Below you will find the 1 hour 20 minute video segment of yesterday’s Board of Sups meeting covering COVID-19. In the video you will hear verbal reports from Emergency Services Manager Don Ryan and Public Health Official Beta Matyas, followed by Supervisor Q&A. At the end you will hear the Supervisors’ unanimous vote on a motion to approve moving forward with opening of “green” (lower risk) businesses this week. They will consider moving forward with “yellow” (medium risk) businesses next week Tuesday, May 12.
I am unable to locate documentation at this time as to the specifics of “green” or “yellow” business definitions and the pertinent guidelines and regulations that will govern their openings. I have requested such documentation from Benicia’s Supervisor Monica Brown.
After months of campaigning, dramatic ups-and-down in the polls, and a barrage of TV ads blanketing our airwaves, California’s 2020 presidential primary is finally here.
All California counties are required by Monday to begin sending voters mail-in ballots, which means your ballot is headed to your mailbox just as Iowans gather to caucus in the first contest of the primary campaign. Most of the Golden State’s 20 million registered voters are expected to vote by mail, making California’s election day more like an election month that kicks off right now.
Unlike the past two presidential primaries, California will vote in March, just after the first four early states — giving the state with the biggest cache of delegates even more impact on the White House race. Here’s what you need to know to vote…
WHEN IS THE ELECTION, AND WHEN DO I NEED TO REGISTER?
California and a dozen other states hold their primaries on Super Tuesday, March 3. But millions of voters will cast their ballots before then, either by mail or through in-person early voting, which also starts Monday at county elections offices.
The deadline to register to vote in California is Feb. 18, although voters who miss that can still register and vote conditionally at any polling place in their home county during early voting or on election day, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Voters will choose legislative and congressional candidates in the state’s top-two primary, setting up showdowns in November for those races between the top two finishers, regardless of their parties. But the Democratic presidential primary will be by far the biggest spectacle on the ballot.
WHO GETS TO VOTE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY?
You don’t have to be a registered Democrat. No party preference voters — the fastest-growing segment of the electorate — can participate too. If you vote in person, just ask for a Democratic presidential ballot at your polling place.
Independents who vote by mail, however, were supposed to request a Democratic ballot in advance — if you forgot to do that, you can still ask for a ballot from your county by email or phone. You can also go to your polling place on election day, surrender your mail-in ballot, and get a new Democratic presidential ballot there.
“You’ll have somewhat over 5 million independent voters who, if they don’t fill that out, they’ll have a blank presidential ballot,” said Paul Mitchell, the vice president of the nonpartisan California voter data firm Political Data, Inc.
The GOP only allows registered Republicans to participate in their primary — but independents probably won’t be missing much, as none of Trump’s little known primary challengers have gotten much traction.
WHAT ELSE WILL BE NEW THIS TIME?
Several of the state’s counties, including Santa Clara, San Mateo, Napa, Los Angeles, and Orange, are using a new system that will mail a ballot to every voter, expand in person early voting, and let voters cast their ballot at any vote center in the county. San Mateo piloted the new procedures — called the Voter Choice Act — during the 2018 midterms.
Voters in those counties can mail in the ballot they received or go to any vote center — in Santa Clara County, for example, there will be 22 locations open starting 10 days before the election and 88 locations opening the weekend before election day. Other Bay Area counties will continue to only send mail-in ballots to voters who request them.
Because of the changes, there will likely be more votes cast by mail in California than ever before — Mitchell’s firm estimates that about 15 million of the state’s more than 20 million registered voters will be getting vote-by mail ballots sent to them next year. About 5 percent of voters in the state will cast their ballots by the time of New Hampshire’s Feb. 11 primary, 25 percent by Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucus, and more than 40 percent by South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary, according to his predictions.
WHY ARE WE VOTING SO EARLY THIS YEAR?
The state legislature and former Gov. Jerry Brown moved up the primary from June to March in 2017. The point was to win California more influence after several presidential primary elections in which the largest state was little more than an afterthought.
So far, however, Californians hoping that the presidential contenders would trade Iowa diners and New Hampshire pubs for Los Angeles taquerias and San Francisco wine bars can be sorely disappointed.
Yes, contenders who may have previously only come to California for fundraisers tacked a rally or public meet-and-greet onto their schedule. And several high profile Democratic conventions in the state last year turned into presidential candidate cattle-calls.
But the four early states have still eclipsed California in their influence on the race so far — even though we have more than double all their delegates combined.
WHO’S LEADING IN CALIFORNIA?
On average, the most recent California polls have put Sen. Bernie Sanders on top, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden. A second tier of candidates — former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and former San Francisco hedge fund chief Tom Steyer, have found themselves in the mid-to-high single digits.
