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May 21, 2008 > Editorial - The politics of June

Editorial - The politics of June

There really is an election in June. In fact, there are many important contests and issues that await the will of voters on June 3. With massive media attention on the national presidential contest, California's election may be a bit of astonishing news to some. Many have probably assumed that since the primary political party election for national presidential candidates was moved to February, the local political landscape would be barren until November. Not so!

In fact, there are several significant issues that need public attention in a scant two weeks. The City of Hayward will have an opportunity to extend the status quo of its council or significantly alter its composition. The City of San Leandro, will examine its priorities and councilmembers as well. Unincorporated areas of Alameda County will decide whether to extend a Utility Users Tax (Measure F) and the city of Union City will vote on Measure K that not only extends, but expands a tax to enhance safety services. In addition to council races, Hayward residents will decide as they vote on Measure I whether they are ready to reverse the deterioration of local public education facilities.

The supervisor race for District 3 of Santa Clara County will hold special meaning for the area as Milpitas Mayor Jose "Joe" Esteves tries to make the leap from city to county politics. Less well-known races are decided within political parties - strictly partisan - and involve "central committees." These are often the people who make significant decisions about party rules and platforms. It is interesting to look at the list of who currently is on these committees and those aspiring to become part of this upper political echelon.

The issue of eminent domain has again come to the fore. Eminent domain is a provision of state law that allows governmental bodies to seize private property for a variety of reasons. At the heart of the argument which has expanded to include rent control is the role of government in our lives. Proposition 98 and 99 are each designed to define the extent and power of eminent domain. This is not a small issue and will have a fundamental impact on government development.

Now that I may have piqued your interest in this election, the question always seems to hover around competing claims and counterclaims of politicians, supporters and detractors. Many simply vote along party lines and assume that their welfare is jealously guarded by that entity. Unfortunately, that is a simplistic attitude that often proves the adage that the word "assume" is actually a code for a supposition that describes a condition composed of a three letter word followed by "u" and "me."

Following the arguments of those who know candidates and study the issues is often the only viable alternative for voters. Many choices revolve around unknown factors but at least a bit of time spent reading about the pros and cons of issues and listening to candidate statements is time well spent. A good place to start is at the website of the League of Women Voters: www.smartvoter.org. Here you can find candidate statements, ballot measure arguments and links to additional information. If you have the opportunity to directly quiz a political candidate, this is the time they will actually listen to you and respond. If you hear evasive rhetoric, keep asking the question. A well used political ploy is to answer any question with a prepared answer whether it relates to the question or not. The best response to this is repetition of the question until you are satisfied that it has been answered or must conclude that it will never be answered. Candidates and ballot measures are only as strong as the public allows. This June, it is your turn!

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