The State Worker

Jerry Brown, his eye still on pensions, endorses candidate in CalPERS board election

Former Gov. Jerry Brown is jumping into the CalPERS Board of Administration election with an endorsement of incumbent Henry Jones.

Jones, 78, represents retirees on the 13-member board and serves as its president. He is running for re-election against J.J. Jelincic, 70, a former board member and a former CalPERS staffer.

“Henry Jones is the right choice for the CalPERS board,” Brown said in a statement. “As a former budget director and chief financial officer, Henry led CalPERS out of the great recession and brought stability back to the fund. Please join me in supporting him.”

Jones was chief financial officer of Los Angeles Unified School District.

Brown’s endorsement comes a week after two women on the CalPERS board and a state senator sent a letter to Jelincic encouraging him to drop out of the race based on a State Personnel Board administrative law judge’s 2011 reprimand of Jelincic for harassing three female CalPERS employees. Jelincic has denied the charges.

Brown didn’t weigh in on the harassment reprimand in the statement he provided Jones’ campaign, Jones said.

Some of the state’s largest retiree groups, which have direct lines of communication with their members, have endorsed Jelincic. Jones has received support from unions.

Jones called Brown’s endorsement “tremendous,” citing the former governor’s efforts to improve the sustainability of the state’s pension funds.

Brown promoted and signed into law a public pension overhaul titled the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act, commonly known as PEPRA. The law increased public workers’ contributions to their pensions while limiting maximum pensions, restricting post-retirement employment and eliminating some perks for public employees hired after Jan. 1, 2013.

“I feel honored to have his endorsement, because I am also focused on making sure the pension fund is there for those who have retired and those who are yet to retire,” Jones said.

The $375 billion public fund, the nation’s largest, recently reported a 6.7 percent rate of return on its investments for the fiscal year ending June 30, falling just short of its 7 percent target amid a volatile year for stocks.

CalPERS will mail ballots Aug. 30 to about 600,000 retired members, who will have until Sept. 30 to vote by mail, telephone or online. The seat’s term runs from January 2020 to January 2024.