Oak Leaf Endorsements

Call and Martinez for SRJC board of trustees

With Measure H funds to spend, a looming homelessness epidemic, and continuing student inequity, Santa Rosa Junior College needs strong leaders now more than ever. Nearly every administrative decision at SRJC is made by our board of trustees, and this year two spots on the board are up for election. The Oak Leaf believes incumbent Rick Call and newcomer Mariana Martinez are the best choices for the job.

Rick Call brings 24 years of experience to the board. He understands the role of a board member. Call brings a calming influence and a sense of reality towards what the board can and cannot do.

“An individual board member does not have the authority to do anything,” Call said. “The only authority a board member has is when we’re together as a board. That’s where I can offer knowledge and influence.”

Call served an unprecedented four years in a row as board president. He helped with the passage of Measure A in 2002, served on the board facilities committee during the planning of the Doyle Library and the expansion of the SRJC Petaluma campus, and led the board through the process of hiring Dr. Frank Chong as the college’s president.

“My vision for the board is to have clear, critical input to the administration and the planning process for the college,” Call said. “The board needs to work as a group and decide what direction we really need to go and prioritize. It’s very important that we do our homework, think things through and help drive the correct decisions.”

Mariana Martinez is a political outsider who would act as a voice for students on the board. As an instructor of ethnic studies at Sonoma State University, she sees the hardships students face today. Because she is a Latina, she brings diversity to an otherwise bland board.

“I feel a lot of responsibility to the young adults I still work with,” Martinez said. “How can I not lead by example if I have the opportunity to use what I know to really create a larger scale policy change?”

Martinez said this position isn’t a stepping-stone for her; this is where she wants to be.

“My goal is this because it’s important to me and it’s something that I know well,” Martinez said.

Her priorities for the college are improving transportation, creating affordable student housing and reducing food insecurity, noting all would greatly impact students and allow SRJC to increase its number of full-time equivalent students.

“Some of it’s not necessarily that I’m prioritizing it,” Martinez said. “But it will become a priority, a mandatory priority that the board has to look at because it impacts the folks that they’re serving.”

After conducting an in-depth interview one-on-one with each of the three candidates, looking at their experience, spending priorities and personal background, the Oak Leaf recommends Rick Call and Mariana Martinez for SRJC’s board of trustees.

Prop 51: Classroom modernization

Even though Proposition 51 is the first statewide education related bond since 2006, Californians should be jumping at the opportunity to vote no on this year’s ballot.

It is a $9 billion bond that will be divided among K-12 and community colleges for modernization and repair of campuses throughout the state.

The bond is divided up in four different ways: $3 billion to fund the building of new K-12 schools, $2 billion to fund community colleges, $3 billion to modernize existing campuses and $1 billion for technology and charter schools.

At first glance, this bond seems like a no brainer to pass, considering funding is going to local campuses like Santa Rosa Junior College.

Looking deeper, you can see why our governor Jerry Brown told the LA Times, “I am opposed to the developers’ $9 billion bond.”

This is a statewide bond, not a local one, meaning there will be no control over spending.

When taxpayers pass campaigns like the recent $400 million Measure H proposal, local residents control how and where the money goes, not the bureaucrats.

California is already severely in debt, and residents pay $2 billion in school bonds each year.

Look at the entire picture of how deep and dire the situation is in California before voting yes on this proposition.

Prop 55: Income tax

Proposition 55 is an extension of 2012’s, Prop 30, created after the 2008 great recession to help California’s budget. The only difference is Prop 55 doesn’t include Prop 30’s sales tax. This prop will increase income taxes for individuals with income over $250,000 per year. Proposition 55 was created because of

Proposition 30’s success generating $4 billion a year for the state.

Experts estimate Californians can expect $4 billion-$9 billion to be used directly for K-12 education, community colleges and healthcare programs.

Those against the tax say the people who benefit from it won’t feel attached to the resources because they didn’t help pay for them. The Oak Leaf believes this is not the case. With an additional debt-free $4 billion-$9 billion a year, Californians should be able to support higher teacher’s salaries and improve programs.

Investing in our youth’s education is an investment in the future. If the masses of California are educated in an effective way they will become stronger leaders in their communities and everyone benefits. Vote yes on Proposition 55.

Prop 64: Marijuana

California will become the new cannabis capital of the world if Proposition 64 is passed. Experts believe legalized cannabis will generate billions of dollars in revenue for the state. The state, counties and municipalities will tax growers for growing cannabis and users for buying cannabis. With all the taxes combined, cannabis users can expect a 30 percent markup on what they already pay. Which begs the question: What is wrong with the current system?

