2018 VOTER GUIDE – presented by Sacramento Sister Circle and BWOPA Sacramento

The Sacramento Sister Circle is a diverse organization of adult Black women that publishes a voting guide before each election. This year we have partnered with the Sacramento chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) to produce the voter guide. The recommendations listed below are intended for informational purposes and do not uniformly reflect the views of the leadership team or the general membership [Editor’s Note: Nor the views of the VOICES: River City editorial team or staff]. If you have questions or would like to add additional races to the guide, please email sacsistercircle@gmail.com.

Run Girl, Run! In reviewing this guide, you will notice that there are far too many seats in this region where candidates are running unopposed. Unless we are absolutely thrilled with the job they are doing, consider throwing your name in the hat next time. BWOPA will be hosting events and seminars to help prepare women to run for office. They say it takes a woman being asked seven times to run. Since we have over 6,500 women in our membership, consider us all to have asked. Now get to it!

Also, check out the State of Black Women in California.


United States Senator – 6-year term

Recommendation: Kevin De León
Kevin de León is challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, trying to grab the coveted seat she has held for 26 years. Feinstein has clout and is a moderate by nature and a centrist capable of collaboration with Republicans in Congress.

De León is much more liberal than Feinstein. He was born to a single mother from Guatemala who worked as a housekeeper. He got his start as a labor organizer. With a background of illegal immigration and poverty, De León passed the bill that allowed immigrants who are undocumented to obtain driver’s licenses and allowed low-income workers without employer retirement plans to join a state program. He is a strong supporter of gun control, including background checks for ammunition buyers, and has been a leader on climate-change legislation, pushing hard for less fossil fuel use and more alternative energy.  Last year, he helped negotiate a gas tax increase to raise $5.2 billion annually for road repairs. Most recently, he famously failed to create a state-run single-payer health insurance system in 2017. It carried an impossible $400-billion annual cost with no financing plan. He is trailing behind Senator Feinstein and hasn’t raised nearly as much money, but given the data from the State of Black Women in California, more than one-third of Black women live in poverty, which is the largest percent among all women. Senator De Leon’s focus on anti-poverty measures will greatly impact Black women. And given the composition of Congress, we should send California representatives that herald our inclusionary and progressive values.

United States Representative – 2-year term

District 3

Recommendation: John Garamendi
Elected to Congress in 2009, John has honed in on several priorities: Job creation, fixing a broken economy, access to affordable health care, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and cleaning up Wall Street. With 30 years of experience in California water issues, Garamendi has become the leading advocate for a comprehensive water plan for all California. He is a leader in the fight to stop the twin tunnels that would destroy the Delta. Instead of an expensive plumbing system that won’t create a drop of new water for the state, Garamendi has called for more cost-effective investments in water recycling, conservation and storage to help meet our water needs. Promoting policies that create jobs in Northern California, Garamendi has become the leading advocate for the Make It In America program to strengthen manufacturing. He is the author of four Make It In America bills that require that our tax money be spent on American-made equipment and jobs. As a member of the House Agricultural Committee, Garamendi helped shape a Farm Bill to benefit northern California farmers. He also worked  to make flood insurance more affordable. A strong advocate for veterans, Garamendi has supported every bill in the House designed to help veterans and their families, including tax credits for employers who hire veterans and VA funding.

His Democratic opponent Kevin Puett worked for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in health care facilities, and his campaign page brags about the 100-plus prison construction projects. While we appreciate the need to provide quality health care to persons who are incarcerated, given our stance on ending mass incarceration and exploring options for prison abolition altogether, his role in expanding projects in prisons operates counter to our goals.

District 6

Recommendation: Doris Matsui
Doris Matsui has been a U.S. representative for 13 years. She has worked to improve our levees, increase flood protection, and made it affordable for residents to have flood protection insurance. She has been a fierce champion for the region’s flood protection priorities, securing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, project authorizations, and changes to policies that will help protect Sacramento for years to come.

Doris was appointed to the important House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2008, and also serves on the technology, energy and environment subcommittees. There she helped craft the Affordable Care Act, and has worked to ensure that residents understand their rights and options for health care. She authored bipartisan legislation, the Excellence in Mental Health Act, to expand the mental health safety net, which provided $1 billion in mental health care across the nation.

She serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Seniors, co-chair of the Congressional High-Tech Caucus and vice-chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus. Through her committee work, and through legislation, Doris has been able to support local clean-tech businesses and health care organizations, helping create good jobs for Sacramentans. She is at the forefront of the fight in Congress to expand access to affordable high-speed Internet services, and is a leading advocate for preserving net neutrality, ensuring the internet stays open and free for all.

