Editorial by the BAY AREA REPORTER
May 4, 2022
Insurance Commissioner: Marc Levine
We wanted to recommend current Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara (D) for another term. A gay man, he was the first LGBTQ person to win election to statewide office four years ago and shattered that pink glass ceiling. But Lara has had a rocky tenure beset by ethical scandals dating back to 2019. He accepted industry campaign contributions in excess of $270,000 from 56 different sources with ties to the insurance industry and he has intervened in cases involving donors, as multiple news outlets have reported.
Enter Marc Levine, a Democratic assemblymember who represents Marin and Sonoma counties in the North Bay. In his questionnaire, he stated that the current officeholder is "ethically compromised" and wrote that he would be an "activist insurance commissioner who will stand up against the insurance companies on behalf of Californians..." Notably, many of Levine's constituents have been impacted by wildfires in recent years. Levine helped increase transparency on homeowners' insurance, which is particularly critical for those living in areas vulnerable to wildfire, the website states. He ensured homeowners are provided with timely estimates about their current property values so they don't find out they are underinsured following a wildfire.
Levine is a strong supporter of universal health care and a staunch advocate and leader on consumer protection legislation, he wrote. He has taken on Big Oil, the National Rifle Association, and other special interests.
Lara has done some important work to help the LGBTQ community. He issued an order in support of trans youth accessing medical care and he worked with state Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) to adopt Senate Bill 1255, ending the practice of insurance companies discriminating against individuals because of their HIV status. He also imposed a one-year moratorium on insurers leaving wildfire prone areas. But California deserves an insurance commissioner who is independent of the industry they regulate, and on that metric, Lara has not lived up to his pledges.
We recommend Levine for insurance commissioner.