As you know, many veterans service organizations (VSOs) in California took positions on 4 of the 11 ballot measures on the November election ballot. This election had the highest turnout of a mid-term non-presidential election in California’s history with an estimated 70% turnout
In 2014, 4,461,000 votes were cast. In 2018, almost 11 million votes were cast. Interestingly, there was not the usual drop off in votes for the down ticket offices and propositions. From the Governor’s to the Proposition 12, there was only a drop off of 360,000 votes.
Most major VSOs opposed both Proposition 8, dialysis treatment charges and Proposition 10, rent control on residential property. Both of these measures were defeated by roughly the same percentage of voters, 60% opposed to 40% in favor.
VSOS were joined in opposition to these 2 measures by a long list of many other types of groups.
Prop. 8 was opposed by over 160 groups including VSOs, as well as being opposed by every major daily newspaper in the state.
Prop. 10 was also opposed by a long list of groups including labor and business groups as well as the majority of the daily newspapers. The two notable exceptions being the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee which supported the measure.
Prop. 1, the housing bond, which included $1 Billion for CalVet Home and Farm Loans was approved by 55% of the vote. Again, VSOs played an important role in the passage of Proposition 1 and the California State Commanders Veterans Council was on the steering committee.
Proposition 5, the property tax relief measure for those over 55 was the only measure supported by VSOs which did not pass. It was defeated by 60% opposed, 40% in favor.
The measure was sponsored by the California Association of Realtors. They were unable to adequately fund this ballot measure when they were forced to spend their resources to oppose Proposition 10.
It goes without saying that the VSOs active in all these measures were directly benefitted from all of the media exposure they received in the press.
There are two important take aways from these ballot measures. As we have seen before, when VSOs are all on one side or the other in these propositions, the general public listens to our opinion and I believe looks more carefully at these issues because of the high esteem and reputation that veterans and the established VSOs have among the general population in California. Plus there are 1.6 million veterans in California to help spread the word.
All of the four ballot measures campaigns used the VSO names and logos (where authorized) and individual veterans in all of the campaigns in social media, television and campaign mail showing how important the VSOs were to the campaigns. VSOs we’re central to all of these campaigns.
The second take away is the these issues especially dialysis and rent control are not going to go away because of their defeat at the ballot box. The proponents of Prop.8 and Prop. 10 have already announced that they intend to continue the fight either at the ballot box, at the state Legislature or on the local level. So the battle is not over yet and we will need to stay engaged.
I want to thank all of you who took active roles or contributed to the effort to put veterans first on these ballot measures.
I will keep you posted when these issues reappear in the future.
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)