Jewish Journal: What is the first thing you would tackle if elected?
Delaine Eastin: I would declare a state of emergency as it relates to homelessness in California. It isn’t just in San Diego or Oakland or San Francisco. It’s everywhere. We have a winter rotating homeless shelter in Davis where I live, which is a college town. We have 12 percent of the nation’s population in California but 25 percent of the homeless are here.
Longer term, I’m obviously very focused on education, and I believe California needs to make a full-court press to improve education, starting with better child development for working moms, universal preschool and mandatory full-day kindergarten. Kindergarten is not mandatory in California, which is shocking.
JJ: You are the only candidate advocating for the repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Does this tie in with your homeless initiative?
DE: Costa-Hawkins came about because it was believed it would mean more apartments would be built, but quite the opposite has happened. We’ve built almost no rental housing over the last 10 years. We’re not building enough housing generally, but certainly not enough rental housing.
JJ: You’re a proponent for single-payer health care. How would you go about implementing that?
DE: About 70 percent of the money that would be needed is already on the table. It’s Medicare, it’s Medicaid; public employee retirees all have public access to health care. Then you could do something like a gross receipts tax on businesses that have received over $2 million, let’s say. And with those additional resources, you could pay for that. It’s the ounce of prevention that’s worth the pound of cure. There are lots of people who want to talk about the costs of single-payer, but I want to talk about avoided costs, like emergency room visits that cost a fortune.
JJ: How would you deal with the increasing problems associated with the high-speed rail project?
DE: Other countries are doing some amazing things with high-speed rail and, in general, I think it’s a good thing. But I do think, a) there hasn’t been enough honesty with the public about the true cost; b) that the management needs to be a lot more nimble and we need to do a better job of holding costs down; and c) we need to identify a better revenue stream to pay for it. If you borrow the money to build something, it costs three times as much. If you did something like an oil severance tax — 33 states produce oil. Only one doesn’t have an oil severance tax and that’s California. Instead of running up costs by borrowing money, we’re going to ask voters to vote for this tax. We’re going to dedicate it first to build high-speed rail and then to transportation improvements generally.
JJ: Do you think it’s important that you’re the only woman running? Is it something you feel you should highlight?
DE: We have great research institutions in this country, and the research shows when you get a critical mass of women, that the values fundamentally change. More is invested in families, education, in health care and in senior care. Guess what? Those are my values. That’s where I think we should be increasing our investment. Budgets are statements of values. At the end of the day, California needs to get its values straight. That means we’ve got to find a way to put our children first and women tend to be more likely to do that. I worked hard all my life. I was a women’s studies coordinator back in the late ’70s. I was a founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus. I was on the Rutgers Project 2012 to elect more women. I’m not just a woman. I’m a woman whose been fighting to elect women for my most of my adult life.
JJ: In light of the #MeToo movement, what would you do to ensure that your administration has a transparent reporting system?
DE: When I was superintendent of public instruction, over half of the leadership of the department was female. I will do that as governor. We will make sure there is more diversity, not only in terms of gender but in terms of race. We will make sure that we end the pay inequities in California state government and we’ll put pressure on the private sector to close those gaps in pay. One of the things I will do is have a leadership that looks like California in ethnicity and gender in every way, and we will have people who are more nimble and ready to change things that need to be changed.
JJ: While other candidates have launched attack ads, you have an ad that shows clips of your competitors praising your ideas. What was the impetus behind that ad?
DE: I think it reflects that people think I make sense and that I have good ideas and they echo what I say. Also, it would be good to have a governor that makes sense. I would govern by seeking the opinions of the people that work for me and with me.
JJ: You’re running against some pretty high profile candidates and some people know little about you. Does that concern you?
DE: Of course, that’s why I’m working so hard. That’s why I’m out and about talking to people all over the state. I’ve been in Folsom, Mount Shasta, El Centro, San Luis Obispo — a lot of places where mainstream candidates aren’t going. They’re counting on using television to reach those voters. It’s hard to have been off the stage for some years and try to re-enter, but if I can get in front of enough people, they like what I have to say. The question is: Can I get in front of enough people? If I can be heard, and I’m working very hard to be heard, I can win.
JJ: Would you continue current Gov. Jerry Brown’s stance to stand up to the Trump administration and Republican leadership in areas where Californians don’t agree with the current administration’s agenda?
DE: I do think one of the nice things of having been a political science professor is that I do understand the history of our country and the Constitution. For many years, I watched as many people used the 10th Amendment to argue for discriminatory policies. I think now it’s exciting to use the 10th Amendment as a way to protect the people who live here and protect the values we hold. When Trump pulled us out of the Paris climate accord, the world looked at us as if we were stepping back into the Dark Ages. When you hear people who support Trump argue that the sea rise is because more rocks are falling into the ocean, you have to think, “Oh my God.” One out of every eight Americans lives in California. I think it is important that a leader with a brass backbone is going to stand up for the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of California.