Author Archives: kqednews

Comfortably Ahead in Polls, Feinstein Looking to Another Term

By Judy Campbell

Senator Dianne Feinstein has held her seat for 20 years, and this fall, she’s running for another six-year term. Feinstein’s got a huge lead in the polls, and she’s a Democrat in a largely Democratic state. But there is a Republican hopeful vying for her seat.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein official photo

It’s dusk in Anaheim, and Elizabeth Emken is at a gala charity event for injured veterans. She’s talking politics, but the conversation also turns to her autistic son Alex. It’s his condition that got her involved in politics.

Emken launched the lobbying arm of the national organization Autism Speaks and helped pass bills that improved insurance coverage for autism. As a candidate for Senate, she supports a small government and low taxes, Arctic drilling and repealing Obamacare.

She doesn’t apologize for her lack of experience in elected office. “We have got to get back to sending people to Washington who understand what families are going through. My husband and I have a mortgage. I’ve got three kids in school. We work for a living.” Continue reading

Political Switcher: Republican Since Childhood, Voting for Obama

Mark Patrosso re-registering. (Photo courtesy Mark Patrosso)

By Lisa Morehouse

We don’t need to tell you the American electorate is polarized these days. You just have to tune in to any call-in show or even make an injudicious casual remark at Thanksgiving dinner to realize how personal our political identities are and how emotional discussing the issues and values surrounding them can be. So we decided it would be interesting to ask one Republican and one Democrat why they did what is unthinkable to so many: switch parties. Two portraits of political discontent…

Republican to voting for Obama below, and Democrat to Republican here.

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The first thing you should know about Mark Patrosso is that he was very involved in the Republican Party for a very long time. At just 9-years-old, he watched the entire 1964 Republican Convention when Barry Goldwater was nominated — even though his parents weren’t interested in politics.

If anything, Patrosso should have been a Democratic kid. He spent his childhood in East Detroit, a working-class Democratic suburb of the Motor City. In junior high, he says other kids probably thought he was a little weird when he volunteered to fill a display case with information on presidential candidate Richard Nixon. “I remember going into the local Nixon headquarters, picking up buttons, reading profiles,” Patrosso recalls.

Patrosso was just crazy for politics. “I probably actually read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in junior high and high school, or referred back just to understand what they really meant,” he says. “I’m not sure that my peers even cared.”
Continue reading

Party Switcher: Raised a Democrat, Now a Republican

By Lisa Morehouse

(Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Virginia Wolters says she was baptized a Catholic and a Democrat. After 9-11, her quest to learn more about U.S. foreign policy led to more political inquiries and a discovery that she probably was a conservative all along. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

We don’t need to tell you the American electorate is polarized these days. You just have to tune in to any call-in show or even make an injudicious casual remark at Thanksgiving dinner to realize how personal our political identities are and how emotional discussing the issues and values surrounding them can be. So we decided it would be interesting to ask one Republican and one Democrat why they did what is unthinkable to so many: switch parties. Two portraits of political discontent…

Democrat to Republican below, and Republican to Obama voter here.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

For more than 30 years, Novato resident Virginia Wolters was perfectly happy being a Democrat. Wolters grew up in a family full of union members outside of Chicago. She says she was baptized a Catholic — and a Democrat.

Though she doesn’t recall anyone saying anything specifically derisive about Republicans, she certainly understood how those around her felt. “It looked like the Democrats were the nice people,” she says. “Mom and Dad were nice, our friends were nice. Over the years I got the impression that Republicans were rich and evil.”

For Wolters, that all changed on September 11, 2001.

Those were the Kennedy years. Although she was still a child, Wolters was captivated by Jackie and John’s good looks — and the optimism around his campaign. Even the theme song for JFK’s campaign was the tune “High Hopes.” But as an adult, her political feelings lay dormant for years before springing back to life in 1992, when Bill Clinton ran for president. “I really related to the whole Clinton mystique,” Wolters says. Continue reading

The 4 Propositions You’re Most Interested In…

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lisa Aliferis and Jon Brooks

It’s getting down to the wire — just seven days to make up your mind on a plethora of issues and races … and then ya gotta vote.

Lucky you: We’re here to help.

