ELECTION ’12//ASSEMBLY 20 | Just days before voters head to the polls Tuesday, 20th Assembly District candidate Dr. Jennifer Ong finally announced her endorsement of Proposition 30. Ong’s unwillingness to fully support the governor’s sales tax initiative had been, until now, the defining difference between her and Bill Quirk over the past month.
In a campaign between Democrats with similar ideologies, Ong’s peculiar stance—essentially a non-endorsement of Prop. 30—had attracted criticism from some for her diversion from party orthodoxy. Ong had reasoned Prop. 30 would disproportionately affect the poor. However, the position became a lightning rod for critics who believe the downside of Prop. 30’s defeat, namely, continued and steep cuts to education to help balance the state budget, would actually hurt the poor in far worse ways.
“Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has strongly emphasized that Proposition 30 is an important measure that will provide vital support to our schools, community colleges, and universities,” Ong said in a statement Nov. 1. “I agree with Superintendent Torlakson and endorse his efforts on behalf of Proposition 30 to ensure our schools and higher education institutions avoid nearly $6 billion in crippling mid-year cuts.”
On Saturday, Ong said she was never against Proposition 30 and always realized its benefits to helping children and education. In addition, to Torlakson, Ong said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan also helped her see the need to more firmly support Prop. 30. During a candidates forum last September, Quirk, a strong supporter of Prop. 30, challenged Ong over the issue. Although Ong never specifically said she was against Prop. 30, afterwards, she told The Citizen she could not “personally support it.”
Ong’s change of course to officially endorsing the tax measure elicited a strong response Friday from Quirk’s campaign. “Ong was for 30 before she was against it and now she’s for it again,” the campaign said in a statement. “We hope she’ll send out another mailer to district residents retracting the hit she did on Bill Quirk for supporting Proposition 30. Voters should ask themselves what she really stands for and what other positions she’ll change when she gets to Sacramento.”