The management and staff of Our Weekly are strong advocates of voting. In each election, whether local, statewide or national, it is vital that the voice of our community be heard at the polling place. The following list constitutes the best selection of candidates that will serve our city, county and state honorably and effectively.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in 1997 became the youngest member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Former California Speaker of the Assembly Willie Brown at the time included him as part of the “future generation of leaders” in that city.
While on the board, Newsom advocated the form of the city’s Municipal Railway and sponsored Proposition B to develop detailed customer service plans.
In 2004, Newsom was elected mayor of San Francisco and began to immediately focus on the city’s rising homeless population, the immediate rebuilding of San Francisco Hospital, and was a strong advocate for healthcare and the environment. As mayor, Newsom focused on development projects in Treasure Island and in Hunters Point, signed the 2007 Health Choices Plan, and included San Francisco in the Kyoto Protocol to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
Newsom was among the nation’s first mayors to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples Other notable accomplishments include Project Homeless Connect and the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team. Newsom has received the Leadership for Healthy Communities Award.
Newsom’s tenure as lieutenant governor has seen him advocate strongly for the environment, homeless persons, same-sex marriage, civil rights protections, and has been a leading opponent of the conservative policies of President Donald Trump.
Newsom has held institutions of higher learning accountable through keeping tuition manageable and transforming debate from “how much” to “free public education for all.” As lieutenant governor, Newsom also used his position on the California State University and University of California boards to recruit and retain leaders from diverse backgrounds. He forced the state’s public higher education system to prioritize admissions and supports for California high school graduates.
Through the Care Not Cash homeless housing support system, San Francisco pioneered more effective measures to address homelessness. Newsom has studied and worked to reduce homelessness, increase affordable housing options, and decrease gentrification. San Francisco’s public health, human services and healthcare systems built integrated models for “whole person,” cost-effective and accessible care.
During the Great Recession, Newsom brought San Francisco’s budget into balance without deep layoffs or service reductions.
Law enforcement accountability is real to Newsom. He knows what is like to balance safety and transparency. Newsom is not afraid to demand answers to hard questions and press for reforms when answers are demanded.
San Francisco is a diverse jurisdiction but has been criticized for its treatment of African Americans. Displacement, discrimination and disrespect are “triple threats” that endanger Black San Francisco. Newsom made it a priority to fight the marginalization of Black San Francisco by supporting, among many other competent leaders in key positions, the political ascendance of London Breed. Her service on the Fire Commission, Board of Supervisors, in the presidency of the Board of Supervisors, and as Acting Mayor all have been encouraged and aided by Newsom.
Gavin Newsom’s background and tact are vital qualities for a leader to possess and apply to the role of governor. California has a golden opportunity to shine with balanced, tenacious and focused leadership. It is a leadership that will bring all of the state’s residents opportunity for prosperity. It is a leadership that’s one-of-a-kind in the race for governor.
Among the individuals and organizations who have endorsed Newsom for governor are Sen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member George McKenna, Oakland City Council President Lynette Gipson-McElhaney, California Professional Firefighters, California School Employees Association, and California Teachers Association.
United States Senator
Diane Feinstein is California’s senior senator and for nearly three decades on Capitol Hill has built a reputation as an independent voice in working to find solutions to the problems facing the state and the nation.
One of Feinstein’s most notable accomplishments was leading a six-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. The effort culminated in the 2014 release of the report’s executive summary and passage of legislation banning the use or torture.
Feinstein was the first woman to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and, as chairperson, oversaw the passage of six consecutive intelligence authorization bills and the release of a key bipartisan report on the Benghazi attacks.
Feinstein is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she serves as ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. In that role during California’s drought, Feinstein secured billions of dollars for state communities including critical transportation, water supply and federal building projects.
As well, Feinstein serves on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee—which she chaired during the 110th Congress—and in that capacity was the first woman to chair the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and presided over the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is the first Latino to hold that office in California history.
Appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in January, Becerra brought decades of experience to defend the rights of nearly 40 million Californians. Becerra has consistently fought against the policies of President Donald Trump and has gone to court to defend the Affordable Care Act, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) act, and has been a vocal opponent of offshore drilling along the California coast.
Becerra has announced multi-million-dollar settlements on behalf of Californians harmed by bad over-the-counter medications, wire fraud scams, and compromised credit card information. He has secured tens of millions of dollars in debt relief for students who were taken advantage of by predatory for-profit colleges. As well, Becerra has prevented “Big Oil” giant Valero from taking over a petroleum distributor which could have resulted in even higher gas prices than we are witnessing presently.
In the House of Representatives, Becerra was chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was elected chairman of House Democrats. During his tenure on Capitol Hill, Becerra was the first Latino to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee and fought for a more fair tax code, was instrumental in securing better trade laws, and worked to help protect Social Security and Medicare.
