In December, members and activists of the the LP of San Francisco started to gather signatures for two initiatives circulating statewide to qualify for the November 2018 election. The initiatives each need at least 585,407 valid signatures to appear before the voters, and their deadlines are coming up this spring.
The proposed Measure 1816, spearheaded by Tom Palzer and endorsed by the LP of California, would repeal the top-two election system that has been in place in California since 2011, and would return us to the semi-closed primary system.
Under the old system, each qualified state political party had a chance to put forth their own, partisan candidate in the general election. Under the current top-two system, only the two highest vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, are advanced to the November election.
Not one single alternative-party candidate has ever advanced on to the general election in the six years that we’ve had Top Two, except for rare occasions when only one major party member was running. When Barbara Boxer finally retired from the senate last year, in the general election, the voters were treated to the so-called choice of only two Democratic candidates — Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez — with similar views. Is it any surprise that a full 16 percent of the voters left that office blank on their ballots? Clearly, that wasn’t much of a choice.
Even though Democrats soundly control California state politics, even they are supporting the repeal of Top Two and a return to the previous system, because they have been forced to spend nearly $200 million in contests featuring two Democrats. A return to the old system will give more choices to all voters in the November election, and it will encourage more candidates of all political persuasions to run for state offices again.
Libertarians support more choice in voting, as in all areas.
The filing deadline for Measure 1816 is April 23.
Proposed Measure 1830 would amend the California constitution to require that the gas tax increases that went into effect on Nov. 1 be approved by the voters, or repealed. No need to say much about this one. With the second highest gas tax burden in the nation before the recent increases of 12 cents per gallon of regular gas and 20 cents per gallon of diesel (as well as other new fees), our state legislators have squandered millions of dollars and insisted new taxes were needed just to pave the roads. (Never mind infrastructure improvements such as fixing interchanges—they say that RM3, the $3 increase in tolls for all San Francisco Bay bridges [except the Golden Gate Bridge], scheduled for the November 2018 ballot, will go toward those infrastructure needs.) Mismanagement of the taxes collected specifically for the roads should not constitute a compelling reason to reward the politicians with more money to waste. How do other states manage to maintain their roads with lower taxes?
The filing deadline for Measure 1830 is May 21.
Interestingly enough, the other good initiative (Proposed Measure 1800) which failed to qualify, would have repealed the recent gas tax increases, but it did not contain the added feature of Measure 1830, which insists the voters approve the current tax increases and any future increases before going into effect. Thus, this measure would have repealed the recent tax increases, but the politicians could have gone right back to the drawing board and enacted new taxes again without voter approval (and knowing them, they surely would have). On the other hand, the voters could have approved the new and higher taxes if 1830 had made it onto the ballot, but we’re counting on the California voters outside the Bay Area to use their noodle and overwhelmingly vote YES on 1830, and NO on all gas tax increases.
If you would like to help gather signatures for either of these initiatives, please e-mail us at Chair@LPSF.org. These initiatives will need paid circulators to secure the huge number of signatures needed, but your volunteering to collect even a handful of signatures from your family and friends would be a big help.
More choices on the ballot and lower taxes would benefit everyone, statewide.
Aubrey Freedman is chair of the Libertarian Party of San Francisco.
To find your own county’s petition-drive coordinator for Measure 1816, visit the web site of the Foundation to Stop Top 2: StopTop2.com/e-mail-county-coordinator