California Voter Pamphlet Reveals Interesting, Quirky Candidates

California Voter Pamphlet Reveals Interesting, Quirky Candidates

People cast their vote for the U.S. midterm elections at the Los Angeles County Registrar in Norwalk, Calif., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

John Seiler

John Seiler

1/23/2024

Updated: 2/2/2024

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Commentary
After the “Official Voter Information Guide” started arriving in Californians’ mailboxes, I recently discussed the only measure on the ballot, Proposition 1, the $6.38 billion in bonds for mental-health programs. Today, I’ll be writing about some interesting candidates.
Unfortunately, the printed pamphlet does not include the statements for the presidential candidates, sloughing it off to the Secretary of State’s website. This is unfortunate, because the presidential contest is the only one not covered by the Top Two system, which sends only two candidates to the Nov. 5 ballot, regardless of party affiliation. For president, we still have real primary elections, in which the winner for each party will go on to the November election.
President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump almost certainly will win, respectively, the Democratic and Republican primaries. Yet in total, nine Republicans and eight Democrats are running. It’s worth checking some of the lesser-known candidates to see where each party is heading. They each provide wish lists for the future.
Also on this ballot are the Libertarian, Green, Peace and Freedom, and American Independent parties. This is one time where the awful Top Two system didn’t destroy democracy, leaving voters with real choices.

Democrats and Republicans

One of the Democrats is Armando Perez-Serrato, who writes, “What will you get if you vote for Mando? SENIORS will receive more money, a 50% raise in your monthly Social Security Checks, Increased Financial Assistance with Food/Housing Insecurity & Universal Healthcare for Seniors 60+. For the WORKING CLASS Mando will Lower Federal Income Tax taken from your Paycheck, Lower Federal Interest Rates to 0%, Lower the Prices of Gas, Groceries, & Housing by dramatically increasing supply.”
As a senior who works for a living, I’m all for more benefits and no taxes! Never mind the details of how to pay for everything.
For Republicans, David Stuckenberg writes, “As a seasoned business and military leader, I pledge to protect America from its enemies and restore honor to the Presidency. With over 21 years as one of America’s foremost military strategists, I have the expertise to ensure our safety. ... Our priorities lie in preserving America’s integrity. We will solve illegal immigration promptly by deploying federal troops to our borders within 72 hours. Additionally, we will implement 33% tax cuts for all incomes to revitalize our economy. Restoring our military’s strength will enable us to maintain an all-volunteer force and promote Peace Through Strength.”

Third-Party Candidates

I’ll mention two of the third-party candidates. Jill Stein is running again for the Greens, and writes, “Over 60% of us now say the two-party system has failed us and we need a party that serves the people. I’m running for President to offer that choice for the people: a pro-worker, anti-war, climate action campaign on the ballot nationwide.”
Charles Ballay is running as a Libertarian, and writes, “As a Libertarian, I stand for minimizing government interference, ensuring individual liberties, and fostering an environment where innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish.”
Don’t you wish we had such multiple choices and voices this November, not just for president, but for all positions?

US Senate Candidates

Back to the printed guide. It helpfully explains there actually will be two elections for the same U.S. Senate seat on the March 5 ballot: “The first contest is the regular election for the full 6-year term office beginning on January 3, 2025 (full term).
“The second contest is a special vacancy election, since the current officeholder is temporarily filling a vacancy, for the remainder of the term ending on January 3, 2025 (partial/unexpired term).” The winner in November of the special vacancy election will serve only for two months until the winner of the regular-election takes office in January 2025.
The double election also means the major candidates effectively will be able to double their donor limits from $6,600 to $13,200. Meaning voters will be inundated with even more ads than usual.
There are only seven candidates running for the vacancy term. The best known are Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee; and Republicans Eric Early, a businessman and lawyer, and former Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres baseball player Steve Garvey. No third-party candidates are running.
For the full term, those five are running in a field of 28, including Libertarian Gail Lightfoot, who has run in many campaigns; Forrest Jones as an Independent; and four identifying as No Qualified Party Preference. The statements also include websites and other contact information.

Short Statements

My favorite position statements are the short ones. I’ll follow the order in the guide, which is chosen by random to not favor any particular candidate.
  • Democrat Sepi Gilani: “Save a tree! Please check the campaign website.”
  • American Independent Forrest Jones: “Fiscal Responsibility. Personal Responsibility.”
  • Republican Sharleta Bassett: “I was elected Mayor of Biggs, California with a commanding 77% victory. I served in that community as a beacon of Faith and Family. I am a dedicated wife, mother and grandmother, as well as a business leader. As your Senator, l will epitomize integrity and will support grassroots transformation at the National level.”
  • No Qualified Party Preference Joe Sosinski: “Patent Attorney and Startup Advisor. Age 46. Native Californian. Independent, bipartisan negotiator. Commonsense solutions to the water crisis and clean, affordable electricity. Vote for real choice in November. Thank you!”
  • Republican Stefan Simchowitz: “I am Stefan Simchowitz, also known as ‘Simco’, and I am running for United States Senate to fix the massive structural problems that plague America in order to fix crime, homelessness, healthcare and education.”
  • Libertarian Gail Lightfoot: “Fight back, Elect Libertarians.”
  • Republican Sarah Sun Liew: “Vote Sarah www.sarahsenator.org.”
  • Republican Martin Veprauskas: “I am a California resident since 1985, US Navy Veteran, MS Cyber Security, and 4 years supporting Missile Defense Agency.”

