Recall Newsom candidates weigh in on top issues
August 13, 2021

Recall Newsom candidates weigh in on top issues

We invited the top-polling candidates vying to lead California if Governor Gavin Newsom is recalled September 14 to share their positions on California’s most pressing issues with us. In this piece, you’ll hear from John Cox, Kevin Faulconer, Ted Gaines, Caitlyn Jenner, Kevin Kiley, Jenny Rae Le Roux, and Doug Ose about how they’d approach school reopenings, what they think of the influence of government unions in Sacramento, and which issues they’d tackle first if elected governor.

Each candidate was given a total word limit for the entire questionnaire, allowing them to choose how best to articulate their stances on the positions. Their answers are listed alphabetically.

If other candidates we invited to participate  — including Larry Elder and Kevin Paffrath — complete the questionnaire, we will update this post with their responses. Other candidates running are also welcome to reach out to us to be included. Of course, we’d also love to hear from Governor Newsom himself.

If you are running for governor and would like to share your take on these important issues, please email Mari Barke,

Editor’s note: On August 17, Doug Ose announced he was ending his campaign after suffering a heart attack. We have chosen to keep his responses out of respect and thanks for his years of public service to Californians. We wish Mr. Ose a quick and full recovery. 


Do you support a full (full days, all students and staff, five days a week) reopening of California schools this fall? How would you make this happen? What, if any, safety precautions would you support for K-12 students?

John Cox: I fully support reopening all California schools this fall for five days a week in person learning. In fact, I was the very first candidate to press for our schools to reopen last Spring. I called on Gavin Newsom to issue an executive order to open our schools.

The fact is that some students went to school safely in person during the pandemic. Those students by and large went to private schools, like Gavin Newsom’s kids did. They continued to learn throughout the year, while regular Californians and especially underprivileged Californians missed nearly a year of school and fell even further behind.

That’s why I will implement school choice in California. Every student in California deserves the same opportunity that the Governors’ kids do. It will return power to parents and not to the teachers’ unions.

Kevin Faulconer: I support reopening schools now full time. We can’t allow children to fall behind on their education. If schools remain closed when I become Governor I will open them.

It’s important to take the safety precautions experts have suggested. Proper physical distancing, adequate ventilation and requiring students follow the rules when it comes to personal hygiene to protect everyone from this virus.

Ted Gaines: A full, immediate, and responsible re-opening of our school system will be my first priority as Governor. Schooling is an absolutely vital aspect of a child’s mental and emotional development, and we need to stem the damage that has already been done with this past year of social isolation. There is no reason we can’t bring our schools back while also providing voluntary protective measures and virtual options for medically vulnerable students and teachers.

Caitlyn Jenner: We have seen how Gavin Newsom hurt our children when he stole a year of in-person learning from them. I am in favor of getting back to a normal school schedule, and that means a full school year with in-person teaching in classrooms. Our children can’t afford to fall further behind and have their emotional and mental development stunted by staring at computer screens at home.

I am totally against any mask or vaccine mandate. When I’m governor, anyone trying to deny our children a proper in-person education will be met with the full power of the executive office and my administration.

Kevin Kiley: Gavin Newsom is setting the stage for another school shutdown. That will not happen if I replace him.

Every school will be open. Full-time, five days a week, no excuses. And no masks required.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: I’m a mom, farmer, and successful businesswoman running to free California from an incompetent Governor. In Gavin Newsom’s California, the future is indefinite masking, mandatory vaccines, and fear-driven messaging. There is no data on the finish line. We are forever subject to his whims.

I am data-driven, and am confident that together, we can invest in our future by ensuring all schools are open for in-person instruction. The mental health, educational attainment, and domestic abuse statistics from the past year of lockdowns are staggering – schools must be open.

First, I will make masking optional in schools (download my Action Plan). Second, I will ensure every district provides a virtual learning option for families who prefer not to send their children back to in-person learning.

Everyone wins. Most kids are back in school with optional masks, parents can go back to work instead of being forced to educate at home, and parents who wish to keep their children at home can do so.

