Editorial: Weekly endorses Hill, Gordon, Simitian

Voters should welcome opportunity to elect effective and experienced candidates on June 5

With at least one veteran legislator running for seats in the state Senate, state Assembly and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, voters will have an easy task when they go to the polls June 5. Four legislators stand out in a field that includes many first-time office-seekers in the debut of the "open primary" under rules approved last year.

The new system allows all voters to select any candidate, regardless of party, for state and congressional offices. The top two vote-getters advance to the general election in November.

The new system does not apply to presidential or county central committee elections, or to nonpartisan local elections, such as for the Board of Supervisors. However, in the supervisors' race, if no candidate receives more than half the votes, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off in November.

In this primary, we have decided to endorse one candidate in the state Senate and state Assembly races, although the top two vote-getters will face a run-off in November. We and the voters will have a fresh chance to evaluate the two finalists in the fall.

The most hotly contested race is between Assemblyman Jerry Hill and former Assembly member Sally Lieber to replace Palo Alto resident and state Sen. Joe Simitian, who is termed out. Also on the ballot are Chris Chiang, who is using the race to tout his education reform ideas, and Libertarian John Webster, who says he is fighting the "darker side of democracy." Chiang and Webster are each spending about $1,000 on the race, so are not running serious campaigns.

Hill and Lieber are Democrats with similar positions on many issues, but our choice here is for Hill, who is committed to state pension reform and holding back on approving high-speed rail unless certain stipulations are met, including a guarantee of a two-track system on the Peninsula. He also says if individual rail segments are built he wants to make sure each would remain viable if financing for the entire project falls through. He says his first bill as a state Senator would be to provide sustainable funding for Caltrain that would enable San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to put a tax measure on the ballot to support the railroad.

As the Assemblyman representing San Bruno, Hill has made a major effort to make sure that PG&E pipelines are safe and that the utility does not escape stiffer regulations and fines for its part in the horrific pipeline explosion that killed eight San Bruno residents two years ago.

After serving six years in the Assembly, Sally Lieber, who describes herself as a maverick, would bring significant experience to the District 13 seat, but we believe Hill is a more focused candidate who can speak with experience about environmental issues and big projects like high-speed rail. We recommend Jerry Hill for the District 13 state Senate seat.

Rich Gordon is our choice for second term on Assembly

Facing three first-time candidates, Rich Gordon is far and away the most qualified candidate in the race for state Assembly in the 24th District. After serving 13 years as a San Mateo County Supervisor, he was elected to the Assembly in 2010. In his first term, Gordon has seen 15 of the 19 bills he sponsored signed into law, an enviable record for any legislator, regardless of experience.

Among his top priorities this session are ending partisan gridlock, investing more in education and solving the perennial state budget crisis. He said he supports the Governor's pension reform bill that should come before the Legislature in August.

Gordon's opponents are three first-time candidates, Republican Chengzhi "George" Yang, Joseph Antonelli Rosas Jr., who has no party affiliation and Democrat Geby E. Espinosa. Each challenger is focused on just a few issues. Yang is worried about how the shortfall in state revenue will impact the university system and he sees a lot of potential in bringing Chinese tourists to California.

Rosas said he is a victim of foreclosure and that if elected, will work on a homeowners' bill of rights.

Espinosa said she believes the state can create jobs by legalizing hemp to manufacture textiles. She also favors closing the borders to keep out illegal immigrants.

We applaud the three challengers for getting involved in this race, but Rich Gordon is our choice and we expect him to continue the good work he has started in the state Assembly.

Return Joe Simitian to the Board of Supervisors

Longtime Palo Alto resident Joe Simitian is termed out of the state Senate and has set his sights on returning to his old seat on the Board of Supervisors. Simitian is a household word in Palo Alto, which he has represented on the school board, city council, county supervisor, state Assembly and state Senate. His logical next step to the District 18 House seat is blocked by longtime Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who is actively campaigning for another term.

In the meantime, Simitian has laid out a course of work he will undertake if he wins the fifth-district seat currently held by Liz Kniss. High on Simitian's list is helping to guide the county through whatever version of President Obama's health care reform legislation ultimately is approved by the Supreme Court. He also sees work ahead as the county takes on more responsibility for housing adult and juvenile offenders.

Simitian faces a challenge from Barry Chang, a Cupertino City Council member, and two-time Cupertino Mayor Kris Huyilan Wang, who did not respond to our request for an interview.

During his council term, Chang has focused on forcing the Lehigh Permanente quarry and cement plant just outside the city's borders to reduce its emission of mercury, and he has chastised the county for not doing enough to reduce the emissions. Last July, the state Office of Mine Reclamation ordered Lehigh to comply with pollution and mining laws, provoking the company to file a lawsuit against the state.

