California Road Map for Justice and Equality

When my parents immigrated to this country, we were the first Asian American family in our community. I remember the bigotry and discrimination — the taunts and ugly racial slurs spray painted on my family’s garage. It shaped me into who I am today.

That story is true for too many Californians.

For too many individuals, the cards are stacked against them, either because of the color of their skin, the religion they believe in, the socioeconomic status they were born in to, the immigration status they are trapped in, or who they love. These Californians have been marginalized for far too long, made to feel like second class citizens.

Californians need a governor with a proven track record of acting with honesty and integrity in office, who will fight for the underdogs and stand up to those who abuse their power. That’s the kind of leadership I’ve shown in my 20 years of office, first at the State Board of Equalization, then as state controller, and now as your state treasurer. I’m running for governor to fight for communities who have been systematically oppressed for generations. Our political leaders need to take more seriously the impact of structural racism, and break down the public policies and institutional practices that have perpetuated racial inequality. I will help lead those difficult, but necessary conversations that our society needs to have and dedicate myself to fighting against injustice.

California is best when we embrace the great diversity of our people and build a more inclusive society — and that’s how I plan to lead as governor.

 

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People of color and those living in poverty are significantly more likely to be entangled in the American criminal justice system. When mothers and fathers have to sit down and have a conversation with their children about how the color of their skin can play a life or death role in their interaction with the police, we have a systemic problem we need to address.

It’s time for California to have an honest conversation about what is happening to people of color in our state, and work together to build the kind of California where all people are treated equal under the law. As governor, I will help lead those difficult conversations that our society needs to have in order to address racism, especially in communities that don’t understand why “All Lives Matter” minimizes the lives of black people and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In March, Stephon Clark’s life was tragically taken by police in the Sacramento backyard of his grandmother. At the time, I called for a fair and independent investigation to provide much-needed answers that will lead us down the path towards justice. It was for my comments calling for an honest dialogue about how California should police in our state that the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs rescinded their endorsement of me. While I would have loved to keep the endorsement of a group that has been very supportive of me in the past, this conversation is more important.

There’s no question that we must change the way we police in our state — from how we recruit and train officers, to ensuring police departments focus on de-escalation policies and tactics, and when all else fails, having procedures in place to hold officers accountable.

I believe in encouraging more accountability and transparency so we can continue to foster a relationship of trust amongst our communities and our officers. I support the use of body cameras — not as the “end all, be all” to solving disputes or misunderstandings between people in our communities and peace officers, but as a step in the right direction to rebuilding faith that our system believes in equal justice.

At the same time, we need to give our peace officers the resources they need to do their jobs well. That means fully funding our police departments so they can recruit the best officers and provide them with the kind of training they need to understand how to work with diverse communities.

Now, more than ever, we need a community-oriented approach that builds stronger relationships and understanding between peace officers and the communities they serve. It’s important for public safety officers to live in and be a part of our communities they serve. This helps foster positive relationships with the public and enhances communication.

And we need to empower members of our communities to address issues in their neighborhoods, including crime, violence, and gang activity, and to create a positive environment where both residents and peace officers can build mutual trust and understanding toward a shared goal of peacebuilding. We need to make sure community members feel heard, respected and empowered to help police prevent and control crime in their neighborhoods. In the end, success depends on all of us working towards the same goal of building a safe and peaceful environment for every individual to live and work.

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We are a country of immigrants: people like my parents, who came to this country seeking a better future. We have always welcomed people to this country to seek religious and political freedom, to enjoy a world class education, and to pursue their American Dream. As a first-generation American, this story is personal to me.

Our country needs a long-term solution to fix our broken immigration system. First and foremost, we need an immigration reform plan that gives immigrants a path to citizenship. We can’t keep workers in a temporary status forever. For those immigrants working in our country through a guest worker visa, many are shackled to their abusive employers for fear that that their visa may be revoked. Immigrants should have the right to report abuses from their employers and to change jobs without risking their visa status or risk deportation. We must do more to fix the system so we’re not creating and perpetuating a permanent subclass of marginalized immigrant workers.

I strongly support the DREAM Act. California is home to 1 in 4 of the nation’s total Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) population. President Trump’s shameful attempts to end the program leave thousands of Californians at risk of being deported from the only home these young people have ever known. Californians like the young woman on my staff who joined
our campaign as an intern from UCLA. We were able to hire her after she graduated. We must uphold our promise to these young people and preserve the protections that were already promised to them.

