What to know on California’s coming up state office elections

Sac State urges students to do their research on all ballot races


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Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom at the 2014 San Francisco Pride Parade. Newsom has held the lead for the 2018 race for governor, the top of the ballot for state offices on the ballot Nov. 6.

Francina Sanchez

There are only six days left before California’s general elections, and there is more on the ballot that students may overlook from focusing on the races for governor or Senate.

Sacramento State’s Associated Students, Inc. said it has been on the forefront of voter outreach for the past few weeks to get students informed and registered to vote.

“Historically college students don’t vote in midterm elections specifically,” said Danielle Aragon, ASI civic engagement coordinator. “In the most recent midterm election in California, in 2014, of college-age eligible voters, 53 percent were registered and of that 53 percent, only eight percent actually voted. Which is a historic low.”

ASI hopes to see an increase in the number of student voters this year after they helped register and update the voting status for more than 300 students in the last few weeks.

“I feel like lately, more people have been more eager to actually vote and to actually have their thoughts put out,” Sac State health science major Jasmine Mai said.

With busy schedules, some students may find it difficult to get to a voting center. But this year, Sac State will have a voting center in Modoc Hall accessible for students to vote without leaving campus.

“I wouldn’t have to leave campus to do it, then yeah I’m going there,” Sac State nutrition major Erika Nguyen said.

Sac State will also have shuttles on campus taking students to Modac Hall on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Aragon urges students to research and make informed decisions on who they vote for, and that these positions can and will affect you as a college student.

“I think it’s going to be on the benefit side of the millennials, because we’re going to put our voices out there,” Mai said.

Here’s a simple breakdown of what’s on your ballot for California’s elected offices.


According to Aragon, the race for governor should be important to students, because the governor’s position has considerable power over decisions regarding the budget of California state universities.

Governors are voted in every four years. The governor race is between Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and John Cox (R).

Newsom was elected to the position of lieutenant governor in 2010 and reelected in 2014 after serving as mayor of San Francisco from 2004 to 2010.

Cox is a businessman who has worked in accounting, real estate and in law. Cox is focusing his campaign on repealing the gas tax and increased vehicle licensing fees.

Lieutenant Governor

The race for lieutenant governor is between Edward Hernandez (D) and Eleni Kounalakis (D).

Hernandez is an optometrist and an adjunct professor of optometry at the Southern California College of Optometry.

Kounalakis is a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary and a senior adviser for the Albright Stonebridge Group, a premier global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm.

The elected lieutenant governor, the second-ranking officer of the state’s executive branch, would serve as acting governor in absence of the governor. The lieutenant governor also sits on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University board of trustees.

Aragon said that just because it doesn’t seem like they have a large role, the lieutenant governor has a voice on these boards and can potentially make a difference in college students’ lives, because they do get to vote on initiatives and propose their own initiatives to the boards.

Attorney General

The attorney general is the chief law officer for the state and the state’s primary legal counsel.

Current Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) and Steven Bailey (R) are in the race for the position.

“The biggest thing they are responsible for is the protection from fraud scams, dangerous products, people and institutions,” Aragon said.

The attorney general also helps prevent college students from being defrauded and defaulted by for-profit universities, according to Aragon. Sac State students don’t have to worry about this, because the university is federally funded, but they may know someone who currently attends or wants to attend one of those schools, according to Aragon.


On the ballot for treasurer is Fiona Ma (D) and Greg Conlon (R).

Aragon said that the treasurer, “is our chief investment officer, banker and financier, and they are responsible for the states pulled money investment account.”

The treasurer oversees the budget and can determine how universities can be funded.

Aragon said that many times students believe it’s the university’s decision to increase tuition. However, if the CSU system isn’t funded as a whole, universities will typically raise tuition to avoid cutting programs and funding for various departments.

California State Controller

On the ballot is current California State Controller Betty Yee (D), and Konstantinos Roditis (R).

The controller acts as the state’s accountant and bookkeeper, keeping track of the funds from the treasury department. The controller also communicates with the public about their state’s financial condition as well and where money is being allocated.

The controller also oversees state and local audits, payroll, gasoline and property taxes.

Secretary of State

On the ballot is current Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) and Mark Meuser (R).

The secretary of state is the chief elections officer for the state of California.

The office of the secretary of state is in charge of voter and election information, archives of important California documents and campaign and lobbying information.

“They process your voter registration, they process the ballots and they release the results of the ballots,” Aragon said. “It is hugely important for anyone who is a voter.”

Board of Equalization

According to the history of the board, its mission is to provide fair, effective and efficient tax administration throughout their districts. The board can also assist any taxpayer if they need help in resolving questions or issues regarding tax matters.

On the ballot for District 1 is Tom Hallinan (D) and Ted Gaines (R) and on the ballot for District 2 is Malia Cohen (D) and Mark Burns (R).

Superintendent of public instruction

The superintendent is responsible for coordinating the state’s primary and secondary schools.

This office is responsible for education based more towards the K-12 system, but can still affect college students, according to Aragon.

“They also sit on the UC board of regents and the CSU board of trustees, so again, they do have a voice in what does affect college students,” Aragon said.

On the ballot is Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck. While the position is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are Democrats.