The Official Davis College Democrats State Assembly Candidates Questionnaire, 2008
Welcome to the official Davis College Democrats (DCD) questionnaire for both Democratic assembly primary candidates Christopher Cabaldon and Mariko Yamada in 2008. Here's a little background and info for all of you not so familiar with the current race:
California is divided up into 80 assembly districts and we just happen to be in the 8th Assembly district, currently represented by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (D). We Davisites share the district with (in order approximately from East to West): West Sacramento, Woodland, Rio Vista, Winters, Vacaville, Fairfield, Suisun City, and Benicia. Assemblywoman Wolk is being termed out and can not be re-elected to her assembly seat, so she is making a run for the wide-open 5th senate district seat. This leaves an equally wide-open 8th assembly district seat and the Democratic primary for it will be held on June 3, 2008. The Democratic candidates are current West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and 4th District Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada.
The general election, which will be held on November 4, 2008 covers not only the Presidential election but also State Assembly! But, DCD is confident that in this heavily Democratic district, the June Democratic primary will probably determine who our next Assemblymember will be. The Davis College Democrats will vote on this Endorsement at their General Meeting held on April 30th, 2008. For the Endorsement Process, see below.
The DCD Questionnaire
Will you work to get rid of the state requirement that forces cities to grow by a certain percentage every year by county?
- Government Code Section 65583(a)(1) of housing element law requires a quantification of each jurisdiction’s existing and projected housing needs. To say that this “forces cities to grow by a certain percentage every year, by county” is not exactly correct.
- The regional housing need allocation (RHNA) process may be found at Government Code Section 65584. The city OR county’s share of the RHNA, as determined by their Council of Governments (COG), is the projected housing need for the planning period of their respective housing elements. The RHNA is an estimate of the minimum housing need projected for a city or county, and should not be considered or treated as a ceiling for housing development or as a basis for denying housing applications.
- The RHNA process includes several objectives:
- increasing housing supply and mix, tenure and affordability in all cities and counties within a COG in an equitable manner, resulting in each jurisdiction receiving a RHNA allocation for low- and very-low income households;
- promoting infill and socioeconomic equity; protection of agricultural and environmental resources; encouraging efficient development patterns;
- improving jobs-housing balance intraregionally;
- allocating housing need to income category proportionate to the countywide distribution of households in that category from the most recent decennial U.S. census.
- The RHNA process can always be improved; I would seek to streamline and enhance, but not “get rid” of this planning tool. No jurisdiction is “forced” to grow by the State.
- For generations, some cities practiced “exclusionary zoning” that restricted any development of new housing in order to keep out “undesirable” lower-income or minority residents. The state law which results in “housing need” allocations to each city was designed to assure that every community provides its fair share of new, affordable housing. However, the simplistic formula has had severe unintended consequences, as it puts pressure on communities to grow even when there are substantial environmental reasons for growth to be directed elsewhere. As chair of the regional council of governments, I brokered a solution that shifts more growth toward urban infill areas to meet the need for new housing and affordability, while reducing somewhat the level of growth expected of rural towns, cities like Davis, and areas with environmental or farmland constraints. State law makes such win-win solutions extremely difficult, and I intend to seek legislation to fix the state housing needs allocation to align it with environmental sustainability policies. I am endorsed by the California League of Conservation Voters and the leading environmentalists in the district and statewide.
California is facing a huge budget deficit. What do you think about the governor's plan to fix it and what are three specific provisions you would have in a bill aimed at fixing the state's budget shortfall?
- Our current fiscal emergency did not develop overnight, but has caught up with us following years of borrowing and spending and other imprudent decisions.
- The Governor’s proposed ten-percent across-the-board reduction is a simplistic “meat-ax” approach that should have been declared dead-on-arrival. Social workers know that one-size-does-not-fit-all, and that balancing the budget on the backs of the poorest, most vulnerable Californians is unrealistic and actually results in multiple cuts to the same populations while those at the top of the income scale are largely immune to actual reductions.
- I believe in a balanced approach to addressing our “borrow-and-spend” budget. Three provisions I would include are:
- consolidate specific categorical education and public health program spending for greater efficiencies;
- review the twelve TEPS (tax expenditure programs) identified by the LAO for modification or elimination;
- propose “user-pays” principles in flood management, water quality, fire protection, parks and reintroduce the elimination of the “sloop-tax” loophole.
