A roundup of contested legislative races in Sacramento County on June 5:
Senate District 6
Sen. Richard Pan has been a smart and productive voice for this district – which covers most of Sacramento County, plus West Sacramento – and gets our endorsement. A physician, he has focused on expanding health insurance and safeguarding reproductive rights.
After his 2014 election, he spearheaded a nationally recognized bill to tighten the state’s lax vaccine laws in response to the Disneyland measles outbreak. It was a gutsy stance for a Democrat, given the suspicion of vaccines among some anti-establishment Californians, and it has prompted some of the bill’s opponents to challenge him this year.
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They include Janine Kloss DeRose, a Libertarian who helped lead an attempt to repeal Senate Bill 277. Eric Frame also wants looser vaccine laws, along with rent control. Formerly with the Green Party, he is a “no party preference” candidate.
A second Democrat, factory worker Jacob Mason, says he decided to run because the pay would be better. His platform, besides calling for jobs and universal healthcare, would celebrate California rock musicians with state holidays.
Assembly District 9
In this district, which stretches from Elk Grove to Lodi, incumbent Jim Cooper is being challenged by two fellow Democrats. Cooper, first elected in 2014, has been a staunch supporter of law enforcement in the Legislature and deserves to make his case to voters for another term.
Mario Garcia and Harry He have similar positions on major issues – in favor of single-payer health care, against the higher gas tax because of its impact on the poor, against high-speed rail and in favor of keeping nonviolent offenders out of prison.
Either would give voters a clear alternative to Cooper in the November election, but He gets the nod over Garcia for the second slot in the top-two primary. While He, an information technology manager who lives in Elk Grove, is just 23, he has a clear platform as an anti-establishment candidate.
And he’s at least willing to answer questions directly – which Garcia won’t. Garcia, 33, who lives in Galt, opened a steam cleaning business before going to Consumnes River College and then UC Berkeley, where he received his bachelor’s degree last year.
Assembly District 8
In this district in eastern Sacramento County, there are two clear choices to move on to November: incumbent Democrat Ken Cooley, first elected in 2012 and Rancho Cordova mayor and councilman for 10 years before that, and Republican challenger Melinda Avey, a small business owner.
Libertarian Janice Marlae Bonser ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Lawrence Ray Murray, who is registered no party preference, is also on the ballot.
A note on Sacramento County assessor
We’re withholding our endorsement until the end of May, when the county releases the findings of its investigation into the office. Christina Wynn, who was appointed to lead the office last year after Kathleen Kelleher quit under a cloud of controversy, is running for election against Kate Van Buren, a Realtor.
Wynn is, by far, the most qualified for the job, even though she’s presiding over an office beset by infighting and low morale. Questions also remain over whether top officials did indeed benefit from artificially lowered tax bills. We advise voters to wait until some of these issues are resolved before casting a ballot for assessor.