The Valley Star's endorsement of nine essential ballot measures

The Valley Star breaks down this year's propositions and gives recommendations on which way Monarchs should vote.

Staff Editorial


California voters to cast their ballot on the 12 propositions that will affect the character of the state. (Illustration by Gene Wickham/The Valley Star)

On Nov. 3, Californians and the Monarchs will vote on 12 propositions ranging from issues like restoring affirmative action to eliminating cash bail. The Valley Star has selected the ones most pertinent to students. The ballot measures included deal with many of the issues currently facing the country. Proposition 20, which deals with rent control, which comes at a time when COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on people’s lives causing mass unemployment and homelessness. Proposition 16 addresses the ban on affirmative action amidst discussion of systematic racism against Black Americans and people of color. Proposition 22 has become the most expensive U.S. measure to date, with ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft spending over $200 million in a campaign to keep their drivers as independent contractors.

Proposition 15: Increases funding sources for public schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.


The Valley Star Recommends: Yes. Ending this tax loophole will benefit working-class communities by taxing the rich.


Proposition 15 aims to tax commercial property owners based on the market value of their properties rather than purchase price. These taxes will reclaim around $12 billion annually for K-12 schools, community colleges, parks, clinics, libraries and more. This measure aims to amend Proposition 13, an anti-tax initiative passed in 1978. Passing Proposition 15 would mean that large, wealthy companies will no longer be protected by Proposition 13, by implementing a “split-roll” tax, with wealthy corporations and homeowners on different tax rolls. Properties valued less than $3 million would be exempt if this measure is passed.


This proposal is backed by the California Teachers Association, Service Employees International Union and Schools and Communities First. Opponents of this ballot measure — California Business Properties Association and the California Taxpayers Association — believe that if passed, the large tax increase on the landlords will cause them to upcharge small businesses.

Proposition 16: Allows Diversity as a factor in public employment, education, and contracting decisions. Legislative constitutional amendment.


The Valley Star Recommends: Yes. While there are some qualms about whether this would cause more division and give unfair advantages to minorities, ultimately Prop. 16 is needed to level the disparities in employment and education when it comes to women and people of color.


Proposition 16 would reinstate affirmative action in California by repealing the ban put in place by Proposition 209. The 1996 measure added to the state constitution an amendment which states, “The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”


A yes vote allows public agencies to use affirmative action and consider diversity when hiring employees or enrolling students. A no vote would keep the constitutional amendment as is. Supporters argue that women and people of color continue to face discrimination in employment and education; affirmative action would bring equal opportunity and help address systematic racism and gender discrimination. Opponents argue that affirmative action would not bring equal opportunity but preferential treatment. One of the main opponents is former University of California Regent Ward Connerly, who led the campaign to pass Proposition 209.


"Affirmative action was meant to be temporary," wrote Connerly. "It was meant to be a stronger dose of equal opportunity for individuals, and the prescription was intended to expire when the body politic had developed sufficient immunity to the virus of prejudice and discrimination."

Proposition 17: Restores the right to vote after completion of prison term. Legislative constitutional amendment.


The Valley Star Recommends: Yes. Anyone who has served their time but is still on parole should have their right to vote restored.


This proposition amends the state constitution to restore voting rights to those who have been disqualified from voting while serving a prison term after they complete their sentence. Those eligible to register to vote include people in county jails and those who are supervised by county probation officers. The California Constitution prevents people in state prison or on state parole from registering to vote. In addition to allowing people on state parole to register to vote, the measure would also permit them to run for elective office.


The Election Integrity Project California opposes Prop. 17, saying it “allows violent criminals the right to vote before paying their debt to society.” Free the Vote 2020 -- Vote Yes On Prop 17! argues parolees who have their voting rights restored are less likely to commit future crimes. In voicing its support, the LA Times stated that denying parolees the right to vote is “an obstacle they don’t need as they reintegrate into society.” Sixteen states already allow people on parole the right to register to vote.

Proposition 18: Amends California Constitution to Permit 17 year olds to vote in Primary and Special Elections if they will turn 18 by the next general election and be otherwise eligible to vote. Legislative Constitutional Amendment.


The Valley Star Recommends: Yes. It makes sense that anyone voting in the presidential election should also vote in the primary, and California should follow the 23 other states that already allow 17 year olds to participate in primaries and caucuses.


This ballot measure amends the state constitution to allow 17 year olds to vote in earlier primaries and special elections if they will turn 18 by the general election. A no vote denies 17 year olds the right to vote during the primary in the year they turn 18. Opponents of the proposal, the Election Integrity Project California, state that “17 year olds are legal minors,” and “under that definition, they are still considered children.” The group argues, “ it is less likely that they would be expressing their own, independently thought-out choices were they to be allowed to vote." A yes vote allows 17 year olds the full experience of selecting a nominee and voting for their choice in the general election.


A series of movements including the “March For Our Lives” cause has revealed the power of the youth movement and their highly informed and motivated interests. It makes sense that anyone voting in the presidential election should also vote in the primary.

Proposition 20: Restricts parole for certain offenses currently considered to be non-violent. Authorizes felony sentences for certain offenses currently treated only as misdemeanors.


The Valley Star Recommends: No. This measure will waste taxpayer dollars to expand mass incarceration -- this bill seeks to keep people in jail.


Proposition 20 aims to add crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted, require DNA samples for certain misdemeanors and reclassify certain types of theft and fraud crimes known as wobblers (meaning they can be chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies). This ballot measure is backed by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the Los Angeles Police Protective League.


A yes vote would allow repeat petty theft to be treated as a felony, so people convicted of stealing items worth $250-$950 could be jailed for up to three years. The ACLU, LA Times and Democratic party urge California residents to vote no on Proposition 20 if they want to stop the oppression of marginalized groups.

Proposition 21: Expands local governments’ authority to enact rent control on residential property.


The Valley Star Recommends: Yes. In the middle of a pandemic, we cannot let families be forced onto the streets if they cannot afford their rent so vote “YES” on Prop. 21 to let cities decide on rent control.


Proposition 21 asks voters to allow an expansion of a local government’s ability to enact stricter rent control on buildings at least 15 years old and single-family homes. A yes vote supports local government’s power to provide rent control to more properties and a 15 percent increase limit over three years if a new tenant moves in to said rent-controlled property. This measure helps limit potential homelessness in the height of a pandemic that has crippled many people’s ability to work and pay rent. Opposition to this proposal lies in the fact that a similar proposition was rejected in 2018 and a no vote would keep current standards in place.

Proposition 22: Exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from providing employee benefits to certain drivers. Initiative statute.


The Valley Star Recommends: No. A vote for this proposition allows ride-share companies to avoid taking legal responsibility for the actions of their drivers placing the dangers and economic responsibility on both riders and drivers while they keep all the profits.


Proposition 22 aims to classify app-based drives such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash as independent contractors rather than company employees. This would grant these companies an exemption from providing their drivers basic employee benefits such as minimum wage earnings and workers compensation. Uber and Lyft have spent upwards of $200 million backing Proposition 22, making it the most expensive ballot measure in U.S. history. These companies have claimed if the measure does not pass, app-users will experience more expensive rides as well as longer wait times.