By Gordon Clanton
North coastal columnist
The June 8 primary is upon us.
Judicial elections usually are calm affairs, and incumbents almost always are re-elected. This year four sitting judges are being challenged by a slate of candidates backed by a group called Better Courts Now, founded by now-deceased Pastor Don Hamer of Zion Christian Fellowship Church in Spring Valley. The challengers, supported by groups that oppose abortion and gay marriage, say their aim is to unify what they call the "moral vote."
Although local media have done a good job reporting this story, judicial races are off the radar of most voters. Turnout will be light. The religious right will mobilize voters from scores of conservative pulpits across the county. It was this sort of stealth campaign that, years ago, took the very able Marty Block (now a state assemblyman) from the county school board.
Incumbent judges deserving re-election are Lantz Lewis, Robert Longstreth, De Ann Salcido and Joel Wohlfeil.
Just as Prop. 16 was written and bankrolled by Pacific Gas & Electric for its own benefit, Prop. 17 was written and bankrolled by Mercury Insurance for its own benefit.
Both corporations are engaged in cynical manipulations of the initiative process that was intended to give voice to the powerless. For about a million dollars, you can get enough signatures to put virtually anything on the ballot. And for a few million more, pocket change for the largest corporations, you can create a campaign of deceptive advertising to persuade voters to support it. Vote no on both measures.
Prop. 14 is a bad idea too. Abolishing partisan primaries will not moderate or otherwise improve the state legislature. Further diluting the influence of political parties serves corporate special interests. California teachers, nurses and firefighters oppose this measure, as do virtually all political parties, large and small.
Prop. D. City of San Diego voters (Del Mar Heights, Carmel Valley, and La Jolla) will be asked if they wish to continue the experiment with the so-called Strong Mayor form of government. I join the League of Women Voters in opposing this measure.
Prop J. I support this Del Mar measure to require renters of houses and duplexes to pay the same tax charged by hotels and rental condos. The proposed tax is consistent with a principle I learned long ago in Louisiana politics: "Don't tax you! Don't tax me! Tax that person behind the tree!"
Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.