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The Election Issue 2014: Understanding the Forces That Shape This Year's Ballot 

Wednesday, Oct 22 2014
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In the farmers' market of sociopolitical philosophies, democracy is rather like the gourd so often associated with election season: Democracy is a pumpkin — it can be a pie, or it can be a monster.

But what if we think of elections the other way? That the democratic process leading up to an election is the winnowing of many possible directions down to a very few? The ballot as the end result of the engineering of our decisions — decisioneering? In that case, democracy, while certainly preferable to other sociopolitical produce (the yam of feudalism, the eggplant of dictatorship) is very limited. We choose based on what we're offered, and the ballot certainly makes scant mention of the fact there were other ways things could have turned out before we reached this point.

This is the time of year when newspapers and magazines flagellate their way through endorsements. We don't do that as a matter of course, but did want to participate. So this year we decided to look at the decisions, and the decisioneers, that shaped this year's ballot. We wanted to go back into the kitchen and see how these monstrous pies were made rather than just suggesting which one to eat once they're served. That meant looking at the money, at where and who it came from. That meant discerning the less-than-visible influences that put people and propositions on the ballot. That meant figuring out how it connected.

It also meant being selective about how we wrote about this election. We don't cover every last thing on the ballot — we looked at the most contentious races, or the most suspicious ones. We cover some of the races for office and many of the state and local measures. We posit a few questions. Hopefully, this helps you develop a more fully formed perspective of the political scene in San Francisco and the state beyond. Maybe it makes you a smarter voter. But the ideal outcome would be that you understand how the parts of the system fit together a little better, now and in future elections — how politicos dig themselves in, how ballot measures put their best face forward, how tech is applying the venture capital mode to politics, and how Big Soda just will not stop, ever.

These essays are about the choices that were made to determine what choices you get to choose from. Decisions made before you ever get the chance to decide. Consider it an Intro to Decisioneering.


The Election Issue 2014

Controller: Something Bigger
By Joe Eskenazi

State Assembly: David Vs. David
By Joe Eskenazi

Attorney General: One-Hit Voters
By Chris Roberts

BART Board: A Strange, Unregulated World
By Joe Eskenazi

Board of Education: The Mysterious Professor Mayor
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Community College Board: Building the Minds of Tomorrow
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

District 10: You Again?
By Joe Eskenazi

Slow Rise of the Gerontocracy: The Oldening of California Politics
By Pete Kane

Proposition 1: Parched No More
By Erin Sherbert

Proposition 46: Surgical Strike
By Rachel Swan

Proposition 47: Repeat Offender
By Erin Sherbert

Proposition 48: Jackpot?
By Joe Eskenazi

Proposition A & B: Money to Go
By Joe Eskenazi

Proposition E: Rush and Crash
By Anna Roth

Proposition F: Development's Sweet Spot
By Pete Kane

Politics as Incubator: The Venture Capital Model Finds the Ballot
By Kate Conger

So Many Ways to Not Solve the Housing Crisis: Propositions Dance Around the Affordable Housing Problem
By Pete Kane

Propositions H & I: Turf Wars
By Rachel Swan

Proposition J: A Rising Tide
By Anna Roth

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Brandon R. Reynolds

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