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‘Sacred cows are going to have to be slain.’ What should California’s next governor prioritize?

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The California Influencers Series

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California Influencers this week answered this question: “What advice would you offer to the new governor?”

Karen Skelton – Founder and President, Skelton Strategies

My best advice: think big, spend conservatively, ask for advice, trust your gut.

Pete Wilson – California Governor (1991-1999)

Keep control of your budgets and spending. Do not allow the Legislature to violate the state constitution by spending money you do not have.

Do not make promises that you cannot keep when revenues are not sufficient to live within the constitutional mandate that the state live within its income. That applies not only to the immediate necessity imposed by the operating budget. It also imposes a duty on the part of the governor to take a longer view and refrain from saddling the state with bonded debt, that if allowed to grow, can threaten the state’s ability in the future to provide priority services like public safety.

Gray Davis – California Governor (1999-2003)

There is nothing more rewarding than helping a young child achieve their dreams – particularly those who come from families without wealth or connections. Those children who do succeed will reach back and inspire others to work hard, dream big and follow in their footsteps. To achieve this goal everyone – principals, teachers, parents and students will have to be creative and do more. That child can not succeed however without affordable health care, a sustainable environment and safe neighborhoods. Hardly a month goes by without a college student thanking me for greatly expanding Cal grant loans and merit scholarships.

But we must do more to make college affordable. UCSD will initiate online courses this academic year. That plus loan forgiveness for those graduates who go onto a career of public service will help reduce the cost of going to college.

Second – Do the hard stuff first.

Our new governor should push for passage of the hardest part of his administration first.

Many people tried to dissuade me from calling a special session on education reform the first month of my administration. But that session produced improvements in the professional development of teachers and incentives for every school to improve their performance from the previous year.

Finally, every governor will have successes and failure. Early in my term I was complaining to my wonderful wife Sharon that one of my proposals was not going well. Her response: “Knock it off. You spent your whole life trying to become governor – just enjoy every moment, the good, the bad and the in-between. “

Barbara Boxer – United States Senator (1993-2017)

I would advise our new governor to be a voice of reason and inclusion and unity at a time when the chief executive of the country Is failing to do this every day.

I also believe with Jerry Brown leaving office there is a void in the nation for climate change leadership. We only have a few years to avert a desperate situation as a result of dirty energy putting too much carbon in the atmosphere. With the leadership of our new governor, California will prove that by taking action on the clean energy front, we will be leading the way toward good paying jobs, clean air, and a safer planet.

In short, there is a huge void of executive national leadership on all fronts, and a great opportunity for California’s governor to fill it.

Ashley Swearengin – President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation

The new governor will be stepping into this role at a critical time. Gov. Brown has righted California’s financial ship and made aggressive strides towards reforming education finance, transportation, housing, and climate policy. But, the ‘California Dream’ as past generations have known it is very much on the ropes – skyrocketing housing, living and educational costs; deteriorating public infrastructure; the most severe political unrest in our nation in 50 years; and overbearing single interests in Sacramento that make even basic governing extremely difficult.

My advice to the next governor is to, first of all, choose his team very carefully. They will determine the success of the administration and, therefore, our state. People who don’t manage political power very well should be eliminated from consideration, even if they are the most expert. There are enough power players and “gotcha” moves in Sacramento. We need steward leaders on the new governor’s team who can rise above that typical sort of Sacramento dynamic and set a different tone. Second, the new governor should allow himself and his team time and space to plan before jumping into the first term. Lastly, the new governor should be mindful of the differences between the two states he will govern – Coastal California and Inland California. Coastal California will demand the full time and attention of the administration, but Inland California will determine the future of the state 50 years from now. Intentional efforts and a dedicated focus on the ‘other California’ will reap big dividends for future generations.

Steve Westly – Former California State Controller & Founder of the Westly Group

First, target bringing California student performance back into the top 10 nationally by focusing on education reform. Second, California’s two major pension funds are 30 percent underfunded despite the stock market being at record highs. Work with the Legislature and labor to reduce pension underfunding before the next recession hits.

