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June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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Controller —State of CaliforniaJune 5, 2018 —California Primary Election

June 5, 2018 —California Primary Election

State of CaliforniaController

Election Results

  • 100% of precincts reporting (21,487/21,487).

About this office

The state’s bookkeeper: Keeps track of how the state’s money is spent. Issues most checks from the state and manages collection of money due to the state. Reports on finances of state and local governments.

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Who’s Running?

For this office, only the two candidates who get the most votes in the primary election advance to the general election. The two candidates may be from the same political party.
Candidates are sorted in order of election results.
California State Controller
4,030,136 votes (62.1%)Winning
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  • Maintain high levels of accountability and oversight of the state's finances.
  • Address the changing nature of work with the growth of the gig economy and its impacts on state revenues.
  • Address the effects of global climate change with respect to the risks and the opportunities they pose for California's economy.
Profession:Chief Financial Officer
Controller, State of California — Elected position (2015–current)
Member, California State Board of Equalization, First District — Elected position (2007–2014)
Acting Member, California State Board of Equalization, First District — Appointed position (2004–2006)
Chief Deputy Director for Budget, California Department of Finance — Appointed position (1999–2003)
Golden Gate University, San Francisco Master's Degree, Public Administration (1981)
University of California, Berkeley Bachelor of Arts, Sociology (1979)
Board Member, Ceres (2017–current)

With 35 years of state and local finance experience and tax policy, I serve as California’s Controller, the chief fiscal officer of the six largest global economy.  As Controller, I have expertly managed the State’s cash, diligently served as California’s independent auditor of public funds, timely completed California’s financial statements that have earned numerous awards, and consistently improved state and local financial reporting.  Since assuming office as Controller in January 2015, my audit team has uncovered about $4 billion in public funds directed to unallowed and wasteful uses.  Additionally, with the careful work of my cash management team, California has not had to rely on any external borrowing to pay its bills. 

As Controller, I serve on 70 boards and commissions, where I have led most notably in protecting retirement security for our educators and public sector workers first and foremost by putting risk mitigation strategies in place in my role as a fiduciary on the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System boards; addressing climate change as a business risk and leading a global engagement strategy along with other institutional investors with the top 100 emitters around the world (Climate Action 100+); and decommissioning the last nuclear power plant in California as well as the last state oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel, protecting public access to public trust lands and beaches, and working with our ports on issues of air quality and sea level rise in my role as a member and rotating chair of the State Lands Commission.

Responsible for one of the State's largest consumer protection programs, the Unclaimed Property Program, I have improved electronic claiming of properties by their rightful owners and successfully compelled life insurance companies to hand over just under $400 million in dealth benefits to my office to return to loved ones of deceased policy holders.

Prior to my election to the office of Controller, I served on the California State Board of Equalization from 2004 through 2014, representing the First Equalization District comprised of 9 million Californians along the northern and central coast including the entire San Francisco Bay Area.  In 2017, I led the successful enactment of reforms to the State Board of Equalization to improve upholding taxpayers' rights and to ensure taxpayers statewide are treated equally and fairly  .  Preceding my election to the State Board of Equalization, I served as the Chief Deputy Director for Budget with the California Department of Finance, where I led the development of the Governor’s Budget, negotiations with key budget stakeholders, and analyses of legislation on behalf of the Administration.  I also served as senior staff on several fiscal and policy committees in both houses of the California State Legislature.

I have served on numerous nonprofit boards, including those of California Women Lead, the Equality California Institute, and the Cal Alumni Association at the University of California, Berkeley.  I also co-founded the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project, which exposes high school students to the public policy, political, and public service arenas.  I currently serve on the board of Ceres, a national nonprofit organization focused on sustainability issues, working with investors and companies.

A native of San Francisco, I earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.  I hold a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, where in 2017 I was conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.  The second oldest of six children born to immigrant parents, I along with my siblings grew up working in the family laundry and dry cleaning business where I handled the financia transactions for my parents.  Just as I minded the store for my parents' small business, I now have the privilege of minding the store for the state of California.


Total money raised: $1,448,252

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

SEIU California
SEIU Local 1000
UA Local 467 Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Refrigeration Fitters
California Federation of Teachers
California Professional Firefighters

By State:

California 91.38%
District of Columbia 2.26%
Connecticut 1.54%
New York 1.18%
Other 3.64%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.73%)
Small contributions (0.27%)

By Type:

From organizations (74.62%)
From individuals (25.38%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

My political philosophy is rooted in a deep appreciation for democracy and its foundations of equality and justice for all, beginning with the ability of each to fully participate in our democracy.  As an elected official, I view my power coming from being informed and understanding the array of perspectives relating to specific issues and concerns.  I welcome engagement, participation and debate.  

