Board of Equalization
Districts 2 - 40
Democrat: Michela Alioto of St. Helena. Republican:
Incumbent Bill Jones of Fresno. American Independent: Carolyn Rae Short
of Durham. Libertarian: Gail Lightfoot of Pismo Beach. Natural Law:
Jane Ann Bialosky of Santa Barbara. Peace and Freedom: Israel Feuer of Los
Angeles, Marisa Palyvos-Story of Toluca Lake. Reform: Valli Sharpe-Geisler
of San Jose.
If incumbent Bill Jones has any problems, it's raising
his own name ID among voters. A late-March Field poll showed only 28 percent of voters
knew the Republican well enough to have an opinion about him. Told his party affiliation,
34 percent of those polled said they would support him, while Democratic opponent
Michela Alioto was favored by 23 percent.
While that approval rating is not unusual for a down-ticket post, it's not very showy
for someone whose name has been in the news so frequently. Not only is the former
Fresno assemblyman the author of the three-strikes-law, he has more recently made
news (some of it negative) defending term limits, the open primary, campaign finance
reform and Internet disclosure, as well as by investigating voter fraud, and promoting
use of ID at the polls.
While several third-party candidates are running for the office, neither Jones nor
Alioto faces a primary opponent. Even so, the granddaughter of former San Francisco
Mayor Joe Alioto has started actively campaigning, slamming Jones for what some say
was overkill in his Orange County voter fraud probe and accusing him of bringing
a Republican agenda to election issues, charges Jones says are unfounded.
Only 29 years old, Alioto has acquired some campaign battle scars and her share of
negative press. She came out the loser in a bruising fight in 1996 against incumbent
Frank Riggs in the 1st Congressional District -- one of the most negative races that
year. With ties to Washington, D.C., through her work for Vice President Al Gore,
Alioto had backing from national labor, environmental and women's groups. But it
took $200,000 of her own money to knock out the local Democrats' choice in the primary,
and area groups took longer to line up behind her.
The race likely will heat up as the fall approaches, but down-ticket races always
vie for attention in the atmosphere of white noise created at the top.
-- Article by Melanie Smith