Why should Californians open the door to big business and government regulation so we can enjoy cannabis? Currently just about anyone in California can get a medical cannabis card for $150 a year. Medical cannabis patients have access to high quality cannabis at a reasonable price. The price is reasonable because growers are not competing with big businesses and paying taxes to the government.

Many small cannabis farmers risk losing their livelihood if Prop 64 is passed. Many of these farmers practice sustainable and organic farming techniques and will be squeezed out by taxes and big businesses. The proposition will create a new monopoly by allowing big investors to capture most of the market. Also, since cannabis still won’t be legal federally, big businesses would have to operate on an all-cash basis with banks, which promotes for criminal activity.

Many Californians are in favor of the legalization of cannabis, but this is not the bill to do it. The proposition allows big business to control the industry and lets the state government in on the money stream too much. Although progressing societies view breaking people’s stigmas towards cannabis would be a positive, it’s not worth the price. Vote no on 64.

Props 65, 67: Plastic bags

It’s time to ban plastic bags entirely to save our environment. Plastic is polluting our land, ocean and air every day, and the first step to end it is to vote yes on 67. By voting yes on 67 you are voting in favor of upholding Senate Bill 270 which the California state legislature enacted banning plastic bags. 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually. The average American family brings home 1,500 plastic bags every year from the store. According to California

Waste Management, only 1 percent of those bags are properly recycled while the rest become litter in our landfill. California taxpayers currently pay $25 million every year to dispose 14 billion plastic bags.

If Proposition 67 is not passed Proposition 65 mandates what stores will do with the money. Prop 65 will redirect money collected from the sale of carry-out bags by grocery stores to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board. Proposition 55 is funded by the plastic bag companies as a way to create an alternative Proposition to confuse voters. If both Proposition 65 and 67 are passed the Proposition with the most yes votes will decide where the money generated from the sales of bags goes. Under 67 the money will be used for educational campaigns, and the cost of providing bags and complying with the law. If Prop 65 is passed the money would be directed to the Wildlife Conservation Board.

Vote yes on 65 and yes on 67. By voting yes on 67 we can begin to eradicate plastic bags in California entirely. Yes on 65 will ensure that the money generated will go towards preserving our wildlife. Its time to start carrying your own bag to the store.

Prop 58: Bilingual education

The United States does not have an official language, even though English is primarily used in the country.

In 1998, Prop 227 trimmed access to bilingual programs in California. Proposition 58 reverses this earlier legislation, opposing the concept that immigrant students should be taught exclusively in English. Rather, it supports the idea of English language learners gradually transitioning from their native language to English.

English-only education doesn’t cater to the needs of the many different populations that exist within the U.S. borders. Proposition 227 negated the complexity of students’ needs and the nuances of language learning and kept students from their own language.

Proposition 58 acknowledges that language education takes time. For English language learners, being forced into English immersion classes and cultural assimilation takes away from the development of other important academic and social skills.

Proposition 58 also supports the development of proficiency in multiple languages, a valuable skill in our current globalized world.

Allowing English language learners to receive a portion of their education in their native language while they develop English proficiency benefits society as a whole. Vote yes on Proposition 58.

Prop 62: Death penalty

Advocates and opponents can agree the death penalty does not work in the state of California. Since 1978, California has executed only 13 inmates. Meanwhile 750 inmates wait on death row and the line keeps growing.

Families don’t get closure and they waste decades of their lives waiting for a solution.
It takes two trials to sentence someone to death, and death-penalty convictions always go through appeal. This process can take nearly 20 years.

Proposition 62 seeks to end the death-penalty in California guaranteeing inmates previously convicted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Inmates would be required to work, which is not always the case on death row, and the earnings used for reparations would raise from 50 to 60 percent. If abolished, the state will save $150 million every year since it limits appeals, shortens trials, and eliminates death row facilities. Vote yes on 62.

Measure K: Community separators

Measure K is the most important green measure in Sonoma County this year. Measure K looks to protect the county’s community separators for another 20 years. Community separators limit tract homes and shopping malls. They are the reason Northern California remains rural and has a sense of environmental awareness. Measure K protects 53,576 acres of open space and farmland by not allowing any development of the land in buffer zones between communities.

Without Measure K, these open spaces could be reduced in size and intensively developed, taking away from Sonoma County’s agrarian landscape.
Affordable housing is a major problem for many in Sonoma County. Developing housing in community separators could relieve some of the stress of the affordable housing crisis. However, the Oak Leaf believes there are other ways to provide affordable housing without compromising the natural beauty of Sonoma County. Community separators are the reason you are able to get a breath of fresh air and take a drive to see beautiful open Sonoma County land. Vote yes on Measure K to protect Sonoma County’s rural character.