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Point of View

What issues are important to you in this election?

– Berkeley is often pigeonholed as being a bastion of bleeding-heart liberalism, but those who work, study, and teach here know that a range of opinions can be found on campus. Usually, all one has to do is ask for them.

But this morning on Election Day 2006, dialogue seemed inhibited in the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. When we asked random passersby what, if anything, was motivating them to go to the polls today, not one of the six or so staff or faculty members approached would go on the record. Many students were also reluctant to speak up. Among those who declined was a conservative staffperson, who said he has already been attacked anonymously for expressing his views.

Here's what the eight students who were willing to share their opinions had to say:

Lauren Apter, second-year history major
'Proposition 85, the one on abortion [requiring doctors to notify parents of minors] really concerns me, because it makes the situation too black and white, when really it's gray. There are a variety of reasons why notifying parents could be a bad idea. Also, my mom works for the school district back home, so I care about Measure A [Berkeley Public Schools Educational Excellence Act of 2006]. The real reason I switched my registration to here, though, is because [third-year Berkeley student] Jason Overman is running for Berkeley city council. I just think it's so cool that someone my age is that committed, and I want to support him.'
—Lauren Apter, second-year history major. Hometown: Benicia, CA

'There are two that I really care about. Proposition 85, because it's a commonsense measure: if a minor can't drink or do all the other things minors can't do in this country, I don't think they should have surgery without parental oversight. I'm also very excited about Proposition 90 [a constitutional amendment regulating government acquisition of private property]. This will limit the power of government to take people's property through eminent domain, which has been abused by local governments. Poor people are the biggest victims of eminent domain: a developer gets a local government to condemn a blighted property so they can build an office park.'
—James Fullmer, third-year business administration/ political science major. Hometown: Fullerton, CA
James Fullmer, third-year business administration/political science major

Polly Wold, third-year legal studies major.
'The governor. We have to get that guy out of office. I was also very motivated to vote on Proposition 85, the one about parental notification for teenagers, and on Proposition 87 [the Clean Alternative Energy Act]. I really believe it's important to put money into researching alternate forms of energy. Anything we can do for cleaner energy gets me to the polls. We use way too much gas, and we have to stop going to war over it.'
—Polly Wold, third-year legal studies major. Hometown: Alamo, CA.

'There wasn't one thing that got me out. I just voted because I always vote. I studied the propositions and ballot measures last night. It's my civic duty.'
—Leo Collins, third-year political science major. Hometown: Indio, CA.
Leo Collins, third-year political science major.

Frances Kawamoto, fourth-year public health major.
'I've heard a lot about Measure A, the one for Berkeley public schools; people where I work were talking  about why anyone would ever vote against improving education. I'm also very interested in Proposition 85, the one about abortion. We've had several debates about it in my public-health classes. I support informed consent with parents, because I think it's really hard for minors to make such decisions on their own, and they're still under the financial control of their parents. But I think it's tough to make that judgment in general, because there are so many issues surrounding this: you don't know if the girl has been abused, for example. You really have to consider each case individually.'
—Frances Kawamoto, fourth-year public health major. Hometown: Davis, CA.

'Well, something that concerns me a lot is the integrity of elections and the transparency of the voting system. But what's really most important to me is Democratic control of Congress, not that we can do a lot about that here in Berkeley, since Pleasanton has the closest contested election. I'm really excited about the chance that the House could switch hands for the first time in 12 years - I mean, the last time the Democrats had control of Congress, I was 7! Also, the idea that Nancy Pelosi could become the first female Speaker of the House is great.'
—Brian Wantz, second-year political science major. Hometown: Ventura, CA.
 Brian Wantz, second year political science major.

Arta Zowghi, first-year public health major.
'The main one for me is Proposition 85, the one about teenage pregnancies. A friend of mine got pregnant and had to have an abortion; her parents knew and they were OK with her decision. But that won't always be true for people in other situations. You know, they're saying that if safety is an issue, the girl can go to a judge to get consent. But that's just not realistic. I feel like her privacy will be endangered.'
—Arta Zowghi, first-year public health major. Hometown: Los Altos, CA.

'Proposition 85, the abortion one — it's really controversial because it has to do with the youth. I'm for it, because I think just in case they get harmed in some way, their parents should know; otherwise they have no way of getting help. I'm also for Proposition 87, the oil one: I think since the oil companies are making so much profit, they should be taxed more.'
—Dustin Hang, first-year molecular and cell biology major. Hometown: Palmdale, CA.
Dustin Hang, first-year molecular and cell biology major

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