Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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Tuesday June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 24

Photo of William "Bill" Ostrander

William "Bill" Ostrander

Farmer/Non-Profit Director
12,657 votes (6.1%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Ridding our political campaigns, policy decisions and legislation from the corruptive influence of big money from lobbyists, PACs and other special interests.
  • The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked.
  • Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 should have the option of working in their community or for their country as volunteers for 500 hours in exchange for paid admission to college.



Profession:Director, Citizen's Congress and regenerative farmer/rancher
Director, Citizens Congress (2012–current)
Volunteer, Big Brothers — Appointed position (1981–current)
Director, Citizens Congress, non-profit campaign finance reform organization locally, statewide and federally — Elected position (2012–current)
Real Estate Investor and Green Developer, Self Employed (1999–2012)
Dairy Farmer, FarmLink (1996–1998)
General Contractor, Self-Employed (1992–1995)
Conservation Coordinator, Cheetah Conservation Fund — Appointed position (1991–1992)
Actor, Various Movie and Television Studios/Production Companies (1979–1991)
Member, Sierra Club — Appointed position (1982–1991)
Spokesperson, Coalition to Stop Food Irradiation — Appointed position (1986–1982)


Santa Monica College None, Woodworking (1981)
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo None, Dairy Science (1981)
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Certification, Artificial Insemination of Cattle (1981)
UCLA Extension None, Advanced Vocabulary, Kinesiology, Greek Mythology, Acting and Directing (1980)

Community Activities

Member, Screen Actors Guild (1983–current)


William “Bill” Ostrander was raised on a farm in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Following high school, he moved to Los Angeles to be an actor. Bill landed a job not long after arriving and made a good living in movies and on television for about 20 years. Bill went on to become a Big Brother, a spokesperson for stopping the irradiation of food, a Sierra Club activist, a volunteer trail builder, a beach cleanup volunteer and protester of underground nuclear testing. He attended one of the earliest meetings of “People for the American Way”. He's worked as a general contractor, dairy farmer, sustainable farmer, real estate investor and developer. Now, he’s Director of Citizens Congress, a non-profit devoted to removing big money from politics, and has resumed regenerative farming. Bill is a single parent sharing custody of two sons, ages 15 and 18. Ostrander will be on the June 7th ballot for Congress in the 24th District and he needs your vote.

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (4)

Should immigration laws be changed?  What changes would you support?  Please explain why.
Answer from William "Bill" Ostrander:

Immigrants are also taxpayers and consumers. They pay taxes on their wages and spend their earnings on the purchase of goods and services including food, clothing and homes. This increased consumption boosts business sales, expands the economy, generates new jobs and increases the earnings of all Americans. Immigrants are benefitting our country and we must implement far-reaching and comprehensive immigration reform that balances national security needs with renewed efforts to grow the nation's workforce, stimulate economy prosperity and remain competitive in the 21st-century global marketplace.

It’s time to take an aggressive approach and insist on legislation will actually work to solve the problem, which include:

1. Providing and earned path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants currently in the country who wish to remain, as well as a guest-worker program for those who just want to work and return home.
2. Impose modest and appropriate penalties for those who currently here illegally, adopt requirements to study English, pay taxes, and otherwise remain within in compliance with existing law.
3. Make obtaining citizenship a less time-consuming and reasonable process with substantially less unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic roadblocks.
4. The adoption and implementation of a guest-worker program that ensures participants’ full constitutional rights, including the right to organize, while distributing both skilled and unskilled labor to those industries where it is needed. Such labor is of the type that very few U.S. citizens are unwilling to undertake.
5. Forget about the current system’s obsession with so-called “chain migration,” which is an endless chains of foreign nationals who are allowed to immigrate because citizens and lawful permanent residents are allowed to bring in their non-nuclear family members and emphasizing the value of family ties when considering admission and work visas.
6. Completely overhaul of immigration quota system, so immigrants are admitted on the basis of economic needs and are not on nations of origin.
An approach as outlined above is simply a matter of common sense. For example, it is easy to dismiss the fact that what many people really don’t like about the immigration mess is that laws are being broken, and with apparent disregard. However, it’s not just a matter of enforcing the law because our current immigration laws have clearly failed. And, the laws have failed because they criminalize tens of millions of otherwise law-abiding, decent, hard-working people.

The political climate in Washington, D.C. has been extremely partisan in recent years. In that kind of atmosphere, what would you do to get things done while in office?
Answer from William "Bill" Ostrander:

Political gridlock is often the fallout from the competition over winning and losing. In such a paradigm, success necessarily means that for one party to win, the other must lose. A solution may lie in changing the rules about what constitutes winning and losing. Since we are conditioned to think that the debate over federal policy is a competition between Republicans and Democrats, both parties become intransigent and gridlock is perpetuated. Because neither side can afford to let the other win, we all lose.

