Jewish Community Relations Councilof San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties


Vote R.O.D. - Yes on 15, 16, and 17

September 8, 2020
Posted by: JCRC Staff

Vote YES on Propositions 15, 16, 17 this November for recovery, opportunity and democracy!

JCRC’s advocacy agenda usually focuses on state and local legislation. However this year, with our country so fractured by structural racism and economic inequality, we are moved to support three statewide ballot propositions that reflect our values and will help remedy parts of our broken system of government.

That's why we are launching the Recovery, Opportunity, Democracy campaign to urge our community to vote YES on California Propositions 15, 16 and 17! Each of these propositions is an expression of both Jewish values and JCRC’s consensus positions. In the coming weeks, we will host speakers with expert knowledge on the impact of these propositions, organize phone banking opportunities and otherwise spread the word. We hope you join us in this campaign!

What are the Propositions 15, 16 and 17 and why is JCRC supporting them?

Proposition 15 – Schools and Communities First

Prop 15 would require commercial and industrial properties to be reassessed for taxes purposes based on actual fair market value, and not purchase price. The fair market value standard is used in nearly every other state to assess commercial and industrial property. We are supporting Prop 15 because:

  1. Our economic justice policy statement explicitly supports tax reform in the form of a “split roll” tax.
  2. Prop 15 speaks to our values of tikkun olam and provides a way to bring more money into our local communities and school districts.
  3. We have an opportunity to build bridges with other faith and community groups that share our common goals.

Importantly, Prop 15 explicitly exempts small businesses operating out of homes and small businesses owning non-residential commercial and industrial property worth $3,000,000 or less. In other words, 65 percent of all nonresidential commercial and industrial properties will see no change in their property taxes from Prop 15! 

And, Prop 15 maintains FULL PROP 13 PROTECTIONS for homeowners and renters by exempting all residential property.


Proposition 16 – Opportunity for All

Prop 16 would repeal Proposition 209 from the California Constitution, passed in 1996 and allow government use of affirmative action policies.

By voting for Proposition 16 and repealing Proposition 209, state and local governments, public universities, and other political subdivisions and public entities would – within the limits of federal law -- be allowed to develop and use affirmative action programs that grant preferences based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin in public employment, public education and public contracting. [1]

Affirmative action works to level the playing field for women and people of color, who are paid less, given fewer chances to access higher education, and denied job opportunities by allowing the state to consider race and gender – without quotas – when making decisions about state contracts, hiring and education to eliminate systemic discrimination.

JCRC is supporting Prop 16 because:

  1. We passed two consensus policy statements – both written in 1996 – that support affirmative action policies and opposed the passage of Proposition 209. To be cear, JCRC opposed Prop 209 in 1996 and still opposes it today.
  2. Our Jewish values compel us:
    • “All human beings are created in the image of G-d and, therefore, all human lives are of equal dignity.”
    • Tzedek, tzedek tirdof, “Justice, justice you shall pursue.”
  3. Our racial justice consensus policy statement includes consensus around the need for greater racial equity and equality.


Proposition 17 – Free the Vote

Prop 17 would allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote in California. This change will ensure that Californians who have completed their prison terms can fully participate in our democracy by restoring their rights to vote. Currently, 50,000 state residents fall into this category, even though they have returned home, are raising families, holding jobs, paying taxes and contributing to society in every other way.

JCRC is supporting Prop 17 because:

  1. Elements within JCRC’s Democracy consensus policy statement and racial justice consensus policy statement point toward support of Prop 17.
  2. Biases in the criminal justice system mean that poor people and people of color are more likely than others to be convicted of crimes and to lose their voting rights. We believe that we cannot have an elected government that represents all of us when some members of our community are being excluded from our elections and denied the ability to participate in our democracy.
  3. Our Jewish value of pursuing justice compels us to support this proposition.


Now that you know more, please join us in our Recovery, Opportunity, Democracy Initiative and vote YES on California Propositions 15, 16 and 17. And we hope you join us later this month for a series of webinars to learn more about the propositions. Registration information and more details will be coming soon!

The Season of Politics, Justice and Faith

JCRC and Bay Area religious and civic leadership share how faith is driving community support for Propositions 16 and 17. During this conversation our panelists discuss how shared values can bring diverse communities together to pursue justice in times of uncertainty.


Proposition 15 - Taxes on Commercial Property

Proposition 16 - Allow Public Agencies to Consider Diversity

Proposition 17 - Voting Rights for People on Parole

Register to Vote

Jewish Values

Each of these propositions is critically important to our Bay Area community and all Californians. However, JCRC’s advocacy is driven by the consensus of the organized Jewish community with Jewish values is the lens through which we see our work. As stated in our Consensus Policy Statement on Democracy in the United States: "Judaism shares with American democratic values the belief in individual liberty, equality, justice, pluralism, and collective responsibility."

JCRC is similarly guided by these core Jewish values:

  • B’tselem Elohim, the proposition that all humans are created in the image of the Divine and are, therefore, entitled to be treated with equal dignity.
  • The oft-repeated commandment that strangers must be treated with equal respect.
  • The duty to positively act to save a life: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.”
  • A profound respect for the rule of law and the pursuit of justice, as shown by the injunction that judgments should be fair and unbiased, favoring neither the poor nor the rich, and the commandment that we should not bear false witness.
  • The Talmudic respect for dissent, which recognizes both the majority and minority positions in debates, and the approval of disagreement “for the sake of heaven.”

JCRC believes that actively protecting our democratic freedoms and celebrating our diverse society is an expression of both Jewish and American ideals.

Related JCRC Census Policy Statements

For more information about how you can get involved with this campaign please contact Jonathan Mintzer at

Ad paid for by Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.