The State of California is seeking a chief executive to lead 40 million increasingly dissatisfied residents through major challenges, including a sky-high cost of living, widespread homelessness, rampant wildfires, record drought and the tail end of a deadly pandemic.
- Management skills: Oversee a state bureaucracy of more than 200 agencies and 230,000 workers, with an opportunity to reshape policy on everything from oil drilling to parole decisions through appointments to public offices, board and commissions.
- Good with numbers: Must annually propose a state spending plan, then negotiate with the Legislature to adopt a balanced budget that has grown to more than $200 billion a year.
- Analytical and decisive: Expected to review more than 1,000 bills passed each year by legislators and sign them into law — or veto them.
- Public speaking experience: Aside from the annual State of the State address, regular duties include press conferences to tout policy priorities, speeches to advocacy groups and briefings to keep Californians updated during natural disasters.
$218,556 plus a mansion in downtown Sacramento and frequent appearances in the national media.
About the hiring process:
This is the third time that Californians are voting for governor in the past four years. Democrat Gavin Newsom won a decisive blowout in 2018, then beat back a recall attempt last September by a nearly identical margin. As he pursues a second and final four-year term, Newsom faces a slim field of challengers — and an even slimmer chance of losing.
None of the major candidates who sought to replace Newsom in the recall election are running again. His most prominent opponent is probably Brian Dahle, a little-known Republican legislator from rural Northern California. Even with some voters souring on Newsom’s performance — his approval rating was nearly evenly split in a recent poll — it will take a miracle to unseat the governor and his $25 million campaign war chest in this overwhelmingly Democratic state.
Ronald A. Anderson
contractor / inspector / businessman
small business owner
military officer / attorney
Anthony “Tony” Fanara
owner of restaurant
small business owner
James G. Hanink
no ballot designation
executive officer / attorney
Daniel R. Mercuri
father / business owner
Cristian Raul Morales
director of operations
Robert C. Newman
farmer / psychologist
Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato
no ballot designation
Luis Javier Rodriguez
writer / poet
Woodrow “Woody” Sanders
entrepreneur / director / engineer
Frederic C. Schultz
human rights attorney
no ballot designation
homelessness policy advocate
entrepreneur / CEO
retired airport analyst
entrepreneur / businessman
Leo S. Zacky
businessman / farmer / broadcaster
children’s book author
Show More Applicants
- American Independent
- Peace & Freedom
- No Party
Here’s where Brian Dahle, Jenny Rae Le Roux and Gavin Newsom, applicants for governor, stand on some of the biggest questions facing California.
Where Candidates Stand on the Issues
Californians are increasingly concerned about crime, though the numbers paint a more complicated picture. Many Republicans are seeking to pounce, blaming voter-approved Proposition 47, which eight years ago lowered some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. While more Democrats are talking tough, they’re not proposing a return to longer prison sentences.
What specific measures would you support to address crime, given growing public concern?
“We need to fund public safety in a manner that is appropriate to get the job done. And that is done obviously at the local level. … We’ve shoved our responsibilities down on the local level. They’re drowning… It’s basically a revolving door. They don’t have the personnel.”
“I will end soft-on-crime policies and ensure dangerous prisoners are not being granted early release, as they are by Gavin Newsom. With almost no public notice, Newsom announced changes to the parole process that will give more than 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons, an opportunity for early release.”
“1. Bolstering local law enforcement response to stop and apprehend criminals 2. Ensuring prosecutors are holding perpetrators accountable 3. Getting guns and drugs off our streets.”
What can the state and the governor do, if anything, to prevent mass shootings?
“I will fund local law enforcement to go retrieve people who are felons that shouldn’t have firearms and take them away from them. … So domestic violence, people who are not stable, quite frankly, and they know they have firearms and we have the ability to go take those away, we should.”
“First, I will stop early releases from prison. The recent shooting in downtown Sacramento was perpetrated by a former prisoner released 5 years early under Gavin Newsom’s programs. Fewer criminals on our streets will lead to safer streets. Second, the governor has the power of the pulpit – I will publicly support our police. Finally, my administration will invest heavily in expanding mental health capacity and increasing access to intervention.”
