For the first time in California history, it’s likely that no Republicans will be on the ballot for governor come this November. As of current polling, the two probable contenders will be two Democrats: former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Lieutenant General Gavin Newsom. One revolutionized Los Angeles’ bus and rail system. The other garnered fame as mayor of San Francisco when he issued same-sex marriage licenses despite state law prohibiting it. Both were interviewed by Politico’s “California Playbook” co-authors on campus this past week; Villaraigosa on Thursday and Newsom on Monday.
The candidates spoke on a broad range of policy issues affecting California residents. Here’s where they stand on some of the most pressing ones.
“If you can get it for a football stadium, why not for affordable housing?”
Villaraigosa wants to streamline the regulatory California Environmental Quality Act so affordable housing units go through as efficiently as better funded developments, like athletic stadiums. Villaraigosa is also calling for regional housing trust funds, meaning cities would pick up the financial slack for neighbouring ones when it comes to building more housing.
“Housing solves homelessness.”
Newsom says he will appoint a cabinet-level “State Homelessness Secretary” to oversee an interagency council. He’s also calling for prison programs that ensure inmates are not released into immediate homelessness. Newsom wants increased tenant protections and to expand rent control laws. He wants to expand an existing tax credit program to incentive affordable housing units by $500 million.
“I don’t believe a part of that negotiation is to build a wall.”
When it comes to DACA negotiations, Villaraigosa says the options of building a wall and deporting the parents of DACA recipients are off the table. He stands behind California’s “sanctuary state” bill signed into law last year, as does Newsom.
“The wall is absurd.”
Newsom also refuses to build Trump’s campaign promise. He plans to continue what Gov. Brown’s California has been doing when it comes to protecting DACA recipients by using the courts and providing legal defense funds and counseling services to DACA recipients. Villaraigosa says he will do the same.
“Let’s do first things first. We have Trump, not Obama.”
Villaraigosa says it’s unlikely that Trump will grant California the necessary waiver to start a state-run single-payer healthcare option. Instead, he wants to focus on building the framework for a single-payer system for when a friendlier president takes office. He says he will do this by investing in innovations that cut drug costs.
Unlike Villaraigosa, Newsom says single-payer is something he would work towards – even under a Trump presidency. He dismisses the projected $400 billion price tag of a state-run single-payer system, saying our existing healthcare system costs more anyways.
“I took them on because we had a 44 percent graduation rate.”
Villaraigosa has a long history with public education. As mayor of Los Angeles, he went head-to-head with teacher unions in an effort to raise LA’s high school graduation rates. Continuing this clash, Villaraigosa wants to extend the time public school teachers must work to become tenured from two to three years. Unlike Newsom, Villaraigosa is in support of charter schools.
“There’s a real sense public education is under attack.”
Newsom wants to focus on recruiting and retaining teachers, especially in STEM and special education. When it comes to higher education, Newsom wants to increase state-funding and set statewide goal for universities with an oversight body to execute them.
Newsom and Villaraigosa were invited to speak on campus as a part of the McCarthy Center’s gubernatorial speaker series, The Race for the Second Most Important Office in the Country. At least three more candidates for governor will be speaking on campus from now until the end of March – Delaine Eastin, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, will be speaking on Feb. 15; John Cox, accountant and businessman, on March 1; and John Chiang, California State Treasurer, on March 22.
Featured Photo: Villaraigosa takes questions from students after his Thursday talk in McLaren. NOELLE MCHENRY/FOGHORN.