The UCSD Guardian’s Guide to Voting In San Diego: California State Elections

This article is part of a new UCSD Guardian series on the 2020 United States elections. We will be discussing registration, state propositions, and various elections from the local to federal level. Tune in every Tuesday on Facebook or Instagram to see the latest article.

As early voting ramps up for this election, The UCSD Guardian looks towards statewide elections, where our State Legislature is taking new shape and Congressional Representatives try for a two-year seat.

State Assembly

District 78

The 78th District, which encompasses the UC San Diego campus, will have two new Democratic candidates in the race, Sarah Davis and Christopher Ward.

Midwife Sarah Davis has been active in the San Diego community by advocating for family and lobbying efforts with the California Association of Midwives, where she held the position of Vice President Policy Chair. Her three top policy goals are focused on providing California with single-payer healthcare, creating more public housing, and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2035.

“I am a healthcare provider myself, and so from multiple different angles I see how our current health payment system and our private health insurance system is broken. It does not help serve patients or communities,” Davis said to The UCSD Guardian. “So as a provider, I see how demoralizing it is for providers when our patients are denied care just because the idea of private insurance is to provide profit for shareholders. As a small business owner, I know how difficult it is for small businesses to afford private health insurance when we want to provide for employees or for ourselves, or even for individuals who are self-employed.” 

Councilman Christopher Ward currently sits upon the San Diego City Council representing District 3. 

“We have a multitude of crises that Californians face, which makes balancing multiple policy areas at the same time a key requirement,” Ward said to the UCSD Guardian. “From housing, to homelessness, to climate change, and job stability — efforts I have led at the City of San Diego can well serve for stronger statewide action if we want these changes. Climate Change should be considered an existential threat by all Californians. As the only candidate with specific goals and guidance on what I’ll do for climate change on our website, and my own record on progress.”

Councilmember Ward spoke of the need for robust mandates on fossil fuels as well as reducing vehicle emissions, increasing battery capacity, improving vegetation management and other initiatives in the statewide Climate Action plan that he hopes will also be supported at the local level. 

With many similarities between the two candidates, the UCSD Guardian reached out to both campaigns for comments on what they believe sets them apart to represent the 78th District.  

“Although the general election brought forward two Democrats, I am the only one who has the experience to know how to impact the bold, progressive change our state needs.” Ward said. “As UCSD’s Assembly representative, [I] will keep in touch actively with students, staff, faculty, and all members of the community to make sure the state is making good on its promises to you.”

Davis told The Guardian that one key difference between their two campaigns is the way they are running.

“I have signed the no fossil fuel money pledge, the no cop money pledge, and [Ward] has signed neither and takes money from both of those industries,” Davis said. “In general, I want to stand for people over corporate profits. While he, for example, has voted repeatedly with the interests of his big real estate donors in mind to build real estate developments in open spaces which I would like to preserve.” 

State Senate

The State Senate race in District 39 houses a race between incumbent State Senator Toni Atkins and Republican challenger Linda Blankenship.

State Senator Toni Atkins has been serving the 39th district since 2016. She currently serves as the State Senate President Pro Tempore and sits upon the Rules committee for both the Assembly and the Senate. 

“COVID-19 has exacerbated what was an already-critical need for more affordable housing and more housing supply in our state,” Senator Atkins commented to The San Diego Union-Tribune “It is true that determinations around increasing density cannot wait for the state’s transportation issues to be resolved — these things can and should occur together — but we can’t allow the absence of finality on one issue to justify continued delay on the other.”

She added that she has authored two bills this year, SB 1120 and SB 995, that are part of a State Senate housing package with the goal of increasing housing supply and creating opportunities for homeowners. Due to the timing of when bills were presented, Senator Atkins plans on reintroducing them if re-elected.

A small business owner, Linda Blankenship is representing the Republican party on the platform of fiscal responsibility and freedom in faith, work, and personal safety. She received her party’s nomination as a write-in candidate.

“The escalation in the damage done by wildfires in the last decades can be directly attributed to two things,” Blankenship added to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “Yes, the climate is changing as it always has, resulting in increased lightning strikes and other environmental conditions. More impactful, though, have been the policy changes imposed on forest management either by legislation and/or regulation. Because there is more environmental volatility, we MUST be allowed to clear vulnerable properties of naturally occurring ‘kindling.’”

Superior Court

The Superior Court is seeking to fill a vacant seat, which would preside over criminal and civil cases in San Diego.

Tim Nader, who received his J.D. from UC Berkeley, has been rated “well qualified” by the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA). Along with his rating, he also earned the endorsement of former President of the SDCBA Marvin Mizell as well as having endorsements from the Sierra Club and Nicole Capretz, the Tom Homann LGBTQ Law Association, Dr. J. Luke Wood, civil rights leaders, Bar leaders, UCSD Democrats, as well as former and current elected officials of both parties.

“I am a Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, formerly a prosecutor and currently a civil litigator,” Nader said to the UCSD Guardian.  “I am alarmed by what I see happening in Washington, and understand that racial discrimination, global warming and covid-19 aren’t hoaxes.  Judges at all levels should be supporting public safety, assuring fairness and due process, upholding equal protection of the law for all people in our country, and protecting our constitutional rights. I will fight any bias in our justice system and decide any cases before me on facts, evidence and the Constitution.”

