Ann Ravel for Senate (CA-15)

It has not been the practice on this blog to endorse candidates or even political views, with a few exceptions as to attempts at internet regulation that may be misguided. We make an exception on this page (i) because it involves a State Senate district in the heart of Silicon Valley in the California State Senate, which means by necessity this candidate will be a major voice on tech policy in the tech capital of the United States; and (ii) because the candidate is Ann Ravel.

Ann is running for the 15th Senate District which covers a large portion of Santa Clara County and includes much of San Jose, Cupertino, Los Gato, Campbell, Saratoga and Monte Sereno. As a youth, Ann worked picking fruit in Salinas Valley and at a San Jose fruit cannery, only to work her way through law school and eventually serve eleven years as Santa Clara County Counsel.

Ann went on to serve as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2009-2011, when Governor Brown appointed her to serve as Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). In 2013, President Obama named her to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and elevated her to Chair in 2015.

In her work with the FPPC and FEC, Ann was outspoken and worked to use technology to enable voters to be better informed while also expressing concern about how dark money and the internet could be misused to influence elections. She won a $1 million settlement from a lawsuit that challenged the Koch brothers’ use of dark money in connection a proposition campaign. I had the opportunity to talk with Ann as a guest on Cyber Law & Business Report both when she was with the FPPC and FEC.

At age 71, this is Ann Ravel’s first run for political office. She is not a career politician, she is just someone from the district who is genuinely interested in tech issues, finding practical solutions and making our political system work better. I have spoken with her during the campaign about tech issues that the state is facing and she genuinely listens.

That is why she is endorsed by both the San Francisco Chronicle and San jose Mercury News and why she is the only California legislative candidate to be endorsed by former President Barack Obama. As the Chronicle explains, Ann represents “exactly the type of thoughtful, bold and truth-telling independent Democrat that District 15 deserves — and is sorely lacking overall in Sacramento.” The Chronicle, especially praised Ravel for her ability to identify well-meaning legislation but at the same time spot practical concerns for how it applied to California business, noting she has ” a real-world sensibility that is too often lacking among doctrinaire politicians.”

Due to California’s “jungle primary system” in which the top two vote getters regardless of party advance, both Ann and her opponent Davie Cortese, who has been in area politics since the 1990s, are Democrats. Only Ann, however, has the policy gravitas, insight and independence to effectively represent Silicon Valley in Sacramento.