“Our plan will create a new statewide gun buyback program, working with local law enforcement to provide matching grants and safe-disposal opportunities to get guns off our streets… My administration is working with the California Legislature to propose a nation-leading law that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells unlawful assault weapons, as well as ‘ghost guns,’ ghost gun kits or their component parts.”
How would you increase the production of affordable housing?
“I actually think CEQA was a great law. … Unfortunately, it’s turned into a pawn in many schemes. … We need to, first of all, hold people accountable who are using CEQA to sue just to extract. … If you frivolously sue and you lose and continue to lose, you have to pay. You have to pay for this because you’re just holding up the process.”
“I will streamline regulatory approvals and will incentivize localities to remove new local growth ordinances which increase house prices by up to 5% per ordinance. Additionally, I will act to lower development impact fees. My administration will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of CEQA.”
“We have done more in the past three years than ever before in California history to invest in housing construction and cut government red tape blocking construction. The budget I signed last year invested a historic $10.3 billion – by far the most ever invested in housing – into a comprehensive housing affordability strategy, while also implementing new laws and accountability measures. This year, I proposed a $2 billion investment to boost housing production and preserve affordable housing across the state.”
What changes would you make to the state’s current approach to address homelessness?
“There are not enough clinicians, period. Number one. We need to prioritize giving tax credits or something, or education vouchers, for people that want to go into social services work. … I prefer to give block grants to counties, because counties are really the ones that are going to implement these services and this is a very diverse state.”
“First, I will audit existing services and shelters. We have nine state agencies overseeing 41 programs to address homelessness. Many programs are overfunded and underutilized. After the audit, I will fill gaps and ensure the homeless are legally bound to use housing options provided to them rather than occupying public spaces. Then, I will require every city to gather the names, ages, and veteran/non-veteran status of the homeless for accurate record keeping so that we know where resources need to be directed.”
“The next phase of our approach is creating the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court — a new framework to get people with mental health and substance use disorders the support and care they need. … CARE Court includes accountability for everyone – on the individual and on local governments – with court orders for services.”
What is your plan to lower the cost of living?
“We have 60% higher electricity rates on average than anybody in the nation…so we need to take a look at…for all energy produced in California, what the bang for the buck we’re getting. … We should be producing our oil here because we do it in a way better than anybody in the world, safer, more environmentally friendly.”
“On Day 1, I will suspend the gas tax and redirect budget surplus funds to infrastructure. I will streamline home building, which is nearly impossible in California today. In addition, I will cut income taxes on the middle class, reduce fees and regulations that are stifling small businesses.”
“Make California the first state in the nation to offer universal access to healthcare coverage. … Doubling down on plans to achieve free, universal pre-K, add thousands of child care slots… Create more housing California desperately needs, with billions in new grants and tax credits. Invest in small businesses, waiving fees and providing hundreds of millions in grants and tax breaks to small businesses.”
Is income inequality or wealth inequality a problem in California? Is state government doing enough to address the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots?
“You have to allow companies to be able to stay in California, make sure that they have incentives to stay in California, and that’ll allow them to hire, which gives you good-paying jobs. … And by driving down the cost of living — your transportation, your electricity bill, your heat bill — those things directly are like putting dollars per hour in your pocket.”
“Restoring the California Dream must include all Californians. I will address this by inspiring business investment to create high-paying jobs, reducing the cost of living, and increasing housing supply to make California a place that people of all income levels can afford to live.”
“California has made major strides to expand services and supports for young children and their families by promoting and expanding quality, comprehensive programs and services for young children, including universal transitional kindergarten. We are employing a two-generation strategy — investing in parents so they can invest more in their children.”
Has the state done enough to rein in health care costs?
“Our health care problems are because we eat horrible. I’m a farmer. Anything that comes in a package that wasn’t packaged by God is not healthy for you. I’m just going to tell you that. … We need to start educating young people and parents on our diet, which will help curve our later in life cost of healthcare. … The other thing we need to do is we need to have more competition in pharmaceuticals where we can drive the cost down.”
