It has not been a common practice on this blog to endorse candidates or even political views, with a few exceptions regarding attempts at internet regulation which may be wrong. We make an exception on this page (i) because it is a Senate district in the heart of Silicon Valley in the California Senate, which means that this candidate will necessarily be a major voice in technology policy in the technology capital of the States; and (ii) because the candidate is Ann Ravel.
Ann is running for the 15th Senate District, which covers much of Santa Clara County and includes much of San Jose, Cupertino, Los Gato, Campbell, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno. As a teenager, Ann worked in the Salinas Valley and at a fruit canning factory in San Jose to work her way through law school, eventually serving as Santa Clara County Counsel for 11 years.
Ann was the deputy assistant attorney general in the civil division of the US Department of Justice from 2009 to 2011 when Governor Brown named her chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). In 2013, she was appointed to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) by President Obama and made chairman in 2015.
In her work with the FPPC and FEC, Ann has been open-minded and committed to using technology to better educate voters while expressing concern about how dark money and the internet could be used to influence elections. She won a $ 1 million settlement in a lawsuit questioning the Koch brothers’ use of dark money in connection with a proposal campaign. I had the opportunity to speak to Ann as a guest on Cyber Law & Business Report when she was with both FPPC and FEC.
At the age of 71, this is Ann Ravel’s first candidacy for political office. She’s not a career politician, she’s just someone from the district who really cares about technical issues, finds practical solutions, and makes our political system work better. I spoke to her during the campaign about technical issues the state is facing and she listens sincerely.
Because of this, she is endorsed by both the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News and is the only California legislative candidate endorsed by former President Barack Obama. As the Chronicle explains, Ann represents “exactly the kind of thoughtful, bold, and truthful independent Democrat District 15 deserves – and sorely lacking in Sacramento as a whole.” The Chronicle particularly praised Ravel for her ability to identify well-intentioned laws while also identifying practical concerns about applying them to California business. She noted that she “has a real sensibility that too often is lacking among doctrinal politicians”.
Because of California’s “jungle primary system”, in which the two best voters are independent of party feed, both Ann and her opponent Davie Cortese, who has been active in area politics since the 1990s, are Democrats. However, only Ann has the politics, insight, and independence to effectively represent Silicon Valley in Sacramento.