By Tim Hunt
Voters cling to their checkbooksUploaded: Mar 5, 2020
Voters were holding their wallets tight when they went to the polls over the past month in the primary election. Early voters learned a hard lesson when the Democrat field dropped both Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar the day before the election, making votes already cast for them moot.
One of the big surprises statewide was the overwhelming rejection of the $15 billion school bonds that would have paid for rehabilitation of older schools as well as providing matching funds for new schools. It got whomped 56-44 percent in unofficial results after election day. There are still many ballots to be counted, but this is unlikely to change to the 50 percent-plus one majority necessary to pass the bond.
What’s unusual is that statewide voters typically have regarded bond measures almost as free money because there is no tax increase attached.
I am not sure how much the misleading anti-Proposition 13 ads had a role, but it was a total lie to say that passage of the bond could have tripled property taxes. It was a general obligation bond for the state budget with no effect on property taxes that are capped at 1 percent of assessed value (plus bonded indebtedness) and capped at 2 percent a year or less depending upon the cost-of-living index.
Locally, school bonds faired a bit better with the major exception of Pleasanton. Measure M, which would have renewed an expiring bond measure, failed to receive even a majority vote in the final election day account, losing 51.4 percent to 48.6.
In Dublin, a needed measure for the new high school fell just short of the 55 percent plurality required with unofficial, incomplete results showing 54 to 46 percent. The bond in Sunol was even closer and may change in the final count at 55.84 to 45.40 percent.
School bonds in Dublin traditionally have passed easily, often with 70 percent positive votes. Perhaps the major sell-off in the stock market last week shook people up, but, if the result stands, this creates another major hurdle for the school leadership seeking to finance school construction. The failure of the statewide measure, for the time being, eliminates state matching funds.
Sadly, Alameda County’s ½-cent increase in the sales tax to support childcare may have passed, although that’s subject to debate. The ballot said it took a simple majority, which is easily received at 61 percent yes, but there’s never been a county sales tax measure that only took a simple majority—it’s always been two-thirds. Expect litigation before this takes effect.
Holding wallets also applied in Contra Costa where a transportation measure to increase the sales tax by 1 cent failed 51-49, way short of the two-thirds necessary.
When it comes to Alameda County supervisorial races, long-time incumbents Nate Miley and Keith Carson cruised to easy victories while the four-way race to replace retiring six-term supervisor Scott Haggerty was tight and could change as mail-in and provisional ballots are counted. Dublin Mayor David Haubert led with 27 percent, about 200 votes ahead of Fremont Councilman Vinnie Bacon.
Running third was Dublin Councilwoman Melissa Hernandez, while Fremont state Sen. Bob Wieckowski was in fourth. The top two vote-getters will face-off in the Nov. 8 general election. Hernandez picked up most of the union endorsements as well as Supervisors Wilma Chan, Richard Vaile and Haggerty (who also backed Wieckowski) and other elected officials. Haubert was endorsed by the Tri-Valley majors.
You wonder how much those endorsements really mean to voters, although in South Carolina, Rep. James Clyburn certainly made a major difference for Joe Biden in the Democrat presidential primary.
One more note: The Livermore City Council received an overwhelming vote of confidence when the measure seeking to overturn its development agreement with a hotelier was rejected by a nearly 2-1 margin. There’s another measure on the November ballot that directly challenges the council’s plan—given this result it will take a huge shift in public opinion, perhaps aided by a stronger turnout with the presidential race, to overturn the plan.