“The current programs are failing because they do not effectively utilize technology to reduce costs, lack early investment in preventative care, and ignore root cause issues of repeat health care users. I will advocate for insurance to be available across state lines, increasing competition in the marketplace; a free market will provide the most efficient and affordable solution when it comes to healthcare coverage.”
“California was the first state to provide premium relief for middle-class families who buy on the health care exchange, and this year California could become the first state to reach universal access to health care. We have taken on the pharmaceutical industry and are using our market power to drive down the cost of life saving medications like insulin.”
How should the state prepare for new variants or changes in the pandemic?
“We don’t need to be in a state of emergency with the governor making all the decisions. I actually have a bill that says the Legislature should, during a state of emergency, every 45 days decide whether we should be in a state of emergency and actually have that power. … I would consult with many doctors and consult with the Legislature, because we’re all in this together.”
“If ICU capacity in a county approaches dangerously low levels from COVID occupancy, my administration will provide additional rapid testing capacity, medical support, and staffing resources to the affected area. … I support government-funded vaccine distribution and health education. However…I oppose vaccine passports and mask mandates.”
“California is using proven tools – rooted in science and data – that have been honed over the past two years. We’re keeping our guard up with a focus on continued readiness, awareness, and flexibility to adapt to the evolving pandemic.”
Should the governor issue a mandatory water conservation order as drought persists?
“That’s just a sound bite that I don’t believe is going to make much difference at all. … We don’t manage our water very well in our reservoirs. We let that water go when we should be conserving that water. … We’ve conserved water in California about to where it’s really hard to conserve without fallowing land, which we’re going to do this year. … It’s a lot of economic reduction in California.”
“Household conservation will make no dent in the water supply of California – it’s political gamesmanship, not problem solving. … I will urgently complete new water storage… We must also replace conveyance infrastructure; California loses over 8 billion gallons of water per year to leaking pipes. Finally, I will accelerate permitting for additional water recycling and desalination plants in major cities to boost water supply in coastal areas.”
“We all must do more to adjust and adapt. That’s why I called on local water agencies to implement more aggressive water conservation measures, including having the Water Board evaluate a ban on watering ornamental grass on commercial properties, which will drive water use savings at this critical time.”
What would you do to ensure the state meets its greenhouse gas goals?
“You want to save the environment? Build transmission lines. Period. We have power that we’re exporting out of California. We just need to use it in California, drive the cost down. I think we need to make sure the grid is in a place where we can actually put electric vehicles and hubs in the cities. We need charging stations. We can’t have electric vehicles if we don’t have enough charging stations.”
“California wildfires are high-emissions events. I have a comprehensive plan to end catastrophic wildfires in California through early detection and better forest management.”
“California will continue to lead the world in turning our climate resolve into real action…bolstering the clean energy economy and creating new jobs, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, building more prosperous and sustainable communities for all, and protecting Californians from the extreme effects of climate change.”
Should public or private charter schools play a bigger role in K-12 schools?
“If there’s opportunity for the parents to be able to choose where their kids go to school, and they get to direct the money, you would see a lot of change. I think you’d see a lot better schooling.”
“I support school choice. True school choice means that the money set aside for a child’s education follows the student, giving parents the flexibility to use the funds to enroll their child in the type of school that works best for their family.”
“After decades of bitter fights between both sides, I brought charter and traditional schools together to pass a framework for both sides to work collaboratively in service of their communities and neighborhoods. The reforms I signed into law ensure that students have qualified teachers in all classrooms and ensure California education dollars are spent wisely.”
Should the proportion of out-of-state students at the University of California (18% of undergraduates) be lower?
“I like to see more of our Californians be able to have an opportunity to go.”
“We must continue to fill our universities with the nation’s brightest minds to continue to incentivize businesses to invest and expand in our state. We have an excellent multi-tier higher education program that can sufficiently serve all students in California, and therefore I do not support reducing the cap on out-of-state students in the University of California system.”
“My priority has been expanding access for students across our higher education system, with a focus on expanding enrollment for in-state residents and community-college transfers at the UC System. Since taking office, California has increased enrollment of nearly 5,000 full-time equivalent students within the UC system and nearly 10,000 full-time equivalent students within the California State University system.”
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