And indeed, a quick look at any given newsfeed might make you think that people today are more informed than ever -- at least when it comes to presidential elections.
But you know when your vote can really make an impact? When you're voting in local elections. Sadly, most people know shockingly little about these elections, and many can't even name the people running for Congress in their district.
Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to moderate last week's debate between Dr. Richard Fox (R) and Bob Harlow (D), the two challengers to my district's incumbent, Anna Eshoo.
Not only did I myself become super informed -- I also had a great time getting to know each of the candidates.
Here is the video of the first portion of our debate -- I've included the questions, below, in addition to more information about California's primary system.
Other notes: Save the date!!
The California Primary Election Will Take Place On Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
For those who don't know, California utilizes a top-two primary system, which allows all candidates to run and all voters to vote but only moves the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, to the general election.
This means that Bob Harlow (D) could run against Anna Eshoo, who is also a Democrat, in the November election. Anyone can run against anyone -- isn't that kind of cool and exciting?
I think so.
Next order of business: the questions. Here are the questions I asked:
1. After more than five years of negotiations, the United States and 11 other countries have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal. While the current president considers this a “historic achievement,” the three remaining 2016 presidential candidates all oppose the deal.
What's your position on it, and do you view it as favorable or unfavorable to high tech industry jobs?
2. Following the recent terror attack in San Bernadino, CA, a debate arose around the question of whether Apple should be required to unlock the suspects’ phones. The debate fizzled out when the FBI was able to access the data by other means, but surely something like this will come up again.
Should companies like Apple be required to cooperate with the government regarding data encryption and access to devices? Should there be more restrictions on encryption, or is it more important to protect privacy?
3. Cyber attackers recently launched a sophisticated attack to gain unauthorized access to confidential information at Anthem Blue Cross -- escalating concerns about our nation’s digital security.
What protections should be put in place to prevent a cyber attack -- in particular by other countries?
4. Politicians often discuss plans to increase enrollment in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math. Some would go so far as to say the future of this country is in innovation. However, science funding has stagnated, and many young scientists are forced to leave research due to a lack of funding.
What do you think we should do about science funding in the U.S.?
5. Between automation technology and outsourcing, what is the future of work?
6. The cost of education is rising faster than pretty much everything -- including healthcare -- and students are graduating with more debt than ever.
What can the government do to drive down the cost of education? What can be done to help the millions of students who already have what has been described as “crippling” debt?
7. In District 18, visas for highly-skilled workers are a hot topic. While many entrepreneurs believe that attracting skilled human capital is critical to the tech community, others have argued that such visas hurt residents’ access to jobs.
Where do you stand on this issue?
A few more notes on this election.
On November 8, 2016, California voters will elect 53 candidates to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives -- one from each of our 53 districts.
Here is some additional information, which I got from the amazingly useful resource, Ballotpedia.org.
Doug LaMalfa - Incumbent
Joe Montes - Businessman
Gary Allen Oxley
Jeffrey Gerlach (Independent)
Doug Wright (R) - Attorney
Jared Huffman - Incumbent
Matthew Robert Wookey
John Garamendi - Incumbent
Tom McClintock - Incumbent
Art Moore (R) - 2014 challenger
Mike Thompson - Incumbent
Doris Matsui - Incumbent
Mario Galvan (Independent)
Yuriy Seretskiy (Independent)
Ami Bera - Incumbent
Scott Jones - Sacramento County Sheriff
Paul Cook - Incumbent
Tim Donnelly - Former state rep.
Jerry McNerney - Incumbent
Kathryn Nance - Police officer
Alex Appleby (Libertarian)
Michael Eggman - 2014 challenger
Jeff Denham - Incumbent
Mark DeSaulnier - Incumbent
Roger Allen Petersen
Nancy Pelosi - Incumbent
Barry Hermanson (Green)
Preston Picus (Independent)
Barbara Lee - Incumbent
Jackie Speier - Incumbent
Eric Swalwell - Incumbent
Jim Costa - Incumbent
Mike Honda - Incumbent
Ro Khanna - 2014 challenger
Pierluigi Oliverio - San Jose councilman
Ron Cohen- Accountant
Kennita Watson (Libertarian)
Anna Eshoo - Incumbent
Zoe Lofgren - Incumbent
G. Burt Lancaster
Jimmy Panetta - Monterey County Deputy District Attorney
Joe Williams (Peace and Freedom)
Jack Digby (Independent)
Barbara Honegger (Independent)
Sam Farr (D) - Incumbent
Matt Bruner (No Party Preference)
David Valadao - Incumbent
Devin Nunes - Incumbent
Kevin McCarthy - Incumbent
Salud Carbajal - Santa Barbara County Supervisor
William Ostrander - Farmer
Helene Schneider - Santa Barbara Mayor
Katcho Achadjian - Assemblyman
Justin Fareed - Businessman
Steve Isakson (Independent)
John Uebersax (Independent)
Tyler Gross (R) - Businessman and paralegal
Stephen Knight - Incumbent
Maria Gutzeit (D)
Evan Thomas (D)
Julia Brownley - Incumbent
Judy Chu - Incumbent
Adam Schiff - Incumbent
Casey Gray (R)
Tony Cardenas - Incumbent
Brad Sherman - Incumbent
Pete Aguilar - Incumbent
Joe Baca - Former Democratic U.S. Rep.
Grace Napolitano - Incumbent
Roger Hernandez - State assemblyman
Ted Lieu - Incumbent
Xavier Becerra - Incumbent
Adrienne Nicole Edwards
Kenneth Mejia (write-in candidate)
Norma Torres - Incumbent
Raul Ruiz - Incumbent
Jeff Stone - State sen.
Lupe Ramos Watson (R) - Indio Mayor
Dwight Kealy (R)
Karen Bass - Incumbent
Chris Blake Wiggins
Linda Sanchez - Incumbent
Scott Michael Adams (Independent)
Edward Royce - Incumbent
Lucille Roybal-Allard - Incumbent
Roman Gabriel Gonzalez (Independent)
Mark Takano - Incumbent
Doug Shepherd - Businessman
Ken Calvert - Incumbent
Kerri Condley (Independent)
Maxine Waters - Incumbent
Nanette Barragan - Hermosa Beach City Councilwoman
Isadore Hall - State senator
Michael De Mauricio (Independent)
Bill Orton (NPP)
Max Gouron - Doctor
Mimi Walters - Incumbent
Lou Correa - Former state sen.
Joe Dunn - Former state sen.
Bao Nguyen - Mayor of Garden Grove
Rodolfo Rudy Gaona
Nancy Trinidad Marin (Independent)
Jordan Brandman - Anaheim city councilor
Alan Lowenthal - Incumbent
Robert John Banuelos
Dana Rohrabacher - Incumbent
Darrell Issa - Incumbent
Ryan Glenn Wingo (Independent)
Duncan Hunter - Incumbent
H. Fuji Shioura (Independent)
Juan Vargas - Incumbent
Juan Hidalgo Jr.
Scott Peters - Incumbent
Terry Reagan Allvord
Denise Gitsham - Former Bush aide
Susan Davis - Incumbent