Gubernatorial town hall — a local perspective
The contest to select California’s next governor is on.
While the statewide primary election isn’t until June, KPCC has already connected with the major gubernatorial candidates and community members about the issues that matter most to them. That conversation continued on Jan. 13, when KPCC’s Mary Plummer joined ABC7’s Marc Brown for a gubernatorial town hall presented by The Empowerment Congress and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in collaboration with the USC Dornsife Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.
Held at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, the town hall is part of the 26th annual Empowerment Congress Summit and featured a Festival of Democracy with the major candidates, the KPCC In Person team, resource tables, an art exhibition, a community forum and complimentary lunch.
The participating gubernatorial candidates were Travis Allen, John Chiang, John Cox, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa.
Below was the schedule:
8 am – Check-in
9 am – Gubernatorial Town Hall
10:30 am – Festival of Democracy, including a post town hall community response, resource tables, entertainment and lunch
Below is a loose transcription of one of the several questions the candidates were asked:
If you are elected California’s governor, how would you characterize your administration’s relationship with the administration of President Donald Trump?
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: How can I work with him? With great difficulty, obviously. Like so many people in this room, I'm hoping he won't be president by the time I'm elected. But if he is, I intend to make it absolutely clear that California's going to mark a different path. We're going to embrace the diversity in this state. We're going to welcome our newcomers. We're going to say that our healthcare is a right not a privilege. That our environmental laws ought to lead the nation and the world.
GAVIN NEWSOM: It's pretty self-evident that Donald Trump is a racist by his own admission in terms of his words, his actions and his deeds. I don't know what took folks so long to come to that conclusion. Now the question for all of us is are we going to be the center of the resistance or are we going to be a positive alternative to the agenda being pushed by the Trump administration. In so many areas, clearly, we need to resist.
DELAINE EASTIN: Clearly, he's a racist. As a political science professor, I watched with interest as a young adult as the present Republican party used to wave the 10th Amendment at the country and say, "Those powers not expressly given to the federal government nor denied to the states shall be the power of the states and the people." California has to stand up for our rights, for our honestly beautiful environment, for our amazing diversity. If we have to, we'll build a wall between California and the rest of the country to protect the people that live here.
JOHN COX: I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. My mom was a single mom raising four kids, was a school teacher in an all black school and I went there to help her on many occasions. I don't have a racist bone in my body. But we have to start solving problems in this state. I'm a businessman. I'm not a politician. We can certainly demonize other people, but we have to sit down and start solving problems. That's what a business man does. That's what I've done for 40 years. I don't have the luxury of calling someone a name and then deflecting the issue. I have to solve problems. I have to address them or else I don't have a business. California is unaffordable for most people. Our business climate is the worst in the nation. Our roads and our education are lousy. We've got to focus on the things that are going make life quality for the people of California, not demonize the president. We've got to answer the question of whether we're going to have a state that's sustainable in the future.
JOHN CHIANG: Like John Cox, I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. And if you can't tell, I'm South Side Irish. We were the first Asian Pacific American family in our community. The insurance commissioner Dave Jones and I went to high school. He witnessed the extraordinary discrimination that my family faced, but, more importantly, overcame. Here in California, we celebrate our diversity. We're going to challenge President Trump on the issues that are absolutely critical to all Californians: climate change, inclusion, accessible housing and opportunity and education for all. We have always been that beacon, that city on the hill that people have looked to. So we will work with President Trump where we can, but we're going to challenge President Trump on things that are absolutely essential.
TRAVIS ALLEN: I was born and raised right here in California. All of the Democrats want to deflect from the true issue, which is illegal immigration, as opposed to the Democrats who want to make this a perennial issue and never solve the problem. The bottom line is in California, we must reverse the illegal sanctuary state of Jerry Brown. Californians do not want to shelter immigrants within our state illegally that are committing crimes while they're here. We must secure our borders. We must insure that we are never a sanctuary state and we've got to ensure that California enforces federal immigration law.
Other questions that the candidates answered:
- Last year, the state Legislature passed a law increasing the tax on gasoline by 12-cents a gallon to pay for road repairs and improvements. Do you support that law? And if not, where would you find the money to fix our roads?
- With about 118,000 people counted as homeless across California, how do you plan on addressing homelessness, both immediate and long-term? Please be specific.
- The Trump administration has removed temporary protected status for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan, as well as protections for DACA recipients. He’s also ordered ICE to intensify its enforcement efforts. As governor, would you support or oppose such policies? Explain how your administration would respond.
- If you are elected, how would your administration differ from Gov. Brown’s, if at all, in addressing environmental and climate change issues that fuel natural disasters such as wildfires and mudslides?
- California’s high school graduation rate hovers around 83 percent, which falls below the national average. What would you do to boost that percentage?
- From policing policies to prosecution and incarceration rates, the differences are stark and pose great challenges. Please describe how you would tackle this complex issue with specific proposals that would serve public safety and improve equality.
- Do you support a single-payer health care system in California? And if so, how would pay for it? And if not, why not?
Have another question for the candidates? You can ask it right here.