Tom Campbell – Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Chapman University

A market correction is coming. The business cycle is a law of economics, and this law has not been repealed.

When the downturn hits, California’s budget will be devastated. The new governor can get ahead of that inevitability, or he can flounder when it hits.

There is only one reliable way to avoid the budget crises that have hit California during previous economic slowdowns, and the new governor should announce he will follow it from day one.

State budgeting is done on the basis of estimates. Expenditures are generally able to be estimated accurately.

State revenues, however, depart widely from estimates due to California’s over-reliance on volatile capital gains tax receipts.

So, the new governor should budget this year based on LAST YEAR’s revenue. Last year’s revenue is not a matter of doubt. It’s known and can’t be fudged.

If we follow this practice, we will have a full year to respond to a downturn; and we will have an extra cushion from not having spent all of the increase in revenue the year before the downturn.

Jonathan Keller – President, California Family Council

Whoever wins the race for governor will inherit a deeply divided state. In many ways, California is a microcosm of America. Dense urban centers running farther to left, rural voters increasingly isolated by an ascendant technocracy, and families with religious values feeling attacked by cultural elites. With the worst proportional legislative representation in the country, our state’s massive bureaucracy is often out-of-touch and indifferent to the needs of average citizens. In his victory speech, the governor-elect would do well to borrow a page from George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign. Be a “uniter, not a divider.”

Magnanimity in victory is a rare trait, with many leaders quick to score political points by “punishing the wicked” (to quote LGBT mega-donor Tim Gill). Instead, our next governor should strive to find common ground with both parties. From the housing crisis, to water delivery, to transportation infrastructure, our state faces numerous challenges that need bipartisan solutions. Finally, the Golden State’s new CEO should reflect on the Supreme Court’s rebuke to California in NIFLA v. Becerra last June. Instead of continuing the Legislature’s efforts to marginalize people of faith, the governor should boldly defend every Californian’s first amendment right to freely exercise their religion, both at home and in the public square. Reminding Sacramento that government is not God would go a long way towards healing our body politic.

Janet Napolitano – President, University of California

Our new governor will have a number of tasks to complete as he contemplates both his transition and his first days in office. He will need an organized transition effort, an inauguration committee, and to identify and fill key personnel like the head of the Department of Finance and the all-important chief of staff.

In the midst of everything else, I recommend he find some time to rest, relax, and be with his family and friends. He’s due at least one long weekend after slogging through the campaign! I also recommend he identify a handful of priorities he would like to accomplish after his first 100 days, first year, and first term as governor. He should write those down and keep them close by so that they do not get lost in the crush of daily business.

I hope he includes support for the University of California within these priorities. The UC is an institution of which Californians are justly proud, but which is sorely in need of increased state support so that it can continue to increase both undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, sustain its academic and research excellence, and open the doors of opportunity to the next generation. There can be no better investment for California.

Eloy Oakley – Chancellor, California Community Colleges

I would advise our next governor to focus attention on good paying jobs and on reducing the cost of education. California is struggling to create middle class jobs and employers are finding it hard to fill high skilled jobs. We must do more to close this gap, and the next governor will be in a position to put this at the top at his agenda.

Timothy White – Chancellor, California State University

California’s future depends on a highly educated citizenry. With record numbers of graduates and student completion rates at an all-time highs, Cal State is making progress in closing our share of the state’s projected 1.1 million degree shortfall. Sufficient, sustained and predictable resources from the state are required to continue this progress and enroll additional students and ensure that they can earn high-quality degrees. To build capacity, our public universities must also be rebuilt. In the Cal State system, the majority of our academic facilities were built during a time when gas cost less than one dollar per gallon. Our learning and working environments must be repaired, renovated and modernized to prepare California’s students to compete in the 21st century global economy. Investing in public higher education is a long-term investment in California’s human capital. The challenges of today and tomorrow can only be solved by an educated population.

