KPFA - California Ballot Breakdown-logo

KPFA - California Ballot Breakdown

News & Politics Podcasts

If you’re slogging through a California ballot packet, we’re here to help! We’ll be posting pro-con debates on high-stakes ballot propositions, interviews with candidates for offices that will shape the politics of the state, and special reports on everything from voting rules to money in politics. Subscribe with Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or by pasting this link into any podcast player.


United States


If you’re slogging through a California ballot packet, we’re here to help! We’ll be posting pro-con debates on high-stakes ballot propositions, interviews with candidates for offices that will shape the politics of the state, and special reports on everything from voting rules to money in politics. Subscribe with Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or by pasting this link into any podcast player.




510.848.6767 x226


Proposition 29: Dialysis Clinics

Yay! We get to vote (again) on nuanced regulation of the kidney dialysis industry. The Debators: David Miller is SEIU-UHW’s Research Director and a member of the Yes on 29 campaign. DeWayne Cox is a dialysis patient and a member of the No on 29 campaign. Music credits: “T Shirt Weather” by Poddington Bear, used under CC BY-NC 3.0 US Browse through all our election segments here. Subscribe to get new ones with Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, or by pasting this link into any...


Propositions 27 and 27: Sports Betting

California voters are confronting not one but two ballot initiatives to legalize sports betting — and an onslaught of advertising owing to the nearly half a billion dollars that’s been spent on both sides of each. We host a debate on Prop 26, a discussion with the only side of 27 that would talk to us, and a reporter covering the historic sums of money that have entered both races. The Debators: Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Yes on 26, No on 27 Coalition. Becky Warren, spokesperson...


Who wants to be a San Francisco DA?

Left to right: Maurice Chenier, John Hamasaki, Joe Alioto Veronese, Brooke Jenkins San Francisco’s holding a special election for District Attorney, with four people running on a ranked-choice ballot to take over an office that became a punching bag for right-wing media, got rocked by a recall, and is now considering the first homicide prosecutions of San Francisco Police Department officers in that department’s 173-year history. We spoke to 75% of the candidates. The Candidates: 02:12...


Turning cash into clout: Prop 22’s in-app arm-twisting, CA NAACP’s perplexing positions

Proposition 22, the push to lock gig drivers into permanent independent contractor status, has spent more money than any ballot initiative campaign in state history. The gig companies financing it are also using their apps to advertise, arm-twist, and cajole. Ariel Boone has a report on how that’s changing the terrain of campaign. PLUS: Puzzled why California NAACP president Alice Huffman has put her name, and that of her organization, on the big-business side of so many propositions? It...


Local Edition: Where policing is on the ballot

In the wake of the uprisings over the police killing of George Floyd, cities and counties across California are putting policing reforms to a vote. We’ll take you through a roundup, starting with San Francisco’s Proposition E — which asks voters if they’d like to take minimum police staffing requirements out of the city’s charter. Joe Eskanazi, editor and columnist at Mission Local, a nonprofit newsroom in San Francisco. Music credits: “T Shirt Weather” by Poddington Bear, used under CC...


Debate: San Francisco Proposition L – An Inequality Tax

Voters in San Francisco are about to vote on whether to create California’s first tax on inequality. Prop L would raise the gross receipts tax on every business in the city that pays its top manager at least 100x more than its median employee. PRO: Supervisor Matt Haney represents San Francisco’s District 6; he sponsored Proposition L at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors CON: Richie Greenberg is a political commentator and the former Republican candidate for mayor of San Francisco....


Prop 15 followup: A tale of two buildings

Prop 15 would let property taxes rise with property values, but only for large owners of commercial and industrial real estate. The argument from the no campaign is that prop 15 would hurt some small businesses, too. They couldn’t actually give us an example when they came on to debate it–so we had our reporter Lucy Kang follow up, and ask both sides to point us at one building that makes their case. She found a skyscraper partially owned by Donald Trump, and a small business owner panicked...


Oakland D3: A Push from the Streets to City Hall

Oakland’s District 3 is mostly West Oakland. That’s a historically Black neighborhood, an epicenter of the 2008 foreclosure crisis, now rapidly gentrifying. Last year, it was also the site of an action that drew national attention: “Moms 4 Housing.” A group of unhoused Black mothers took over an empty home owned by a private equity firm, occupied it for over two months, and eventually – after the sheriff mounted a militarized eviction – forced the owner to sell the property to a land trust...


Local Edition: Berkeley and Vallejo

First: Wayne Hsiung is mounting a left-flank challenge to incumbent Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin that is quite well-financed and -organized for someone who’s never held office. Hsiung’s also a hardcore animal rights activist, leading a group some ex-members describe as cult-like, who co-authored a strategy document calling for supporters to move to one city, take over its government, and work from there towards getting legal personhood for animals into the US constitution. Needless to say,...