Wang was elected to the Cupertino City Council in 2003 and reelected in 2007. She has served on several county commissions, including Parks and Recreation, Recycling and Waste & Reduction and Environmental Quality and Policy, and represented the city in the League of California Cities.

In this race, Joe Simitian is clearly the best and most experienced candidate and we endorse him for the District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors.

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Like this comment
Posted by Leiv Lea
a resident of Woodside
on May 18, 2012 at 11:40 am

Palo Alto Online should be embarrassed by its characterization of George Yang's positions on the issues facing California.

They write: "Yang is worried about how the shortfall in state revenue will impact the university system and he sees a lot of potential in bringing Chinese tourists to California."

In fact, Mr. Yang's two key issues are pushing legislation to significantly reform California's government employee pension system and stopping California's high speed rail plan.

I have heard Mr. Yang speak on many occations so I find it hard to believe that he did not mention his two main issues when speaking to the Palo Alto Online editorial board. I understand that editorial boards can take political positions but is it too much to ask to at least state candidates' positions accurately?

Perhaps the problem is that Rich Gordon will most likely to support Jerry Brown to build the high speed rail system and that Gordon, Brown and the California assembly have done nothing on pension reform. The likelihood of Brown's pension reform bill going anywhere in August with union political support needed for the November election is zero.

As California's budget problems increase and key services degrade, at least it will be clear which political party is clearly responsible for California's sad state of affairs.

Like this comment
Posted by Jocelyn Dong
editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on May 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

Thanks for your comment, Leiv. At the start of the endorsement interview, the editorial board gave the candidate a chance to talk about his/her background and why he or she has entered the race.

Mr. Yang did indeed single out the two issues listed in the editorial. Regarding the decline in funding for the UC system, he cited a talk he'd heard at Stanford in which the speak indicated state funding for the UC system would be zero by 2020. Regarding jobs, he believes that tourism and the manufacturing of goods needed by other countries would boost the economy.

The editorial board then raised additional issues for the candidate to discuss. On the topic of pension reform, Yang believes in a cap on pensions for all employees. On the subject of high-speed rail, he favors returning to the voters for approval of a plan that more accurately reflects current figures and estimates.

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Joe Simitian has been in Sacramento for 12 years, and he hasn't addressed the High Speed Rail issues, nor the ABAG housing mandates, the budget deficits, nor state employee pension reform.

So although the Palo Alto Weekly says he has "experience",what has he done for the district he represents?

I'd rather have someone who will represent the district, than someone who is a does nothing about these issues, so either Barry Chang or Kris Wang would be a better choice - both have stood up for the residents they represent, rather than holding hands with the special interests.

Although Rich Gordon has had only 2 years in Sacramento, he's following Joe Simitian's pattern. Send someone else instead of Gordon.

Like this comment
Posted by Henry
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

In the supervisors race, vote NO on Joe.
Last Fall there was much lamentation in the media when Gov. Brown vetoed Simitian's SB 29, a bill Joe had claimed would reform red light cameras.
In many of those articles Joe said that the bill would have prohibited “Snitch Tickets.” (If you're not 100% sure of what that they are, Google the term.)
But it wasn't so. The bill DID NOT contain a ban on Snitch Tickets. (The reporters were copying from an erroneous press release sent out by Joe.) SB 29 would have done the opposite of a ban, legitimizing the fake tickets. From the bill:
"(c) This section and Section 40520 do not preclude the issuing agency or the manufacturer or supplier of the automated traffic enforcement system from mailing a courtesy notice or any other notice other than a notice to appear to the registered owner of the vehicle or the alleged violator prior to issuing a notice to appear."
Worse, the phrase "prior to issuing a notice to appear" seems to give the issuing agency more time, limited only by the one-year statute of limitations, to issue a real ticket (a Notice to Appear). The present deadline to issue a real ticket is 15 days.
Many articles said that the bill: "Required adequate signage to notify drivers when red light cameras are in use."
Again, not so. The bill would have decreased the number of warning signs at camera enforced intersections, from four per intersection to one or two. (The reporters were copying from Joe's press release, again.)
So why is this important, considering that the bill has been vetoed? Partly, because the bill is back, in 2012, as SB 1303. But more importantly, because it offers us a peek into Joe's mind. Clearly he thinks that he can pull the wool over our eyes - legislate to make it worse for us, but tell us that he is helping us (too appease our anger about the ticket mills on the Peninsula) - and that's it's OK to deceive us in this fashion.
I think that this mind set comes from Joe being in politics too long. Simitian can't change his stripes, so needs to go.

