Harris, to her credit, has refused to seek the death penalty in San Francisco, and would bring the perspective of a woman of color to the AG's office. For all her flaws, she would be far better in the AG's office than Cooley. Vote for Harris.
Jones, currently a state Assemblymember from Sacramento, won a contested primary against his Los Angeles colleague Hector de la Torre and is now fighting Republican Mike Villines of Fresno, also a member of the Assembly. Jones is widely known as a consumer advocate and was a foe of Prop. 17, the insurance industry scam on the June ballot. A former Legal Aid lawyer, he has extensive experience in health-care reform, supports single-payer health coverage, and would make an excellent insurance commissioner.
Villines pretty much follows right-wing orthodoxy down the line. He wants to replace employer-based insurance with health savings accounts. He argues that the solution to the cost of health insurance is to limit malpractice lawsuits. He wants to limit workers compensation claims. And he supports "alternatives to litigation," which means eliminating the rights of consumers to sue insurance companies.
Not much question here. Vote for Jones.
BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, DISTRICT 1
The Board of Equalization isn't well known, but it plays a sizable role in setting and enforcing California tax policy. Yee's a strong progressive who has done well in the office, supporting progressive financial measures. She's spoken out — as a top tax official — in favor of legalizing and taxing marijuana. We're happy to endorse her for another term.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
We fully expected a November runoff between Torlakson and state Sen. Gloria Romero. Both Democrats had strong fundraising and political bases — and very different philosophies. Romero's a big charter school and privatization fan; Torlakson has the support of the teachers unions. But to the surprise of nearly everyone, a wild-card candidate, retired Los Angeles educator Larry Aceves, came in first, with Torlakson second and Romero third. Now Aceves and Torlakson are in the runoff for this nonpartisan post.
Aceves is an interesting candidate, a former principal and school superintendent who has the endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Green Party. But he's too quick to take the easy line that the teachers' unions are the biggest problem in public education, and he wants the unilateral right to suspend labor contracts.
Torlakson wants more charter-school accountability and more funding for primary education. He's the far better candidate.
Yee's got no opposition to speak of, and will easily be re-elected. So why is he spending money on a series of slick television ads that have been airing all over San Francisco, talking about education and sending people to his website? It's pretty obvious: The Yee for state Senate campaign is the opening act of the Yee for San Francisco mayor campaign, which should kick into high gear sometime next spring. In other words, if Yee has his way, he'll serve only a year of his next four-year term.