Kristin Olsen – Stanislaus County Supervisor, Former California Assembly Republican Leader

Within the first 100 days of office, present a strategic plan for economic development that will lower poverty rates and reduce the many disparities between inland and coastal California.

Chet Hewitt – President and CEO, Sierra Health Foundation

I would advise the next governor to pay more attention to issues that impact the daily lives of working class and poor Californians and limit their chances for a healthier and more prosperous future. Examples would include the impact runaway housing costs have on the stability of families, the constraints underfunded school districts place on the economic mobility of students, and the disparities in health status caused by our failure to delivery clean and affordable drinking water to over 1 million of our residents. To be a great governor, California’s next CEO will need to do more than punch back at Washington D.C. He must also be a champion for social and economic justice here in California, and commit to bringing opportunity and prosperity to places and populations that are falling out of, or have never been fully included in, the great California dream.

Jon Coupal – President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The next governor needs to focus on California’s rising debt crisis. The booming national economy – and its positive impact on the state’s positive cash flow – should not blind us to the fact that our elected leadership has made big promises to various interests that will be very difficult to keep. Remember that California’s “debt service” ratio will increase dramatically if revenues decline, even if no additional debt is assumed. The lion’s share of California’s debt crisis, of course, consists of hundreds of billions in unfunded pension obligations. Gov. Brown’s first round of pension reforms was a good start, but it was watered down and more needs to be done. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Go back and look at Brown’s original 12-point pension reform package and implement as many as you can before the next recession hits. By then, it will be too late.

Angie Wei – Chief of Staff, California Labor Federation

We’ve got to restore our faith in government. Demonstrate that government still works to deliver services and infrastructure to people and communities. Our elected leaders should rise above all riffraff, set the voice and tenor for a high road of governing.

Lanhee Chen – David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution at Stanford University

Resist the temptation and pressure to move to the hard left and pursue progressive pipe dreams that will do nothing but leave California worse off for the next generation. Find common ground and assemble a coalition of strange bedfellows to move our state beyond the tired, old debates and rivalries. Seek innovative policy solutions that will reinforce California’s leadership role on the national and global stages.

Daniel Zingale – Senior Vice President, California Endowment

Be bold. The years in office will go by quickly. Dedicate yourself to re-energizing public confidence in our form of democracy. Put what people need from their government ahead of powerful private interests. Get out and listen directly to residents with lived experience, especially those struggling to achieve the California dream. Be a governor for all who reside here.

Laboni Hoq – Litigation Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice

The new governor should invest more in understanding the impact of policies on the diverse and under-served immigrant and communities of color across the state, and put systems in place to promote greater integration of these communities through access to resources. He should also continue to resist the Trump anti-immigrant and white supremacist agenda.

Lara Bergthold – Principal Partner, RALLY Communications

Be bold. Be brave. Don’t let yourself get bullied. California might as well be its own country, so let’s act like it.

Jim Wunderman – President and CEO, Bay Area Council

Be bold and stick to your promises, and always remember that you represent all Californians in an extremely complex and diverse state.

Aziza Hasan – Executive Director, New Ground Muslim-Jewish Partnership

Surround yourself with talented and well-qualified professionals from different backgrounds. People who represent the diversity that is California and who will reach out to the public with a clear long-term vision and not shy away from difficult conversations. Once sensitivities and perspectives are gathered, integrate feedback and communicate difficult decisions in a timely fashion. When people feel heard and, when possible, given the opportunity to offer input, we find better solutions that preempt the hidden future challenges. But this journey takes work. Patient, visionary, and collaborative leadership will ease the growing pains of our shifting demographics.

