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valedictorian electorate

By enelson
Friday, November 10th, 2006 at 10:58 am in AC Transit, Funding.


Having been a cynic since I cast my first presidential ballot for John Anderson, I didn’t expect much from voters on Tuesday.

Luckily, the voters of California are a lot smarter than I was.

I’m not talking about the whole Democrat vs. Republican thing. There are thousands of blogs for that.

What surprised me was that voters didn’t simply go negative or positive, as they seemed to last year, when Schwarzenegger’s entire slate of initiatives and hitchhikers went down in flames. No, they seemed to be thinking about each candidate and each proposition on a ballot that was much longer than last year’s fiasco.

Despite the special election, despite the Democratic wave, they re-upped Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for four years and rejected Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante’s bid for insurance commissioner. Was this a wacky California reverse wave? Was it the Governator’s coattails? If so, how does one explain Republican Rep. Richard Pombo’s tearful night at the Waterloo restaurant in Stockton?

And as far as transportation infrastructure is concerned, voters said “yes” to the $20 billion Proposition 1B and all of its infrastructure bond siblings, while saying “no” to Prop 90, which I fully expected to pass because people wouldn’t see through the veneer of the measure’s protection against government seizing property to benefit private developers.

Sonoma and Marin county voters also rejected the sales tax that would have built the SMART train. After crawling up Highway 101 last weekend, I’ll just assume they knew what they were doing.

Apparently, voters were paying attention to the fact that unlike last year, the Republican governor and the Democratic legislative leadership were united behind the bond measures. And they must have noticed that nearly every official and interest group in the state was opposed to Prop 90 because they believed it would hamstring government’s ability to regulate land use, environmental degradation and perhaps even copyrights.

When it came to the bottom of the ballot, I refuse to be judgmental. I was very proud of the fact that I could get down to my local ballot measures and still have a vague idea of what I was voting for. But anyone who could get through the statewide ballot measures without simply guessing deserves a lot of credit.

By the time Fremont area voters got down to AC Transit board races, I can’t blame them for simply voting for the “transportation administrator” without knowing that Jeff Davis had pretty much given up running for that job. Or maybe they thought about it long enough to decide that being an incumbent wasn’t enough reason to return Joe Bischofberger to the job of helping run the Bay Area’s second-largest bus agency.

And just maybe, since the voters were so thoughtful this week, they deserve to have their votes counted with the kind of scrutiny that is being demanded in the Oakland-Alameda-San Leandro seat alongside Jeff Davis’

Alameda City Councilman Tony Daysog, 53 votes behind Elsa Ortiz, an attorney who works for State Senate leader Don Perata, has prematurely called for a recount. You can’t do that until the first count is finished and the results are certified, and that could take a few weeks.

It may seem silly for something so far down the ballot, but if voters were just as thoughtful about this race as they were about the others, they’ve earned a little extra care.

Harry Truman 1948 whistle stop campaign photo from

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4 Responses to “valedictorian electorate”

  1. Aaron Priven Says:

    Nancy Jewell Cross listed her occupation as “transit planner” and won in the same seat eight years ago.

  2. Leslie Stewart Says:

    And you would have thought that voters would have learned from the Nancy Jewell Cross experience, but apparently not! Bischofberger was accused of complacency when he lost to Cross eight years ago. Perhaps “voter fatigue” was actually to blame this time.

    PS — Nice to find another Anderson voter! But I have to admit it wasn’t my first election!

  3. Capricious Commuter Says:

    Leslie, I think that by the time voters get down to the bottom of the electoral barrel, ballot-wise, learning has very little to do with it. Aaron’s point about “transit planner,” which I had heard but hadn’t verified yet, gets right to my pet theory, i.e., many voters make snap judgements based on things like the stated occupation on the ballot, or on a more LCD level, on how they relate to the person’s name (ethnicity, national origin, gender). I’ve heard that, other factors being equal, women tend to do better than men on school board races. On a more relevant, albeit gut-level mode of decision-making, one may simply vote against the incumbent (unless the incumbent declines to list that on the ballot) simply because he or she remembers hearing something about fare increases and service cuts. I got to speed through my ballot for the first time this year because as a freelancer, I wrote about unsound levees that protect large swaths of the Central Valley, leaving large populations of new development in Sacramento particularly vulnerable. I also wrote about a big eminent domain issue, so Prop 90 immediately caught my eye. Then, as ANG’s, now BANG’s transportation writer, I wrote about infrastructure bonds. All that remained were local ballot measures and up-ticket races, so I was set. My concern is, what about people who aren’t paid to know this stuff?

  4. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    I think the vote in Fremont is not a reflection of the relative merits of Joe Bischofberger or Jeff Davis, or Nancy Jewell Cross, for that matter. For some time there have been people with influence expressing discontent with AC Transit service in that area, and votes against the incumbent are more a reflection of that than anything else.

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