Our reports about Props. 30 and 38 (education and taxes); the nine-item Prop. 31 (governance) and Prop. 37 (labeling GMO foods) are attracting a lot of attention online. So either we’ve really figured out this SEO thing, or you’re genuinely interested in those initiatives in particular.

Thus, we’re compiling the best-of-the-best of our coverage on these props so that you don’t have to stand in the voting booth pondering whether numerological concerns aren’t going to be the one determining factor after all in how you vote on these things, complex as they are, yet sold, packaged and soundbited by opponents and proponents alike direct to your Id.

So read up!

-Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 both promise to fund schools, but in different ways.

-Proposition 31 will do nine (yes, 9) different things, attempting to overhaul state governance. God knows California governance needs overhaul, but is Prop. 31 the right approach?

-Proposition 37 requires the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in foods.

If you need information on still more props, here’s a bonus:

-Proposition 32 (campaign spending)

 

You can always consult our Proposition Guide for concise information about all 11 props. on the California ballot.

California’s Mormons Not Necessarily United for Romney

By Stephanie Martin

(Pferriola: Flickr)

The temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Oakland. (Pferriola: Flickr)

Since first arriving in California in the mid-1800’s, members of the Mormon faith have played an active role in the state’s civic and cultural life.

They’ve colonized settlements, built businesses, served in the legislature, and — as recently as four years ago — Mormon congregations helped get out the vote for Proposition 8, the statewide ban on same sex marriage.

The Mormon church officially holds a neutral position about Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president. But during the campaign I’ve spoken with individual Mormons around the state about the intersection of faith and politics in this year’s presidential election.

Just like other religious groups in America, “(Mormons) are not a solid and completely monolithic voting block.”

In general the California Mormons I spoke with agreed that counting a U.S. president among their ranks would mark an important first for their faith. But when I asked how they felt about the man who could win that distinction — Republican nominee Mitt Romney — I heard a wide range of opinions.

I met Modesto resident Tresa Edmunds at a San Francisco gathering called “Circling the Wagons” — part of a series of supportive conferences for gay and lesbian Mormons, their family and friends. Edmunds was raised Mormon. Continue reading

Voice of a Young Voter: How Much is Too Much National Security?

An estimated 46 million eligible voters in this year’s election are between 18 and 29 years old – part of the Millennial generation. Will those young voters sway the election? What issues do young people feel are important? What role do they think government should play in their lives?

KQED and three other public media organizations on the West Coast are exploring those questions in a series called “Voices of Young Voters.” We fanned out to college campuses around the Bay Area to hear from those who are just coming of age politically.

Tatiana McBraun

Young voters have a unique perspective on national security. Those younger than 30 were children or teenagers on Sept. 11 and grew up hearing about terrorist threats. But Tatiana McBraun, a political science major at San Jose State, recently told KQED’s Lillian Mongeau she feels too much security can be a bad thing.

McBraun also discussed her religion, and noted that while she and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are both Mormon, it doesn’t mean he has her vote.

I think (the candidates) place too much importance on security. They’re always collecting information from us and I don’t know why. For example, going to the airport and not wanting to go through the screening process, and then oh, I’m a bad person because I don’t support security.

I just wish we had a little more freedom as citizens because I feel like slowly but surely our liberties are kind of being taken away from us.

I’m Mormon and a lot of people think that just because you’re Mormon, you’re going to vote for a Mormon president, but I don’t necessarily feel that he is the best of the two candidates.

When I think about Romney and I think about international relations, I couldn’t picture him going overseas and conducting business with them and them relating to him. So, I’m going to go for Barack Obama Because…I still believe that he can make changes slowly but surely.

Click play on the audio clip below to hear Tatiana McBraun.

Goodwill Disputes Minimum Wage Ballot Argument That It Will Cut Jobs

by Peter Jon Shuler

Goodwill of Silicon Valley is trying to disentangle itself from a political battle in San Jose.

The city’s Measure D would raise the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10. In their ballot argument, opponents say Goodwill expects to cut 100 job-training positions if the measure passes.

Mike Fox, Jr. of Goodwill says his board voted to remain neutral on the measure.

