Political Notebook

As governor, Delaine Eastin would seek to improve education, housing, health care

Delaine Eastin, candidate for California governor, brings her campaign to Fresno

Former state schools superintendent Delaine Eastin addresses supporters at a luncheon. She shared her views on key issues like education, housing and health care.
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Former state schools superintendent Delaine Eastin addresses supporters at a luncheon. She shared her views on key issues like education, housing and health care.

As governor, Delaine Eastin,would focus on improving education, housing, health care and care of children of immigrants.

Eastin addressed supporters of The Maddy Institute at a lunchtime gathering Tuesday in north Fresno. A Democrat, Eastin is the only woman in the race for governor in which four Democrats and two Republicans are seeking to place in the top two in the June 2018 primary. She placed last in a statewide poll of gubernatorial candidates that came out in September. But Eastin said she’s familiar with long odds when it comes to seeking public office.

“I’m used to being underestimated,” she said. “I’m used to being discounted. I’ve run 14 times. I was supposed to lose about half of those races and I’ve won every one of them. So I’m in this to win it.”

Eastin, 70, served two terms as California’s state superintendent of public instruction, and so far is the only female to hold the job. She also served in the Assembly for four terms, representing parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

I’ve run 14 times. I was supposed to lose about half of those races and I’ve won every one of them.

Delaine Eastin, candidate for governor

Eastin may be best known for her role in educational policies, such as class-size reduction in grades kindergarten through third grade.

“Education is my wheelhouse, there’s no doubt about it, but there’s a bunch of things broken in the state of California,” she said, citing housing policy.

“California has the highest percentage and number of children living at home with their parents to the oldest age of any state in the union because they can’t afford to move out,” she said. Too many college students are “couch surfing” because they can’t afford rent, and people are living in marginal circumstances.

She said she would restore redevelopment agencies to work on the housing problem by buying sites that could be converted to housing.

“We need to have a conversation not just about building housing, but we’ve got to build housing near our transit hubs.”

Having more transportation options in California is also needed to reduce air pollution from vehicles, she said.

Eastin supports high speed rail, but the system will need revenue or the tickets will be unaffordable, she said. In answer to a question about where revenuewould come from, she said she favors a tax on oil production in California similar to Texas and Louisiana.

Eastin also said “it’s time to have a conversation about health care for all” because the state “is spending more money on health care and getting less. We have people going bankrupt because of their health-care costs. We have people dying because they couldn’t get adequate health care.”

On education, Eastin favors restoring budget cuts that occurred in the Schwarzenegger administration to child development through age 3 , and favors universal preschool and mandatory, full-day kindergarten.

“Education is absolutely the most important thing we can do to build the economy,” she said. “Guess what, education is also the best crime prevention program.”

She also said the state needs more college campuses. Since 1985, only 13 new state college and university campuses have been built compared to 23 prisons, she said.

We had a record water year last year, but guess what? Most of that water ran into the ocean because there was no plan to retrieve it and reinject in our aquifers or store it.

Delaine Eastin, candidate for governor

Eastin said she supports immigrants and their children.

“What we know about immigrants is this. They are the most ambitious, risk taking entrepreneurial people on Earth. So, that’s part of the genius of America. I’m going to fight to protect those who are in California,” including people brought in as children by their parents.

“We have a sacred trust to keep with them, to make sure they feel safe here, and that they in fact will be some of our greatest citizens,” she said.

Speaking with reporters after the event, she said touched on several other topics:

▪ California needs a new long-range plan for water.

“We had a record water year last year, but guess what? Most of that water ran into the ocean because there was no plan to retrieve it and reinject in our aquifers or store it,” she said.

▪ The recent gas tax increase is unpopular because state leaders waited too long to boost it when it should have been raised gradually, she said. Local governments like Fresno County where voters approved a 1/2 sales tax for transportation are in better shape because of it, she said.

▪ She also said she favors trying to change Proposition 13 to allow reassessments of commercial and industrial properties in order to boost revenues for education spending at the local level, but keeping it as is for homes.

“Disneyland is paying about what it was paying in 1975 for this very valuable piece of property in the middle of Orange County,” she said.

Eastin has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis, and a master’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

She isn’t the only Democrat seeking to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, who is termed out and can’t seek re-election.

Other Democratic candidates are Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Treasurer John Chiang and Anthony Villaraigosa, a former Los Angeles mayor and former speaker of the Assembly. Republicans John Cox, a businessman from San Diego, and Assemblyman Travis Allen are also running.

Newsom is considered the frontrunner. The Democrat from San Francisco had the support of 26 percent of likely voters, according to a survey released in September by the UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, the Sacramento Bee reported.

In a virtual tie for second place are Cox at 11 percent and Villaraigosa at 10 percent. Allen of Huntington Beach had 9 percent, while Chiang and Eastin trailed at 7 and 4 percent respectively.

The Maddy Institute is hosting lunches for all the candidates for governor, and is still working on getting dates for Newsom and Allen, said executive director Mark Keppler.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold

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