District 7

Recommendation: Ami Bera
Recommended with Considerations: Ami Bera represents a more politically divided district than Doris Matsui. As such, he has come under fire for not uniformly voting with the Democratic bloc on issues. His record is strong on health care (he is a physician), and he has defended Medicare and voted to expand health care access and veterans’ health care. His record is mixed with respect to progressive issues, such as supporting Syrian refugees. However, when considering his record against the composition of the House in general, this becomes an important seat to retain. The goal is to have a large enough referendum that Representative Bera will not feel compelled to pander to outside interests to secure his re-election. In essence, our engagement can’t end on Election Day. We have to stay focused on this district in order to ensure progressive interests are upheld. For detailed information, click here.

District 9

Recommendation:  Jerry McNerney
Jerry was first elected to Congress 11 years ago at the behest of his son. He has voted against pay raises for members of Congress and he wrote the bill to close tax loopholes used by corporations to ship American jobs overseas. Jerry is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he is working to combat climate change and ensure a clean energy future for our country. As the only renewable energy expert in Congress, he brings experience and expertise to Washington. Jerry has a PhD in mathematics and spent over two decades developing renewable energy technologies. He is the author of three major bills passed by the House of Representatives that will help train the next generation for green jobs, increase the efficiency of our electrical grid, and invest in infrastructure for electric vehicles. He is also the co-author of a bill to help spur local manufacturing of these cars.

Jerry is committed to serving the area he represents and is home every weekend to hear directly from people about their thoughts and ideas. His priorities are to create jobs, improve benefits for veterans and current service members, and help balance our budget while preserving Social Security and Medicare.


Governor – 4-year term

Recommendation: Delaine Eastin
Eastin and Newsom are the most progressive and outspoken on issues that matter to us most. Delaine would be most likely to buck conventional trends since she isn’t as beholden to the same ol’ folks such as labor, teachers or police. Her vision for justice is quite in line with what we want to see in criminal justice reform: Highlighting the school-to-prison pipeline and understanding the issues as former State Superintendent of Public Instruction. She notes California’s “need to improve police training, including implicit bias training, end cash bail, stop prosecuting teenagers as adults, and end mandatory enhancements and minimums that provide no discretion to judges.” As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), she dedicates her time advocating for foster youth and ensuring their interests are met. Admittedly, she’s the long shot candidate. Read the summary interview with her here.

A note on the leader of the pack:
Gavin Newsom is the clear front-runner and his policy platform is a good one. His website is extensive on the discussion of child poverty, and begins by discussing how African American and Latino children are finding themselves in poverty more so than other race/ethnicities. Endorsed by bigwigs such as U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, SEIU, CTA, the California Labor Federation, California Nurses Association and the California Firefighters Association, Newsom’s current platform includes “government-run, universal health care, full-service community schools open every day and a state bank to finance infrastructure, small businesses and the marijuana industry he helped legitimize.” He signed on to the 2016 legislation that would have overhauled the money bail system.

Lieutenant Governor – 4-year term

Recommendation: Eleni Kounalakis
This seat is very much in the shadow of the Governor, as we saw with our current Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. The Lt. Governor does not do much without the sanction of the Governor, and there is no official policy platform or mandate like there is for Secretary of State or Attorney General. That being said, we recommend Eleni as a progressive businesswoman who served faithfully under the Obama Administration as Ambassador to Hungary, as one who understands the need for investment in early childhood education as a First 5 Commissioner, and who knows the importance of women’s rights and leadership. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a Sacramento native and will be the first elected woman Lt. Governor. She’s endorsed by many progressive and non-establishment organizations, as opposed to the frontrunner, Senator Ed Hernandez. Eleni comes from a wealthy family with an extensive real estate background which means she understands housing. However, she could also be reluctant to address housing reform issues such as rent cap since she comes at this issue from the business side.

Secretary of State – 4-year term

Recommendation: Alex Padilla
Alex is the current SOS, and he has worked diligently to increase voter registration rates, expand access to the ballot box and make voting more convenient. He sponsored legislation to move the California primary earlier in the year so state residents could wield more power in determining nominees for U.S. President. He is implementing automatic voter registration, same-day registration programs and pre-registration for eligible 16- and 17-year-olds. Among the efforts he’s overseeing is the new same-day registration and extended voting that is being piloted in Sacramento this year. Expanded access helps lower income and young first-time voters get to the polls. While Black women have the highest turnout of any demographic group, efforts to expand access benefit others in our community and ensure that our democracy has the greatest level of participation.