“It’s disappointing that we’ve been caught up into this controversy through no wish of our own,” Fox said. “We didn’t ask to be. We didn’t give permission to use our name. It just got pulled in. There’s nothing I can do about that other than just correct the record.”

Fox says Goodwill has no intention of cutting 100 jobs, no matter the outcome of the election. He says he has no idea where the opposition campaign came up with the figure.

Berkeley Election: Mayor’s Race, Sit/Lie Ban, and Vandalized Signs

by Cy Musiker

Man asleep in downtown Berkeley. (SF Homeless Project: Flickr)

Man asleep in downtown Berkeley. Measure S, which would restrict lying down in public, is a contentious topic in town. (SF Homeless Project: Flickr)

With the election less than two weeks away, we’re diving into local races. On Tuesday we highlighted San Francisco, and now we’re focusing on Berkeley, where the politics are always passionate.

Incumbent Mayor Tom Bates is running against five challengers. There’s also a no-sitting measure on the ballot and a plan to allow more commercial development in West Berkeley.

Frances Dinkelspiel is a co-founder of the website Berkeleyside, one of our KQED News associates. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview Thursday:

CY MUSIKER: Tom Bates is one of the most familiar faces in Bay Area politics. He’s been mayor since 2002, and before that he was in the state legislature. Tell us about his opposition.

BERKELEYSIDE’S FRANCES DINKELSPIEL: Bates is facing five challengers, only one of whom has any significant political experience.

His strongest challenger, probably, is Kriss Worthington, who’s sat on the city council for 16 years and is in many ways Bates’ nemesis. He’s much more progressive than Bates and often leads the pack that is in opposition to Bates’ slate on the council.

The second strongest contender is a woman named Jacquelyn McCormick. She doesn’t have a lot of experience, but she’s pounding Mayor Bates over the city’s fiscal situation.

Continue reading

Election Road Trip: Voters in the ‘Real’ Northern California

By Lisa Morehouse

Doug Jenner is a 4th generation alfalfa farmer and cattle rancher in Siskiyou County's Scott Valley. His biggest political concern is increased land and water regulation. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Doug Jenner is a fourth generation alfalfa farmer and cattle rancher in Siskiyou County’s Scott Valley. His biggest political concern is increased land and water regulation. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Up in Siskiyou County on the Oregon border, people say that anyone who calls San Francisco “Northern California” has it all wrong. This is the real Northern California. It’s a sprawling county which is home to the Klamath and McCloud rivers, and the majestic Mt Shasta, but it has barely 45,000 residents. So, here, the answer to the question “What’s government for?” all comes back to people’s relationships with the land.

There’s a phrase some people use to describe what used to dominate Siskiyou County’s economy: red meat and board feet. The first stands for cattle ranching, the second for the timber industry. There are only two lumber mills left in Siskiyou County, but in the north there are still plenty of cattle, tended by people like fourth generation rancher Doug Jenner. His biggest political concern is regulation. As government agencies like Fish and Game seek to protect species like the Coho salmon, Jenner says ranchers and alfalfa farmers who depend on irrigation face more regulations around water and land. Continue reading

Oakland: De La Fuente Trying to Unseat Kaplan For Councilmember At-Large

by Caitlin Esch

After 20 years representing Oakland’s District 5, City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente is giving up his position to run for Councilmember At-Large. De La Fuente is hoping to unseat popular incumbent Rebecca Kaplan.

De La Fuente is known for his tough-on-crime attitude. But in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, bookkeeper Jose Dorado says support for De La Fuente among many merchants is eroding as crime in the neighborhood continues to soar.

“The kinds of efforts that Mr. De La Fuente has put forth to deal with that has not been anywhere near even adequate in our opinion,” said Dorado.

“I absolutely understand their frustration,” De La Fuente said. “The reality—it is true: crime going up, our inability to deal with that, absolutely has increased. That’s the reason why I have tried so hard to give the police the tools to do their job.”

De La Fuente strongly supports gang injunctions and youth curfews. But At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan criticizes him for voting to cut police staffing to balance the budget.

“If he keeps cutting the police force, it’s not gonna work to just say, well this smaller number of cops should do more other things.”

Kaplan voted against the layoffs and says OPD doesn’t have the resources to enforce curfews.