The State of California is seeking a second-in-command to the governor who does not mind light duties and generally staying out of the way.
- Flexible schedule: Should be available to step in as acting governor when the governor leaves the state — though as a caretaker. Any major actions can be reversed upon the governor’s return.
- Broad interests: Responsibilities include voting on the boards of California’s three public higher education systems; serving on the commission that oversees millions of acres of state-owned land and waterways; and leading the advisory Commission For Economic Development, which does not currently have a quorum of appointees necessary to meet.
- Special skills: As president of the state Senate, presides over the chamber and breaks any tied votes, though this never happens now that Democrats hold a supermajority. Sets the election date if there’s a successful gubernatorial recall petition.
$163,917 annual salary, plus not entirely unrealistic dreams of becoming the next Gray Davis or Gavin Newsom.
About the hiring process:
This typically quiet race is even quieter than usual this year. Democrat Eleni Kounalakis won an intraparty battle in 2018, with millions of dollars in help from her father, Sacramento real estate developer Angelo Tsakopoulos. She’s made few headlines since, apart from becoming the first woman in California to sign a bill into law, while Gov. Gavin Newsom was on spring break with his family.
After winning nearly 53% of the vote in the June primary, Kounalakis has a clear path to victory over Republican Angela Underwood Jacobs for a second and final term. But she’ll need to make more noise over the next four years if she still has her eye on the governor’s office next.
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Here’s where Angela Underwood Jacobs and Eleni Kounalakis, applicants for lieutenant governor, stand on some of the biggest questions facing California.
While California boasts the best and biggest public university systems in the nation, they’re in turmoil. The University of California is facing a student housing crunch at the same time it is under intense pressure to increase the number of in-state students. UC Berkeley needed intervention by lawmakers to avoid an enrollment cap. Meanwhile, the California State University just had its chancellor forced out and is struggling to improve access, including enough student housing. The lieutenant governor is on the boards of both the UC and CSU systems.
California’s colleges and universities should primarily serve California residents. The UC system needs to reduce its staggering administrative expenses and focus on education. Here’s an example: administrative spending comprised just 26% of total spending by American colleges in 1980-1981, while instructional spending comprised 41%. Three decades later, the two categories were almost even. Ten executives in the UC’s Office of the President whose salaries were analyzed by a state audit made a total of $3.7 million in FY2014 – $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest-paid state employee counterparts.
We must create more room for California students in the University of California, particularly at campuses in highest demand. The compacts between the UC and the Newsom administration are an important step. Over the next four years, the UC will add 8,000 undergraduate students with concentrated growth at UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, and UC San Diego. The UC just announced a 1.2% increase in the number of California students admitted for fall 2022. At the same time, I believe out-of-state and international students are an important part of the fabric of our campuses and contribute to our diversity.
California’s colleges and universities were always intended to primarily serve California’s children and provide access to the American Dream for the Golden State’s kids. I believe we need to get back to that as a primary function of our higher education system. The most direct way to do that is rein in out-of-control administrative expenses.
Every Californian deserves a chance to access our transformative institutions of public higher education. The higher ed compacts also include 1% annual enrollment growth for the next four years, leading to an additional 14,000 resident undergraduates at the CSU. Significant progress has also been made to increase graduation rates and close equity gaps, but still only 33% of first-time students graduate in four years, far below private institutions and UC's. We must be doing everything we can to ensure that our students can get through the CSU in a timely manner, saving students, taxpayers and the state time and money.
California is stuck in a drought, with few signs the emergency will improve any time soon — or that voluntary measures will be enough. The state is also struggling to reach its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also advancing environmental justice for communities with dirty air and water. The lieutenant governor serves on the state Lands Commission, the California Ocean Protection Council and the California Coastal Commission.
California’s coastline is a precious resource. I would not support new offshore drilling and would support a phase-out of offshore drilling entirely.