California State Controller – 4-year term

Recommendation: Betty Yee
The role of the Controller is to distribute state funds and ensure accountability of our state’s financial resources. This is the state’s accountant and bookkeeper. Betty Yee has the financial and public service experience to continue to do well as Controller, having served as Chief Deputy Director for California’s budget and as a member of the Board of Equalization. She’s committed to looking at California’s tax structure to see how our state pension can be more sustainable (the biggest threat to the budget) and how we can create a tax system overall where income is more predictable and, thus, budgeting more accurate. Aside from her qualifications, Betty brings a lens of social justice to this office. She was quick to speak out against Donald Trump’s tax plan as “exacerbating pervasive inequality.”  

California State Treasurer – 4-year term

Recommendation: Vivek Viswanathian
This was a difficult decision because Vivek and Fiona are both qualified candidates with good ideas. We chose Vivek for several reasons. He is rejecting all corporate, PAC and special interest money. He has the requisite experience, having served as special advisor to Governor Brown. His platform is specific and achievable. He has developed 10 progressive ideas for California which encompass many of our values. We encourage you to review them here. Many of them would have a direct impact on the socioeconomic status of Black women.

Fiona Ma is another good candidate. She has balanced budgets at the local and state levels, and is a CPA with experience in tax law. Her goals are to create a robust first-time homebuyer program to make housing more accessible to Californians and work to alleviate high student loan debt. She is interested in overseeing investments in affordable housing, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, environmental protection and transportation. Her platform is slightly less specific, but her aims line up with our values as well, and many trusted community members, organizations and elected officials have endorsed her.

California Attorney General – 4-year term

Recommendation: Dave Jones
This is California’s chief law enforcement officer, making decisions on issues such as the environment, health care, social justice and immigration. Dave Jones has the experience to lead this complex state agency, as he has done at the Department of Insurance for the past eight years. He has taken a strong stance on issues relating to bail reform–even holding a public hearing to examine California’s bail system. He also challenged bail agents (and won) over their unscrupulous practices of recommending defense attorneys to their clients. He also was not afraid to call out insurers on the California Health Exchange for high rates and questionable practices.

California Insurance Commissioner – 4-year term

Recommendation: Asif Mahmood
Asif has committed to not accepting campaign contributions from insurance or pharmaceutical companies. He said, “Those businesses are not my constituents—you are.” He has several goals: 1) Increase mental health care practitioners by 2025, 2) Health care for all (Medicare), 3) Integrate insurance and innovation by keeping pace with changing industries, 4) Prepare for disaster by preventing further contributions to climate change and ensuring that flood and wildfire insurance is accessible and affordable, and 5) Root out and prosecute insurance fraud to keep costs low. The issues he champions disproportionately impact Black women and his equity frame appropriately sets the context of addressing these needs.

Senator Ricardo Lara was a late entry into this race, hence his absence from the Official Voter Information Guide. However, he is a very progressive and well respected member of the CA Senate. He is a champion for universal health care, educational equity, civil rights and immigrant’s rights, and has written pioneering legislation and worked on national programs that improve the quality of life for all Californians.

Board of Equalization #1 – 4-year term

Position overview: The Board of Equalization is a public agency charged with tax administration and fee collection. The authorities of the Board fall into four broad areas: Sales and use taxes, property taxes, special taxes, and acting as an appellate body for franchise and income tax appeals (which are collected by the Franchise Tax Board). The board is made up of four directly elected members and the state controller.

Recommendation: None
Both the Republican candidates are fiscal conservatives who strongly support Prop 13, do not want to see property taxes increase, and are hoping for the repeal of the recent gas tax. The Democratic candidate, Tom Hallinan, represents the valley. His official candidate statement gives us cause for concern. He calls the current BOE a “hot mess,” says he’s “a valley man” and uses phrases like “slick” and “smarty pants.” It is unclear whether this is folksy charm, a lack of professionalism, or an indication of being unprepared. However, his platform is unclear/undefined. Voting for Tom is probably the best option, though…

Superintendent of Public Instruction – 4-year term

Recommendation: Tony Thurmond
His platform and plan for making California’s public schools #1 in the country includes:

  • Keeping our students safe from gun violence in schools
  • Prioritizing funding to provide schools and educators with the resources they need
  • Leading the fight against Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos’s efforts to privatize our public education system
  • Transparency in public education funding
  • Ensuring accountability for charter schools
  • Creating a 21st Century curriculum focused on STEM education that will prepare our students for jobs of the future
  • Supporting English learners and bilingual education
  • Renewing our commitment to special education for students of all abilities
  • Creating inclusive schools that protect LGBTQ students from bullying
  • Empowering teachers to instill critical thinking and creativity in students, not just teach to the test
  • Addressing the teacher shortage by removing barriers to entry and improving affordability to enter the profession
  • Prioritizing early education and after-school programs to close the achievement gap
  • Providing school-based physical and mental health care for all students, regardless of income or immigration status
  • Making college and career pathways accessible and affordable for every type of student
  • Keeping kids in school and out of the criminal justice system
  • Caring for kids before they even enter the public school system

California State Senator – 4-year term

District 4

Recommendation: Phillip Kim
Phillip is a community organizer for a progressive health care union, continuing the fight for health care and social justice. He has lived in Northern California for over 10 years. Before moving to California, he graduated from Cornell University in 2006 with a BA in government. He is running for State Senate because he feels we need a progressive voice for working people in the state legislature. Unfortunately, politics has been corrupted by corporate money. The middle class continues to disappear, the health care system is broken and too expensive, and the cost of rent is skyrocketing.

He vows to challenge insurance and pharmaceutical companies by pushing for a more efficient Medicare-for-all system that will guarantee health care for all Californians. He supports a repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act to allow cities to have more effective rent control laws, and he wants to protect net neutrality and create public high speed internet. He also supports full funding for schools–including music, art and other extracurriculars–and free public college tuition, and suggests using public banking to develop better infrastructure and affordable housing. He supports efforts to end mass incarceration and “fix our racist criminal justice system.” He also supports banning fracking and rapidly shift to clean energy.

District 6

Recommendation: Richard Pan (BWOPA Endorsement)
There is a strong connection between Richard’s experience as a physician and his advocacy for inclusion for those who are marginalized. He is aware of and has worked toward eliminating health disparities within the African American community. As a pediatrician, his top issue is to continue to fight for children’s health. He chaired the Children’s Health Initiative.

In addition to his leadership on important medical and public health issues such as vaccines and newborn care, he has championed public health issues such as gun violence, access to CalWORKS and flood control.

District 8

Recommendation: Tom Pratt
Tom’s platform priorities fall into four categories: Economic security, a healthy living environment, a community that is safe, and equity in education. He focuses on well-paying jobs, clean and reliable water, stable agriculture, affordable health care, affordable housing, and addressing sexual harassment. .  

Member of the California State Assembly – 2-year term

District 6

Recommendation: Jackie Smith
Jackie Smith advocates for sustainable, affordable housing and smart growth. The reality for many is that the median income in the county is not enough to afford a home, and rents are increasingly unaffordable. The average sale price of a home in recent months is $426,000 and the average rent for apartments is $1,242 per month.

The Republican incumbent voted against three key bills enacted this year: SB 2, 3 and 35. These bills generate needed revenues and remove impediments to development, critical to tackling the housing crisis.

  • SB 2 is expected to raise about $250 million a year to finance the construction of affordable housing.
  • SB 3 places a bond measure on the November 2018 statewide ballot and requires $3 billion set aside to finance low-income development, and an additional $1 billion for veterans home loans.
  • SB 35 limits impediments on land already zoned for a developer’s proposed housing.

Jackie wants to protect and expand access to affordable health care. The incumbent has publicly opposed the state’s Medicaid expansion, saying it is too costly, yet provides no alternatives to the thousands of residents in the district who stand to lose their health care. Jackie believes that every child deserves a quality education, regardless of background, race, ethnicity, immigration status or zip code. She also vows to vote for legislation that boosts college completion and ensures that every student has access to an affordable and high-quality post-secondary education. She commits to vote in favor of scientifically based proposals on how to most effectively save and distribute water. Her opponent voted against every protection bill, including SB 5 (Now Prop 68) and AB 617, establishing air quality regulations.

District 7

Recommendation: Kevin McCarty
Kevin serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, which oversees the largest component of California’s multi-billion dollar budget. As Chair, McCarty made historic investments in public education, early childhood education and career technical education, and increased the number of students enrolled in California’s Community College, CSU and UC systems. He is also a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

Other legislative priorities for Assemblymember McCarty include: Expanding health care access, fighting climate change, championing criminal justice reform, curbing gun violence, tackling poverty and advocating for the middle class. He is a co-chair with Dr. Shirley Weber of AB 931 to address police excessive force. He is also one of the only Sacramento area elected officials who did not endorse current District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

McCarty previously served on the Sacramento City Council from 2004 to 2014. As a councilmember, he created innovative youth programs, wrote common-sense gun laws, tackled substandard rental housing and crafted clean air policies. He helped establish the City Whistleblower Hotline program and the Independent Auditor department.

