Vote Now Through Tuesday, November 6
By Dianne Anderson
It’s like an oxymoron — midterm elections are at fever pitch.
This year holds the highest voter registrations for midterms that the nation has seen in ages.
Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of California Young Democrats, said he sees younger voters devoting more time to campaigns, and there is a surge of energy wrapped around the races.
A new unity is needed to take back the House and win more Democratic seats in the Senate and State Assembly. Youth voters have increased, as well as those running their own campaigns to take power in the localities.
The California Young Democrats have 108 young Democrats running for office statewide.
“We’re seeing actual efforts for the House being led by young Democrats,” he said. “Jennifer Sosa is the Western Regional Field Director at Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which means she has races from NV, Utah, and California.”
Sosa is 25 years old, and those are the most important seats to flip, he said.
Over the weekend, he was at the CYD Young Voter Revolution GOTV Rally in San Diego with Sen. Bernie Sanders where they collected about 1,000 ballots.
He said CYD is concerned with the current power structure, hand over fist spending on tax breaks, corporate interests and wasteful spending in the Department of Defense.
“We realize that the generations prior to us are not going to be enough to take back our country and advance our fight that we need to advance for social justice, economic justice, racial justice, and basic economic security for our generation,” he said
At the local district education level, candidates have also been running for office with the widening gap in education resources at the top of their priorities for local students and parents.
Joseph Williams: San Bernardino Community College District
Joseph Williams, president of the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees, said his top concern is that all students can afford an education, and get through classes within a realistic time period, and onto a four-year degree.
Two years ago, Williams said he requested his board set aside $10 million for a two-year tuition-free program to be implemented at Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College. Now that the funding is finally coming through, he said monitoring implementation of the program is important. He wants to see stronger community input on how the program is designed.
“The biggest issue that I see is the cost of the education, making sure it’s affordable, and reducing the amount of time that it takes for our students to graduate,” Williams said.
Getting students through the Community College process requires students to commit to a degree track program, but he feels there must be a strong effort to get students through the system faster, with better access to the courses they need to graduate.
He is concerned about flexibility in scheduling courses around students’ needs.
“We need to make sure that we schedule courses when students are available, maybe making more night classes and online classes available,” said Williams, who was elected to the Board in 2014.
At the state level, all Community College sessions are at 18 weeks, but the state is trying to transition to a 16-week session.
“The other thing is guided pathways, when you look at for-profit schools, [expedited schedules] they have schedules blocked in a way that makes it realistic for students to get through. We need to look at that as a strategy,” he said.
Over the years, Williams has secured $2 million that helped serve thousands of local students through Youth Action Partnership with job training, mentoring, and job placement. Among his several roles in local education and employment agencies, he is also an appointee of Governor Jerry Brown to the California Workforce Development Board, and a member of the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board.
Dina Walker: member of the Rialto Unified Board of Education
Board member Dina Walker is running on a platform of experience in education with a 15-year track record as an education consultant. She specializes in education budgets, including training on Local Control Funding and the LCAP.
Walker, president and CEO of BLU Educational Foundation, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.
Over the years, she has raised over $1 million in grants to support local schools, and a recipient of the Community Leader Award, San Bernardino County Schools, Alliance for Education.
At the local level, there are many projects through the Local Control Funding, and she hears concerns from parents about getting all available benefits under LCF to students in need.
“I would say our biggest concern is from families wanting to make sure their student doesn’t get left out in reference to funding and the new Local Control Funding Formula,” said Walker, who was first elected to the Board in 2014.
Projections anticipate that the LCFF, when fully funded, will bring down $18 billion for California’s K-12 commitment, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Learning Policy Institute.
With new programs and new initiatives set to come down, parents want to know their child is able to receive the services they deserve.
“I’m hearing that from our parents, very much from the marginalized groups, our special education parents, people who have to care for our homeless and our foster youth. They don’t want to be forgotten,” she said.
As a board member, she said it is critical to stay on top of the new initiatives statewide, and recognize how those resources trickle down to the local district.
‘Our board collectively aware of that, and keep in mind the special population of students that they have a voice. We are concerned about their future, and making sure there is a voice for all students,” she said.
San Bernardino MEASURES W AND X:
In San Bernardino, local voters will decide what to do about marijuana, both in taxation and regulating local dispensaries with measures that were placed on the ballot by the City of San Bernardino.
If passed, this measure taxes marijuana businesses up to $10 a square foot for cultivation nurseries, and up to 6 percent of gross receipts of cannabis retail sales, and other marijuana-related businesses. If passed, that measure could bring more revenue to the city, projected from $810,000 to $2.5 million each year for services, including police and libraries.
Bronica Martindale-Taylor, president of California Gardens Neighborhood Association, is concerned about whether lower-income communities pressured with high dispensaries sited in their communities will get their fair share of services resulting from marijuana revenue.
She thinks the ballot language needs to clarify if, or how, the money will be earmarked for services and programs specified on the ballot, and not just go into the General Fund with unfulfilled promises.
“I want them to tax it, but the question is when they tax it, where is that money going?” she asks. “Is it going to our streets, is it going to our parks and rec? We don’t want any more excuses for not having [street] lights in our community.”
MEASURE X — San Bernardino Marijuana Business Regulation
Measure X was also placed on the ballot by the city, and if passed, allows the City Council to approve one marijuana business permit per 12,500 city residents, which amounts to 17 permits based on the current population. If passed, the city council could also adopt an ordinance to increase those permits in the future.
The measure will regulate commercial marijuana business operations, including security measures, restrictions on alcohol and tobacco sales, odor control, and background checks, among others. Violators could have their permits suspended or revoked, or get hit with fines or jail time.
“The measure would permit commercial cannabis businesses to be established in the commercial and industrial zones of the City. The commercial cannabis businesses would be prohibited within 600 feet of residential zones, properties used as residences, schools, commercial daycare centers, youth centers, and parks. The measure would also authorize the City Council to adopt an ordinance lowering the above distances,” the ballot states.
For more ballot information from the League of Women Voters, see https://votersedge.org/ca