by Tim Tevault
It’s that time of year again; the smell of crisp ballots are in the air, while commercials of politicians attacking each other are crowding television screens. It must be close to November.
Annual state elections have arrived, and the time to register is at hand.
To be able to vote, state residents must register by Monday.
Registering is more convenient than ever. The most recent advancement in voter registration is doing it online by visiting Vote America’s Web site at www.voteamerica.ca.gov.
Many offices are up for grabs this year, but the most prominent of all this year is that of the governor of California.
The race for governor has four candidates besides incumbent Democrat Gray Davis and Republican challenger Bill Simon, Jr.
Whoever is elected on Nov. 5 will serve a four-year term beginning in January.
Republican challenger Simon has promised to focus his attention on fixing education, transportation and employment.
The Davis campaign has focused on what he has accomplished for the state.
In his statement, Davis claims that under his leadership, class sizes have been reduced and test scores raised, while assault weapons have been banned and trigger locks required.
The other candidates for governor include Reinhold Gulke of the American Independent Party, who said if elected, he “will restore the value of families in our state by doubling the places where they can go hiking, camping, swimming, fishing and picnicking, and by returning more money to the family by tax reduction.”
Also running for governor is Gary David Copeland of the Libertarian Party, who said his goals include lowering taxes, honoring patients’ rights and implementing a school voucher program.
Rounding out the candidate pool Green Party candidate Peter Miguel Camejo, whose platform includes strict environmental protections and Natural Law party candidate Iris Adam, who is running on a platform of ensuring a strong economy and setting forth innovative programs to solve “critical problems.”
University of La Verne political science professor Richard Gelm said that the governor’s race will more than likely go to Davis.
“Even though his popularity is down, his opponent is even less popular,” he said, adding that there is a “total lack of discussion of major issues” among the candidates.
“There is very little debates of issues concerning California,” Gelm said.
Besides the state’s top job, another major office up for election this year is Lieutenant Governor.
This year’s incumbent is Democrat Cruz M. Bustamante.
Seven candidates are seeking the position this election year.
The Lieutenant Governor also presides over the State Senate, chairs the Economic Development Commission and serves as a trustee for the California State University and University of California systems.
The Lieutenant Governor is elected separately from the Governor, allowing for a possibility of two separate parties in the two highest positions in the state.
Bustamante has, in his candidate statement, pointed out some of his work, like working with teachers, providing textbooks for public schools and college grants for every qualified student.
He also said he has worked “with women’s health organizations and businesses and has created the most successful voluntary breast cancer screening program in America.”
Republican candidate Bruce McPherson believes lieutenant governors have “failed to play an active role.”
However, he said he would work with both major parties to fix that problem and focus on issues like school funding, public safety and tax reduction.
Voters also may choose from among the other five candidates running this year, who include Kalee Przybylak of the Natural Law party, Jim King of the American Independent party, Libertarian Pat Wright, Green party candidate Donna J. Warren and Reform party candidate Paul Jerry Hannosh.
On the local level, there are two races going on: State Assembly member, District 59 and U.S. Representative, District 26.
Running for State Assembly are Democrat Patrick D. Smith and incumbent Republican Dennis Mountjoy.
Running for U.S. representative are incumbent republican David Dreier and his challengers, Democrat Marjorie Musser Mikels and Libertarian Randall Weissbuch.
Overall, Gelm said that people in general – and ULV students in particular – do not vote because of a “Catch 22.”
He said that politicians do not discuss issues that college students care about because college students do not care to vote.
Likewise, students do not vote because politicians do not cover issues they are concerned with; it is a never-ending cycle, he said.
“Politicians will go where the vote is,” Gelm said.