Secretary of State
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is committed to to modernizing the office, increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights.
A native of Pacoima, Padilla was elected to the Los Angeles City Council at age 26 in representing the San Fernando Valley. He served three terms as Council President, becoming the youngest member and the first Latino to serve in that capacity. He served as Acting Mayor during the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and played a pivotal role in the selection of William Bratton as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Padilla is a past president of the California League of Cities. He helped negotiate the approval of the construction of LA Live and helped spearhead the modernization of LAX including the construction and naming of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Padilla served eight years in the California State Senate and authored a law—the first in the nation—to require California restaurants to post calorie information directly on menus. Padilla also authored the state’s first smoke-free housing law and has fought to increase enforcement and penalties for the illegal sale of tobacco to minors.
Elena Kounalakis is a former United States Ambassador to Hungary during the Obama Administration.
Kounalakis is perhaps best known as a leader in the California housing industry and has worked as a Democratic activist on a number of statewide progressive political campaigns. She has served on California’s First 5 Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.
The late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee appointed Kounalakis to the city’s Port Commission and she presently chairs the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment.
Kounalakis began her political career in 1992 as a member of the California Democratic Party in Sacramento and worked in the historic election that year which saw California send two women to the United States Senate.
Kounalakis is the author of the highly acclaimed 2015 book “Madam Ambassador: Three Years of Diplomacy, Dinner Parties and Democracy in Hungary,” and has worked closely with former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Kounalakis has earned a reputation as a tireless advocate for housing for middle-class families and is passionate about early childhood education.
Betty Yee will bring to the office of State Controller more than 30 years of experience in public service, state and local finance, and tax policy. As state treasurer, Yee has provided sound fiscal control over the receipt and distribution of California enormous yearly income (the world’s sixth largest economy) while monitoring the financial operations and condition of both state and local governments while providing the appropriate fiscal guidance.
Yee is a former member of the State Board of Equalization, representing almost 9 million Californians in the First Equalization District (Bay Area) and is a former Deputy Director for Budget with the California Department of Finance. In the latter position, Yee helped to craft the state budget, participated in negotiations with the State Legislature, and was a key player in the fiscal analysis of legislation on behalf of the Governor’s Office.
Fiona Ma serves on the California Board of Equalization (Bay Area and Central California) and is one of only two Certified Public Accountants to serve on that commission.
In the State Assembly, Ma authored a groundbreaking law to ban toxic chemicals (phthalates) in baby products statewide. This was the first law of its kind in the nation and would become a model for the first congressional amendment on the same subject, later authored by Sen., Diane Feinstein.
Ma is a former chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Domestic Violence, and has sponsored legislation to protect consumers, to help working families pay bills, to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B, and to increase access to quality healthcare and to provide equal rights to all Californians.
Ma is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors where she authored an ordinance to increase opportunities on behalf of women and minority business owners, and also passed legislation to tackle human trafficking.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Tony K. Thurmond has been a member of the State Assembly for the past 10 years and is considered a respected leader of nonprofits for youth.
Thurmond was a social worker for 20 years prior to his career in public office. In the Assembly, Thurmond has helped pass millions of dollars in legislation designed to encourage teenagers to stay in school and steer away from the criminal justice system.
Thurmond helped to secure funding to ensure that all California foster care youth have an opportunity to attend college, has worked to increase funding for early education programs and, this year, has fought to provide more money for preschool and after-school programs by urging a shift of millions of dollars from the criminal justice system into vital educational programs.
Thurmond is a former member of the West Contract County Unified School Board where he once launched a program to teach entrepreneurship and life skills to disadvantaged students.
Los Angeles County Sheriff
Jim McDonnell is completing his first term as Los Angeles County Sheriff.
McDonnell in 2014 took over a beleaguered department and since then has worked to help bridge a growing divide between rank-and-file members of the department and community stakeholders. McDonnell has continually stressed the importance of treating all members of the community with respect, being transparent and accountable, and creating a working environment that recognizes and rewards character, competence and compassion.
McDonnell served 29 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, rising from officer to second-in-command under former Chief William Bratton. With the LAPD, McDonnell received the Medal of Valor and helped lead the department’s implementation of significant reforms including a blueprint for improved community-based policing efforts that have since become a nation-wide model for law enforcement agencies.
In five years at Chief of the Long Beach Police Department, McDonnell implemented numerous improvements that resulted in safer communities, increased morale, and enhanced community relations.
McDonnell has been an advocate of “safe streets,” a philosophy that enables all neighborhoods within the county to not only succeed but thrive via prevention-oriented policing strategies while being proactively dedicated to addressing the root causes of crime.