California State Treasurer John Chiang visited Santa Cruz during his gubernatorial campaign tour last week. He is one of the top four Democratic candidates running for governor in 2018.
The California governor is the elected chief executive officer of the state and is elected every four years for a maximum of two terms. The governor has the power to create new laws, veto bills, make executive orders and create legislative proposals. Gov. Jerry Brown, California’s current governor, held office since 2014 and is not eligible for re-election.
City on a Hill Press: The National Low Income Housing Survey ranked California the third most unaffordable state to live in. What specifically will you do as governor to create more affordable housing options in California?
John Chiang: I have been one of the state’s leaders working on [affordable housing]. So I have worked very aggressively to increase 80 percent of the construction of new and rehabilitated housing in the state. We are 1.5 million [housing] units short […] I’ve been aggressively working to make sure we try to build more housing, both affordable and market-weighed housing. That is what’s driving quite a few families into poverty in California. When you look at national numbers, our income levels and the percentage in poverty are oftentimes pretty close to other states, but when you add housing and transportation that is what pushes more Californian individuals and families into poverty. So that’s why I am focused on making sure we build more housing.
CHP: Tuition and higher education have been harder to attain for undocumented students specifically. As governor would you try to create policies that allocate state financial aid for undocumented students?
J.C.: Yes, the undocumented and all. We know that the cost of education is making it more prohibitive for more individuals. California’s economic vitality, America’s economic vitality, requires that we have more graduates in the future. […] We need to make sure we stop the incredible education inflation that is happening and try to stabilize and hopefully, over the long term, drop the cost so students don’t graduate out of great universities massively in debt.
CHP: Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 52, the sanctuary state bill, into law. This bill is designed to protect undocumented people by barring state and local law enforcement from working with immigration officers, but a huge criticism of this bill is that it does not outline direct repercussions if this law is broken by law enforcements. Do you agree with its criticisms?
J.C.: Let’s put it into effect and let’s make sure that we see there is no violation of the spirit and the letter of the law [and] that we take the appropriate actions to make sure that we uphold the protections of immigrants who are engaged in rightful activity in the state of California. This is a country of immigrants. [Immigrants have] made valuable contributions to this country and we’ll need to be a nation of immigrants to prosper in the future.
CHP: Jerry Brown announced California would continue to align with the Paris climate accord despite the U.S. government’s withdrawal from these agreements. In the wake of experiencing the onset of climate change across the U.S. and within California specifically, do you plan to align with the Paris accord? What are your thoughts on what action California should be taking?
J.C.: [I’m a] strong supporter of the environment so I push a lot of things. […] So one of the things I push for [is] having corporate board directors who are climate change sensitive and trying to make sure those corporations do the right thing [and] recognize climate change risk. In the past I pushed aggressively for investments in clean energies, green companies [and] I pushed the continuation of the sales tax exclusion because we want those companies here in California.
Other Top California Gubernatorial Candidates
Travis Allen, Republican
Travis Allen was first elected as an assemblyman in 2012 and is now serving his third term. He believes state income and gas taxes are too high and that California needs to be “tough on crime.” Allen introduced legislation to cut new gas taxes and vehicle fees.
John Cox, Republican
John Cox ran for Senate in Illinois against Barack Obama in 2003 and was not elected. He believes income tax is too high in California and plans to rebuild the middle class by lowering income and gas taxes. Another goal of Cox’s is to make smaller legislative districts so anyone can run, without special interest money.
Delaine Eastin, Democrat
Delaine Eastin chaired the Assembly Education Committee from 1986-94, then was superintendent of public instruction from 1995-2003. Eastin believes there should be more funding for public schools. She currently chairs the nonprofit organization Educate Our State. During her campaign, Eastin has been vocal about not taking money from big pharmaceutical or tobacco companies.
Gavin Newsom, Democrat
Gavin Newsom was the mayor of San Francisco from 2004-11 and has served as lieutenant governor since 2011. Newsom is a supporter of increased gun restriction laws and created universal health care initiatives in San Francisco. He also ordered the city of San Francisco to grant same-sex marriage licenses in 2004, prior to the 2015 Supreme Court decision affirming marriage equality.
Antonio Villaraigosa, Democrat
Antonio Villaraigosa was the mayor of Los Angeles from 2005-13 and the former speaker of the California Assembly from 1998-2000. Villaraigosa is focused on improving public education — while a California assemblymember he helped pass a $9 billion school bond measure. Another plank of his platform involves rebuilding roads, bridges, transportation, ports and other necessary infrastructure.