If the definition of success is redefined to mean legislative outcomes that do the most good for our citizens and our country, regardless of party affiliation, perhaps congress would listen. Voters need to demand that perpetrators of gridlock sit down and work out a deal for the common good, which is then defined as winning.

The key to getting at this root cause is for the representatives to lead in service to the interests of their constituents rather than to follow their narrow political party-imposed positions. Interest-based bargaining is a process by which the two sides start with declarations of their interests rather than with specific proposals. In the partisan political realm, this means our elected officials would help define our real interests rather than holding tightly to the narrow positions they traditionally use as substitutes for our true interests. It would seem to be much easier to find mutually acceptable solutions, even to something as daunting as our country’s challenges by using such an approach, which in business is often referred to as "win-win bargaining."

We all fear change and usually attempt to avoid it if possible. Breaking gridlock often means that our representatives have to change not only the way winning and losing are defined, but also the way we think and the way we talk. It is not easy to get out of that rut. However, the key to such change is building trust. Trust can be defined many ways, but in this case, it can be summarized as feeling a sense of safety. The questions would no longer be couched in terms of winning and losing, but instead, whether it is safer to enact the changes that are in the interests of the common good. There are ways to reduce the punitive behaviors that threaten those who don’t change. There are safeguards that can be introduced that raise our sense of security. There could even be an approach that makes it easier for both parties to move toward the common good.

Many local and some state governments have found breakthroughs in collaborating with one another. Many of the nation's governors have joined together to offer practical solutions to the challenges we face. School districts are working with community groups, businesses and their local governments to improve learning outcomes for our youth.

However large or small, these all are efforts that are worth our time and scrutiny if we want to change the current institutional gridlock we see far too often.

What, if anything, does the U.S. need to do in order to address national security and terrorism? Please explain your answer in detail.
Answer from William "Bill" Ostrander:

The reason terrorists are called “terrorists” is because they seek to instill fear. The acts terrorists take are not done simply to kill many people, which they sometimes do, but they do it more to create fear among those who watch it happen, whether they are next door or on the other side of the world. Terrorists commit crimes for the political purposes of causing disorder, demoralizing society, and eventually, breaking down the existing social and political order. Put simply, terrorism is a form of political theater.

In today’s media-driven society, terrorists seek to attract news coverage, especially on television and other visually-focused medium because they are real human dramas being played out in real time. Acts of terrorism are different from ordinary killings and therefore more newsworthy.

It’s very difficult to track down terrorists and next to impossible to put them in jail. We must view terrorism as not the act, but instead, the human reaction to the act of terror. Therefore, an appropriate response to terrorism would include:

1. Do not allow terrorists win by refusing to succumb to fear. In short, don’t panic and certainly don’t overreact or exaggerate the threat.

2. While there is a saying in the television industry that, “if it bleeds, it leads,” the last thing we should do is to sensationalize the acts of terrorists with 24/7 media coverage of whatever they do because that’s what the terrorists want. They want extensive media coverage, not only to shape public opinion and to spread fear, but also to recruit new members.

 3. Do not change the way you live, your way of life, your political system or your liberties in response to terrorism. By abridging our own freedoms or marginalizing some groups of people (e.g. American Muslims) as a response to terrorism is again, exactly what the terrorists want. They want to turn people against one another. As Abraham Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand." We cannot allow terrorists to divide us because to divide is to conquer.

The challenge is how we can go about sensitizing Americans to the point where they recognize the complexity of the terrorist threat while minimizing fear and overreaction. Stopping terrorists requires intelligence gathering, strong policing, and selective and targeted military action coupled with firmness and resolve.

The Federal Government plays a part in California water allocation and use through a variety of laws.  What, if any, legislation would you support in an effort to handle water shortages caused by the current and any future drought?
Answer from William "Bill" Ostrander:

The federal government can take action to make it easier to trade water during drought emergencies. It could:

1. Facilitate distribution of federal cost-shares for local development of non-traditional sources of water and other drought-resiliency projects, by allowing agency federal department heads to give funds directly to states.
2. Collaborate with the state to develop a drought biodiversity management plan modeled after successful approaches used by Australia during its Millennium Drought.
3. Expand the Central Valley Project’s ecosystem restoration fund by increasing per acre-foot fees on project water during drought and establishing a surcharge on water trades that use federal infrastructure.
4. Speed the listing of species threatened with extinction during drought emergencies and implement recovery actions.
5. Increase federal agency support for improved water information systems, and increase technical support, notably from the US Geological Survey and National Weather Service.
Longer-term assistance:
1.  Create an Independent System Operator (ISO)—similar to the ISO that currently manages California’s electrical grid—that would merge state and federal water projects into a single, public utility.
2.  Through legislation similar to the Coastal Zone Management Act, promote coordinated and integrated water management that addresses related issues of supply, quality, drought, flood and ecosystem challenges at a regional scale.