- The governor’s across-the-board swipe at all state programs and services abdicates our responsibility to make real choices and set priorities. His cop-out would savage the very investments in people and infrastructure that are necessary for California’s economy (and tax revenues) to rebound and prosper. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s recommended budget is a far superior starting point, with targeted efficiencies, reductions, and revenues. Beyond this year, the state should
How have you supported students and/or Young Democrats?
- As a parent of two grown daughters, I have always been active in advocating and supporting students:
- served as a school site volunteer in preschool, elementary, and secondary education;
- raised $25,000 over three years to build a shade structure at Ericson Elementary School in San Diego to protect free- and reduced-lunch students from the broiling sun;
- organized parents to paint Valley Oak Elementary School following years of neglect;
- participated on the Gate Advisory Committee for Davis Schools
- was Debate Judge for Sacramento Valley Forensic League when my younger daughter was involved in high school debate;
- served as Human Relations Liaison for Davis High School PTA addressing hate crimes, hate incidents, and bullying in Davis schools;
- have served as Speech Judge for Yolo County Academic Decathlon for the past five years;
- have worked on every school parcel tax renewal campaign since moving to Davis (1999; 2003; 2007 which have passed each time);
- was Co-Chair of Measure P, a local library parcel tax campaign which passed by more than 70% in November 2007;
- advocated against the closure of Valley Oak Elementary School;
- spoke in favor of the Valley Oak Charter School before the Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees and before the Yolo County Board of Education;
- have partially sponsored two other students (other than my own daughters) through college;
- have sponsored Davis College and YCYD events for several years.
- My career began as a student leader advocating on behalf of UC students, and I that cause continues to drive my public work. Throughout my time as an elected official, I have always actively supported YD organizations and members. As Mayor, I have appointed more Democrats under 30 to city commissions than all previous mayors combined. Last year, I was honored with the “Blue Community” award from the California Young Democrats. For the Assembly campaign, my team is drawn from every local YD chapter in the area, and has provided numerous internship opportunities to students so they can gain political experience. My campaign has also recruited volunteers and brought political awareness to young voters through social networking sites of Facebook and Myspace, with nearly 800 friends combined between the two. We helped secure delegate slots for more than a dozen local Young Democrats at the recent state convention. I am proud to have been a strong supporter of Davis College Democrats, and its events, fundraising, and other activities. As the Assemblymember for this district, I look forward to continuing a strong partnership with DCD and the other YD organizations in the district. I am endorsed by the Sacramento County Young Democrats, Sac State College Democrats, and Yolo County Young Democrats.
Do you support same-sex marriage?
- Yes. I prefer the term “Marriage Equality”.
- My record in support of Marriage Equality and LGBT civil rights follows:
- Organized the first and second “Gay Pride Month” employee recognition and training events in Yolo County in 2001 and 2002
- Established Yolo County Teaching Tolerance Project
- I am the only Yolo County elected official to have consistently stood with Yolo County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley at her annual “Valentine’s Day” protest in Woodland, CA. Each year on Valentine’s Day, committed same-sex couples come to our county offices to seek a marriage license, and each year, Freddie must turn them down under current law. I have stood with her and the committed couples who endure this unequal treatment year after year.
- Performed “one-year anniversary” marriage recommitment ceremonies on Valentine’s Day 2005 for couples who had been married in San Francisco in 2004. I received hate mail and negative letters to the editor, to which I responded, “I believe we need more love in the world, not less”.
- Have consistently introduced the June Pride Month resolution at the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
- I have a 100% rating from Equality California.
- Sponsored a “Soulforce Rider”, Brian Murphy, in 2007.
- Sponsored “7 Straight Nights for Equal Rights” in 2007
- For these efforts, I was previously awarded the “Honorary Family” recognition by the UC Davis Chancellor’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual and Intersex Issues.
- I was the first candidate in this district to publicly endorse marriage equality as an elected official—six years ago. As the son of a mixed-race couple who were married when such unions were still illegal in many states, I have always been strongly committed to civil rights and full equality. I joined leaders from across the nation in a full-page signed letter for marriage equality in the country’s leading newspapers. I have been endorsed for the Assembly by Equality California.
How do you plan to support College Affordability?