Rob Stutzman – Founder and President, Stutzman Public Affairs

Focus on fixing the housing crisis. It will take action and political courage. Sacred cows are going to have to be slain. Control personnel decisions, like at the State Water Board and Office of Planning and Research, to solve the crisis not exacerbate it. Appoint a Housing Czar with broad authority to sweep across government to expedite approvals, lower fees and make sure private capital doesn’t stop flowing. On housing you have to make the meal or you’ll become the meal. Time is short.

Bill Burton – Managing Director, SKD Knickerbocker Los Angeles

There is no place that this state fails its citizens more than its inability to provide the high quality education every kid deserves. Focus on education and the vast racial and economic disparities communities across the state are facing and you have the opportunity to make California the state of opportunity for all its citizens for generations to come.

Corey Matthews – Vice President, LeadersUp

Be bold. This is not the season for status quo, cowardice, or even conventional thinking. This is the season for something new. My advice is to think about a problem that impacts all of the other problems: infrastructure, crime, transportation, housing, healthcare issues and to address it holistically.

We have an affordability crisis with budget reserves. What are we going to do about that? Our secondary education system is dwindling and our public higher education can barely serve the students that it was designed to serve. What are we going to do about that? Childcare is sparse and unaffordable. What are we going to do about that? Ultimately, how will this next California governor propose to take care of its residents?

If I had to choose one issue that is bold, and pushes our thinking, it would be mental health. It would take a governor with a certain compassion and understanding for the interrelated impacts of healthcare, housing, education, and public safety on mental health to reshape the way we do business (and politics) in California. Let’s redefine the office itself, and choose that one thing that allows us to re-think everything, and thereby lead us into a new California.

Jim Boren – Executive Director, Fresno State’s Institute for Media and Public Trust

Be a smart steward of Californian’s tax dollars. Invest in infrastructure and education. We must find a way to improve the state’s transportation system that relies less on freeway building and more on state-of-the-art transportation systems and alternatives.

Catherine Lew – Principal and Co-Founder, Lew Edwards Group

Barring an unforeseen circumstance, Gavin Newsom will be our next governor. I would tell him, “Don’t lose the qualities that have set you apart. Continue to dream big or go home. Don’t hedge your bets. Put your stake in the ground for what you believe in and fight hard. Give us the straight talk and the results we expect and deserve. Today, more than ever, we need compassionate, effective leadership — use your position to serve the most vulnerable in our communities and the next generation. This is an enormous responsibility and opportunity. Don’t you dare squander it.” #highexpectations

Carl Guardino – President and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Dollars are finite. Vision and creativity are not. I believe Gavin Newsom will be elected governor on Tuesday evening, so this message is directed to him and his team. There is a pent-up desire by many progressives for universal health care, universal pre-school, free college tuition and numerous other budget-stretching, if not busting, initiatives. Our new governor will need to strike a balance between bold policy programs and limited budgets. He will be prodded to raise taxes and fees to cover raised expectations. Employers and “the rich” will be demonized to “pay their fair share,” making California less affordable at a time when the economic cycle may already be cooling off. My counsel: listen to all voices, be willing to make tough choices, and learn to set a bold vision while still being able to say ‘No’ when necessary.”

Kim Yamasaki – Executive Director, Center for Asians United for Self-Empowerment

California has always positioned itself as a leading state in our democracy. I’m interested in seeing who the next governor chooses to surround himself with and who he decides to appoint for our state’s many commissions. I’d advise our future governor to surround himself with diversity in background and experience. As someone who regularly looks to increase the leadership representation within communities of color, what will be his commitment to including the perspectives that comprise California’s diverse electorate? Particularly, within the Asian Pacific American (APA) community, I want to see APA community outreach being prioritized. And this outreach should be prioritized for all APA communities including our South, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. Efforts to engage the APA community should be matched in labor and DOLLARS.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd – President, Western States Petroleum Association

My advice to California’s new governor would be this: Listen carefully for opposing sides to frame each other as the enemy – and don’t fall for it. If we’re smart and we’re careful, California can have it all, from a healthy environment to a thriving economy, from social equality to abundant energy.

