If you're a political junkie, you've likely already researched, completed, and turned in your ballot for today's primary election.

If you're not, here's a reminder to cast a ballot.

Voting for education

Here in Alameda, the most important item on the ballot is Measure E, which must reach a super-majority of two-thirds of votes in favor to continue current funding levels for Alameda's public schools.

I'm voting "yes" in part because I have a kid in a district school, will have a second in the future, and know many other families with kids in district schools.

I'm also voting "yes" because I remember my own experiences at a California public school in the '80s and early '90s: My classroom was always bulging with ~35 students per teacher, who would only have attention for the students with the worst behavior or most pressing learning issues. A new building sat empty for multiple years because the district could afford to construct it but to not hire any teachers or a librarian to operate it. Art, music, science... no money to teach those subjects. What was so odd about this experience was that I grew up in an otherwise relatively affluent suburb of the South Bay. It's just that Prop 13 had savaged the previous funding streams and (as I later learned as an adult) no one had done enough of the difficult work to convince local voters to open their pockets to start repairing some of the damage. It's grounded in this experience that I've voted for every single school funding measure since I became an adult of voting age ā€” well before I had kids of my own.

Fortunately, Alameda Unified has done ā€” and continues to do ā€” the difficult work of strategic budgeting, careful management of funds, and maintaining productive relationships with families, unionized staff, voters/taxpayers, the bureaucracies of Sacramento, and other stakeholders.

While I care primarily about the educational benefits for today's kids and for future generations, there's also a practical aspect for property-owners voting "yes" on Measure E: The quality of Alameda's public schools is one of the core fundamentals of residential-property values. (The other core fundamental is the number of well paid jobs in the regional economy. ) Even if you don't have kids in local public schools, you may one day be selling your house or condo to someone who is paying that premium price in order to be able to send their kids to Alameda's public district schools or public charter schools.

If you're a local voter who still has a ballot in hand, please do vote "yes" on Measure E today, even if you don't have time to consider any other items on the ballot.

Voting against hate and ignorance

I'm mainly interested in voting for public services, for meaningful change, for positive progress...

But there can also be clarity in identifying what one is voting against. I clicked on this banner ad to get a taste of that:

The linked video is a 2 minute long sampling of Trump's reactionary grievances grafted on to the local issues of Alameda and Oakland. (Emeryville is mentioned in the banner ad but doesn't get called out specifically as a den of failed wokeness... or whatever.)

Here in the inner Bay Area, we're fortunate to have local governments and school boards that are mainly run by responsible leaders. And fortunately we don't have to worry currently about crazy candidates like this making much headway.

Voting down the entire ballot

But still, that video of 2 minutes is a reminder that the work of responsible governance is never done. It's always necessary have a deep and broad range of civic leaders from the lowliest of volunteer commissions up to the most important of state-level elected roles. In part, this is to keep ignorance and hate at bay; in part, this is to do the difficult work of forging compromises.

In 21st-century California, all of this work happens within the Democratic Party.

Alameda's current vice mayor Tony Daysog, who wrote in 2016 "Iā€™m kinda not a Democrat [...] kinda feeling more like an independent, even a moderate Republican now," is running today for Congress as a self-declared progressive Democrat. His platform of abandoning our allies in Ukraine to Russia and cutting taxes on the upper-middle class doesn't feel to me to be that progressive in actuality... but maybe some UC Berkeley students will buy the shtick and vote for him? Around Alameda, his campaign's yard signs are often displayed alongside Pechenuk for Assembly signs... suggesting that perhaps his supporters aren't even interested in him being a "moderate Republican." In any case, even he sees benefits to staying nominally within the Democratic Party, while passing the time before he probably runs an actually serious campaign for Mayor of Alameda.

Today's ballot offers voters registered as Dems the chance to drive some of this intra-party decision-making. The item is called "MEMBERS, COUNTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE, 18th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT" and each registered Dem can vote for up to 10 individuals for this committee.

Should more voters actually care about the specifics here? I'm honestly not sure. This is the politics of politics. It's about elected officials like Assemblymember Mia Bonta, DA Pamela Price, and almost-mayor-of-Oakland Loren Taylor proposing their "slates" of candidates to nudge the party in particular directions. I find it mildly interesting to learn about these details... but it can also be a distraction from what matters.

For what it's worth, I did pick 10 different individuals to vote for, some of each of the slates and also some who are running solo. I don't care enough about the politics of politics to have confidence in these choices and to share them publicly. But I will point out that Tracy Jensen (a current Alameda City Council member), Hannah Groce (a previous candidate for Council and potentially a future candidate?), and Zac Bowling (potentially a future candidate for Council?) all have demonstrated commitments to engaging with change. So if you care enough to go all the way "down ballot" and get involved in the intra-party politics of the Democratic Party, then supporting Alameda's bench of liberal leaders is worthwhile.

All that said, I do also think it's fine to be blissfully ignorant of intra-party politics. I think it's just fine to vote a ballot that's incomplete. It's reasonable to have priorities. Before the national storm of November hits, we can appreciate that here in Alameda, California, today's ballot is a mellow one ā€” and an opportunity to vote to continue to support Alameda's public schools.

Today is election day in Alameda