- I believe we must adhere to the state Master Plan for Higher Education; fund anticipated enrollment growth; increase grant aid for financially needy students; maintain existing Cal Grant programs, cap and freeze salaries for top administrators; conduct legislative oversight hearings for university systems; seek legislation for loan forgiveness for specific majors.
- From the moment I set foot on the University of California as a freshman, I have devoted my entire adult life to fighting to keep college affordable and preserve access and opportunity to higher education. As student body vice president and an officer of the state and national student organizations, and then professionally as the UC Students’ Association’s legislative director, staff director to the Assembly higher education committee, Vice Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, and president of a statewide education advocacy organization, I have led numerous battles against tuition hikes and for substantial increases in student financial aid. As a Member of the Assembly, I intend to be a champion for quality, accessible, affordable higher education, which is the social and economic engine for California’s future. I support restoring public investment in public higher education, both to maintain affordability and to stave off the growing threat of privatization. I am endorsed by the leading organizations representing faculty and staff at California’s public colleges and universities.
What is your position on having lower punishment for non-violent crimes and drug possession?
- As a professional social worker, I have always believed in investing in less-costly “front-end” intervention rather than “back-end” punishment. For first-time and non-violent offenders, referral to diversion, treatment, community service and restorative justice programs can make a difference.
- Proposition 36 has worked for some offenders and has the concomitant effect of reducing the jail and prison population.
- It is time for California to have an honest public dialogue about prison sentencing. We have a prison overcrowding and budget crisis because too many legislators have tried to score political points by increasing sentences without regard to the consequences for public safety or cost. The state should conduct a comprehensive review of sentences to make them more rational, and return greater discretion to judges to impose appropriate sentences that punish crime, protect victims, and prevent recidivism—with prison terms that fit the crime. I support effective rehabilitation programs for drug offenders; they reduce the amount of people in correctional facilities and they help prevent them from becoming repeat offenders.
How will you fix the broken prison system?
- I do not purport to have the answer to this question. There are many great minds at work on this extremely difficult problem, so bad that the courts have had to get involved. We must start much earlier, to allocate resources to attack the root causes of incarceration, rather than continue to feed the prisons with the broken bodies and minds of those who have run afoul of the law.
- We must also address the revolving door of serial inebriates, the homeless mentally ill; step up drug interdiction to prevent further crime; provide alternative sentencing opportunities; address gang-formation problems; step-up mentoring programs.
- Our priorities are upside-down; we are spending more money on prisons than on schools. We can and must do better because the growth in the prison population and the workforce needed to maintain prison operations in their present state is unsustainable.
- The most important step is implementation of comprehensive sentencing reform to assure that scare prison spaces are available for criminals convicted of serious crimes (see prior question). The impacts of prison overcrowding on public safety are already being felt, as justice is not being served in criminal cases, county jails are being forced to accept prisoners at danger levels for which they are not designed are staffed, and inmates are receiving inadequate medical attention while community hospitals and healthcare providers often must provide care without compensation. More prison beds are being built, but California cannot build its way out of prison overcrowding and incarcerate an even larger proportion of its citizens.
What do you think is a reasonable living wage and would you support implementing it? In your opinion, what does it mean to have a living wage?
- The Living Wage Calculator, found at http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/results.php?location=5035 shows that for Davis, California, a living wage for two adults and two children is $23.36 an hour. I would of course support implementing it.
- A living wage is a term used to describe the minimum hourly wage necessary for a person to achieve a basic standard of living, including housing, food, utilities, transportation, health care, education, clothing, and recreation.
- Poverty in America is real, widespread, but invisible to most because we do not speak of it and it is not a popular topic in the media. The income gap between the rich and the poor is now at the widest disparity since the Great Depression. Those at the bottom of the wage scale are paying up to 17% of their income in taxes and fees, while the wealthiest pay 7%. There is something wrong with this picture, and as a social worker whose professional ethic requires her to advocate for the poor and most vulnerable, I will continue to speak out about these issues.
- A living wage is the compensation needed for a full-time worker to support a family—out of poverty. Unlike the minimum wage, the level of a living wage depends on the local/regional cost of living, recognizing that even a doubling of the minimum wage in high-cost areas would still perpetuate poverty for working families. In our region, for instance, a living wage for an adult supporting one child might be in the $15 to $20 range per hour. While state and local governments generally pay their own employees a living wage, their contractors sometimes do not—even though they are doing public work. I have spoken out in favor of living wage policies in the past and would support implementing a living wage policy in state government.