Local Edition: This race may not be what it appears, part 1

First: Oakland’s at-large council election, where outside money from Lyft has piled on to the effort to oust incumbent councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, and her main challenger is … not the business owner his campaign lit claims. Then: a tour through the late flood of attack money into San Francisco’s local races. 1:06 Darwin BondGraham, news editor of The Oaklandside 15:32 Tim Redmond, founder of, which covers the city and county of San Francisco Music credits: “T Shirt Weather” by...


Debate: Proposition 25 – ending cash bail

If Proposition 25 passes, it will end cash bail — no one will spend time incarcerated just because they couldn’t pay for a ticket out before trial. That’s why the bail bond industry’s poured millions into defeating it. But could the risk assessment tools it uses to replace cash bail be even more unfair? That question’s divided groups that work on civil liberties and mass incarceration. YES: John Bauters is the Budget Advocacy Director with Californians for Safety and Justice NO: Robert J....


DEBATE: Proposition 24 – 52 pages of privacy law changes

Proposition 24 in an overhaul of our California’s brand-spanking-new Consumer Privacy Act, which regulates what businesses can do with our data. The changes in prop 24 would change who that act applies to–it would wind up covering fewer businesses. It would add some restrictions, it would take some restrictions away, and it would fund a $10 million dollar-a-year agency to do enforcement. It is also 52 pages of dense statutory language that has divided groups that say they care about data...


A Debate on Prop 22 – California’s most expensive initiative, ever

Proposition 22 is a $188 million (and counting!) push by Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Instacart, and Postmates to permanently classify the workers who drive for them as independent contractors, and effectively bar the state legislature from passing a law to let them unionize. It’s already shattered all state records for spending on ballot initiatives in California, outspending the “no” campaign–which is financed by several unions–almost 13 to one. PRO: David Cruz is the President of council number...


Phil Arballo wants to unseat Devin Nunes

In 2016, California Republican Devin Nunes won re-election in CA-22 by a 35-point margin. Then Nunes, as House Intelligence Chair, became a national symbol of House Republicans’ feverish defense of misconduct by Donald Trump, and his 2018 victory margin dropped to five percent. We talk to the person challenging Nunes–Phil Arballo–about why he thinks it’s possible to close those final five points, what he wants to do when he gets to Congress, and how a moderate in a swing district thinks...


A Brief History of Prop 16

California is one of only ten states that ban affirmative action. Voters put the ban in our constitution during an era when Republicans started turning to anti-immigrant and anti-affirmative action policies as wedge issues that could split some white voters away from the Democratic party. Our elections reporter Ariel Boone produced this brief history of how we got where we are today, and how the arguments over affirmative action have stood the test of time. Music credits: “T Shirt Weather”...


Senate District 15: Ann Ravel vs. David Cortese

In California, a State Senator represents more people than the average member of Congress. And there’s an open seat in the Bay: Senate District 15, covering big chunk of San Jose and the surrounding area. Voters will face a choice between two Democrats, which can make it hard to suss out the differences, so we walk them both through their positions on some of the biggest policy fights at the ballot and in the legislature. 01:08 – Ann Ravel, formerly an Obama Appointee on the Federal Election...


Debate: Prop 21 – easing restrictions on local rent control laws

Under a law called Costa-Hawkins, California’s local governments can’t regulate rent increases in anything built after 1995 (earlier, for places that already had rent control on the books when Costa Hawkins passed), can’t regulate rent increases in single-family homes, and can’t regulate how much rents go up after a rent-controlled tenant moves out. Proposition 21 would ease those restrictions: letting cities and counties regulate rents in any building more than 15 years old, regulate rents...


Tax debates! Propositions 15 and 19

There are two big tax changes on California’s ballot–part of a push to roll back an era of anti-tax politics that started when California voters approved prop 13 in 1978. We’ll debate prop 15, which is pitting public sector unions against big real estate investors; and prop 19, which has pulled together an odd coalition of unions, firefighters, and . . . realtors. PLUS we walk you through a massive labor fight on the ballot in the form of prop 22. 2:06 – Proposition 15 Debate 26:00 –...


SD11: Scott Wiener vs. Jackie Fielder

Housing is front and center in San Francisco’s state senate race, where a prolific legislator faces a left-flank challenger who’s secured enough funding and endorsements to pose a serious threat. We speak to both candidates about how their politics would shape California’s response to its housing crisis. Plus: everything you need to know about the mechanics of voting this year, from COVID measures, to mail-in rules, to how new “voting centers” work. 01:09 Ariel Boone on California’s pandemic...


Introducing California Ballot Breakdown

Here’s what we’re planning, posted early so we show up in podcast feeds. (Music Credit: “Something Elated” by Broke for Free, used under CC BY 3.0 US The post Introducing California Ballot Breakdown appeared first on KPFA.