However, the public needs to be informed and understand its responsibility in a democracy.  This is why I am an advocate for equal access to high quality, public education as well as for voting rights.  Amidst great cynicism about whether one's vote really matters especially with the influence of money in politics and the array of opinions disseminated by media in all forms , I believe voting does matter.  As the suffragists and civil rights leaders who fought to win the right to vote understood, voting is the most important right because it is the right by which we protect all other rights.  One person, one vote --- a level playing field at the ballot box --- is where change begins.

As an elected official in our diverse state of California, I believe political labels have created division rather than deepen understanding of one's political philosophy.  I also believe platitudes by candidates need to be supported by specific intentions and actions to galvanize engagement and participation.  The public's trust and confidence in their institutions of government is key to a healthy democracy, and after the financial crisis of the late 2000s that left many questioning their own economic security, there is much trust and confidence for public officials to rebuild.   

So while one may tout California's economy to be a prominent one globally, ranking as the sixth largest, this is meaningless for many Californians who confront the high costs of living in California, the home therefore of the highest rate of poverty among the 50 states.  With this political philosophy, I as a political leader must do my part to, for example, give voice and address the risks and opportunities for Californians to two urgent economic disruptors:  the changing nature of work and global climate change, both of which have the potential of exacerbating inequality if we do not focus on a just transition towards a growing gig/platform-based economy and a renewable and clean energy sector and water sector that protects workers.   

2018 State Democratic Convention Speech — April 15, 2018 California Democratic Party

My narrative of the experiences of Californians that I encounter on my campaign.

2,198,777 votes (33.9%)Winning
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  • Use the authority of the Controller's office to root out waste, fraud, and abuse.
  • Audit and use all legal authority to cut funding to government waste like the high-speed rail.
  • Remove excess authority and ability to tax from Sacramento and bring it to the local level by implementing my tax plan called Trickle-up-Taxation. Creates local control over overbearing centralize government.
President/CEO/CFO, Numerous Corporations (2004–current)
City Commissioner, City of Anaheim — Appointed position (2011–2017)
University of California, San Diego B.A., Political Science/International Relations (2004)
Treasurer, Anaheim Performing Arts Center Foundation (2017–current)
President, Anaheim Hills Rotary Club (2007–2011)
Total money raised: $255,066

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

Konstantinos Roditis
Employees of Cazzell and Associates Attorneys
Employees of 12 Crowns
Employees of Westar Associates
Employees of BCI
Employees of Boyd Consulting Group

By State:

California 100.00%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.92%)
Small contributions (0.08%)

By Type:

From organizations (0.00%)
From individuals (100.00%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.



Trickle-up-Taxation removes centralized government and gives taxing and more regulatory authority to local government to have the resources and ability to address each unique communities need. It's not about Left or Right policies but bringing government to the local level, where it should be. 

California is one of the highest taxed states in the union, and we have very little to show for it. We have crumbling and inadequate infrastructure. Our roads seem to never get repaired yet Sacramento keeps raising our gas and car tax saying they need more money.

California is also one of the largest agricultural states in the nation and produces fruits and vegetables that not only benefits the entire country but the world. Yet, politicians in Sacramento are singlehandedly destroying a multi-billion dollar industry that we depend on by not building adequate water reservoir systems.

We have an unfunded pension crisis in California that desperately needs to be fixed. Because of unrealistic promises, lavish pensions, and incompetent investments based on ideological reasons instead of sound fiscal policy we will see a pension crisis that will most certainly bankrupt the state.

We have a housing crisis, and we are in desperate need of affordable housing. Yet, Sacramento puts so many regulations that the cost of a new home build costs about 40% more due to government regulations.

California is a mess and Californians on both sides of the political aisle want a change. Some want CalExit. A move to secede from the United States and become a separate nation. Others want to split the state into three smaller states; Northern California, Southern California, and California, or create a new state called "New California." These proposals illustrate the frustration of Californians, but these proposals will do little if anything, and thus will further Californians’ frustration.

My Solution

My solution to the problem begins with a plan I call Trickle-up-taxation.

Trickle-up-taxation is about building a community, not a bureaucracy. It's about protecting our fundamental rights, while at the same time allowing people to shape their towns and communities in a way which would best serve the people. It’s about freedom.

