Alameda County will not place Measure A redux on the ballot this November

Campaign sign for Measure A, the 30-year, $140 million, half-cent sales tax initiative that narrowly failed at the ballot box last June.

Citing somewhat unspectacular recent polling, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors tabled on an effort to place a countywide sales tax increase on the November ballot to fund childcare and early education less than two months after a nearly identical measure fell a few hundred votes short of approval at the ballot box.

Childcare and education activists had lobbied the county to redouble its efforts after the narrow defeat on June 5 and the Board of Supervisors appeared willing to do so during a board meeting on July 10, and quickly moved ahead with a plan to place the half-percent sales tax increase yet again before voters on Nov. 6.

It’s a risk, but it’s not a risk we should take,” Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said of the pitfalls for placing another Measure A on the fall ballot.

But like Supervisor Nate Miley, who supported for the effort, yet voiced trepidation two weeks ago, the results of a then-pending survey of voters remained a determining factor. The polling, however, failed to smooth over some of supervisor’s skepticism.

The sales tax measure, which again would require support from two-thirds of voters, registered 67 percent support in a survey of 800 Alameda County voters, the requisite number for passage–but barely. Although the polling met the necessary threshold, a number above and beyond the minimum required is typically a good barometer of whether or not a ballot measure is successful on Election Day.

The county’s consultants, in fact, recommended against placing the sales tax measure on the fall ballot, said Chan. While support for the measure was very strong in Berkeley and Oakland, the cities were but a few in the county in which the two-thirds threshold was met, Chan said of the polling.

Chan said the decision to pull the plug on the childcare initiative “was a pretty hard,” and because of the high number of local ballot measures already coming to voters in the local cities, “It is going to be hard to get the attention we want.”

The county electorate, possibly due to the nasty national discourse evident in politics discussion these days, said Chan, has become “kind of grouchy, which is not surprising.”

Miley, meanwhile, said poll results rendered the proposed sales tax measures chances in November as a “crapshoot.”

“It would be terrible to lose in November and lose twice in a row. The poll results don’t give us that comfort level that we need.” He added, “It’s a risk, but it’s not a risk we should take.”

Despite the decision, county supervisors made it clear Tuesday morning that the pressing need for childcare and early education programs remains dire in Alameda County. It is likely a similar ballot measure could be resurrected in time for the either the March 2020 primary or November General Election–an expected high-stakes Presidential election. Noting the high expected voter turnout in the fall of 2020, Miley, added, “There’s going to be significant motivation to come out to the election.”

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