National News

Portraits of California Voters: ‘You Can’t Have Change Without Voting’

Posted June 5, 2018 4:03 p.m. EDT

California voters are making lots of decisions in Tuesday’s primary election. They’re choosing candidates for a new governor as Jerry Brown retires from a lifetime in politics, and they’re choosing whether to nominate Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, for a sixth term. And in seven Republican districts that favored Hillary Clinton in 2016, they’re choosing whether to send Democrats to Washington instead.

New York Times photographers in each of these districts spoke to voters to find out what is motivating them — and what message they hope the results on Tuesday send. “I think it’s important to have a say in the community that we build,” said Kennedy Monterroza, an 18-year-old Democrat from Oceanside, in the 49th district. She is voting for the first time on Tuesday. “That is the first level of making a change in the country as a whole,” she said.

— The 49th District

“I thoroughly approve of the direction we’re going,” said Nina Eaton, a Republican from Carlsbad. “I’m a pretty happy person to see things progressing and not in stalemate anymore,” she said.

— The 39th District

Daniel Briones, 19, canvassed on Monday in Fullerton for Andy Thorburn, a Democrat running in the 39th district. He believes Thorburn is the only viable progressive candidate in the race. “There’s a need for this district to go blue,” Briones said.

— The 48th District

Harold Reed of Costa Mesa mailed in his ballot for the primary. The 79-year-old Republican said he likes to feel that his vote will influence the outcome of the election, but he also wants members of his party to work with Democrats. “We just have to be together, and I don’t think we are together on a lot of stuff,” he said.

— The 10th District

“You can’t have change without voting,” said Diane Bonkofsky, 67, of Tracy. Bonkofsky said she is undecided between the six Democrats running for Congress there. She said she values experience and sets realistic expectations. “Usually when somebody says they’re going to do too much or do something that sounds impossible, they’re pretty much a liar,” she said.

— The 25th District

“Unless I’m giving my input about who I want in office, I can’t complain,” said Allyson Sagardia, a Democrat in Santa Clarita. She is voting for the first time on Tuesday.

— The 21st District

Jennifer Stephens-Bonds, 34, said she will be voting on Tuesday to make sure tax dollars are going to the right place. Stephens-Bond is a social worker in Hanford and is registered as a Democrat.

— The 45th District

Jocelyn Ruiz, 20, of Tustin, says she is voting to express her own view and opinion. Ruiz is a Democrat, but she doesn’t have a specific message in mind for the results of Tuesday’s primaries. “If it does good, it’s for the better,” she said.