The primary rules will make it hard for any single candidate to win a big majority of the state’s 495 delegates. Most delegates will be allocated based on how candidates do in each congressional district, and only contenders who get at least 15 percent of the vote in a district will win any delegates there.
But if only a couple candidates get over that 15 percent hurdle and there’s little geographic variation in the California results, the lower tier contenders could be all but shut out of delegates. Unless some candidates do better in certain regions of the state, “this system magnifies the advantage the leader in the statewide polls has,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll.
IS THERE A WILDCARD IN THE RACE?
The biggest one in the primary is Bloomberg, who’s dumping millions of dollars of his own fortune into television ads. The former mayor is taking the unusual strategy of skipping the first four early states and putting everything on California and other Super Tuesday states. That means that whether Californians embrace a billionaire businessman who was once a Republican will be key to his campaign.
No presidential candidate has made a blow-off-Iowa-and-New-Hampshire strategy work before. But there’s also never been a serious contender who’s been willing to spend at the scale Bloomberg seems prepared to — and his team has vowed to build the biggest California presidential primary operation in history.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO KNOW WHO WON?
Some political junkies still have PTSD from the nail-biting vote counts after the 2018 midterm elections. In a half-dozen closely watched congressional races, the tallying process stretched on for weeks, with several candidates seeing wide leads evaporate as more ballots were counted.
The bad news is that it could take just as long or longer to finish counting votes this time around, because of the growth in mail-in voting and new rules that make it easier to vote early and register on election day. State leaders say it’s a sign of how California is making it as easy as possible to vote.
But while the results may change a few points after election day, experts say it’s unlikely that there’ll be as wide a swing in the presidential primary as in the 2018 congressional photo finishes. “You’re not going to see big, almost double digit shifts from election night to the final results,” Mitchell predicted.
As I prepare to head to the polls on Tuesday, my decisions have finally been made. Not all were difficult to make: it’s of historic importance that we NOT elect Donald Trump. I will be voting for our first woman president, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
My vote for Kamala Harris for Senate is a no-brainer: as California Attorney General, Harris was our highest-ranking ally in the David and Goliath battle against oil trains here in Benicia! (With many thanks to Deputy AG Scott Lichtig.)
Mariko Yamada will need every one of our votes if she is to beat the money-machine of her opponent, Bill Dodd. Dodd only recently became a Democrat, has accepted huge donations, and benefited from independent expenditures by big corporate interests, including the oil and gas industries. I’ve known Mariko for years – she is to be trusted. I once told her I’d vote for her for President of the U.S.!
At the Solano County Supervisor level, it gets a bit hairy for me. I respect, know and like both Mike Ioakimedes and Monica Brown. I share progressive Democratic values with both of them. Earlier, I endorsed Mike when he weighed in against Valero’s crude by rail proposal. As an influential longtime Benicia leader, his added voice was highly significant at that time when we were facing into a final City Council vote on crude by rail. Monica strongly opposed Valero’s proposal, too, but when I’m forced to mark my ballot, I’ve decided I’ll vote for Mike Ioakimedes. Sorry, Monica.
My focus has been almost exclusively on local Benicia races. I am actively supporting Mayor Elizabeth Patterson’s re-election, and Planning Commissioner Steve Young for City Council. I like several of the other candidates for City Council, but I’m focusing entirely on electing Steve. Here are my previous posts on Elizabeth and Steve:
Unlike THE DONALD and many of his right-wing cohorts, you and I will accept the outcome of a fair and impartial election and join forces with our newly elected leaders, working for a better future. See you on the other side of election day!
[Editor: Benicians are expressing themselves in letters to the editor of our local print newspaper, the Benicia Herald. But the Herald doesn’t publish letters in its online editions – and many Benician’s don’t subscribe. We are posting certain letters here for wider distribution. – RS]
Monica Brown spent 39 years as a classroom teacher, 30 years here in Solano County. If elected, Monica Brown will not accept a salary but will instead donate the salary to support local public schools and families.
Monica Brown will also work to eliminate longevity pay for the Supervisors. The Supervisors do not need more money for their time in office. They are rewarded every time the voters re-elect them.
As a Benicia Planning Commissioner who voted against the Crude-By-Rail project, I was thrilled with Monica Brown for being the first candidate for Supervisor to oppose the project.
I am also impressed with Monica Brown for being the only candidate for Supervisor opposed to the proposed waterfront cement factory in Vallejo. Monica Brown is and always will be a strong advocate for a clean environment.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8 — or earlier by mail — please vote for Monica Brown for Supervisor.