Assistant US Attorney Paul Starita was a military judge while serving in the Marine Corp, and has been rated “exceptionally qualified” by the SDCBA. Mr. Starita has also received endorsements from multiple law enforcement groups such as the San Diego Deputy District Attorney’s office, San Diego Police Officers’ Association, Oceanside Police Officers Association, as the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation, and more.

“I am seeking to become a Superior Court Judge because I want to continue to serve our community in the most impactful way possible.” Starita said. “My vast legal experience, consisting of prosecuting and defending both criminal and civil cases as well as serving as a judicial officer, makes me uniquely qualified to handle any matter presented to me in a fair and impartial manner. Further, I will work to eliminate bias in our courts and promote safety in our community. It would be an honor to have your vote.”

Both candidates have received a lengthy list of endorsements from individuals all. With 29 Superior Court judges endorsing Paul Starita. Where Tim Nader has received various endorsements from judges as well as State Senators, State Assembly members, and City Councilmembers. 

United States House of Representatives

District 49

From Dana Point down into La Jolla, Congressional District 49 has had some close races in recent history. 

Incumbent Mike Levin worked as an attorney in Environmental and Energy regulatory compliance as well as government affairs before he took office. Currently he represents District 49 on the Veterans’ Affairs committee and the Natural Resources Committee. On the topic of climate change, Levin talked about growing up in Southern California and worrying about the planet for future generations, including his two boys.

“This isn’t just about saving our planet — it’s about creating good-paying jobs right here in America,” Levin said. “One of the biggest myths I hear is that we cannot combat climate change while also growing our economy. To the contrary, if we embrace science when it comes to the climate crisis and our environment, we will create the clean energy jobs of the future right here in our district.”

Republican challenger and businessman Brian Maryott is a certified financial planner who hopes to help grow the California economy if he takes office. Maryott’s platform also includes helping protect our environment and ensure healthcare remains within the private sphere. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has reminded me how woefully unprepared the government can be when asked to tackle a national problem,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune. “The private sector is the only reason we are able to acquire a sufficient amount of personal protective equipment (PPE), quickly develop effective therapeutics and track spread and outbreaks with innovative technology.”

District 51

Running along California’s Southern border is District 51, where incumbent Democrat Juan Vargas is facing off against Republican challenger Juan Hidalgo Jr. Both hope to improve jobs as well as education for those in their district.

Congressman Vargas previously served in the California State Assembly and State Senate before being elected to represent California in Congress. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of San Diego, then completing a masters from Fordham University and receiving his JD from Harvard Law school. Currently, Congressman Vargas sits upon the Financial Services and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We must pass comprehensive immigration reform and grant the DREAMERS the U.S. citizenship they deserve,” Vargas said to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “Polls overwhelmingly show the American people support comprehensive immigration reform and both issues deserve to pass and become law.”

Sergeant Major Hidalgo served for 31 years in the Marine Corp where he reported to the Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, Cub, and other various duties. Sergeant Major Hidalgo also has received various medals for service and commendations from the Navy and Marines. Hidalgo has developed his platform around increasing jobs, education as well as public safety. 

Hidalgo commented to the Desert Review that, “If the border is not important, I don’t know what is … The reason that guy I am running against opposes [border control], is because they want an open border. But here’s the other problem, they fail to tell everybody. They are claiming [Republicans] don’t care about people. But, how about caring for the people who are paying their paycheck?”

District 52

Congressman Scott Peters assumed office for the 52nd District in 2013. This District spans from Escondido into Del Mar and La Jolla. Before serving in the House of Representatives, Congressman Peters served with the Environmental Protection Agency and served as Counsel for the City of San Diego County and on San Diego City Council. 

Congressman Peters asserted that he ran for Congress to address the climate crisis as well as COVID-19 and rebuild our economy. He also laid out his plan forward in addressing climate change.

“We must 1) decarbonize our economic sectors: electricity, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and aviation; 2) regulate damaging short-lived climate pollutants, especially methane; 3) impose a price on carbon; 4) invest in technological innovation for new fuels; and 5) develop carbon capture technologies. The U.S. must also engage and lead internationally,” Peters said.

Technology entrepreneur and businessman Jim DeBello, who graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree and a master in business administration also studying at the University of Singapore, he currently holds five patents. His platform seeks to balance the federal budget as well as expand the military and border protections. 

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, DeBello stated that economic recovery was at the top of his agenda, stating “We need businesses and schools to be both open and safe for our families. These goals are not mutually exclusive.”

DeBello also said, “Environmental alarmism delivers headlines, not solutions. Many proposals like the Green New Deal and others supported by my opponent are unrealistic and economically disastrous. Rather than playing the politics of climate, I am focused on practical, common sense solutions that reverse human impact. These include carbon capture technologies, bluetech biofuels and other market driven incentives.”

UCSD students will have the option to go to the voting station their colleges have set up. Those who are not on campus can find their closest polling place on the Secretary of State’s Website. 

If you don’t feel comfortable going to a polling place, you can drop off your ballot at a designated drop box. There have been some fraudulent ballot drop-boxes throughout California, be sure to check the California Secretary of State’s office to ensure you are at a valid ballot drop-box. You can also mail in your ballot, but it must be postmarked by election day.

Artwork courtesy of Yui Kita for The UCSD Guardian.

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