Election season is heating up, and so is the lieutenant governor’s race between two Democrats, state Sen. Ed Hernandez of Azusa and Eleni Kounalakis, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary. The two candidates are heading to San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club at 5 p.m. today to discuss their views on higher education. The next lieutenant governor will serve on the University of California Board of Regents and California State University Board of Trustees.
The Sacramento Bee spoke with each candidate on Monday get a better idea of where they stand on the issue of higher education:
Hernandez: Supports the idea of giving California residents a free college education, but is unsure how such a proposal would be funded. He said California would have to “look at a revenue source outside of the (state) General Fund.” In the meantime, Hernandez wants a targeted approach that makes college more affordable to students with limited financial resources.
Kounalakis: ”The vision for free higher education is something I share, but we have a long way to get there. Most immediately, we’ve got to stop increasing tuition and start bringing costs down.”
Hernandez: Wants to expand advanced placement course offerings at high schools. He believes this would put school districts across the state on a more level playing field in the college application process. “How is it that a kid from a wealthier community can compete with a kid from low-income district that has no AP courses. There’s a huge unfairness there.”
Kounalakis: Believes problem with achievement gap starts from a very young age and wants more resources put into pre-K education. “We do confront a serious achievement gap, and it’s important to start with preschool. The first place where the gap opens wide is (for students aged from) 0 to 5.” She also believes qualified students are being turned away from the UC/CSU system due to capacity limitations. Kounalakis wants to reduce the time needed to graduate from UC/CSU schools by promoting community colleges and improving access to courses required for graduation.
Campus mental health resources
Hernandez: Asked about the issue of student suicide and ways colleges can offer greater support to students outside the classroom, Hernandez said California must gather more data on food insecurity and look at each campus individually to reduce barriers for college students.
Kounalakis: “Mental health issues at college campuses appear to be growing, and it’s very important students in public education have resources. Currently, it is not sufficient, and it’s underfunded.” She also says “there’s a new stress factor for students today that was probably a little different from when I graduated in 1989. There’s such a sense of economic insecurity that even when you graduate, you might not get a good-paying job.”
Higher ed cred
Hernandez: Says his personal life experience makes him the most qualified to speak on the issue of higher education. He says it took six years for him to get a bachelor’s degree after working his way through the community college system while starting a family and working on the side. During his time in graduate school, he said, “I used to go to every single happy hour, not to drink but because that’s where I had my meals.” He characterized Kounalakis as an inexperienced candidate, saying, ”She’s never held public office, so she doesn’t have a record. I have a record. I’ve never heard her speak about public education.”
Kounalakis: Strongly refutes Hernandez’s assessment that she is unqualified, touting her experience as ambassador during the Obama administration. She also said she grew up with a grandmother who couldn’t read and gained an appreciation for the role of education. “My grandmother couldn’t read. I have achieved things she could not have imagined.”
Both candidates said they’d work to increase the number of Cal Grants, prioritize community college access and lower financial burdens associated with housing and textbook purchases.
SPORTS TEAMS GET IN ON THE VOTING GAME
The sport of politics is soon taking on a whole new meaning. In recognition of today’s National Voter Registration Day and led by The Sacramento Kings, professional sports teams across Northern California are joining to sign people up to vote.
The Kings, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants will begin allowing fans to register to vote on a customized version of TurboVote through their respective team’s mobile apps, websites and social media channels. They join five other teams from the NFL, NBA and MLB in their “Rally the Vote” campaign.
Kings forward Marvin Bagley III shot a public service announcement calling on fans to register to vote before California’s Oct. 22 deadline. Bagley’s PSA will air in the arena during the team’s Oct. 17 regular season home opener against the Utah Jazz.
CLIFF ALLENBY DIES AT 82
COX CAMPAIGN HITS SF
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox is participating in a forum at 10 a.m. today in San Francisco with the Bay Area Council. He will broadly discuss the state of his campaign and discuss issues surrounding the economy, housing affordability and transportation. Democrat Gavin Newsom spoke with the group last month.
GRANT AMPS UP OUTREACH
The Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, is holding nothing back in his efforts to reach out to voters. Andrew Grant said he’s attended Bera’s town halls over the last two days to make a presence, introduce himself to voters as a viable alternative and press his opponent on agreeing to a televised debate.
“I’ve been with him twice in last two days,” Grant said of his recent travels to Bera’s events. “I made sure he knew I was there. I’ve come up and said, ‘Hello.’”
TWEET OF THE DAY
Bryan Anderson (@BryanRAnderson) — “Asked if climate change is a hoax, @RepMcClintock says planet has been warming for ages and extent of human activity’s role “is being hotly debated right now.” @Morse4America calls climate change “a matter of life and death.”
INFLUENCER OF THE DAY
Should California voters repeal the gas tax in November? Influencers have plenty to say.
“Step 1: Abandon the internationally ridiculed High Speed Rail project. It is no longer the project that the voters were promised and California could use the cap and trade revenues that are keeping HSR on life support for transportation projects that actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as congestion relief projects. Step 2: Implement significant reforms in the way we fund and construct projects. This would include expanded use of contracting out, public private partnerships, CEQA reforms and giving local governments more authority. Proposition 6 would help all of the above by incentivizing the state to actually be more efficient in using the substantial funds already generated by the gas tax and VLF revenue. Moreover, by requiring a vote of the people for future transportation tax hikes this will encourage a broad based public discussion about California’s transportation policies.”
— Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
The Bee’s Editorial Board believes Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg needs to convince Sacramento voters they should trust him that he will properly spend revenue from a proposed sales tax increase.
Veronica Blake, CEO of the Placer Community Foundation, says the Placer County Board of Supervisors should clear the path for developers to build homes when it meets later today.