She's been supported in the past by Don and Doris Fisher, who put a chunk of their GAP Inc. fortune into school privatization efforts. Torlakson wants more accountability for charters, opposes the Romero district-option bill, and has the support of every major teachers union in the state. Vote for Torlakson.
STATE SENATE, DISTRICT 8, DEMOCRAT
Sen. Leland Yee can be infuriating. Two years ago, he was hell-bent on selling the Cow Palace as surplus state property and allowing private developers to take it over. In the recent budget crisis, he pissed off his Democratic colleagues by refusing to vote for cuts that everyone else knew were inevitable (while never making a strong stand in favor of, say, repealing Prop. 13 or raising other taxes). But he's always been good on open-government issues and has made headlines lately for busting California State University, Stanislaus over a secret contract to bring Sarah Palin in for a fundraiser — and has raised the larger point that public universities shouldn't hide their finances behind private foundations.
Yee will have no serious opposition for reelection, and his campaign for a second term in Sacramento is really the start of the Leland Yee for Mayor effort. With reservations over the Cow Palace deal and a few other issues, we'll endorse him for reelection.
Correction update: Yee's office informs us that the senator suports an oil-severance tax and a tax on high-income earners and "believes that Prop. 13 should be reformed," although he hasn't taken a position on Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's reform bill.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 12, DEMOCRAT
Fiona Ma's a mixed bag (at best). She doesn't like Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and supports public power, but comes up with strange bills that make no sense, like a 2009 measure to limit rent control in trailer parks. Why does Ma, who has no trailer parks in her district, care? Maybe because the landlords who control the mobile home facilities gave her some campaign cash. She faces no opposition, and we're not thrilled with her record, but we'll reluctantly back her for another term.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 13, DEMOCRAT
When the history of progressive politics in modern San Francisco is written, Tom Ammiano will be a central figure. His long-shot 1999 mayoral campaign against Willie Brown brought the left to life in town, and his leadership helped bring back district elections and put a progressive Board of Supervisors in place in 2000. As a supervisor, he authored the city's landmark health care bill (which Newsom constantly tries to take credit for) and the rainy day fund (which saved the public schools from debilitating cuts). He uses his local influence to promote the right causes, issues, and candidates.
And he's turned out to be an excellent member of the state Assembly. He forced BART to take seriously civilian oversight of the transit police force. He put the battle to reform Prop. 13 with a split-role measure back on the state agenda. And his efforts to legalize and tax marijuana are close to making California the first state to toss the insane pot laws. As chair of the Public Safety Committee, he routinely defies the police lobbies and the right-wing Republicans and defuses truly awful legislation. We're glad Ammiano's still fighting in the good fight, and we're pleased to endorse him for another term.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 14, DEMOCRAT
Nancy Skinner has taken on one of the toughest, and for small businesses, most important, battles in Sacramento. She wants to make out-of-state companies that sell products to Californians collect and remit sales tax.