District 8

Recommendation: Ken Cooley
Ken’s leadership and collaboration skills played an instrumental role in successful 2015 negotiations for regulation of medical marijuana. This resulted in passage of an historic package of three bills to regulate the medical marijuana industry which were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown last fall.

Ken has also been a leader on government oversight and accountability, spearheading the development of a bipartisan guide for use by committee chairs and vice-chairs when conducting legislative oversight. In doing so, committee members and staff will grow their institutional capacity to be effective as a co-equal branch of government alongside the Executive branch. This invaluable tool, distributed to all standing committee chairs and vice-chairs, aims to revitalize the legislative oversight function of policy committees and create greater governmental transparency of state agency operations. As Chair of the Select Committee on Foster Care, he has focused on increased visibility for the needs of children in the foster care system and those of their relative caregivers.

District 9

No Ballot Recommendation
Write-in Recommendation: Alana Matthews
Assemblymember Jim Cooper has been an active opponent of key issues of importance to Black people with regard to public safety. He opposed Prop 47, which has saved California hundreds of millions since implementation, released non-violent/non-sexual offenders from prison, reduced sentences to misdemeanors, and has been associated with a statewide decrease in crime. He is in favor of repealing props 47 and 57 and has received campaign contributions from Big Tobacco. He has also been accused of sexual misconduct and he consistently holds positions that defy his base in favor of his law enforcement background. Therefore, we cannot in good conscience make a recommendation that supports him despite the lack of a progressive alternative. We do, however want you to start affiliating the name Alana Matthews with Assembly District 9. Practice writing her in this time, so you’re ready for her in 2020. #RunGirlRun


Prop 68: Parks, Environment, and Water Bond

Voting Recommendation: YES
This proposition authorizes $4 billion for state and local parks, environmental protection and restoration projects, water infrastructure projects and flood protection projects. It requires that 15-20 percent of the funds are used in communities with median household income that are less than 60 percent of the statewide average (about $40,000 in 2016). This means parks in low-income areas–not just those with residents who are well off. Even better, the largest amount of bond revenue—$725 million—would go toward neighborhood parks in park-poor neighborhoods. We all deserve outdoor spaces for recreation and fitness regardless of our income, and the proponents of the proposition recognize that. Learn more here.

Prop 69: Transportation Taxes and Fees Lockbox and Appropriations Limit Exemption Amendment

Voting Recommendation: Yes
Senate Bill 1, The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (or the “Gas Tax,” as you may have heard it called), was a $5.2 billion per year increase on transportation-related taxes and fees. The purpose of the Act is to repair California’s failing roads. This proposition ensures that the funds from SB 1 will only be spent on transportation-related purposes as it was intended. Admittedly, this is already prohibited under California’s constitution. The other aspect of this proposition is that it says the revenues generated from SB 1 are exempt from the state’s spending limit, called the Gann Limit. The Gann Limit prohibits the state government and local governments from spending revenue in excess of per-person government spending in fiscal year 1978-1979, with an adjustment allowed for changes in the cost-of-living and population. Basically, if more money is generated from the fee increase, the state of California can use such funds, but those funds can only be used for transportation-related expenses. Sounds like a fair deal. California’s roads are in desperate need of repair, and for that reason we recommend voting “yes” on this proposition. Learn more here.

Prop 70: Vote Requirement to Use Cap-and-Trade Revenue Amendment

Voting Recommendation: No
The California Cap-and-Trade systems allows businesses to either reduce their air pollution or pay into a special fund if they cannot show reduction in pollution. This special fund then supports projects (creating more walkable, bikeable communities, making it cheaper to buy hybrid and electric cars, increasing public transit, and cleaning up trucks that pollute our air) that reduce our everyday carbon emissions and get us cleaner air to breathe. This proposition says that revenue from Cap-and-Trade program will be placed in a special reserve fund in 2024 and can only be spent if first approved by two-thirds of the Legislature. Currently, only a majority is needed. Waiting until 2024 AND requiring a two thirds votes–which is incredibly hard to get–means important climate change mitigation projects are in jeopardy of not being funded. To sweeten this bitter pill, the measure removes a tax exemption for manufacturers which could increase tax revenues anywhere from $0 to $260 million per year. This additional revenue, if even realized, will not be dedicated to reducing pollution in our state, so it’s not a fair compromise. The Sierra Club says this proposition could undo years of progress for cleaner air in California. Learn more here.

