California’s local officials divided on top policy issues – except pensions

California’s local officials divided on top policy issues – except pensions

Special from Robb Korinke | California City News

It’s no secret the country is more polarized than ever – and polling of local elected officials shows it’s no different among our state’s mayors and councilmembers.

As part of the 10th anniversary of, we partnered with the Prime Group, an opinion research firm with offices in Los Angeles and D.C., to conduct a first-of-its-kind opinion poll of California mayors and councilmembers this month. The poll addressed key issues ranging from Presidential approval, sanctuary cities, economic growth and others.

What did we find? Aside from a couple very noteworthy issues, our city officials are as far apart as anyone – but agree on at least one thing: Pensions.

“State and local pension issues” were by far the top priority for our respondents, and the issues crossed party lines. For Republicans and Independents, it was No. 1… but even Democrats placed it just behind housing as their top priority.

The similarities ended there. Democrats, Republicans, and those with no party preference showed starkly different views on the direction of the country overall, the direction of the state, approval ratings of President Trump and Governor Brown, as well as immigration issues.

After pension issues, Independents ranked immigration and water issues as their top three. Surprisingly, Republicans took a much lower interest in immigration (18% lower interest) despite the national conversation among top Republican leaders on the subject. It might also come as a surprise that homelessness and education were ranked the lowest priority among all participants in the poll, with both receiving just 1% of the vote each.

Among the other key findings:

  • When asked to rank key issues facing the state, Republicans were more than three times as likely as Democrats and Independents to prioritize taxes and economic growth.
  • Republican and Democrat local officials stayed almost completely within party lines when asked about Sanctuary Cities, with 95% of Republicans opposing and 94% of Democrats in support. In a similar fashion, Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove of the Mexico border wall (93%), while 71% of Republicans approve.
  • Two-thirds of these elected officials see major problems looming in the implementation of legalized recreational marijuana with half (47%) saying those problems “won’t be resolved for years” and an additional one-fifth (19%) expecting implementation to be “an unmitigated mess.”
  • President Trump at a 37% approval rating among California’s local elected officials – almost identical to his current 40% approval nationwide. In respect to California’s leadership, Governor Brown received a 50% approval rating and the California state legislature received a 44% approval rating. These numbers are only slightly lower than their approval ratings among Californian voters, with 58% and 51% approval ratings, respectively

For a full memo on the results and more key findings, please visit

We will host a free webinar with the pollster to walk through the findings on Wednesday, June 14 at 11:30 a.m. You can find registration details in the Citynews page linked above.

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