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Another "accomplishment" that Joe is touting is that because of his legislation, 30% of electricty in California will come from "Green" sources. What he fails to mention is that

1) This is driving up the price everyone is paying for electricity, much faster than inflation

2) This is a crony capitalism deal, whereby venture capitalist who bet on the "green tech" made campaign contributions to politicians like Joe; Joe in turn mandates that "green energy" be used, which increases the value of the venture capitalist investments. The only loser is the utility rate payer, who sees the higher electricty bill.

Like this comment
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm

The one good thing about Joe Simitian was that he held sidewalk events permitting one on one discussions.

My one time chat with Joe was more than sufficient to determine that he is indeed an empty suit.

Like this comment
Posted by Hart
a resident of Green Acres
on May 18, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I agree that Simitian and Gordon have experience, and experience does matter. However, I also consider support of the current high speed rail plan to be toxic. Gov Brown firmly believes that the train is the most important, and by fer one of the most expensive, unfunded, projects California has considered undertaking. I feel that it is also clear that Brown's support for the rail project is pay back to the unwavering support of big labor groups. Now, towing the part line has become Rich Gordon's political goal. Simitian has had ample opportunity to derail the rail project, but continues to help it along, forever claiming to not quite understand all the details. He's towing the part line too.

Our governor has put all of his efforts, and California's wealth, or what's left of it, into a train that will cost CA perhaps 10 Billion dollars every year for decades to come to pay off the bonds and the high interest that CA will have to pay because of the states crummy credit rating. Don't forget the estimated $2Billion every in operating subsidies.

Don't you PA Weekly Editors think that there are so many other better uses of that money than a train? Votes for Gordon, Simitian in his new role, and quite possibly Hill, will likely mean a vote for California's train to nowhere.

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

Simitian like Kniss, career politicians in a revolving door. Time for a fresh perspective and not the business as usual. Time to close the book and move on. Please.

Like this comment
Posted by Matt
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I support Sally Lieber over Jerry Hill. She is much more communicative with her constituents. Jerry Hill doesn't even answer email. Hill voted against AB 1017, which would have eased prison overcrowding by changing cannabis cultivation from an automatic felony to a wobbler, allowing the DA the discretion to decide whether to charge a particular case as a felony or a misdemeanor.

Sally Lieber is fantastic on women's issues. Vote for Sally Lieber on June 5!

Like this comment
Posted by keep it,up
a resident of Community Center
on May 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm

aLooks like Dong admits that the editorial was poorly written and did not include Yang's position on the issues. Knowing the Weekly, this was done on purpose. They have a vested interest in setting certain candidates elected. They are hardly impartial.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm

> Simitian, Gordon and Hill are experienced ..

Really? Experienced at what?

Here’s what the SacBee’s Dan Walters says about these guys:

Web Link

But California's politicians have seemingly gone out of their way to make the state inhospitable, with a dense regulatory structure (including the new cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions), ever higher utility costs, one of the nation's highest tax burdens, and deficiencies in education, transportation, water supply and other forms of public infrastructure.

And these three are also experienced at not balancing budgets, creating structural deficits that won’t go away. They are experienced at not getting the budgets finished on time, and are very experienced at pandering to their constituencies—such as labor unions, and big money special interests.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Los Altos
on May 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Did any of you watch the candidates forum, if not you guys can watched it on the City of Cupertino video site.
The only candidate with specific ideas was Rosas the candidate for district 24, he is going to get my vote, he can bring fresh ideas to Sacramento, every time Joseph Rosas spoke, Richard Gordon blushed, he was probably thinking why I didn't say that before. We need new blood in Sacramento, and Rosas is a very bright young guy.

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor Next Door
a resident of another community
on May 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm

CA lawmakers switch schedule for extra pay

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by George Yang
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

It is pretty sad that the Weekly failed to highlight my strong opposition to the High Speed Rail project, and how it is being run at present. We do not have a viable funding plan for construction or for continual operation, and the negative effects to our communities cannot be understated.

I would like to re-iterate what I said during the interview with the Weekly: The only honest, honorable, and democratic thing to do, is to give the voters of California the true numbers and another vote.

Like this comment
Posted by Henry
a resident of another community
on May 31, 2012 at 9:12 am

Earlier in these comments I wrote about Simitian's SB 1303, and how bad it is. On May 29 Joe amended the bill, and now it is really bad.

The amendment declares that documents created by the for-profit red light camera companies are NOT hearsay.

Why would Joe do this last minute amendment? There's two cases that have just come up to the Cal. Supreme Court, and they are about red light camera hearsay. Joe's bill will save the red light camera companies the expense of briefing in the court. In so doing, he denyies the two defendants their hard-fought-for day in court.

Joe's bill hasn't passed yet. I ask everyone to ask their legislators to oppose it. And oppose Joe on June 5.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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