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Our take on the June 8 propositions

Your vote-by-mail ballots for the June 8 primary election have arrived with a string of annoying state propositions. This year’s batch includes issues on seismic retrofitting, electric utilities and that perennial favorite, open primaries. Following is our take on them.

Proposition 13: Provides that construction to seismically retrofit buildings will not trigger reassessment of property-tax value. Supporters say the measure does away with a disincentive for property owners to upgrade unreinforced masonry structures to improve earthquake safety. This proposition makes sense. Yes on 13.

Proposition 14: Changes the primary election process for congressional, statewide and legislative races. It allows voters to choose any candidate regardless of the candidate’s or voter’s political party preference. The option of a nondisclosure factor for party affiliation bothers us. No on 14.

Proposition 15: Repeals the state ban on public funding of political campaigns and creates a voluntary system for candidates for secretary of state to qualify for a public campaign grant. Supporters, including the League of Women Voters, say the measure gets candidates out of the fundraising game so they will focus on doing their jobs. Opponents say Proposition 15 raises taxes to provide money to politicians to fund their campaigns. The no argument is much stronger. No on 15.

Proposition 16: Requires two-thirds voter approval before local governments can establish their own electricity program using public funds or bonds. Leaving it alone means a simple majority of voters or governing body can approve the service. This is backed heavily by PG&E, which is always a red flag. If you trust them on Proposition 16, you probably trust the utility giant on SmartMeters. No on 16.

Proposition 17: Changes the current law to permit insurance companies to offer a discount to drivers who have continuously maintained their auto insurance coverage, even if they change insurance companies. So what’s the motivation behind this? Clue: Mercury Insurance is a big proponent and is spending money by the bucketful to ensure passage. Opponents ask: “When was the last time an insurance company spent millions to save you money?” How about never? No on 17.

Carr for DA, Smith for county sheriff

We believe that experience on the job counts more than promises. So we endorse both incumbents, Laurie Smith for sheriff and Dolores Carr for district attorney.

In Smith’s case, her opponent is a neophyte whose only real management experience in law enforcement was a short stint as police chief in a small Central Valley community where he was released after a few months on the job. But Smith deserves re-election because she has effectively managed the sheriff’s office – no small task, considering the cuts affecting the county budget.

Carr has proven that her years in the department as an assistant DA and also a lengthy term as a Superior Court judge have given her wisdom to carry on for another four years. She has made mistakes, but has owned up to them all and moved on – a mark of maturity.

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