Senate candidates Cortese, Ravel vie for help within the San Jose debate

by Lorraine Gabbert
October 13, 2020

Senate candidates Ann Ravel and Dave Cortese went head-to-toe in a debate that ranged from economics to police reform.

Candidates supported both budget balancing and public health oversight in Santa Clara County. They differ in support from proposals for electoral measures.

Ravel shot at Cortese throughout the debate, hosted by the Almaden Valley Community Association on Oct. 12.

“I … care about government transparency, accountability and honesty,” said Ravel, “including honesty in campaigns because people who are not honest in campaigns cannot trust them.”

Ravel extolled her experience at “the highest levels of government at all levels of government”. Cortese called himself a local representative.

“I was a local officer here and spent my time in your neighborhood … and in the small towns that are part of that district,” said Cortese.

Ravel, who was appointed to the Bundestag Electoral Commission by President Barack Obama, described himself as “work for all people” and said her decisions were not influenced by special interests.

Cortese, who served on the Santa Clara County’s board of directors for more than 10 years and on the San Jose city council for eight years, said he would continue to work on pressing issues.

“Housing and homelessness, climate, judicial reform, education … all of these things are ripe for action and will be major issues in the Senate,” said Cortese.

Regarding the state budget deficit, Ravel said the state must review every agency and negotiate with the federal government.

“Assuming the Biden administration is in place,” said Ravel, “since I’m on the transition team, I think I can talk to them about helping California.”

Cortese spoke of his experience of having to balance the budget during the recession while serving on the board.

“We had to negotiate with 24 collective bargaining units and get them to accept concession contracts,” said Cortese. “The state will have to do the same.”


Ravel said her priorities are in responding to the economic and health effects of COVID-19. She spoke of fair, accessible medical care, repatriation of companies and retraining people for new jobs.

Cortese said his priority is to balance the state budget while supporting faster COVID-19 tests and better protocols so businesses can keep reopening. Cortese also said housing and homelessness are “big priorities”.

“We have a housing shortage,” he said. “We’re creating 6 to 1 jobs versus housing in the Bay Area, and that can’t go on.”

Suggestions 15 and 21

Under Proposal 15, commercial and industrial property, with the exception of those marked as agricultural, would have to be taxed on the basis of their market value rather than the purchase price.

Entrepreneurs with holdings of $ 3 million or less would continue to be taxed based on their purchase price. Small business personal property would be tax exempt, with a value of $ 500,000 for non-small business personal property.

The election initiative is said to generate $ 8 to $ 12.5 billion annually, with 60% going to local governments and 40% to school districts and community colleges.

Ravel said although she does not support Prop. 15, more funding for schools and changes to the “unfair” tax structure are needed. She said the $ 3 million small business threshold would have a negative impact due to triple net leases.

Cortese said he supported Prop. 15 because large commercial properties had a tax loophole. He said school districts are struggling under income restrictions and some properties have not been revalued in decades.

None of the candidates support Prop. 21, which would allow the local government to take over rental control for apartments first occupied more than 15 years ago, with the exception of landlords who own no more than two houses.

“We have to be careful when it comes to cutting rents so severely,” said Cortese. “They are undermining the laws already in place and forcing developers to leave the area. We urgently need housing … and affordable housing.”

Ravel said rent control will increase housing costs and adversely affect affordable housing.

“What we have to do is … start building really more affordable housing so that everyone can live here; the teachers, the firefighters, everyone,” said Ravel.


Both candidates are in favor of greater public health surveillance in Santa Clara County.

“Some of the health choices … have unequal health consequences,” said Ravel. “You failed to provide what was necessary during COVID.”

Cortese said because of the pandemic, the board of directors had issued a declaration of emergency to qualify for millions of state and federal emergency funds that give “tremendous power” to public health officials.

“What I would support is legislation that says either the public health officer or the county regulator could use this authority in an emergency,” Cortese said

Police reform

Cortese said all 58 counties in California should pass Santa Clara County’s “8 Can’t Wait” police reforms in order to achieve state-level consistency.

Ravel said there needs to be transparency about police officers’ files, especially those who have committed crimes, so that authorities do not hire people who “did the things that are inappropriate for police officers”.

She said the state legislature has that responsibility as it oversees police standards, attitudes and issues regarding independent scrutiny and prosecution imposition.

Both candidates asked for support from voters.

“They checked me out,” said Cortese. “You have allowed me to lead on the same subjects that we are addressing here today. I would ask you all to trust me with your vote … and send me to the Senate.”

Ravel made her notes and said, “I run because this place is really important to me.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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