Monday is opening day, of sorts, in the 2014 election season.
In the races for governor and seven other statewide offices, for
The highest-profile of them is of course California's seemingly perpetual governor,
Four other Democrats — currently serving as lieutenant governor, attorney general, insurance commissioner and the officially nonpartisan superintendent of public instruction — are seeking reelection for their final terms. Three Democrats are termed out as controller, treasurer and secretary of state. In each of those races, Republican and other challengers have an opportunity to make their case for ending the Democratic Party's four-year monopoly on power in constitutional office and its two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature.
But catching the voters' attention may be an uphill battle. What's the difference between a controller and a treasurer? What does the secretary of state do, and doesn't
There will be some high-profile congressional campaigns too, with Democratic stalwart Sen.
In Los Angeles, though, it is the usually obscure or noncompetitive (or both) county elections that may bring the most sweeping changes, because of a 2002 term limits measure.
It would hardly be enough, for example, to gripe about county government's record in protecting children from neglectful or abusive parents or foster parents, or to rail against its treatment of youth in probation camps or its abandonment of thousands of mentally ill to jails and the streets. Voters are well within their rights to demand explanations, diagnoses and, above all, straightforward plans for improvement. Candidates should expect to talk about their positions on transit, housing, economic development and environmental protection.
The same term limits were meant to apply to the sheriff, and would have ended
The sheriff's race will require candidates to explain how they intend to fix the long-standing problems of inmate abuse, bad hiring practices, financial mismanagement and poor planning. They should expect to present their plans for better treatment of mentally ill inmates. They should discuss how they intend to meet their duties to house felons who previously would have gone to state prisons. They would be wise to detail what they would do to prevent the need for Department of Justice officials to sue over civil rights violations, and what they would do if such a suit is nevertheless threatened and a consent decree ensues.
And amid all of that, voters must try to weigh candidates for Los Angeles County assessor, Superior Court and the Board of Equalization.
Wait — the board of what?