Without a single enemy to be seen.

However the new governor approaches energy and environmental policy, he can provide an opportunity for all of us to chart a future together. It’s important that all voices be at the table, because a truly sustainable energy future has to take into account the multiple needs of all Californians and has to be done intentionally, not accidentally. We want to be able to power our homes and businesses and provide affordable reliable fuels for mobility. We want to support our families and our communities, and we want to enjoy this spectacular state with them.

Balancing all of those needs won’t be an easy feat. I would advise the new governor to start the conversation about California’s energy future by gathering us all on common ground. There are enough points of agreement to lay a strong foundation. We can build on that to protect the environment, ensure energy independence, provide solid jobs, and keeping people moving.

Kathryn Phillips – Director, Sierra Club California

The biggest risk any elected official faces is insularity. Most succumb to it. It doesn’t take long after a campaign before the people you have hired, the people you talk to on a daily basis, are really the only people you talk to in depth. And the last people many of those around you will want you to hear from are those whose opinions differ from their own. After all, they are around you because they want to influence your thinking and the direction of state policy. So find ways to reach out to others, including your critics and foes, to have quiet, honest conversations. You won’t necessarily leave those conversations with any new approaches, but at least you’ll have a deeper, unfiltered understanding of what’s happening and what thinking is occurring outside of the governor’s suite.

Also, respect the Legislature. There isn’t much to be gained by treating that branch as though it is an annoyance. Engage in conversations early about policy goals and how to achieve the shared ones together. Anticipate differences over the course of your term in office, particularly about the budget, but recognize those disagreements as an essential part of democracy.

Most of all, help us all see California for what it is: A remarkable state with beautiful places worth preserving, a population diversity worth celebrating, and a potential for betterment for all worth pursuing.

Eric Bauman – Chair, California Democratic Party

Be thoughtful, be creative, be original, invest in our future, but don’t be profligate. Engage with people from across our state, without regard to status or Party, every Californian should know you are their governor and care about them. As we lead the resistance to the dangerous policies and attitudes coming from Washington D.C., we must ensure there is a feeling of hope, a place and a future for every Californian, young or old, citizen or immigrant for that is the California Dream you so often speak about.

Jim Brulte – Chairman, California Republican Party

Congratulations Governor Cox...Please prepare for the next down economic cycle. California’s rainy day fund is not big enough to cover all the current expenditures. And when the economy cycles down, the state budget is going to crater.

Kim Belshé – Executive Director, First 5 LA

For our new governor, I’d share the words of Frederick Douglass, which influences our work here at First 5 LA: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Our new governor only has to look at some hard realities to understand the urgency associated with these words today. While California ranks #1 in per capita spending on prisoners at a rate of nearly $80,000 per year, we spend less than a quarter of that on early infant and toddler care, creating huge gaps in access for our kids.

Why are we as a society willing to spend more to incarcerate a person than educate them at the earliest possible moments? Why do we invest in child protective services, but not prevention and early interventions, including proven strategies like home visiting supports for new parents? Why are we better at responding to families in crisis than supporting those in need of help managing the challenges of parenting? Shouldn’t we prioritize strengthening and prevention over crisis and remediation? Right now 20 percent of children in California live in poverty. In Los Angeles County, it’s 28 percent. I’m confident the new governor will consider the impact this has on young lives and our collective future. We must level the playing field so every child has an opportunity to start strong and be successful in school and life.

Renata Simril – President and CEO, LA84 Foundation

Prioritize investment in California’s most important and precious resource, its people – particularly our young people. There are more than six million of our kids (15 percent of our state’s population) attending public school in districts that are facing severe structural budget issues. Many of these schools are leaving our most vulnerable youth behind. As the fifth largest economy in the world, we can and should do better. I would advise the governor to lead on this issue.