Prop 71: Effective Date of Ballot Measures

Voting Recommendation: Yes
This proposition is simply stating that propositions do not become law until five days after the Secretary of State has certified the results (approximately six weeks). Currently, a proposition can become law after the date of the election. However, this does not account for the vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots, which account for 53% of California voters and can take days to count after elections. By 2020, all Californians will be sent a VBM ballot. These ballots only have to be filled out by election day and received three days after, adding more lag time, which can lead them to possibly alter the results of close elections–creating inaccurate results. Proposition 71 is a preventative measure, safeguarding against possible confusion that can arise from a proposition going into effect only to be overturned later, should VBM counts yield a different result. It was passed unanimously by the California State Legislature (something that rarely happens!) and has no opposition from editorial boards.

Prop 72: Rainwater Capture Systems Excluded from Property Tax Assessments

Voting Recommendation: YES
Drought is constantly looming in California and we should encourage residents to embark upon measures that will facilitate conservation and ease our perpetual water woes. Proposition 72 helps in this regard by excluding rainwater capture systems added to a property from being classified as “new construction” on said property. Exclusion means a property owner is not subjected to having his/her property reassessed due to the new construction and possibly subjecting him/her to paying higher property taxes. This bill avoids creating a financial disincentive for engaging in conservation efforts.


Sacramento County Board of Education – 4-year term

Area 1

Bina Lefkovitz (BWOPA Endorsement)
Incumbent Bina Lefkovitz is unopposed in the race for the Area 1 seat on the Sacramento County Board of Education. Bina is extremely knowledgeable in the areas needing focus in the educational field. She has experience as a youth advocate for over 25 years. She supports:
1. A parent-teacher home visit program
2. Positive relationship building
3. Professional development training on implicit bias as well as cultural sensitivity
4. Making sure there are resources in the communities that need them.
5. Make sure relevant issues within communities are addressed by acknowledging the problems.

Area 2

Recommendation: Ray Green (BWOPA Endorsement)
Ray takes the issues that pertain to the well-being of African American children seriously. He can quote the statistics, but understands from a personal point of view the needs of our community. He was put into foster care because his biological parents were addicted to drugs and was was fortunate enough to find placement in a home where he was nurtured, taken to endless community meetings by activist parents, and given the support to succeed. Ray talks about the need to ensure our children are ready for college instead of simply graduating. He serves as Program Director for the Roberts Family Development Center, where he leads the Black Child Legacy campaign, is a central committee member for the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, where he helps mentor African-American and Latino children, and was appointed to the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) advisory board for Sacramento City Unified School District. Ray understands the need for intervention supports and for looking at the whole family not just the child. He sees the importance of trauma informed practices, along with universal health care delivered through the schools in wrap-around services, and he wants to use the Local Control Accountability Program to ensure funds are available for the various strategies to close the achievement gap.

Controversy clarification: There have been concerns about what some believed to be his endorsement of the unscientific and harmful practice of “gay conversion therapy.” Unfortunately, this is a regrettable miscommunication. Ray Green publicly opposed a measure which would, among other things, limit funding for faith-based initiatives. His opposition to the measure was strictly on those grounds, despite other provisions in the bill.

Area 3

Recommendation: Rick Launey
Rick is a former San Juan Unified School District board member who is well regarded in the community. During his tenure on the board, he spent four years as president, during which he was able to help maintain solvency despite the recession. He is currently on the board of the San Juan Education Foundation, a community foundation that focuses on science, technology, arts, and reading. He is co-producer on the KVIE program Inside California Education, which takes an in-depth look at California’s education system from the perspective of students, parents, administrators and other key stakeholders. Rick understands the complexities in our educational system and is prepared to tackle those challenges so our kids can succeed.

Twin Rivers Unified School District Board Member – 4-year term

Area 2

Michelle Rivas is running unopposed

Area 4

Bob Bastian is running unopposed  

Area 6

Recommendation: Rebecca Sandoval  (BWOPA Endorsement)
Rebecca Sandoval is a proven local leader with a burning desire to empower her community by showing those who have been misled into thinking that they have no voice just how influential their words can be. With a focus on equity and access, Rebecca has a record of helping increase graduation rates, improving school facilities and building a bridge between students of different cultural backgrounds by supporting ethnic studies curriculum. A fighter at her core, Rebecca is the kind of school board member who will go to battle for our kids as if they were her own.