These 10 federal actions would help California better manage its current drought and help us prepare for inevitable future droughts.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $68,734

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Employees of William Ostrander
Employees of Keller Rohrback
Employees of Amplitude Capital AG
Employees of Lymburg Eye Surgery

More information about contributions

By State:

California 87.45%
Washington 4.48%
Virginia 3.32%
Maryland 1.68%
Other 3.07%

By Size:

Large contributions (91.29%)
Small contributions (8.71%)

By Type:

From organizations (5.62%)
From individuals (94.38%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Bill Ostrander’s political philosophy is shaped by his sense of civil liberty and equality, with support for social justice, as well as fundamental fairness for all. He believes that every citizen deserves an opportunity to achieve the American Dream as each individual conceives it to be. Mr. Ostrander strongly supports campaign finance reform, assuring that the obscene amount of wealth that has accrued only to the top one percent is remedied and actively reducing greenhouse gases through regenerative farming. He will fight the student debt crisis by establishing a national service program through which 18 to 24 year-olds would serve our communities or our country for 500 hours, after which he or she could attend college tuition-free. Bill wants to increase funding for education, healthcare for all, social security and welfare, as well as expanding voting rights, reproductive and women’s rights, as well as support for same-sex marriage and comprehensive immigration reform.


Position Papers

Wealth Inequality


When 85 families control as much wealth as half the world’s population, we have a serious problem with our rules.

The game is rigged.  It's rigged because the rules that we live by are being written by the wealthiest among us.  Everyone acknowledges that.  These policies are not just hammering the poorest among us either.  These policies that favor the wealthy actually hurt America's economy as a whole as evidenced in a report by Standard and Poor's that shows that income inequality is drag on the economy as a whole. (

However, it's not just about money, it's more insidious and cruel than that.  It's the conceit that there is ONLY one version of the American Dream - accumulation of great financial wealth.  It's not just that those with concentrated wealth have their way with certain policy decisions that only they can afford to influence, or that the wealth is disproportionately redistributed to the top.  It's that the rest of America's version of "the American Dream" is being dismissed and disrespected along the way.  We are being remanded to accept the conceit that our simple dreams of being a teacher, a cook, a farmer, a mechanic, a social worker, my dreams, your dreams, our dreams, the variety of American Dreams, the simple dreams that make up the real fabric of society as a whole, our lives are dismissed as irrelevant, unimportant and replaceable.  That if we are struggling financially it's OUR FAULT for choosing to contribute our talents to our communities as a plumber or nurse rather than one of the hedge fund managers that took home over a billion dollars in pay last year.  That if your choice in life is a personally rewarding job that you're uniquely talented for but won't make you rich, your life will be harder.  That if you are a maintenance man or restaurant employee you don't deserve a pension that helps you live out your last days with dignity.  A conceit that argues that it doesn't matter if you are born into poverty or wealth, that access to the American Dream is equal when it unequivocally is not.  That if your vocation calls out to teach children, that you don't deserve a pay raise in the last ten years because it doesn't return any measurable shareholder value.  As an employee who earns $1 for every $373 that their CEO earns, you are not entitled to any meaningful compensation for your contribution to the companies success. 

The American Dream, "the pursuit of happiness", "domestic tranquility" for most people, is about having a meaningful job that provides a decent measure of security, a place to live that is contenting, the time to spend nurturing our children, a positive synergistic relationship with our communities, and compassion for our health and well being as we get old.  Our country has tremendous natural resources that can provide for all of us.  We don't mind that the American dream for some is to spend their time chasing money, but don't take away my dignity or my ability to participate in our community and provide for my family for choosing differently.  Please don't tell me my pursuit of happiness is unworthy or should be discriminated against.  Don't tell me that my contributions to my community are insignificant.  Don't tell me I'm not a patriot because I don't agree with you.  Don't tell me that you need multiple homes and cars and that an apartment in a run down neighborhood is good enough for me and my kids.  Don't tell me that you can do what you want with the air that I breathe.  Don't tell me that our public lands are your personal business opportunity. Don't tell me that your sons and daughters deserve a good education, healthy, nutritious food, and career options and my children must navigate the hurdles of poverty and a misplaced sense of dignity found in crime and incarceration. 

