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By Diana Diamond

2018 pre-election reflections

Uploaded: Nov 1, 2018

Election Day is (finally) almost here. It’s a very important one nationally, the outcome of which may foretell whether President Trump will be reelected in 2020. A large turnout is predicted. It’s the most critical midterm election we have had in years. But I want to reflect on the state and local elections.

California voters -- Stanford University just released a poll, administered by the survey research firm YouGov and designed in conjunction with Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, showing that gun safety is the top concern among California voters. (In Florida it’s surprisingly not a big issue, even though a Parkland high school and Jacksonville arena shootings were a big issue this year.) Registered voters were also asked in the poll what are the most important problems facing this state. Immigration, said 42 percent, health care and education, each at 36 percent. But when asked what they perceived as the most important issue, only one in four (23 percent) said it was immigration. The poll showed that 83 percent of the 2,178 polled said they planned to vote. That is an amazing, but questionably reasonable estimate for this year, since midterm turnouts are typically in the 25 to 40 percent range. And the one other interesting finding, I thought, was, according to Stanford, “When broken down by party and gender affiliation, only 11 percent of both Democratic men and women thought that the #MeToo movement treated men unfairly versus 76 percent of Republican men and 68 percent of Republican women.

Measure – More than $10 million! That’s what the supporters and opponents of Measure F (and an identical Measure U in Livermore) have spent so far on getting Palo Alto (67,000) and Livermore residents (around 90,000) to convince them that Measures F and U should win/or/lose. The measures were put on the ballots by the SEIU union and the United Healthcare Workers union. It calls for capping health care charges from hospitals and clinics -- and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and all local dentists and doctors to 15 percent over what the union thought should be charged. And the two cities would be required to oversee all these costs—every charge to every patient all year long – an overwhelming requirement for Palo Alto city staff with no health care pricing experience. As of Oct. 20, the union's campaign committee had spent $6 million in support of Measure F and Measure U (the Livermore measure). The hospitals, for their part, have spent $4.9 million as of Oct. 20 to combat the two measures.

Campaign mailings – Since August, for some stupid compulsive reason, I’ve kept all the campaign mailings sent to my home – and they are still arriving daily. Since I’ve expressed my views on some candidates, my name may have been crossed off some candidate mailing lists. But the tally is as follows: In the Palo Alto City Council race Alison Cormack, five mailings; Eric Filseth, four; Tom DuBois, one and Cory Wolbach, one. Midpeninsula Open Space – Greg Scharff, five; Karen Holman, one. Measure F – 19 mailers! 14 urging “No on F”, five a “yes.”

Campaign donations – The amount candidates have raised during their campaigns is uncomfortably escalating. In the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space district race, candidate Greg Scharff loaned more than $100,000 to his campaign and received several thousands from supporters. Holman received more than $7,000 from supporters – but these are not the final figures. This is a relatively inconspicuous board, compared to the city council, upon which they both served, but I guess if a person wants to stay in an elected office, then s/he has to look around to see which seats are vacant in 2018 and plan accordingly. And in the Palo Alto Council race, four out of five candidates have been given more than $50,000 each in donations, with incumbent Cory Wolbach getting the most money. Local newspapers did not endorse him. It will be interesting to see, again, if bigger donations can help a candidate win.

Do vote on Tuesday!