In addition, we must make up for learning loss by expanding enrollment in evidence-based expanded learning opportunities (such as afterschool programs) – currently, under 8% of our 6 million students take advantage of expanded learning. I will fund these services and help school districts source additional instructors through partnerships with community-based organizations.

Doug Ose:  Distance learning does not work. We need to get back to normal immediately. Private schools have shown us since April of 2020 how to have children and teachers in the classroom. We need to take that approach and offer it to public K-12 schools. Parents should be given school choice and funding should follow the child.  Local school boards, which are accountable to parents, should make final decisions about curriculum.

For the current COVID-19 situation and health emergencies that may arise in the future, who will you seek input from in policies related to school openings, closures, and safety protocols? Who ultimately should decide and enforce safety protocols?

John Cox: Governments across the country and especially in California have used the pandemic as an excuse to grab power and expand even more control into our everyday lives.  Too often, elected officials yielded power to unelected bureaucrats. It’s been a big government liberals’ perfect scenario.

I believe that ultimately the decisions must be made by the elected officials and by individual Californians. We need to bring back trust in the people to do what’s best for themselves and their family. No bureaucrat in Sacramento can choose what’s best for you and your family.

We need to trust the science and work with scientists, but ultimately it up to the elected officials and to us to make the right decisions.


Kevin Faulconer: First, I believe it’s important we listen to the experts. We need to follow the science. And we need to educate people. I don’t believe in mandating anything because it will ultimately hinder vaccination efforts. If we allow this to be endemic, we will leave our children and grandchildren to deal with this and that’s unacceptable.

Ted Gaines: This past year we have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of fear-driven policy making. The sweeping, incoherent lockdown measures not only ignored much of the science, but hurt countless Californians in the process. It’s vital that we are cautious in the consideration of medical data before we turn to crippling and chaotic counter-measures. Simply listening to the scientists however, is not enough- the effects of these pandemic policies extend far beyond the virus itself. Any proposal that is going to affect parents and small business owners must require their input as well. Californian’s are sick of this heavy-handed “government knows best” approach that the current Governor has forced upon them. As Governor, I will not tell a business owner how to run their store any more than I will tell a scientist how to conduct their study.

Caitlyn Jenner: There has not been a single Governor who has mismanaged the pandemic worse than Gavin Newsom. He is the epitome of hypocrisy—dining at the French Laundry with his special interest friends while he shut us down and ordered us to stay home. He personally chose winners and losers of the pandemic. His special interest friends won while the rest of California lost.

When I’m governor, I will balance the safety of our residents with the economic impact of a shutdown. States like Texas and Florida did it well because their governors made balanced decisions based upon science rather than who wrote them the biggest campaign check. They did a great job of listening to the science without destroying lives. I would do the same and make sure we are encouraging vaccination, but not mandating it. What Newsom is doing with vaccine and mask mandates is completely beyond the pale of what any governor should do. Even some unions are standing up against him and pushing back. He simply does not understand that he can’t control us with his draconian rules.

Kevin Kiley: California has been a national outlier in the COVID era, imposing both the longest school closures and the most severe lockdowns. Other states that have taken a more balanced approach have allowed their kids to remain in school and their businesses to remain open, while also having better overall public health outcomes than our state.

Californians are well informed on how to protect themselves from COVID-19. The state should continue, where appropriate, to provide educational resources. But decision-making going forward should be in the hands of local communities and their citizens.

On day one, I would end the State of Emergency. For every executive action Gavin Newsom has taken to violate our rights and diminish our freedoms I will take executive action to restore and defend them.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: As Governor, I am responsible for managing multiple issues – education, economy, health, safety, and more. I will be advised by public health experts but will more actively seek direct input from health care workers, parents, teachers, school administrators, and students.

County public health departments will focus on health education, sharing with individual school districts ways to keep children safe while ensuring freedom and in-person instruction, and managing local statistics. However, local school boards – directly accountable to communities – should manage the ultimate decisions on openings, closures, and safety protocols.

This is how we Free California from government overreach.

Doug Ose:  The best solution available would be to give parents options about how their children are educated. Look at it as a consumer; if parents don’t like the product, they vote with their feet and go elsewhere. