Gators weigh in on election propositions

Lance Tisuela

More young people are voting now than four years ago, mainly due to year-round voting initiatives on college campuses. The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, conducted by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University, reported a 21% increase in voter turnout from college students between 2014 and 2018.

At SF State, Associated Students (AS) worked toward increasing that number by conducting a two hour voter registration session on National Voter Registration Day in September. The event was inside the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Approximately 80 students registered to vote. Right now they are focusing on educating students on what is on the ballot next month.

“There will be several emails going out, as well as a dedicated tab on our website,” said Alondra Esquivel Garcia, Vice President of External Affairs for AS. 

The emails and website will give students more information on all items on the ballot. They plan to provide commuting students election information from their respective counties, in future elections.

Many students are likely to be interested in Proposition C, which would overturn the current ban on the sale of vapor products in San Francisco. Juul Labs, a popular brand in vaping based in San Francisco, contributed $18.6 million into the Proposition C campaign.

Hood Johan, a mechanical engineering major at SF State, was a cigarette smoker who transitioned to vaping in 2016. 

“It’s kind of strange coming from a different county, commuting to this school and not being able to vape or get the products I would need,” Johan said. “I do feel some type of way about Juul. I’m more concerned about the smaller businesses.”

Jason Bell lives in Contra Costa County and can not participate in the Nov. 5 election. Bell is the director of program development for Project Rebound, an AS organization that helps formerly incarcerated people transition into California State Universities. Bell emphasized the importance of the race for District Attorney. The District Attorney can have an impact on issues like San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city, Bell said.

“I think more people should pay attention to it, because of the impact that a DA has in a city, especially one like San Francisco,” Bell said. “If students find themselves in trouble, a DA that is willing to actually use education as an alternative to incarceration would also affect student life.”

George Gascon, the former district attorney, created the vacancy by resigning in early October. The race met controversy when Mayor London Breed appointed Suzy Loftus as the interim District Attorney on Oct. 10 just 17 days before the Nov. 5 election. Loftus was endorsed by Breed previous to the appointment.

“A lot of cities are not doing what San Francisco is doing, but there’s also a lot of pressure to change. Whether the DA will buck to those pressures, I don’t know,” Bell said.

Proposition D will also affect students. If passed it will create new business taxes on commercial ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The tax will impose a 1.25% tax on shared rides and 3.25% tax on private rides that begin in San Francisco.

The proposition is billed as a Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax and aims to lower the amount of cars on the road. The tax is expected to generate an estimated $30-35 million annually. The revenue will be used to improve public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian safety.

“I think it would be a good thing,” said Alex Guibert, 25, Cinema Major at SF State. “I know having so many cars on the road is not the best thing for the environment.” 

Guibert has been driving for Uber for over a year. He chose to drive for Uber because of the flexibility it offers him as a full time student, but he does not believe the proposition have great impact on traffic reduction.

SF State will be home to a voting center and ballot drop off station for the Nov. 5 county elections. The university voting center will be located in the Towers Conference Center on 798 State Dr, beginning Nov. 2 until Nov. 5. Ballots and other materials are available in English, Chinese, Spanish and Tagalog.