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California Voters Face Multitude of Issues - 2002-11-05

In California, neither U.S. senator is up for re-election, but other issues are bringing voters to the polls.

The incumbent governor, Democrat Gray Davis, cast his vote Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. "Today's a chance for California voters to have their say," said Governor Davis. "I fell very good about our campaign. We ended on a high note, and I feel very optimistic about the results tonight."

Surveys show many voters disagree about the tone of the campaign, in which each side accused the other of incompetence and corruption. Both candidates have low approval ratings.

Gray Davis enjoyed a 10-point lead heading into the election, however, and many Democrats feel he has reason for optimism. Republicans are hoping that the one in five voters who remained undecided on the eve of the election will support their candidate, Bill Simon.

Surveys show the top issue in this election for California voters is the quality of public education. That's what brought this woman to the polls. "The schools, to improve the public schools," said a voter. "Because my daughter goes to a private school. I would never put her in a public school, not right now."

Los Angeles voters will decide whether to approve construction of 120 new schools.

One voter with a special interest in the election is the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the architect of a measure to provide after-school programs for children. He cast his vote near his hillside home on Tuesday morning. "I hope everyone goes out and votes," he said. "That's the key thing, because it's very important to participate in the process."

Other ballot measures include proposals in Los Angeles to create independent cities in Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

And the city of Oakland, facing a rising crime rate, is asking voters to approve the hiring of more police officers.