Lois Capps

The Nexus endorses incumbent candidate Lois Capps for 24th Congressional District Representative in what has become a particularly contentious and expensive race against Republican opponent Abel Maldonado.

Due to a shift in the district’s boundaries which has resulted in a much stronger Republican presence in the constituency, Maldonado is proving to be arguably the most formidable challenger Capps has faced in her 14-year tenure holding the position. Backed by substantial contributions from national political interests, both candidates have unleashed a slew of attack ads bashing each other’s character and personal tax records.

However, disregarding these nebulous personal attacks, Capps’s staunch record of representing her constituents’ best interests in Washington makes her the clear choice over Maldonado, whose record in the State Senate and Assembly and as Lieutenant Governor is inconsistent and fueled by political ambition.

Despite promising constituents that he would not vote to raise taxes, Maldonado cast the deciding vote that allowed Governor Schwarzenegger’s $12 billion tax increase to pass in 2009; one year later, Schwarzenegger nominated Maldonado to the post of Lieutenant Governor.

A UCSB alum herself, Capps has taken a proactive approach to increasing accessibility of higher education by supporting bills that doubled funding for Pell Grants and cut interest rates in half for need-based federal student loans. Like Maldonado, Capps is also in favor of the federal DREAM Act, which would allow certain undocumented U.S. residents to attend public universities.

While Maldonado is in favor of exploring new methods for coastal oil drilling, Capps has proven herself to be a prominent advocate of coastal conservation in her continual opposition of legislation to expand offshore drilling operations. She also authored a bill to provide long-term health protection for BP employees tasked with containing the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Though both candidates have experience representing our local community, Capps’s record proves to be more consistent with her constituents’ priorities by actively fighting to ensure that our region is fairly represented on the national scale.

Hannah-Beth Jackson

For the position of State Senator representing California’s 19th district, the Nexus endorses Democratic candidate and former Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson.

After receiving her undergraduate education at Scripps University and earning her law degree from Boston University, Jackson practiced law for two decades and went on to represent California’s 35th District in the State Assembly from 1998 to 2004. She is UCSB’s first public policy maker in residence.

A staunch advocate for women’s rights, Jackson helped found Santa Barbara’s Shelter Services for Women in the 1970s and also received Planned Parenthood’s “Giraffe Award” for “sticking her neck out” for her work in defending access to affordable birth control and protecting women from harassment at abortion clinics. Jackson has been named “Legislator of the Year” by several organizations including the Congress of California Seniors for her work fighting elder abuse, the National Organization for Women for her advocacy for women’s health and equal opportunity and the Junior League of California for her work on issues affecting children. Californians Against Waste also honored her with the same title for authoring legislation regulating pesticide use near schools, daycare centers and nursing homes.

She also prioritizes student safety and sponsored the California Campus Crime Audit Bill in 2002 to ensure that the state’s universities remain in compliance with the Clery Act.

Jackson supports Proposition 30, which raises sales tax a quarter of a percent and raises income tax on a sliding scale starting with a one percent increase for those earning over $250,000. UC officials have pledged to forgo a planned mid-year tuition hike if the initiative passes.

Her opponent, Republican candidate Mike Stoker, ran for 35th District State Assemblymember in 2010 but was defeated by Das Williams. His focus is on streamlining state government; as Santa Barbara County Supervisor in the early 1990s, he trimmed the county’s 38 public agencies down to 27, which had major ramifications for the region’s lower-income residents.

Stoker, who refers to his opponent as “Taxin Jackson,” has pledged that he will not support future budgets that redirect money away from cities, counties and schools. He emphasizes the importance of the private sector and blames union members’ excessive salaries for bankrupting the state. While this theory is defensible, his harsh solutions to the fiscal downturn would leave many residents who depend on government services at a loss for how to cope, likely overburdening the few services he would leave intact.

Das Williams

The Nexus endorses Democrat Das Williams for 37th District Assemblymember.

For UC students, politics this election season feel a little more personal than usual. It seems safe to say — at least for those of us not looking to absorb a mid-year tuition hike of 20 percent by this winter — that one ballot initiative stands out clear above the rest: Proposition 30.

Williams, the incumbent, has been an adamant and extremely public supporter of the bill from the moment Governor Jerry Brown penned it until just weeks ago when he took part in a pro-Prop 30 rally alongside students. The former Isla Vista resident and UCSB alumnus confirmed his pro-education stance last year when he signed a petition stating that he will never again vote for decreased state funding to the UC system.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Rob Walter is opposed to the ballot initiative, which would provide $175 million to the continually underfunded UC budget while avoiding a $375 million reduction.

Walter’s reasoning for this stance is that the sliding scale included in the proposition — which raises taxes on annual incomes exceeding $250,000 by one percent — will drive away much-needed wealthy investors. Small government proponent Walter asks: With these citizens leaving California, how will the state economy improve or sustain itself?

From the standpoint of our nationally renowned university system, taxes directed into educational funding are not only worthy contributions to the state, but part of a vital and fiscally responsible long-term investment into it.

Walter’s yearning for small government also extends to the public sector, which he said has proven so inefficient that state employees like firemen and teachers are unworthy of any additional funding the state can or may provide.

Nonetheless, Walter still did not seem entirely driven by fiscal worries. He gave no support to Prop 36, which — while spending no additional state funds and potentially saving the state up to $200 million a year — reforms California’s Three Strikes Law to exclude nonviolent criminals and redirects this freed revenue toward criminal investigation. In fact, Walter claims funding for correctional facilities — and the need for nonviolent criminals to potentially receive life sentences — is a higher priority than education, despite the $47,000 price tag on housing and caring for each inmate for just one year.

Walter also lamented the amount of financial aid being awarded to undergraduates, claiming that a more effective system would deny aid to first and second-year students and reward them with it during their third and fourth years. He offered no logical response when informed that the vast majority of students who receive need-based aid would not be able to afford their first two years of college and would not have the opportunity to prove themselves worthy under this misguided system.

On the other hand, Williams, who holds more actual policymaking experience than his attorney opponent, has also proven himself in environmental politics. During his time on the Santa Barbara City Council, Williams strove to make 34 percent of Santa Barbara’s energy run on renewable resources by 2012. Since then, the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management graduate has fought to keep oil wells out of California’s coastal waters.

The choice is clear: with a clear stake in our interests and concerns, Williams takes up the issues students are tackling this election season and thus seems the only candidate worthy of our votes.