The "American Dream" is not measured in the single metric of money.  The American Dream, our constitutionally proclaimed right to "domestic tranquility", is much broader than that.  That codified freedom, the chance to truly live our lives of our own choosing is threatened.  Most people aren't concerned with making millions of dollars.  We want the true sense of "freedom" to pursue the happiness we were promised in our constitution.  The "American Dream" is plural and we need to make sure it is accessible to all.

Reforming our campaign financing system


Getting big money out of critical to restoring balance of power. The People's Pledge is a contract, signed and created by William Ostrander, to uphold ethical values for the congressional candidates of California's 24th district. This is our promise to uphold a clean and uninfluenced election

The existing campaign financing system encourages enormous amounts of money to be spent in our elections. Every election since 1998 has been more expensive than the one before, with the average cost of a House campaign of more than $1.2 million. That money is corruptive to our democratic process and perverts our political discourse. We as candidates can choose to do better.

It is expected that wealthy Individuals, corporations, SuperPACs, 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations and national and state party committees will spend millions of dollars on advertisements in the upcoming race for the 24th Congressional District. These groups function as independent expenditure organizations and are outside the direct control of the candidates. Independent organizations spent $219 million in 2014, the majority of which were negative advertisements.

The candidates recognize that campaigns for public office have devolved into attacks, smears and outright lies and desire to provide the citizens of 24th Congressional District with an election free of third party independent expenditure advertisements.

The candidates agree that they do not approve of such independent expenditure advertisements and do not want such advertisements to be undertaken by these organizations during the race for the 24th Congressional District. If the candidates are serious about excluding negative advertising in the upcoming campaign, they must be willing to include an enforcement mechanism that runs not only to the third party organizations but to the candidates’ own campaigns.

Therefore, the candidates, on behalf of their respective campaigns, hereby agree to the following:

    In the event that a third party organization airs any independent expenditure broadcast, including radio, cable, satellite or online advertising, in support of a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified candidate, that Candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposing candidate’s choice.

    In the event that a third party organization airs any independent expenditure broadcast, including radio, cable, satellite or online advertising, in opposition to a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified candidate, that candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposed Candidate’s choice.

    In the event that a third party organization airs any broadcast, including radio, cable or satellite advertising, that promotes or supports a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified candidate, that candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposing candidate’s choice.

    In the event that a third party organization airs any broadcast, including radio, cable or satellite advertising, that attacks or opposes a named, referenced (including by title) or otherwise identified candidate, the opposing Candidate’s campaign shall, within three (3) days of discovery of the advertisement buy’s total cost, duration and source, pay 50% of the cost of that advertising buy to a charity of the opposing candidate’s choice.

    The candidates and their campaigns agree to continue to work together to limit the influence of third party advertisements and to close any loopholes (including coverage of sham ads and websites) that arise in this agreement during the course of the campaign.

Student Debt and a National Student Service Program


Our students are paying ten times the interest that big banks pay.  That hurts all of us.

It makes no sense that college tuition is three times more expensive for students to obtain an advanced degree than it was in 1980.

America’s educational advantage began to disappear as other countries invested in higher learning. Countries like Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Scotland, Brazil and Germany offer free secondary education while we shifted ever more of the financial burden onto our students. With states and federal government cutting back, the private sector rushed in to finance students with college loans, many of which were backed by our government. Student debt climbed dramatically.

State university systems across the country were forced to raise tuitions to make up for lost revenue from mandated budget cuts, providing the opportunity for private, for-profit colleges to insert themselves into the education marketplace and become a multi-billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, many for profit colleges have questionable recruitment practices, high costs and even higher student loan interest rates. Today, for-profit colleges constitute the highest percentage of student loan delinquencies.

Moreover, universities have had to seek money from private sources which at times, has prejudiced the curriculum or research done at universities so as not to offend corporate donors.  Research that is meant to benefit the public is sometimes skewed in the interest of a corporate agenda. President Lincoln would be dismayed to know that in 2009, Industry funding for sponsored agricultural research outspent the United State Department of Agriculture $822 million to $645 million.  The problem with this is that industry funded research is more likely to find favorable conclusion for the sponsor and this research often guides policy and regulations.  And our universities, for lack of funding, are less able to conduct research on alternative ideas and limits curriculum.

The class of 2015 will graduate with $35,051 in student debt on average. In total, American students are more $1.2 trillion in debt for their time in college, with more than 7 million debtors in default.