Christine Robertson – Vice President of Community Engagement and Advocacy, Visit SLO CAL

The next governor has a profound strategic decision to make: what is our state’s ‘theory of change?’ I submit that he should establish California as a model of modern government that puts innovation at the center of the debate about how to solve problems.

Let’s be frank. The old brick-and-mortar mindset of government doesn’t work anymore. Our binary politics – right vs. left, labor vs. capitol, industry vs. environment – don’t work anymore. The system has become frustrated, divided and ineffective. Legislators continue to reach for the institutional tools of the past to solve problems of the future. Unlike private sector innovators who drive impact through decentralization, transfer and scale, government remains plodding, centralized and monopolistic. Our grandparents’ government is no longer adequate to meet our growing expectations about how information and services should be delivered.

This next governor has an opportunity to do something truly revolutionary – to reinvent government from a centralized brick-and-mortar provider of public programs to a facilitator of innovation that can be adopted and scaled by the public itself.

Michele Siqueiros – President, Campaign for College Opportunity

The future of California will depend on your courage to invest in strengthening educational opportunity and closing racial gaps for California’s diverse residents. In the 1940’s, California led the way in ending school segregation in Mendez vs. Westminster (which led to the U.S. Supreme Court declaring school segregation unconstitutional). In the 1960’s, California led the way in establishing the world’s best public community colleges and universities (founded on California values that every talented young adult should have the opportunity to go to college regardless of their families financial resources). In the 21st Century as governor of the strongest and most diverse state in our nation, you have the opportunity to put students first and invest in their opportunity not just to go to college, but to graduate ready to contribute to our economy. This will require more funding and articulating a vision for our colleges and universities that increases their success rates. You must be a leader courageously committed to investing in racial educational equality – our future as a state depends on it.

Bonnie Castillo – Executive Director, California Nurses Association

The best advice I can offer the next governor – who I believe will be Gavin Newsom – is to understand and respond to the needs and concerns of those who stand with him, and the reality that the character of that base will continue to shift toward justice and equality. For nurses, that means that the lives of our patients and the needless suffering they endure must be in the forefront of any solution. And for the youth and people of color who constitute the rapidly changing demographic in the voter base that means acting boldly on income and wealth disparity and on the environment. It is a disgrace that California as the fifth largest economy in the world has the nation’s largest percentage of people living in poverty. The crisis requires action on affordable housing and living wage jobs. Guaranteed healthcare for all will erode income disparity – and it is supported by 67% of the likely voters between the ages of 18 and 29. You cannot go halfway. What is required is real reform. These are moral challenges. Act with political will, but most importantly, act with courage.

Ron Wong – President, Imprenta Communications Group

You have a great opportunity to lead America. California has always led the nation. In these diverse times, our state’s leadership is needed more than ever. You can show the nation that by coming together and respecting diversity, the politics of divisiveness has no place in America. California once tried that and we are stronger than ever. Show that innovation, economic trade and investment with our Pacific Rim partners can make our state thrive.

Linda Ackerman – President, Marian Bergeson Excellence in Public Service Series

California needs a governor who will give full attention to the pressing needs of the state and its citizens. Since the start of the Trump administration, California has filed over 40 lawsuits against the federal government. This is time and effort that would have been better spent focusing on our crumbling infrastructure, housing shortages, expensive over regulation, unfounded pension funds and shrinking middle class, The state receives over 100 billion dollars every year from the federal government. That money could be in jeopardy because of these lawsuits. The next governor needs to change California’s current resistance mode to a cooperative mode.

Les Simmons – Pastor, South Sacramento Christian Center

My advice would be to continue to have intellectual courage and courage of the heart to fight the status quo and make bold changes. While California continues to thrive, there are too many left behind and destined to fail from lack of access to good education, stable housing and the opportunity to continue to raise the tide for all of California.

