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Literally everything on the ballot: San Francisco & Oakland voting guide, March 2024

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Literally everything on the ballot: San Francisco & Oakland voting guide, March 2024

I.e. what to do with the ~100 candidates and props across SF and Oakland
Punit Shah
Voting be like 🗳️

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Why trust this guide?

This guide is based on my policy-over-rhetoric lens focused on what actually works. When everything is Democrat vs Democrat, I found friends lost on how to vote to improve the region we love.

My experience: Over a decade in the Bay working in/following policy

I first moved to the Bay Area in 2011 and have followed local issues extensively since. I’ve met elected officials, community groups, and activists across the spectrum. I’ve gathered ground data, e.g. sitting through trials and criminal preliminary hearings, to learn more about how the courts actually function.
I’ve worked in-and-out of urban technology since 2014. I’ve met with numerous government officials, community groups, and others in cities across the world to deeply understand these issues and how governments really work.

Key policy beliefs

1. Everyone should feel safe in their city. Research-backed policy will deliver this (vs attention-grabbing rhetoric).

Every person has a right to be safe walking through their city. We must tackle violent crime to property and quality-of-life crimes like car break-ins and thefts. While the issues seem vexing, criminal consequences coupled with policy and operational changes .
Because this issue has been so galvanizing, groups have used the “safety” rhetoric and sensationalist headlines to influence public opinion, get votes, or cover for years of inaction even if they’re actually harming public safety. Research shows what works is often counterintuitive and requires nuance. It requires context—e.g. courts work very different from the private sector. We can and should expect our elected officials to handle that complexity, and I try to do the same where voters have direct choices.
Public safety and justice also needn’t be at odds—a world with criminal/climate justice and worker protections, lower wealth inequality, and smart use of well-supervised police and policing alternatives can create a safer, fairer, and more dynamic community. I believe consequences—e.g. jail time—do have a deterrent effect and are one important tool.

2. Building housing solves homelessness. Governments need tools to keep cities livable for all in the interim.

Homelessness is the inability to afford housing. As numerous studies show, building more housing lowers the price of housing. This is the right long-run solution.
While housing is a major — and solvable! — factor, public spaces should feel like spaces for all of the public in the interim. This includes responsibly compelling substance abuse/mental health treatment in research-backed ways to encampment policies that better enable cities to balance all citizens’ rights.
We must also lower California’s sky-high housing costs for all through housing at all all income levels. We can either a) increase supply, or b) reduce demand by exporting jobs. Our population . The latter “Detroit” method means choking our economic, innovation, and opportunity engine for the country and world.

3. A clean and competent government enables the above.

is unacceptable. being questioned—and some put in jail—by the FBI is unacceptable. The list goes on, and Oakland isn’t much better albeit less publicized.
A clean, competent government (vs one with ) will enable a better Bay Area.

Caveats & contact

These are voting suggestions (not endorsements).

Instead of leaving the ballot blank—letting someone who doesn’t represent you decide the race— it’s a suggestion on how to vote even when when one-party rules leaves us with sometimes flawed candidates in down-ballot races with little public reporting. This is how I’d vote given the best information I could gather.

Please share feedback at .

While I’m using Coda to write this and happen to work there, this is a purely personal project. All views are my own.

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