County Board of Supervisors – 4-year term

District 1

Phil Serna is running unopposed

District 2

Recommendation: Patrick Kennedy
Elected in 2014, Supervisor Kennedy has focused on transportation and addressing issues around homelessness in Sacramento. He recently highlighted the issue of patient dumping–a practice in which hospitals release a homeless patient into the street or at shelters without advance planning for their continued recovery–and has suggested an ordinance to make it a crime. Supervisor Kennedy often works with Supervisor Serna and Mayor Steinberg on addressing Sacramento’s biggest problems. He helped craft the $44 million agreement between the city and the county (the Whole Person Care project) aimed at getting housing and services to those experiencing homelessness.

However, Patrick Kennedy endorsed the current Sacramento County D.A., a position that we find regrettable. He also has strong ties to building trades and his role championing the school closures was problematic and traumatic for many students–especially students of color.

District 5

Don Nottoli is running unopposed

Sacramento County Assessor – 4-year term

About the role: The assessor will conduct property assessments for Sacramento County. Property assessments must be fair and ethical, and conform to California tax law. Property assessments give the city and county the funds for their budgets. Property taxes comprise 65% of the budget for the City of Sacramento.  

Recommendation: Kate Van Buren
Kate is the candidate who best matches our values. She supports charities and non-profits serving those with mental health and substance abuse issues, the development of affordable and multi-family housing units that use renewable energy, and home ownership assistance for underserved community members. Kate is prepared to collaborate with county and city leaders to address the increasing homeless population, while preventing more families from becoming homeless in the first place.

Kate and her family live, work and go to school in Sacramento. Since moving to Sacramento, she has been engaged with organizations that advocated for the environment, voting rights, helping families get back on their feet, and neighborhood concerns in Sacramento. She was appointed to the Local Control Accountability Plan for the Sacramento Unified School District for two terms and pushed for art and music classes for every public school student, no matter their socio-economic status. Kate supports sustainable development and better county-wide public transit to relieve traffic congestion. She supports Proposition 13 protections for residential property owners.


Sacramento County District Attorney – 4-year term

Recommendation: Noah Phillips (BWOPA Endorsement)
Noah Philips is a breath of fresh air in a toxic environment that is choking the life out of the Black community in Sacramento County. In the era of police brutality that goes unpunished, communities that are over-policed, over-prosecuted and under-resourced, and a criminal justice system that is resistant to reform, Noah Philips is a change agent that we desperately need. Phillips supports reshaping our law enforcement system through a social justice lens that focuses on reducing crime rates and gun violence by engaging community partners and programs to reduce the number of individuals who enter the criminal justice system. He supports Advance Peace, restorative justice and alternative courts. He has met with community members, asked to be held accountable and has unapologetically stated that Black Lives Matter. A believer in proactive law enforcement, Noah Phillips promises to hold police accountable and to push to change how officers are trained to ensure that they are truly protecting and serving our communities; not simply policing them.

Admittedly, some people just don’t like him. We’ve heard he’s arrogant and brash. Some feel he panders to the Black community. And, he is currently under investigation by the District Attorney’s office–where he and his opponent work–for allegedly mishandling a case. The Sacramento Bee published a poorly written story on it on May 11, which we will not link to here because it leaves the reader with more questions than answers, the primary question being: How do we know this case isn’t politically motivated? The answer is we don’t. What we do know is that Noah has met with community members, has progressive talking points that match our values, and has asked to be held accountable. What we also know is that his opponent is doing and has done none of these things. We think he is clearly the better choice.

Sacramento County Sheriff – 4-year term

Recommendation: Milo Fitch (BWOPA Endorsement)
Milo exhibits a general understanding of sheriff community issues as they apply to African Americans. In particular, Milo speaks about stopping or interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, focusing on recruiting future deputies who represent the diversity of the county, he supports implicit bias training within the sheriff’s department to ensure that Black communities receive equal treatment, and is supportive of bail reform and other outdated, harmful and discriminatory policies. The sheriff’s department has paid out over $10 million in taxpayer money for sexual discrimination accusations and lawsuits, and Milo has committed to eradicating the current culture of harassment and discrimination.

Milo stands in stark contrast to his opponent, current Sheriff Scott Jones. The current sheriff is against Prop 47, Prop 57 and Prop 64. He has been recorded as saying that people with mental health issues can receive services in the jail. He does not support the sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants and met with President Trump recently to explain why he believes the California policies are failing. Black Lives Matter sent him a letter in August 2017 with demands to address deputy misconduct, and he responded with a personal letter to Tanya Faison stating that BLM was not a respectable Black organization. His policy is to not release footage or details from officer involved shootings and he has given out over 3,000 concealed weapons permits during his tenure (his predecessor only gave out 300).


