23 as it is important to fight against the virtual duopoly DaVita and Fresenius have in the California dialysis industry and make sure patients are given access and safety for their appointments.

Proposition 24 (recommend NO)

While we are occasionally sympathetic towards measures to prevent watered down legislation from the capitol, we recommend a no on Proposition 24. The measure weakens some of the current privacy legislation, which itself only went into effect this year. It also creates a new agency, which takes time to implement compared to the current law’s use of the state DOJ.

Proposition 25 (no recommendation)

Proposition 25 is a ballot referendum on Senate Bill (SB) 10, which was to eliminate cash bail in California and replace it with a risk assessment system for determining who could be eligible for pretrial release upon indictment. A yes vote would allow SB 10 to be fully implemented while a no would repeal the bill and allow cash bail to continue.

Per a membership vote concluding 10/22, we have no recommendation on Proposition 25. For more context, see our previous recommendation and a counter-argument.

Local Measures

Measure C, Mountain View

We oppose Measure C. We fought against the city banning RVs through a signature campaign, and it is time to kill the proposal once and for all. We remain in a housing crisis, and the pandemic makes a place to stay the difference between staying healthy and getting sick.

Measure G, San Jose

We recommend a yes on Measure G. This measure is a step forward for the Independent Police Auditor to conduct its own investigations, though we hope more powers can be granted later. This measure also expands the power of the planning commission so that land use decisions can be more representative of the city, rather than just the western districts.

Measure S, Santa Clara Valley Water District

We recommend a yes on Measure S, which makes permanent a parcel tax that funds flood protection efforts. Previous flooding have shown inequities in protection and recovery, and thus greater funding is necessary.

Measure T, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

We recommend a yes on Measure T, which makes permanent a parcel tax that funds protection and preservation of open space. In a time when having a healthy environment is now in question, we should be making sure whatever natural spaces left are free to remain as they are.

Measure V, East Palo Alto

We recommend a yes on Measure V, which is a hotel tax that specifically funds affordable housing production and protection.

Measure RR, Caltrain

We endorse Measure RR, the sales tax to fund Caltrain. Killing an agency that was beginning to implement equity reforms is counterproductive, and public transportation is a must if we want to get out of the climate crisis. And while a sales tax is regressive, it is unfortunately the only legal option at the time of the pandemic.