People want local control, but they are not sure how we can move from the dysfunction and division we currently see ourselves in, to actual freedom and local control.

The beginnings of an answer may lie in fundamentally restructuring our tax system and implementing a new form of taxation called trickle-up-taxation.

Currently, the majority of all state taxes go to Sacramento, and then to our local municipalities. Even though most of us don’t live in Sacramento, our money flows up first to those centers of government, and then they trickle back down to our communities. This form of taxation has resulted in higher taxes, government waste, corruption, fewer freedoms, and less representation.

Therefore, instead of the current form of taxation, which I call, trickle-down-taxation we reverse the flow of taxation and implement trickle-up-taxation. Rather than paying state taxes, we would only pay county and city taxes.

How it works

So here is how it works. Let us say my local city and county tax me at a combined rate of 10% income tax rate. The state government wouldn't tax me personally but in a sense would tax my city and county. If I make $100,000 a year that would mean I would pay $10,000 in taxes. The state government may take 30%. Meaning from my $10,000 my local city and county would keep $7,000, and the state government would get $3,000.

This form of taxation wouldn’t just apply to personal income taxes. There are taxes like property taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, transient occupancy taxes, business license taxes, and so forth. The state wouldn’t take a bulk of these taxes and then trickle the taxes down to the local municipalities. They would just take a percentage of tax dollars generated.

You see, what I'm advocating with trickle-up-taxation is a way to achieve authentic local control. California has 58 counties and 482 municipalities, yet 70% of state employees work in the Sacramento region. It is impossible for politicians and the state government to govern so many municipalities effectively, especially when they are so far removed from your community.

The state government duties should be to establish the general blueprint for the state, yet implementation would be done locally to allow local communities greater flexibility to meet the unique demands of their local community.

Why change the tax system?

The question you may be asking is, why do we have to change the flow of taxation to achieve this? The reason is simple to understand. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a progressive or conservative area, when your state legislator comes to you and says that they need 40% instead of 30%, what will be at stake? Less money locally for your progressive or conservative policies.

“You mean to tell me, my state senator wants more money, and we can't afford to provide free college tuition for everyone? Replace him; he is trying to destroy our progressive utopia.”

“My state assemblymember wants more money for corporate bailouts? Fire her.”

If more taxes are needed for the state government, it will be for a purpose that a vast majority of Californians agree with. Thus, it will help limit corruption, reduce waste, and also limit partisanism because most of the money and decisions will be decentralized to the local level.

The benefit of trickle-up-taxation is whether you want to live in a progressive city and county like San Francisco which might tax you at 20% and provide you with massive social programs like free college and single-payer healthcare, or Placer County with an income tax rate of 0% and fewer social programs, the beauty of trickle-up-taxation is that you can pick the community which most aligns with your political views and wants. Shouldn't the community you live in best fit your needs and wants? Isn't this what the people want, true local control?

Trickle-up-taxation isn't about progressive or conservative policies. It's about creating a genuinely representative government; where the day-to-day decisions that affect our community are decided at the local level. While still maintaining state and federal governments to regulate commerce, establish laws, courts, as well as protecting our fundamental human rights.

Photo of  Mary Lou Finley
No photo provided.

Mary Lou Finley

Peace and Freedom
Retired Educator
261,573 votes (4%)
Use tab to activate the candidate button. Use "return" to select this candidate. You can access your list by navigating to 'My List'.
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Thank candidate for sharing their information on Voter’s Edge.
  • Make wealthy corporations pay their fair share of taxes while reducing the tax burden of poor working class people.
  • Use taxes to help meet peoples' needs and rights - free medical care for all, free education for all, affordable housing and food, livable incomes instead of subsidizing rich corporations - big oil companies, big agribusinesses, and big banks
  • Forgive student loan debts and stop attacks on public employee pensions.
Profession:Retired Educator
Co-Chair, San Diego Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party of California — Elected position (2012–current)
Co-Chari, San Diego Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party of California — Elected position (2012–current)
retired educator, San Diego Unified School Distric (1998–2017)
Special Education Assistant, San Diego Unified School District (1998–2017)
Asbury College Bachelor of Arts, psychology (1966)
Asbury College Bachelor of Arts, Psychology (1966)
Member, Peace and Freedom Party of California (1990–current)
Member, Workers World Party (1991–current)
Member, San Diego Committee Against Police Brutality (1991–current)
Member, Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (1990–current)
Member, Association of Raza Educators (2016–current)

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