For our 2012 Assembly endorsement.
Hon. Abel Guillen, Trustee, Peralta Community College District
What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by young people in your district and what is your plan to address that challenge?
The greatest challenge facing young people in the 18th AD (Oakland, San Leandro and Alameda) is the skyrocketing costs of education, creating a lack of access to higher education and lack of jobs. What we have is a crisis in the higher education system. As fees for UC and CSU students continue to escalate – tripling over the past decade – many students opt to take classes at a local community college. This, in turn, crowds out many other students who have no other choice but a community college. Last year alone, the four Peralta Colleges turned away over 3,000 students. Statewide, California community colleges turned away nearly 300,000 students.
As Assemblymember, I plan to address these issues by fighting for a more fair tax system that closes corporate tax loopholes and creates an oil severance tax to fund higher education in California. I am endorsed by former Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, who championed this issue in the Legislature, and I will continue that fight.
What skills or experiences qualify you to represent this district? Why are you the best representative for this district?
As Vice President of an East Bay school finance firm, I have improved educational opportunities for students across the state. During the last 10 years, I have raised over $2.5 billion to build and modernize California’s public schools and community colleges statewide.
I have a proven track record of delivering results that matter over the past five years as an elected official and have worked in support of working families. I am willing to stick my neck out even when it’s not the politically ‘safe’ thing to do. For example, I recently introduced and got passed a Peralta measure to divest its $140 million from Wall Street banks and move our funds into local, more community-oriented institutions.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
My priorities will be focused in improving funding for and access to quality education; reforming our state budget to lower the current two-thirds requirement for revenues fighting for single payer health care; and rebuilding California’s infrastructure by investing in green jobs.
How will you use your campaign and (if elected) your office to engage and empower disenfranchised communities?
I see my campaign for the State Assembly as a way to organize around issues that are important to disenfranchised communities and we will be explicit about that. By engaging in direct dialogue particularly in low income, immigrant and communities of color we will build a winning coalition to get out the vote and organize around jobs, education and healthcare.
How will you cultivate young political leaders?
I am proud that my kitchen cabinet is comprised of so many young leaders. It is my goal to run a people powered campaign. I will continue to seek out and identify young leaders from throughout the District to not only get involved in my campaign but to take leadership roles. I am particularly conscious of the fact that we have not done a good job in cultivating the leadership pipeline. As such, I will make sure that policies or legislation to address the needs of youth will be shaped and formulated by young leaders.
What is your position on: (300 word max each)
Marriage equality – I co-sponsored a resolution against Prop 8 as a trustee for the Peralta Community College Board. Unfortunately, I was not able to secure the votes needed for it’s adoption. In addition, this month, I will be supporting the adoption of LGBT studies as part of our curriculum at the College of Alameda. As an Assemblymember, I will continue to fight for marriage equality and make sure all of our communities’ diversity is honored.
Access to healthcare – As Assemblymember, health care coverage will be one of my top priorities. I support single-payer: our elected leaders, working with engaged community support, must minimize the insurance companies’ control of the healthcare debate by creating a single-payer system that ensures quality healthcare access for all Californians. I will take a leadership role by actively supporting legislation similar to SB 810 (Leno) to create a system of universal, publicly administered healthcare. As Assemblymember, I will hold hearings on the issue in key districts and take a ballot initiative to the voters if we cannot get the necessary legislative votes for a referendum.
Climate change’s effects on the environment – I support of AB32 and as an Assemblymember I will oversee it’s implementation to make sure it is a key part of California’s economic recovery. The research that I have seen suggests that we can create upward of two million jobs in four years as we move towards oil independence by investing in new technologies, green energy an transit oriented development.
Affordable housing – The future of affordable housing in California is in limbo due to the Supreme Court’s decision rule the elimination of redevelopment agencies as constitutional. What this means is that we need to look at alternative financing vehicles by looking at various public finance mechanisms including bonds, community lending and aggressively pursue other means like the Community Redevelopment Act to put additional pressure on banks to lend to affordable housing builders or Community Economic Development agencies like East Bay Asian Local Devlelopment Corporation.
Reproductive rights – Decisions between a woman, her doctor and her family should not be infringed upon by the laws of the government. As we commemorate this month the 40th anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade, I will continue to be supportive of a woman’s right to choose. Government should in now way infringe with this right.
Quality public transportation – The total number of Vehicle Miles Driven continues to be a problem in the East Bay and in California. We need to invest in public transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As a trustee at the Peralta Colleges, I spearheaded our “Easy Pass” program that reduces greenhouse emissions, saves students money and promotes public transportation.
Sustainable local economies – As an Assemblymember, I will work with agencies such as ABAG and MTC to help build livable and sustainable communities that are less dependent on an oil based economy. We need to make sure we invest in bike lines, public transportation, transit oriented development, projects and walking path to ensure more sustainable local economies.