I support a practical approach to phasing out oil drilling in California. That means starting with off-shore drilling. As a member of the state Lands Commission, I have overseen the capping and abandonment of numerous legacy facilities. I have also voted to terminate three offshore oil and gas leases for non-compliance, and returned more than 7,200 acres offshore to the California Coastal Sanctuary. As off-shore oil leases lapse, they should not be renewed. Oil drilling off the coast of California is too risky; the value of our coast for recreation, shipping traffic and its ecology should be prioritized.
I believe that local governments, like cities and counties, are best equipped to understand the regional challenges presented by California’s water crisis.
I strongly support public awareness campaigns to alert Californians to the threat posed to our state by extreme drought. The State Water Resources Control Board is enacting measures which I hope will lead to a reduction of water use in the state. I am following their actions closely.
Even though the economy is rebounding from COVID, California still has the nation’s highest jobless rate and hasn’t recovered all the jobs lost. Experts say the pandemic widened the gap between California’s rich and poor in some ways, despite unprecedented direct relief. The lieutenant governor is chairperson of the California Commission for Economic Development.
California has the nation’s highest minimum wage. I do not support a further increase at this time.
The cost of living in California is very high, and income inequality in our state is among the most extreme in the country. I support Gov. Newsom’s projected increase of the California minimum wage to $15.50 on Jan. 1, 2023.
No, Sacramento’s policies are creating increased inequality in California. Job-killing policies, over-regulation, and anti-business attitudes have created a situation where the divide between rich coastal elites and struggling working families is at a crisis. I am running to bring back a strong middle class in California, where families can thrive and cost-of-living is lower.
California must continue to pursue policies that ensure our state is a place where families and all working people can flourish. I am very supportive of the $35 million universal basic income pilot program to study the efficacy and impacts of this policy in closing the disparities in California.
California’s affordable housing crisis only deepened during the pandemic, as average home prices surged even further out of reach for many families. Homelessness likely worsened as well, prompting Gov. Newsom to propose forcing more homeless and mentally ill people into treatment. The Legislature twice extended a statewide eviction moratorium, but the final protections for renters ended on March 31. Lawmakers also tried to pump up housing supply by allowing duplexes on single-family lots, but cities are pushing back. Some also say the California Environmental Quality Act is stopping housing production.
California should encourage the creation of affordable housing throughout the state. This should be done by reducing red tape and unnecessary regulatory hurdles.
California must make building affordable housing one of our top priorities. Housing is a human right, and in order for our state to thrive we must ensure that all working people are able to afford a home. I support legislation to streamline projects through the permitting process that have a high percentage of affordable housing. I also support the governor’s efforts to hold cities and counties accountable to the housing element law.
Yes, we should be doing everything we can to provide help to the mentally ill and homeless who so desperately need it.
Although there are details still to be worked out, in principle I support the governor’s proposed CARE Courts. It is very important to include a wide group of experts and stakeholders in developing the details, including local mental health professionals, law enforcement, service providers and others working on the front lines.
California’s Democratic leaders positioned the state as a sanctuary for people seeking abortions in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade. Hate crimes against Asian Americans jumped during the pandemic, with reported incidents doubling in 2020. And Native American tribes and national betting giants are gearing up for a high-stakes ballot measure fight over online sports gambling, which could also have a significant impact on state tax revenues.
With so many Californians struggling every day, I do not believe that our tax dollars should go to provide medical care to residents of other states.
It saddens me to think that American women must find sanctuary in our state in order to exercise a right that we’ve had for more than 50 years. But as this is the new post-Roe reality, I am committed to doing everything possible to help. I’m a proud co-chairperson of the campaign for Proposition 1, the constitutional amendment to enshrine a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. In the absence of federal law, California must do everything we can to protect women and all people’s bodily autonomy.
I will always support the will of the voters; we are fortunate to have avenues for direct democracy in California, including the ability to vote directly for ballot measures and make our voices heard.
I have endorsed against Proposition 27. I believe it is deceptive. Ninety percent of the revenue generated by Prop. 27 would go directly into the pockets of out-of-state gaming corporations, while threatening current funding sources for California.