Conan Nolan – Chief Political Reporter and Anchor of ‘News Conference”, KNBC-LA

Let’s say for the sake of argument that the polls are correct and we will elect another Democrat to be the 40th governor of California. Here is some advice for Gavin Newsom. Go ahead and lead the “resistance” if you must, but understand your greatest policy opponents will be many of those who currently support your candidacy. Democrats dominate the Legislature, the congressional delegation, nearly every statewide office and the mayoral suites and city councils of its largest metropolitan areas.

They have plenty to boast about. We are the world’s fifth largest economy, the center for innovation and creativity and a global reputation on issues such as climate change.

Then there is homelessness. Thousands of mentally ill living on our sidewalks. Open drug markets. A middle class that is fleeing the state. A lack of housing for even those with well-paying jobs. Don’t blame Kevin McCarthy or Ronald Reagan for that.

Democrats need to understand that with great power comes great responsibility. The next governor is going to probably be a Democrat, and he will need to use his political capital to anger many of his fellow Democrats. If global warming is a priority issue than you will need to get people out of their cars by demanding local governments stand up to neighborhood councils and build density housing near transit lines. If you are going to keep typhus from breaking out in downtown San Francisco or Los Angeles, you will need to demand the enforcement of sanitation laws. If the state is facing a pension crisis, tell us why and what you are going to do about it. And if you want the state to stop from lurching toward insolvency during the next recession (and there will be one) then you need to champion tax reform and stop simply depending on the rich and their investments to finance public education and the rest of state government. Henry Ford said “Don’t find fault, find a remedy”. For Governor Newsom those solutions will require making enemies other than the one in the White House.

Maria Mejia – Los Angeles Director, Gen Next

Lead on the issues vs. the politics. California’s voice needs to be heard but it is not enough to continue to simply denounce the president’s policies. California has an opportunity to lead the world by offering bold ideas and solutions. The new governor should be focused on shining a light on the most pragmatic path forward, leading the administration on the issues, and establishing a standard for global leadership that is anchored in robust collaboration.

Karthick Ramakrishnan – Director of AAPI Data and the Center for Social Innovation, UC-Riverside

Pay attention to Inland California, the backbone of our state. This region, which stretches from Redding through Sacramento, Fresno, Merced, Bakersfield, the Inland Empire and Imperial Valley, accounts for nearly one third of the state’s population. This heartland region represents the demographic future of California. It also presents various challenges and opportunities with respect to housing, transportation, health care, and ensuring good jobs in the face of increasing automation. There are incredible examples of economic and social innovation across Inland California. The governor can play a important role in promoting investments in the region and ensuring that California’s prosperity is equitably shared among coastal and inland areas alike.

Astrid Ochoa – Election Administration and Voting Advocate

I would advise the new governor to strengthen the public trust in our government institutions. I hope our new governor works to reassure the people in our state that government is here to protect our well-being and human rights.

Andrea Ambriz Chief of Staff, Service Employees International Union Local 2015

Congratulations to our new Governor. With a full deck of issues to address to continue leading California as this nation’s example of what is possible, the challenges may seem endless. However, amidst the hustle and bustle of daily governing life, recall the chief priority of your position—to serve California. Public service at its core is about helping the community and engaging in serving others who elected a leader to represent them. This means engaging with interests on all sides, and perhaps most importantly with working Californians. Spend time on so called Main Street. Effort to regularly engage in working communities with individuals and families working hard to make ends meet or living pay check to pay check; many things can only be understood when seeing life through these eyes. Appreciate and support the audacity of small business owners and entrepreneurs growing our economy daily. In fact, take note that despite limited access to capital, Latino entrepreneurs are the fastest-growing segment in the small business sector creating jobs and bolstering economic development, particularly in disadvantaged communities statewide. Recall that Latinos represent the largest ethnic group in California (39% of our state’s population), and with this new Administration’s positions and forthcoming policies and efforts, invest in meaningful representation and support of this community. Above all, make efforts to ensure that all communities are represented in government leadership and support roles to include the perspectives and input from all Californians. Good luck and we’re excited for your leadership.

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