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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Contra Costa, Alameda County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 15

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Fiscal Choices, Water, Education, Your Priorities

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. How would you prioritize the fiscal choices the Legislature must make to align the state’s income and spending?

Answer from Elizabeth Echols:

The cornerstone of our democracy and the foundation for creating economic opportunity is a quality public education system. Thanks to the passage of Proposition 30 and an improving economy, schools are going to see an over $800 million increase in spending in 2014-15. Since the Proposition 30 revenues are not permanent, we must find ways to improve the long-term outlook for education funding, and I would support raising revenues to do so.

In addition, our state's social safety net has been cut to shreds during the state's budget crisis and must be restored. We should restore services to promote economic recovery in our communities.

Answer from Tony Thurmond:

I know that when we get it right for our kids, families and seniors, we'll get it right for California. And we can only get it right if we have adequate funding to improve our schools, make our streets and neighborhoods safe, create sustainable jobs that preserve our environment and invest in job training opportunities to build a 21st-century workforce.

California needs to lead the way - I fully support increasing education funding statewide by closing Prop 13 loopholes to tax corporations, taxing the wealthiest 1% of Californians and Big Oil with an oil extraction fee. Such fees will generate the necessary funding we need to give our kids, families and seniors a California as good as our promise.

? 2. Given our current drought condition, concern for water rights and usage is an important issue. What solutions would you support to address our water problems?

Answer from Elizabeth Echols:

We need to look at more environmentally sensitive approaches to our state's water challenges, including improved water efficiency, better use of recycled water and storm water capture, and enhanced groundwater management.

We also should provide state funding to help local water agencies conduct outreach to engage more people in successful water conservation projects, upgrade current water systems and invest in new technologies to more efficiently use current water supplies.

Answer from Tony Thurmond:

California's current drought condition is cause for alarm - our population is increasing around the state and that means demands for water are increasing. We must develop new ways of addressing water usage and management in order to meet our water demands.

We should engage in responsible water management efforts such as developing innovative irrigation efforts, recycling gray water systems and storm water, creating effective mechanisms that minimize water wastage and generally promoting smart water usage techniques in order to diversify the life and use of our water.

? 3. California high school students rank lower than many states in student performance. What do you see as the ongoing role of the Legislature in addressing this problem?

Answer from Elizabeth Echols:

We need to invest in our public schools if we are to have any hope of giving all children an equal chance to succeed. We know from research that the achievement gap begins before children even start kindergarten so we need to start earlier + with our youngest learners.

We should start by creating universal transitional kindergarten, guaranteeing a quality educational experience that prepares 4 year olds to start kindergarten ready to learn. That's the first battle, but with the possibility of 12 years in the Legislature, I'll work towards access to universal early childhood education that begins even earlier.

Answer from Tony Thurmond:

It is the Legislature's responsibility to ensure that our schools are fully funded so that our children have the best education, best teachers and better opportunities - because the future of our state is rooted in the success of our children. We need to provide our kids with greater access to engaging afterschool programs, extracurricular activities and mentors - it is the Legislature's duty to fight for legislation that supports these initiatives.

A former School Board Member, I've worked closely with teachers, parents and students. I also led efforts that reduced school suspensions by 27%, reduced dropout rates and truancy, and kept four local public schools from closing.

? 4. What other major issues do you think the Legislature must address? What are your own priorities?

Answer from Elizabeth Echols:

I believe strongly that we must prioritize making our state's higher education more accessible and affordable. We must reduce college fees and provide much needed revenues to our higher education system.

We also should build California's leadership in environmental protection and expand our green economy. In the Assembly, I will work to combat climate change, place a moratorium on fracking in California, and protect the San Francisco Bay and the tidal marsh habitat.

Answer from Tony Thurmond:

The fact is that all of our challenges are interrelated. As a state legislator I will focus on education, sustainable jobs, mental health, crime and public safety. Due to my career in public service, I have deep experience creating proven, interconnected solutions - and making children and families the priority in California.

From helping foster kids stay in stable homes to keeping once-troubled youth in school to getting East Bay residents and all Californians back to work, I understand that we need to get at the root of our district's most pressing challenges, especially when it comes to protecting our youth and keeping our communities safe.

As a member of the Assembly, I plan to focus on:

1) Creating family-sustaining jobs and job training programs--to provide living wages for our working families, strengthen our middle class and to end the joblessness and hopelessness that result in violence in our communities;

2) Ensuring that every Californian has access to affordable health care, mental health programs and resources, and that our seniors have access to affordable medication and in-home care if needed;

3) Ensuring our children have access to the best education, affordable college and higher education and professional training so that they acquire the hard skills it takes to be successful adults

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 23, 2015 14:59 PDT
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