How do you propose to achieve the goals set forth with AB 32?
- If you are referring to AB 32 : California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, I support California’s current lawsuit against the U.S. EPA and believe we must press forward on this critical issue and implement our legislation. Global warming is real, with cataclysmic effects upon the environment and our economy unless we fundamentally change the way we live our daily lives. We must look inside ourselves and make the paradigm shift to save the planet for future generations. We must have the courage and the backbone to say no to special interests and to those who put profit and money-making ahead of the tough reforms needed to preserve and protect the environment.
- There are several strategies that I have been advancing to achieve aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, including
- I am leading mayors across the nation to sue the Bush Administration over its denial of California’s climate change regulation of vehicles, and working as one of the principal local elected officials in California on the translation of AB 32’s targets to specific regional and local policy changes on land use and transportation. I chaired the development of the landmark Blueprint land use/transportation strategy, which is the first multibillion transportation strategy in the nation to reduce vehicle miles traveled. I am endorsed by the Sierra Club.
Would you support the California High Speed Rail Initiative that is on the November ballot? How will you work to alleviate traffic concerns in this Assembly District?
- The history of the California High Speed Rail Initiative is, in a way, a metaphor for our transportation woes—we are faced with continuing stalls and delays. We know what our destination is, but we are stuck in traffic trying to get there! This initiative has been around I concept for several years, but put off by our legislators and the Governor while a variety of issues have been worked out.
- I am in full support of the intent of the initiative, but given the fiscal uncertainty facing the State for the foreseeable future, I cannot be sure that additional bond indebtedness of close to $10B is sustainable. As a member of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors Treasury and Fiscal Oversight Committee, I would want to weigh the evidence closer to November 4, 2008. However, proponents predict that if we do not pass the California High Speed Rail Initiative this time, we may never have the opportunity again.
- Alleviating traffic concerns in the 8th A.D. will come from a collaborative approach to good land use, transportation, housing, employment and services planning—I believe we must work aggressively towards doing “health-by-design”, creating communities that are sustainable and seek to establish jobs-housing-services balance so that we can reduce VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) and reduce the amount of time we spend in our cars or in transit.
- The ironic intersection of skyrocketing fuel costs and the deterioration of our planet from global warming compels both elected leaders and everyday people to confront the need to alter our consumption and transportation patterns. Emerging green technologies can and must be implemented to support alternative transportation modes. The demographic shift of the ‘Baby Boomers’ will shift transit demands away from cars into e-vehicles and paratransit. We should be planning for this new transportation reality now.
- Yes, I support the high speed rail initiative. I have also been an advocate for high speed rail route alignments that serve the 8th Assembly District and
- To address traffic concerns, I will continue to press for more compact development patterns instead of sprawl, increase relative investment in local transit and the Capitol Corridor rail service, take thousands of trucks off of the highways by deepening the Port of Sacramento ship channel to accommodate modern vessels, build out the regional and interregional network of bicycle lanes and separated paths, and fight to defend our region’s share of the state transportation bond funds.
The DCD Endorsement Process
As a club, we are considering whether or not to approve an endorsement for Christopher Cabaldon in the 8th Assembly District race. Because the California Democratic Party has given Christopher its endorsement and the Davis College Democrats is a subsidiary group to the CDP, Davis College Democrats is not allowed to endorse Mariko Yamada. The questionnaire was sent to both Democratic Candidates. Our club will review the responses and give adequate care to fairly judge both candidates' responses. They will be reviewed by an Endorsement Committee as outlined in our club constitution and no one on the committee will have close ties to either campaign. All questions and responses from both candidates will be posted online at daviswiki.org and on our club blog at daviscollegedemocrats.blogspot.com. The decision between either endorsing or not endorsing Christopher Cabaldon will be voted on at the April 30th General Meeting by active members present at the meeting and will require a 2/3 supermajority for the endorsement to pass. Our club will vote on both Assembly and Davis City Council candidate endorsements on the night of April 30th. We respectfully request that official representatives of the campaign decline to attend the meeting. We will publicly post our final decision online and contact the campaign offices either by phone or mail. We would like to thank both campaigns very much for their time and regardless of our decision, we hope to maintain a positive working relationship with both candidates for years to come.