State Board of Equalization District 1-4


California has the only publicly elected tax commission in the United States. On Tuesday, voters across the state headed to the polls to elect members of the state Equalization Board.

Board duties have been reduced in recent years, though the work still brings in $163,000 a year.

Until about five years ago, council members oversaw the collection of one-third of all taxes paid in California. But in 2017 lawmakers stripped the council of most of its powers after allegations of improper spending and other misdeeds by council member Jerome Horton.

Incumbents Ted Gaines, a Republican from El Dorado Hills, and Tony Vazquez, a Democrat from Los Angeles, don’t have much well-funded opposition in Tuesday’s primary, but competition promises to be fierce for both other seats.

District 1

This district, which covers the interior of California from the Oregon border to San Bernardino County, is represented by Ted Gaines, a Republican. He faces three Democratic challengers: Jose Altamirano, Braden Murphy and Nader Shahatit.

District 2

This district runs along the coast of Ventura County to the Oregon border. Incumbent Malia Cohen, a Democrat, is running for the state comptroller’s office in Tuesday’s primary, hoping to succeed Betty Yee, who is being fired.

Two Democrats are vying for the seat: former San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, a small-business owner, and Mountain View City Councilwoman and former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber. Peter Coe Verbica, an investment adviser, is running as a Republican.

District 3

This district covers Los Angeles. Incumbent Tony Vazquez, a Democrat, is challenged by fellow Democrat John Mendoza and Y. Marie Manvel, an independent.

District 4

This district extends south and east of Los Angeles, encompassing Orange, Riverside, Imperial and San Diego counties. The race attracted seven candidates, including five Republicans. Holder Mike Schaefer is considered vulnerable. Schaefer, an octogenarian attorney, has faced issues including disbarment, sleep owner charges and a domestic abuse conviction. Yet Schaefer has the endorsement of the Democratic Party.

Schaefer’s challengers were

  • Republican Matthew Harper, former Huntington Beach Assemblyman
  • Republican Erik Peterson, member of the Huntington Beach City Council
  • Republican Randy Economy, the eccentric former spokesman for last year’s recall campaign against Governor Gavin Newsom.
  • David Dodson, Democrat and Council Staff Supervisor.
  • Denis Bilodeau, Republican and member of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors
  • John Kelly, Republican small business owner

For each position, only the top two candidates from the first round of the hiring process (also known as the primary) will advance to the final exam in November.

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