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California State Government June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter


By Deborah V. Ortiz

Candidate for Secretary of State; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate
Deborah Ortiz's statement on why she is running for Secretary of State, and her vision of the office.
I am proud to be a life-long Democrat. I remain committed to enacting policies that provide access to quality affordable health care, education, civil rights and civil justice. I am proud to say that throughout my career, I have not cowered to special interests. Even in the face of harsh criticism, I have stood by policies that I believe are in the best interest of Californians. This is the spirit that I will take with me to the Secretary of State's office

I want to make the political system something to be proud of, something that inspires the public's confidence and the people's participation. Public concern over the integrity of our electoral system is very real, and far too many barriers exist that thwart voters from casting their ballots.

We must make sure that electronic voting systems are secure, accurate and accessible to all California voters. They must have a voter-verified paper trail and meet the most stringent standards set forth by the Help America Voting Act and the state Legislature. Election officials throughout the state must be on guard for manipulation of electronic voting machines and conscientious recounts must be conducted when outcomes are questionable.

To be a true democracy, we must greatly increase voter registration efforts and ensure that each and every eligible citizen has a right to vote. As Secretary of State, I will advocate for funding increases for voter registration drives, support non-partisan GOTV efforts, will boost voter education, and will support initiatives that update our election technology to ensure that every vote is counted and the public has confidence in the electoral process.

I am outraged by the lack of enforcement at the FPPC. It is disgraceful that the FPPC is closing cases because it lacks attorneys and the current Secretary of State has said and done nothing to assist in the enforcing of campaign laws. I will take an activist role to expose and punish those who violate the law and work with the FPPC to ensure that they are punished. I intend to beef up the FPPC's budget, and have introduced a bill this year to do that.

I will make sure that there is an efficient, free on-line posting system in place so that more candidates can put their contributions on the Internet. This new system could also be used by local elected officials who still submit hard copies of their campaign reports. By posting more contribution information on-line we will allow voters to see who is influencing elections, increasing public accountability and public trust in the system.

I believe that California should adopt Clean Money public financing reforms, which is why I am a co-author of AB 583 (Hancock). There is an increasing influence of money and special interests in campaigns. The recent special election is a prime example of the amount of money that can be wasted. The electorate is also angry about the amount of money that is wasted on campaigns and the perception that elected officials can be "bought." This anger has led to lower voter turnout and a lack of confidence in elected officials.

As Secretary of State, I will explore alternatives to make voting more accessible, including centralized polling places and expanded opportunities to cast ballots by mail. We must ensure that all voters with disabilities and those who are more comfortable speaking a language other than English are not hindered in their ability to cast their vote.

Basically, there are three things that qualify me for the job of California's chief elections officer: leadership ability, independence and honesty.

I've built statewide coalitions, bringing together families, patient advocates, researchers and scientists to put California at the forefront of stem cell research.

I worked with public health officers to elevate public health issues long before the threat of bioterrorism was widely acknowledged. This is critical because our state is facing the threat of avian bird flu, West Nile virus, and bioterrorism.

Few would have the guts to intervene in a fight between the pharmaceutical companies and Labor by pushing for the one opportunity to provide at least 5 million Californians with price breaks on their prescription drugs. I didn't get a chance to push for amendments to that bill that went way beyond what the governor wanted. That effort has cost me political capitol. But, it was the right thing to do.

After authoring the law that made California the first state in the nation to authorize embryonic stem cell research, and then campaigning for Prop 71 to fund it, I have pushed to make the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee accountable to the public that is footing the tab. Just the presence of my bills have made the ICOC adopt more stringent standards. But, it has come at a political cost to me; I've lost campaign support from the families I worked with on Prop. 71, patients' advocates and bio-medical corporations. But again, I did it, because accountability is what should be expected with our tax dollars.

I am currently in a fight to restore full funding of the FPPC, even though legislators don't want to give up budgetary control of the agency that regulates them.

I took on special districts and the lawmakers whose families members serve on these boards, because they have virtually no public oversight or accountability.

I also took on the powerful restaurant and beverage industry in authoring the state's first soda and junk food ban for elementary and middle schools.

I am a strong advocate. I've spent my entire public service career fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised and working poor by giving them access to affordable, quality medical care; Cal Grants to attend college; assistance at citizenship fairs to help immigrants be integral, voting members of their communities.

My legislation has protected the rights of individuals to obtain emergency contraceptives and protected abortion clinics from violence and intimidation from pro-life protesters.

I have fought for three years to create the first in the nation state biomonitoring program so that we can determine what toxins and chemicals our residents are exposed to, and use that knowledge to determine how best to protect us from harmful exposures based on sound scientific data.

I entered public life because I wanted to make government more responsible to real people and ensure that government lives up to the highest ideal of serving the public good. I want to empower people and help them realize their voices do count and ensure that their votes are counted.

Public service is a public trust. I won't be afraid to shine the bright light of accountability into every corner of influence, backroom of self-dealing and salon of pay-for-play politics.

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