Student debt isn’t solely a problem for students and their parents. The massive debt, most of which is owed to our federal government (which makes a “profit” of approximately $12 BILLION a year!), drags our economy down. Young adults struggling with student debt are postponing marriage, childbearing and home purchases. The decline of entrepreneurs trying to start a business correlates with the increase in student debt. Moreover, high tuition costs and student debt is perpetuating and even worsening economic inequality and undercutting the opportunity for upward social mobility, one of the key benefits higher education promises.

Student debt affects career paths, with important social implications. The burden of paying off large college debt tends to discourage students away from needed professions with lower pay scales like social work and health care in lieu of higher-paying jobs in tech and financial services.  A healthy community needs a well rounded workforce.  Before we commit our students exclusively to math and sciences let’s remember that our country was founded on an education that was based solidly on the Liberal Arts.

It makes no sense to place economic barriers to higher education, whether it’s professional or vocational. Clearly, higher education is the key to success in the new world economy for individuals and our country as a whole. A study conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service found that, for every $1 the State of Virginia invests in higher education, $13 is generated in economic output. That’s a very good investment.

I believe that helping students’ access higher education by taking down financial barriers is a prudent investment in our own future. In addition, I believe that young adults should have some “skin in the game.” To meet both of those needs I propose a coordinated national civil service program.

A National Civil Service Program

Presently, there exists a number of national service programs to assist young men and women with access to higher education as reward for their commitments. Many are federal programs like the AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, National Health Service Corps, and, of course, the military.

This list could easily be expanded to encompass existing qualifying non-profits that range from mentoring programs (I’m still a Big Brother after 35 years), environmental clean up and rescue, social services (from helping the homeless or caring for the elderly, tutoring, and assisting in medical treatment centers) and other fields.

Volunteer programs should be an integral part of our citizenship regardless of one’s socioeconomic background. It fosters the understanding of individual responsibility to our communal well being. Service work is performed primarily by young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. Serving our communities and our country is a profound time for young adults, which, for many, can serve as a “threshold experience” that helps in the transition from youth to contributing member of our society, while exposing volunteers to unique experiences they might not have found on their own.

Twenty six million young Americans working for a minimum period of 500 hours would be an enormous boost toward improving the quality of life across our country, while developing compassion for the least fortunate among us  – something sorely missing in too many of our politicians.

Estimates cite that “making college tuition free” would cost $70 billion. We have the money. It’s a question of priorities. Consolidating federal, state, and local programs that already have significant budgets would be a start. A small tax on stock, bond and derivative transactions could raise as much as $300 billion a year. While some investors may complain, there would most certainly be a good return on investment from a more educated work force and greater general affluence as America rebuilds it’s middle class and achieves further innovation across the business and manufacturing sector.

History is clear: we MUST substantially reinvest in our human resources by publicly investing in higher education.  Tuition reform in conjunction with a new national service program will give our youth and leaders of tomorrow the opportunity for advanced education while learning to invest in their inherited country.  That’s a win/win for all of us.

Videos (3)

— May 24, 2016 Ostrander for Congress

Practically every day that Congress is in session, fundraisers are going on all over Washington -- especially in and around Capitol Hill. Attending campaign affairs, to raise money for their next re-election campaign, is nearly as vital a part of the congressional calendar as showing up on the House or Senate floor to vote. It's illegal to raise campaign funds inside the Capitol itself, so both parties have set up convenient call centers close by where members can "dial for dollars" -- phoning potential donors directly and asking for money for the next campaign. Practically nobody likes the process, but everybody does it. They have to. When it costs an average of $1.4 million to run a successful U.S. House campaign, and you've got just two years to raise that money, you don't have much choice. Senators have six-year terms, so they've got more time to raise it -- but their campaigns can cost more than six times the typical House race.

Nearly everyone recognizes that global warming is real. Rightfully, we are looking at changing our predominant energy habit of burning fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels are not the only source of carbon emissions.

— May 30, 2016 Ostrander for Congress

The Founding Fathers meant for private citizens to become involved in politics, to hold office for a few terms, and then to return to private life.



Thomas Jefferson wrote, "[If the] representative houses [are dissolved,]... the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, [return] to the people at large for their exercise."



The government of the United States is a people's government. It was to be run by people who are to be from their number and closely associated with their interests.



"All [reforms] can be... [achieved] peaceably by the people confining their choice of Representatives and Senators to persons attached to the republican government and the principles of 1776; not office-hunters, but farmers whose interests are entirely agricultural. Such men are the true representatives of the great American interest and are alone to be relied on for expressing the proper American sentiments."



"A government by representatives elected by the people at short periods was our object, and our maxim... was, 'where annual election ends, tyranny begins;' nor have our departures from it been sanctioned by the happiness of their effects."



The idea was that people would keep watch over their representatives and through their votes, make needed corrections.



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