California is still the bluest of blue states, with Democrats winning all the elections for statewide office and firmly controlling the Senate and Assembly.
But no state is easily defined or color-coded and California is no exception. The following 10 electoral outcomes at the local level help reveal a fuller, more nuanced portrait of the Golden State.
1. Berkeley approved the nation’s first soda tax, passing Measure D with 75% of the vote. Sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city will be taxed at a penny per ounce. Fifty-four percent of San Francisco voters OK’d a similar, 2-penny-per-ounce tax, but it fell short of the necessary two-thirds approval.
2. The counties of Mendocino and San Benito passed measures banning hydraulic fracturing (fracking) by oil and gas drillers that may be more symbolic than consequential. But 62.6% of Santa Barbara County voters rejected Measure P, a ban with teeth. Oil companies poured $7.6 million into the Santa Barbara contest, where the stakes were inarguably highest, and outspent opponents 20-1.
3.Sheila Kuehl―lawyer, longtime state politician and former star of “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” ―defeated Kennedy clan member Bobby Shriver for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. It was billed as a battle of like-minded progressives, but Shriver swept through Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu and other wealthy enclaves while Kuehl, who has close connections to labor, cleaned up the rest.
4. Medical marijuana was on local ballots up and down the state, further evidencing the chaos that has infuriated federal authorities and contributed to schizophrenic responses from law enforcement and the courts. The cities of Encinitas and La Mesa in San Diego County rejected medical marijuana dispensaries. Santa Ana passed two medical marijuana dispensary ordinances, but the more restrictive one, limiting the city to two pot shops, got the most votes and will take effect. Lake County rejected two ordinances, one to relax its restrictive law and the other two eliminate it. The city of Weed in Siskiyou County, in two advisory votes, rejected more dispensaries and collectives and supported a ban on growing medical marijuana outdoors.
5. San Francisco and Oakland passed minimum wage ordinances. The S.F. wage will increase every year, to $15 an hour in 2018. Oakland’s will jump from $9 to $12.50 next March. Sixty-two percent of Eureka voters rejected a bump up from $9 to $12.
6. Sandra Fluke―who was a law school student in 2012 when radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for testifying before Congress about the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate and made her famous overnight―lost her bid for a seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board. Fellow Democrat Ben Allen beat her by more than 21 points.
7. Einstein the Dog lost the Oakland mayoral race. He was an unofficial write-in candidate, so there is no tally of his votes. But Libby Schaaf was declared the winner, upsetting favorite Rebecca Kaplan, incumbent Mayor Jean Quan and 12 other official candidates. Quan was the city's first incumbent to lose re-election in nearly a quarter-century. Einstein’s platform, crafted by members of Occupy Oakland, included single-payer health care, use of public land for growing organic food and criminal justice reform.
8.Ex-Murietta Mayor Alan Long, who resigned his city council seat two weeks ago after being accused of felony DUI, was re-elected to the council. The Anaheim firefighter was accused of being impaired when his pickup truck rear-ended a car and injured four cheerleaders, two seriously. Prosecutors said he blew a 0.08, just over the legal limit. Long’s arraignment is scheduled for December 11. He says he will be exonerated.
9.Santa Monica voters continued their decades-long siege of the city’s municipal airport, passing yet another measure aimed at shutting the facility down. Voters rejected one measure proposed by airport enthusiasts that would forbid efforts to close it and approved another that it only be used for open space, recreation or parkland. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has repeatedly rebuffed Santa Monica’s efforts at a shutdown, so airport foes are trying to starve the facility by shortening its runways and otherwise constraining it.
10. Los Angeles County voters did not replace disgraced Sheriff Lee Baca with Paul Tanaka, his former No. 2 who is accused of being largely responsible for the scandals that enveloped the department. Tanaka, who is also the mayor of Gardena, stepped down in May 2013 and remains under federal investigation for obstruction of justice. Tanaka finished second in the primary but lost badly to Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell Tuesday, 74.8% to 25.2%.