Commentary: Be sure to make your voice heard: Cast your ballot

Issue Date: October 26, 2016
By Casey Gudel
Casey Gudel

There's no doubt this election cycle has been one for the books. Every day, there seems to be a new revelation on one of the presidential candidates—and it's never a good one. With this type of rhetoric, it would be easy to just write off the election.

Please don't! There is too much at stake in this election cycle.

Although the presidential election could be determined before voting ends in California on Tuesday, Nov. 8, there are still down-ballot races that need your attention. It is those races closer to home—our state Assembly and Senate races—that will be key to how Sacramento operates in the years to come, as well as how we can run our businesses and live our lives.

No one knows who is going to turn out to vote—that's the multimillion-dollar question—so be sure your voice is heard.

Across the state, a number of races feature two candidates from the same party on the ballot. You may be inclined to sit that race out, if there is no candidate from your party on that ballot—but this situation provides you leverage in choosing a more moderate candidate who is not dependent upon party leaders to make decisions.

When two candidates from the same party are running against each other in the general election, we have typically seen the moderate candidate as the one willing to ask questions, consult with experts on issues with which they're unfamiliar and make up their minds on their own.

Farm Bureau supports the open primary as a way of changing the face of government. Under the previous primary system, we saw more legislators elected from the extreme ends of the political spectrum. That made it very difficult to make the productive, pragmatic decisions in Sacramento that are needed to grow our economy. The old system also impeded open dialogue on the many important issues California needs to address.

The results from the 2012 and 2014 election cycles have been promising: The first two classes of legislators under this new system show signs of being more independent and ideologically moderate than most of those elected before them.

The upcoming election gives us one of the last opportunities until 2024 to build on the number of business-friendly Democrats in the state Legislature. Because voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 28 in 2012, altering term limits to allow newly elected members to serve 12 years in either house of the Legislature, the number of open, contested seats significantly declines in coming years.

Equally as important as electing moderate Democrats in heavily Democratic districts is that this election cycle could be the tipping point for maintaining bipartisan representation in the Legislature. A key priority is ensuring no party achieves a two-thirds supermajority, which is required for approval of taxes and veto overrides on policy issues.

With voter registration changing in a number of traditionally conservative areas in the state, coupled with a handful of seats that Republicans picked up in traditionally Democratic districts in the last cycle, Republicans will be challenged to maintain their numbers. Democrats need to pick up just two seats each in the Assembly and Senate to achieve a supermajority in both houses, so it is imperative that we protect Republican seats, in order to maintain bipartisan representation.

In the last week, you may have received a solicitation from FARM PAC®, the California Farm Bureau Fund to Protect the Family Farm. Your continued support helps us to achieve these goals of maintaining Republican seats and electing more business-friendly Democrats.

Along with candidates, there is also a glut of ballot measures on this General Election ballot; with the statewide measures alone, voters must make their way through 17 measures. That doesn't even take into account local measures. Farm Bureau has tried to take some of the guesswork out of it for you by providing the recommendations listed in our Voter Guide.

The California Farm Bureau Board of Directors does not take this job lightly; the measures are fully analyzed and discussed before taking a position. For example, some measures appear to be one thing on the surface, but when you dig deeper, the measure turns out to be flawed.

For example, Proposition 53 requires a statewide vote on large infrastructure expenditures in the state, something with which we would normally agree. However, the vagueness of the measure would only result in costly litigation and further delay important water storage projects. Similarly, Proposition 64, which relates to the legalization of recreational marijuana use, locks in future funding for the Department of Fish and Wildlife at record high levels.

No one knows for sure what the results will be from the Nov. 8 election. But one thing is for sure: You must exercise your right to vote, if you want to be counted. To fail to vote, whether due to apathy or discouragement, just gives the other side an easy victory.

Stand up for the Constitution. Stand up for your rights. Make your voice heard. Vote!

(Casey Gudel is political affairs manager for the California Farm Bureau Federation. She may be reached at

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.