By Staff Writers Jonathan Ko & Richard Chenyu Zhou
During the election on November 8, voters made their voices heard at the ballot boxes by electing new officials and voting new legislation into law. The Smoke Signal covered some of the highlights of the election.
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President-elect Donald J. Trump
Republican Nominee Donald J. Trump won the 2016 US Presidential Election with 290 electoral votes despite losing the popular election. Trump hopes to enforce immigration laws both at the border and domestically, and increase their rigor to make it more difficult for criminals and terrorists to enter the US. In addition, Trump wants to cut ties with Iran, suppress radical Islamic terrorism abroad, and lower taxes as well as reform the tax code to benefit American businesses instead of supporting outsourced jobs. He also wants to amend the Affordable Care Act to create a more patient-centered system.
Senate & House of Representatives
Republican senators currently hold 51 of the 100 seats in the US Senate, and Republican representatives hold 239 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. A Congress with a Republican majority will make repealing Obamacare, implementing reforms, and confirming conservative Supreme Court judges easier. In addition, Congress will finally be able to reform the tax code, an issue that Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided over. Although several Republican congressmen oppose some of Trump’s ideals, the majority of Republicans in Congress are dedicated to passing Trump’s agenda.
CA Senator Kamala Harris
Following Barbara Boxer’s retirement, CA Attorney General Kamala Harris ran for the US Senate, winning the position with 62.7 percent of the popular vote. As Harris is of both Indian-American and African-American descent, she is the first Indian-American to serve in the US Senate and CA’s first African-American senator. She is a strong advocate for environmental conservation, women’s rights, LGBTQ equality, and protection of immigrants and refugees. Harris also wants to make community colleges tuition-free and lower tuition in other public universities. In addition, she wants to reform the K-12 curriculum to better fit the needs of a modern job market.
Proposition 51, which supports issuing $9 billion to fund improvements to K-12 schools and community colleges, was passed with a 54 percent popular vote. The majority of the bond money will go toward building new schools and modernizing existing facilities. Supporters of the bill claim that it will increase affordable education options to CA residents and boost the state economy by reducing college debt. The bill aims to boost local education, empower the CA workforce, and bring higher-level education to all CA residents.
Proposition 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana for people over age 21 and establishes certain taxes on the growth and sale of marijuana, was passed with a 56 percent popular vote. The proposition introduces a $9.25 per ounce cultivation tax and a 15 percent sales tax on the retail price of marijuana. Money from this tax will be spent on drug research, enforcement, and treatment programs. In addition, the bill allows re-sentencing and destruction of records relating to prior marijuana convictions. The bill will reportedly lower law enforcement costs related to marijuana and decrease gray market and drug cartel activity.
Proposition 55, which extends the 2012 Proposition 30 decision to levy higher income taxes on the richest Californians, passed with a 62 percent popular vote. Individual taxpayers with incomes above $250,000 and married couples with incomes above $500,000 will continue to pay a 10.3 percent state income tax. Per the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s office, the passage of Proposition 55 will provide $4 billion to $9 billion per year from 2019 to 2030, depending on the state of the economy and stock market. This money will go toward education, low-income healthcare, and state reserves.
Proposition 58, which allows bilingual education in public schools, passed in the California Senate with 27 senators for, eight senators against, and five abstentions. The measure repealed the 1998 Proposition 227, which mandated that public school teachers were required to speak only in English. Students still learning English as their second language were required to spend one year in intensive English language study before transferring to English-only classrooms. The passage of Proposition 58 preserves the requirement that schools must teach English proficiency to its students, but allows for dual language immersion programs to help students learning English as their second language learn more effectively.
After a long campaign battle against incumbent Mike Honda, Ro Khanna won the 17th Congressional District with 60.3 percent of the vote. Khanna, who visited MSJ earlier this fall to speak to students during advisory, is known for being backed by and representing Silicon Valley technological community. Touted by his supporters as one who understands the Silicon Valley environment and its culture of innovation, Khanna largely stressed the economy and education in his campaign platform. He plans to increase the minimum wage, support small businesses, make college affordable, and prioritize California residents in University of California admissions. Many MSJ students volunteered for Khanna during his campaign.
Lily Mei defeated incumbent Bill Harrison with 51.1 percent of the popular vote. She is both the first female and the first Asian-American to be mayor in Fremont’s 60-year history, winning the close race. An FUSD Board Trustee and city council member for the last eight years, Mei emphasized change in her campaign platform. She stresses slowing down the development and overcrowding that has been taking place in Fremont. To combat these issues, Mei plans to review all development proposals and ensure that they do not worsen overcrowding or overload existing infrastructure.
In a seven-way race for two seats on the city council, Raj Salwan won 21.2 percent of the vote, behind only the incumbent Vinnie Bacon, to win a contested seat. Bacon currently holds the other seat. A near-lifelong resident of Fremont and a Washington High School alumnus, Salwan previously served on the Fremont City Council from 2013-14. In his campaign, Salwan stressed his genuine commitment for his community, citing his desire to give back to Fremont as his motivation. Salwan aims to work toward attracting businesses to Fremont, ensuring affordable housing, improving education, and increasing wages.
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