Interesting Positions

I’ll also include the more interesting statements which, again, show the direction the parties are heading along down the trail. They also bring up some interesting issues the major candidates aren’t discussing.
Democrat John Rose: “Money is not speech and corporations are not people. As we approach America’s 250th Anniversary, politicians divide us and get millions in donations. It’s time to end the corrosive influence of money in politics and put power back into the hands of the people. ... A new amendment stating that Constitutional rights belong to natural persons, not corporations, will restore bipartisan campaign finance reform. Your vote for John Rose supports change. Join at Rose4Us.com/VoteForChange.”
That actually is an interesting proposition. It’s a response to the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which held the First Amendment protected the freedom of speech of corporations to influence campaigns.
Granting corporations personhood goes back to antiquity in India and the Roman Republic. Wikipedia explains, “In the Middle Ages, juridical persons were chartered either as corporations or as foundations in order to facilitate collective perpetual ownership of assets beyond the founders’ lifespans, and to avoid their fragmentation and disintegration resulting from personal property inheritance laws.” It would be nearly impossible to change that due to the economic disruption.
No Qualified Party Preference Mark Ruzon combines right-wing family values with left-wing socialist programs: “The American Solidarity Party nominated me to bring a message of hope in troubling times: everyone has intrinsic value regardless of age or stage of life. Life is beautiful; this is non-negotiable. Families are the fundamental unit of society; we strongly support parents, economically and socially, in nurturing their children. The State should serve families’ needs, not overrule their parenting decisions. Our healthcare system should cover everyone, and coverage shouldn’t disappear if a pandemic strikes. We all require decent housing if we are to flourish.”
No Qualified Party Preference Laura Garza: “Laura Garza, member of Socialist Workers Party for five decades, is a railroad worker, member of SMART/TD union. Was the SWP candidate for U.S. vice-president in 1996. She organized solidarity, walked picket lines for striking school, hotel, hospital, auto workers, screen writers, actors. Supports amnesty for undocumented workers to build unity among workers and boost union organizing. Defends Israel’s right to exist, condemns October 7 pogrom organized by Hamas and Iranian government. Condemns all manifestations of Jew-hatred. Defends constitutional freedoms increasingly under government attack. Campaigns on necessity of workers taking political power out of hands of capitalists as only solution to world capitalist economic, political, and moral crisis.”
Democrat David Peterson: “David Peterson is the only candidate who works to Advance Landmark Legislation #MedicareForAII #GND Easy for incumbents. Simply Ask colleagues to CoSponsor the Bill and PUBLISH their Response-letter. & Peterson teaches American-Citizens nationwide, to repeat the process with their local Representative. Peterson mentors, supports & promotes NEW Candidates for Congress with organizations @sunrisemvmt and Independent-Democrats.” GND stands for the Green New Deal.
Democrat Christina Pascucci: “As a native Californian and Emmy-award winning local journalist, I have championed the truth, exposed corruption, and held the powerful accountable. In my reporting, I have met small business owners who lost hope after losing their livelihood in the pandemic, spent time in the homeless encampments that plague our cities, and comforted countless crime victims. My investigative reporting revealed that LA offcials were squandering millions of gallons of water amid the state’s most severe drought, leading to changes in their policies. I have also gone undercover with the LAPD to combat human trafficking. I’m a tireless advocate for mental health awareness and unhoused families. I believe an improved youth foster system is key to fighting homelessness, as these neglected children make up half of the unhoused population.”
Republican James Bradley: “James Bradley is a devoted father, healthcare business leader, and proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard. He continues to serve our fellow Americans by being a founding member of the Allied Rescue Coalition supporting private rescue [efforts] for US Citizens trapped in hostile countries throughout the world. James Bradley has real life background in national security. He has the hands-on experience of stopping human [trafficking] and illicit drugs on the high seas and continues to serve as a Flotilla Commander with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. California Parents Union endorses James Bradley. They know and trust that he will continue to be a champion of choice for all parents and their children as California’s next US Senator. James believes that a great education starts with fostering innovation with the next generation. ... Voting for James Bradley will protect and help restore our inalienable rights as US Citizens.”

Conclusion: Last Chance to See Different Candidates

Third parties and quirky candidates are essential to American Democracy. The Republican Party started as a third party pushing the abolition of slavery. Ross Perot’s runs in 1992 and 1996 prefigured such themes as immigration and working-class decay that formed the foundation of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Unfortunately, this will be the last chance for voters to look at the interesting, third-party candidates for U.S. Senate, or for the House of Representatives and the state Senate and Assembly. The Top Two reform—or deform—cancels them from the November ballot.
Yet the interesting candidates’ ideas remain out there and can be championed in the future by voters and developed by the main candidates. So I hope voters check out the guide instead of just tossing it in the trash bin.
A previous version of this article misstated Republican James Bradley’s statement in the voter guide. The Epoch Times regrets the error.
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John Seiler

John Seiler

Author

John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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