City Council – 4-year term

District 1

Angelique Ashby (BWOPA endorsement)
Angelique Ashby is the lone woman on the Sacramento City Council, something she rightly complains about every time she speaks. She champions women’s issues, including pipelines to leadership and childcare. She did a diversity audit of the city committees and commissions to get a picture of the demographic representation. She is a budget hawk, looking for money in unexpected places and working tirelessly to bring resources to her district. She worked closely with local, state and federal partners to lift the building moratorium, enhance flood control infrastructure, improve emergency response times,  support schools and libraries, build several new parks and bring jobs to the district. Natomas boasts a high quality of life and is one of the safest communities in Sacramento. On the council, she led the effort to create comprehensive ethics reforms and led enhanced citywide public safety initiatives.

However, as of May 11, the only city council member who has rescinded his endorsement of the current Sacramento County D.A. is Allen Warren. In conversations with Angelique, she stated that the current D.A.’s record on sex trafficking, domestic violence, cracking down on illegal marijuana grows in Natomas, and support of literacy and pre-k programs to address intergenerational poverty is part of why she endorsed the current D.A., in addition to her being a pro-choice queer woman. When pressed, Angelique was unwilling to address how she reconciled her endorsement with the legitimate critiques of the current D.A. Angelique has also taken a hefty amount of donations from police groups, which we think may be influencing her decisions on issues like Advance Peace (which she reluctantly supported) and the D.A. If re-elected, we will have to work with Angelique after the election to ensure that she adequately represents our values.

Alternate Recommendation: Gabriell Garcia
Gabriell is an activist and the owner of the Blue Lamp Sacramento music venue. She has committed to addressing police brutality, homelessness, rent control (tenants’ bill of rights) and racial inequality. She is concerned about the use of the previously occupied arena in Natomas and wants to prioritize the needs of the community over those of developers. Her policy platform is undefined and her website is under-developed, but more community voices are needed on city council and we think bringing in a small business owner who is an activist and values people over politics could provide some balance to the growing “groupthink” on the council.

District 3

Jeff Harris is running unopposed

District 5

Recommendation: Tamika L’Ecluse (BWOPA Endorsement)
Tamika L’Ecluse recognizes the complex needs of a community that is being pushed aside by gentrification and left behind by a developing city. The plight of this invisible population, comprised of those whose basic needs cost more than their stagnant pay provides, need a leader like Tamika on the Sacramento City Council to shed a light on the systemic disinvestment, land use policies and barriers to public transportation that work in concert to exacerbate the housing crisis, sustain employment deserts, perpetuate poverty and disempower residents. Her top priorities are social equity, public safety and accountability, early childhood education and city infrastructure. Tamika has a record of activism, the trust of her community, and the local experience necessary to work for the people who are the most affected by, and the lease able to access, city government.

As a person new to elective office, we are hoping to help Tamika refine her platform to include home ownership and to establish relationships necessary to effectively represent district 5. Sister Circle and BWOPA are pursuing the goal of elevating Black women’s political leadership, and as a Black woman who is a member of both organizations, Tamika has our support.

District 7

Recommendation: Rick Jennings (BWOPA Endorsement)
Rick Jennings has a record of prioritizing Sacramento’s youth and promoting public safety through innovative programs that focus on disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and reducing gang violence.  After the tragedy of the Stephon Clark shooting, Rick has vowed to be intentional about working with local community leaders to advance an agenda that will uplift the Black community in Sacramento. An outspoken and unapologetic advocate for his city council district, Rick has the experience, energy and vision to fight for us all the way he fights for the residents he serves.

However, as of May 11 the only city council member who has rescinded his endorsement of the current Sacramento County D.A. is Allen Warren. We find this regrettable. Rick has been unable to give us a solid justification for his endorsement. Given his goals around public safety, gang violence and the school-to-prison pipeline, we feel that the D.A. endorsement is counterintuitive. Rick’s brand is “being nice” which, in the era of Trump, is refreshing. But the downside is that it can lead to socially motivated deviations from his stated policy platform.


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Sacramento Sister Circle
The Sacramento Sister Circle is a diverse organization of adult Black women that publishes a voting guide before each election. This year we have partnered with the Sacramento chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) to produce the voter guide.