There's a special election for California's Assembly District 54 coming up on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.
Before you vote, the ACLU of Southern California wants to make sure you have the information you need to elect a champion for social justice.
Candidate Scorecard: To view the scorecard in full size, click to download it as a PDF.
To verify that you are a resident of state Assembly District 54, go to findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.
To help constituents of Assembly District 54 elect an advocate for issues such as racial justice, health care, economic opportunity, immigration, criminal justice, policing, education, LGBT equality, and reproductive justice, we surveyed the primary candidates on a range of social justice measures and asked them to provide statements to explain to voters how they would champion ACLU issues.
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What is the candidate survey?
We wanted voters in Assembly District 54 to have enough information to elect a champion for social justice. So in consultation with our partners, we came up with seventeen questions about policy proposals that the Legislature is likely to face in the next few years. The questions cover a range of issues — from transgender rights to police in schools, bail reform to property tax reform, single payer health care to universal representation in immigration proceedings. Candidates had ten days to respond to the survey. We've posted the questions and their responses in full and also evaluated the responses for you on how well they commit to ACLU positions.
We also asked each candidate to provide a brief statement (of 250 words or less) to explain to ACLU members why they would be a champion on ACLU issues, such as those we asked about in the Candidate Survey (including racial justice, reproductive freedom, gender equality, LGBT rights, police accountability, criminal justice reform, economic justice, immigrants' rights, free speech and educational equity). We have included those statements unedited here.
How did you evaluate responses?
Experts in each question's subject area from the ACLU of Southern California and our partners reviewed responses and graded them on a scale of 1 to 6 according only to how the candidate committed to the position we support. We conducted this evaluation blind — we did not know which candidate gave which response when we scored them. The evaluation is based solely on the candidates' commitment to ACLU SoCal's position as expressed in their responses to survey questions. We did not consider candidates' prior track records or positions on similar issues. We did not evaluate the candidates' statements on why they would be a champion on ACLU issues, but present those unedited.
Did you give an overall grade for each candidate?
No. While we think all of these questions probe pressing issues, we recognize that voters may care about some issues more than others. We gave each candidate a separate score on each response, but didn't give each candidate an overall grade.
Is there information about candidates that your survey leaves out?
Yes. Our survey looked only at whether candidates committed clearly to the positions the ACLU SoCal and our partners support. We did not consider how well-reasoned or persuasive answers were. Nor did we look at candidates' backgrounds or track records to see which might be most likely to advance a social justice agenda or most effective in doing so. But that's why we asked for candidates' statements -- so they can highlight any additional reasons why voters can trust them to be a champion on ACLU issues in the statements they provided.
Are the evaluations of candidates an endorsement by your organizations?
No. The ACLU SoCal is a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse individual candidates in an election. The candidate guide and the scores in it are not an endorsement by the ACLU SoCal or any other organization, but an evaluation of the candidates' positions on important policy questions to help give voters information they need to elect a champion for social justice.
The candidate guide was compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, a 501(c)(4) organization.
To see each candidate's responses to our survey questions, please click on the candidate's name to download a PDF.