Unless you’ve been in a cave the past year or so, you know its election season, with President Barack Obama running against Mitt Romney. As important as the presidential race is, a number of important and close local races are also taking place that could have a tremendous effect on our future as students and as citizens of California. Here is a summary of the four races, with incumbents listed first.
US Senate: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) vs. Republican candidate Elizabeth Emken
By and large, there isn’t much to see here. Feinstein, a political juggernaut for over 30 years, is widely expected to retain her seat, and has led every poll conducted during the race thus far. As it stands Feinstein is holding 53 percent of the vote according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.
Emken, former vice president for government relations at Autism Speaks, has largely been mum on education, with most of her focus being on economic and tax issues. Feinstein, having voted for . Obama’s Pell Grant increase and student loan reforms, plans to continue reform along this line.
House of Representatives: Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank vs. Republican candidate Phil Jennerjahn
Schiff seems to be leading this race, as he is running against the very conservative Jennerjahn, which may not play out well in the redrawn Democratic-leaning, but moderate 28th district. As with Feinstein, he voted for much of Obama’s education plan, including expansion of Pell Grants. He supports the Fix America’s Schools Today Act, which would award grants to repair and modernize schools.
Jennerjahn is fiercely opposed to both Propositions 30 and 38, and his campaign is largely centered on repealing Obama’s healthcare law, tax cuts, and the deficit.
State Senate: Sen. Carol Liu D-Glendale vs. Republican candidate Gilbert Gonzalez
Liu faces Gonzalez and a redrawn Senate district that includes more Republicans in what is expected to be a tight race. Liu has a record of involvement with community colleges, introducing SB1143, which created a task force to develop policies to retain and matriculate community college students. Its recommendations have been controversial, including requiring students to develop an education plan toward a degree or certificate upon enrollment.
Gonzalez, a moderate Republican and the son of migrant workers, is running, like many Republicans on a platform of reducing regulations and attracting business.
If elected, Gonzalez would be the only Latino Republican member of the California Congress.
State Assembly: Mike Gatto, D-Silverlake, vs. Republican candidate Greg Krikorian
This race is vicious. At the candidate’s debate that took place at Glendale City Hall Thursday, before a packed room, the enmity between the candidates was clear to all. Corruption, out of state funding and even stalking were just the tip of the iceberg of accusations flung about the city hall conference room.
Between all the finger-pointing, a number of policy proposals could be divined. Krikorian, current board member of Glendale Unified School District, emphasized cost-cutting as a way to protect education. Among such proposals: to introduce iPads and Kindles into the classroom instead of textbooks.
How this would happen, and how much such an idea would cost remains to be seen.
Gatto emphasized much of his previous legislation including tax credits for the film industry and his support for a rainy day fund. Proposition 30 seemed to be a difficult topic for both candidates, with Gatto silent on the issue.
Krikorian seemed to lean toward Proposition 38 without endorsing either proposition, though he has been critical of Proposition 38’s exclusion of community colleges, as he has a son attending GCC.