By Ada Statler
As California predictably voted in favor of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night, voters also elected Kamala Harris as the second ever black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate and ushered in an array of new ballot propositions, including legalization of recreational marijuana.
In a heated race for the seat vacated by long-time senator Barbara Boxer, California Attorney General Harris defeated Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez with 64.6 percent of the vote and 52 percent of precincts reporting at the time of publication. The race was a test of California’s new “top two” policy, which allowed the two Democrats to face off against one another after receiving the greatest number of votes overall in the primary. In addition to becoming the second black woman senator, Harris is the only black senator to be elected from the state of California.
In the House, Anna Eshoo (D) handily won her race against Republican Richard Fox, maintaining her representation of Stanford and the rest of CA District 18.
Economics professor and Democrat Ro Khanna also defeated his opponent in District 17. Khanna led fellow Democrat and incumbent Mike Honda with 59 percent of the vote at the time of publication, by which time 50 percent reporting had been reached.
With the passage of Proposition 64, Californians aged 21 and older gained the right to possess, transport and buy up to 28.5 grams of marijuana for recreational use. The measure also creates a 15 percent tax on retail sales. With its passage and that of a similar resolution in Massachusetts, six U.S. states have now legalized recreational marijuana usage.
Proposition 57 also passed in a victory for Governor Jerry Brown. Prop 57 changes the legal system in three main ways: It requires judge approval to charge younger defendants as adults and increases opportunity for parole and “good behavior credits” for certain nonviolent offenders.
Californians also took a stance on gun control with Proposition 63, which requires background checks for the sale and purchase of ammunition, bans ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds and makes it an infraction for sellers to not report bullet theft within 48 hours. The legislation was authored by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and will also implement harsher punishments for stolen firearms.
Other resolutions passed included Prop 52 for Medi-Cal Hospital Fees; Prop 54 for Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote; Prop 55 to Extend the Prop 30 Income Tax Increase Initiative; Prop 56 to Increase the Cigarette Tax; and Prop 58 to Repeal English-Only Education.
At the time of publication, not enough votes had been collected to decisively call Propositions 51, 53, 59, 60, 61, 62, 65, 66 and 67.