California gubernatorial candidate Delaine Eastin spoke to around 100 students in Price Center theatre yesterday evening at a forum hosted by the UCSD College Democrats.
Eastin is the first gubernatorial candidate this year to visit UC San Diego. Her expansive platform, which seems to draw significantly on her previous experience as California State Superintendent from 1995-2003, contains policies like developing comprehensive and updated long-range plans for the state, expanding access to education across the board, providing Californians a living wage, advocating for universal healthcare and expanding on climate change mitigation measures like cap-and-trade.
“I’m here to tell you I’m going to fight for every kid to have a great education in K-12. We have to begin to treat education as a civil right,” Eastin said. “It should be a civil right in California.” Eastin said that she would push to expand comprehensive pre-school access, reduce class sizes, and have mandatory kindergarten in the State of California.
She was particularly upfront about her disdain for the way the state has funded certain types of infrastructure over others.
“Do the math. We built six college campuses since 1965. In the same period of time we built 23 prisons,” Eastin said. In a later question asked by a student in the audience about the school-to-prison pipeline, she expanded on her stance, saying, “Obviously I’m for ending the student-to-prison pipeline. I think it’s ridiculous that we’re locking up as many people as we are.”
The Governor of California is uniquely positioned to appoint new members to the UC Board of Regents, policy makers that serve 12 year terms and inform the direction of the UC system as a whole. Only 1 of the 19 voting UC Regents are specifically designated to be a student and none are required to have any prior experience in education policy. If elected, Eastin promised that any UC Regent she appoints will be more representative of the kind of economic diversity and education present in the UC system.
“Too many people arrive at the Regents meeting in a private jet. And they do not recognize what it’s like to be a machinist’s daughter or a plumber’s son,” Eastin said. “I’m going to appoint people to the Regents that are UC graduates, who bleed blue and gold, but believe in California too.“
In a brief interview with The Triton, Eastin was also upfront about her stance on a tuition-free UC system. “I’m for it,” Eastin said unequivocally. “It may take us a few years to get there, but it’s what I got. Why shouldn’t I want for you what I got?”
Eastin was born and raised in San Diego. She spent her academic career at two UC schools, receiving a bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and a master’s degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara. She also serves on the UC Sacramento Center Advisory Board and both the Chancellor’s Women in STEM board and the Center for Nutrition Education Advisory Board at UC Davis. As former Superintendent of Education, Eastin also served as a UC Regent in during her term as superintendent.
When Eastin was asked by a student in the audience about her stance on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program being phased out by the Trump administration, she detailed her support for the program and everyone who has immigrated to California.
”Californians are people born somewhere else who came to their senses,” she said, paraphrasing Mark Twain. “The State of California, when I am governor, will stand with DACA representatives and their parents and everyone else who has come to California in good faith.”
As CA Superintendent in 1998, Eastin refused to enforce Prop 187 during Governor Pete Wilson’s administration, which required schools to verify and report the immigration status of their students.
“I have never met a teacher who signed up for immigration and naturalization policing,” she said.
The evening also featured a brief speech from Mike Levin, Congressional Candidate for the 49th District, who gave Eastin a fist bump after concluding. Codi Vierra, the former Director of the Student Organized Voter Access Committee (SOVAC) and a surrogate for another candidate in the 49th District, Colonel Doug Applegate, also gave a few brief remarks.
Eastin is running in a crowded field of other potential Democratic candidates including current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, State Treasurer John Chiang, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. While Republicans have yet to field a major challenger, there is continued speculation that San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will mount a run for the office, despite Faulconer writing that he will serve out his full second term as mayor.
“It’s time for us to start imagining great things again,” Eastin said. “If a bunch of people out of a depression and a war that hardly had two nickels to rub together could build the most amazing education system and build things like BART, and build things like affordable housing, and do things for our kids on many different levels, then surely we can.”
Gabe Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton.
Update, October 5, 2017, 9am: The candidate said “naturalization,” not “nationalization,” and changes to the copy reflect this.