California Races, Propositions: What to watch on Bay Area ballots for midterm elections

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We went through all the ballots in the Bay Area to break down the most competitive races and the important and controversial issues on the November ballot. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

With more than 200 races spread out across the nine counties, there's a lot of information for Bay Area voters to sort through before the November midterms. The election team at ABC7 News went through all the ballots in the Bay Area to break down the most competitive races and the important and controversial issues on the ballot:

CALIFORNIA GETS A NEW GOVERNOR:

With Jerry Brown finally heading out of office after his fourth term, California will be getting a new governor. Democrat and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is widely expected to beat Republican John Cox, but anytime that California gets a new chief executive it's a race worth watching.

THE DIFI DILEMMA FOR DEMS:

Incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein has held a comfortable lead over fellow Democrat and former State Senate President Kevin De Leon until the last couple of months. Feinstein has seen her lead shrink as she faced criticism for her handling of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

RELATED: Feinstein, de Leon have 1st and only debate ahead of midterm election

Some Democrats have said they purposely are voting for Kevin De Leon to see if he can be more effective in Washington, D.C. All that being said, Feinstein is still projected to win... but that's why we hold elections.

CALIFORNIA's ROLE IN SHIFTING WASHINGTON'S BALANCE:

This is by far the most watched part of the midterm elections, whether Republicans can hold on to control of the House and the Senate. Experts say it's going to be close and that there will be some surprises and the Golden State could be the focus of the battle late on Election Day. If Democrats can flip some seats on the East Coast and in middle America, then some of the contested races in California could be the deciding races in this battle. None of the races to watch are in Northern California, however, the closes races to watch will be down in Southern California (in Orange County and near San Diego). Then again, if Democrats are not able to flip seats outside of the West Coast, California could once again be an election afterthought in the balance of power.

GETTING RID OF CALI'S GAS TAX?

Proposition 6, the repeal of California's gas tax, is probably the state measure garnering the most attention and rightly so. It will determine the fate of billions of dollars of money for transportation projects across the Golden state and in the Bay Area.

2018 VOTER GUIDE: A look at California's Prop 6: Gasoline tax repeal

It could also be a referendum on the support voters have for legislators using news taxes to pay for transportation improvements. Remember California's legislature passed a law that implemented the new tax... so voters did not have a direct voice in its approval (hence Prop 6).

NO MORE 'SPRINGING FORWARD' OR 'FALLING BACK'?

If Proposition 7 passes it could make California the third state (behind Arizona and Hawaii) to not observe daylight saving time. The Golden State would need it's legislature to approve the change AND would need officials in Washington, D.C. to sign off on it.

2018 VOTER GUIDE: A look at California's Prop 7: Permanent Daylight Saving Measure

Even if it passes experts say it would be hard change to make realistic... but we'll see!

Other propositions that are getting attention include Prop 8 regarding changes to dialysis clinics and Prop 10 which would expand the scope of rent control in the Golden State.

OAKLAND GETS A NEW MAYOR (MAYBE?)

Incumbent Libby Schaaf is expected to be back for another term but when ranked-choice voting is involved, it seem like anything can happen.

MEET THE CANDIDATES: Oakland mayoral race

Remember, the latest San Francisco's mayor's special election (also ranked-choice) was not officially decided for eight days. It will probably take a while to get a final decision in this race as well.

COULD BE A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN:

Five-time incumbent Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is facing her first general election in 20 years. That alone makes this race an interesting one to watch. Her challenger, retired undersheriff John Hirokawa, trailed Smith by about 10 percent in the primary but it could be a lot closer in November. Why? Well, the three other primary challengers got a combined 24.2 percent of the vote, meaning a lot of voters are up for grabs in November. Add that to the fact Smith's department has faced several big controversies in recent years (jail guards convicted in the death of an inmate and jail inmate hunger strike) and this is going to be an interesting race to watch.

TAXING BUSINESSES TO TAKE CARE OF SF'S HOMELESS PROBLEM:

San Francisco's economic engine is driven by the huge businesses that call it home and supporters of Proposition C want to tap that cash flow to help tackle the City's big homeless problem. The question: if voters approve it, how will the business community respond? Some speculate that it could prompt some big companies to leave the city.

RELATED: Prop C: Taxing big businesses to help SF homeless

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey spoken out repeatedly against the proposition, saying it will unfairly affect smaller companies. But another tech giant, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, has publicly thrown his support behind it saying the company needs to be good citizens for the city it calls home. When an election issue prompts a Twitter beef, that's a race you're gonna want to watch.

CANNABIS TAXES ALL OVER BAY AREA:

A year after recreational cannabis was officially rolled out, lots of Bay Area cities are finally coming around to figuring out how they are going to tax Cannabis businesses. This is interesting to watch because we could see how governments are planning to work with this growing multi-billion dollar industry.

SANTA ROSA FIRE TAX TROUBLE:

The impact of the North Bay Wildfires are still dramatically being felt in Santa Rosa. The city is facing a multi-million dollar budget shortfall due to all the money it had to spend as a result of the 2017 firestorm. City officials have said that layoffs will have to happen pretty much no matter what, but supporters of Measure O ( a six-year, quarter-cent sales tax increase) say it can soften the blow. Opponents claim it's another hit for an already strained city. Interesting issues to see how voters feel.

Take a look at full coverage on the 2018 election here.
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