We must protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Californians, regardless of their immigration status. We can’t let the federal government tear families apart and build walls to separate us. I support California’s sanctuary state movement and strongly believe it is not the job of our state, county and local law enforcement officers to turn the cogs on President Trump’s deportation machine. We will explore all legal routes and provide legal assistance to ensure all individuals have access to legal defense. We also cannot discriminate by allowing people to enter our country based on their skin color or their religion. That’s not who we are as a country, and I will fight to protect all those who call America home.

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Every person should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.

I am proud that California has been a leader in the fight to protect and promote equality for LGBTQIA individuals. As a statewide constitutional officer, I have strongly supported marriage equality and legal protections for the LGBTQIA community. I’ve helped domestic partners understand new tax filing requirements, and moved to provide property tax protections to surviving partners when one passes away. I’ve also worked to address chronic homelessness, including providing support to LGBTQIA individuals, and for fair and equitable tax benefits for same sex couples. In my 20 years in state office, I have done the hard work of implementing policies to ensure our LGBTQIA individuals are treated equally under California law.

As governor, I will continue to be a strong and unequivocal supporter of equality. California still has much work to do to address disparities in health care for LGBTQIA individuals, to protect transgender rights, to address bullying and LGBTQIA youth suicide, and more. We will ensure California continues to have the most comprehensive set of non-discrimination protections of any state in America, and we will stand up to those in Washington who push a discriminatory agenda.

 

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Our diversity makes California a stronger, more innovative, and more creative state. Whether it’s in the board room or in our classrooms, our society benefits from the rich diversity of our population. Unfortunately, we know that opportunities continue to be denied to people of color, women, and other individuals with adversities due to discrimination.

When I was first elected controller and began to serve on the boards of the CalPERS and CalSTRS pension plans, I looked at the composition of the boards of our corporate partners and saw very little diversity. The CalPERS and CalSTRS boards adopted my diversity language to encourage our corporate partners — some of the largest companies in America — to include more women and more people of color on their boards. As treasurer, I took it a step further to encourage corporate boards to include more LGBTQIA members among their ranks. But even that’s not enough. In November, I introduced my “30 and 30” plan, calling on the CalPERS and CalSTRS boards to clarify that our definition of a diverse board is one in which at least 30 percent of its members are women and 30 percent of its members are diverse in terms of sexual orientation and cultural and ethnic composition.

I will take my responsibility seriously to create an inclusive and diverse administration. And you can believe my actions meet my demands because 75 percent of my senior staff in the treasurer’s office is a person of color or a woman. As governor, my administration will reflect the rich diversity of our state, and I will commit to actively recruiting and appointing qualified women, people of color, and LGBTQIA individuals to serve on our state boards and commissions, and ensure equitable appointments, especially in underrepresented specialties.

 

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While we’ve recovered from the Great Recession, millions of Californians have still been left behind by this economy. We can’t build a California where every person has an opportunity to succeed if we don’t invest in our communities today.

We need to build an economy that values work and honors the dignity of all workers. The future of California’s economy depends on safe, dignified, quality jobs for everyone, including its most vulnerable workers. No person who works full time should be living in poverty. We must do more to ensure equal pay for equal work, and give workers paid leave to care for their loved ones without fear that they’ll lose their job or won’t have the money to pay their bills. We need to protect the rights of workers to have a seat at the table and come together to bargain collectively for better wages and benefits. And we need to ensure all workers have the ability to retire with dignity.

We must also make sure we’re supporting job creators across the state, not just in Silicon Valley, so all communities have the opportunity to start a business and realize their dreams. We need to keep encouraging the creation of jobs that can actually support a family. We need to make sure that as we’re tackling climate change, that we’re investing our resources and attention in communities that are most impacted, which tend to be communities of color or underprivileged communities. And we need to make sure we’re investing in our local neighborhood schools and raising standards, so every child has a ladder to move up and achieve their dreams.

But that’s not enough. Too many working people and families can’t afford to put a roof over their heads in the communities they call home. Maintaining a supply of affordable housing is key to ensuring that neighborhoods experiencing gentrification remain diverse and accessible for everyone. That’s one of the reasons affordable housing is such a high priority for me as governor.

When we’re investing in affordable housing, we need to make sure the projects being built are dispersed and intermingled in asset-rich communities, where residents are likely to benefit from access to quality schools, public services, and jobs. By bringing community members into the planning process from the start and making sure developers respect community goals and priorities, we can ensure stakeholders have a voice in the planning process and that projects are created that serve to lift communities up, not displace residents. I will resurrect and re-imagine local redevelopment programs so they serve their intended purpose of economic development in our diverse communities.

Together, we can create a more fair and equal California that builds on our strengths and embraces our differences — that’s the California I want to lead as governor.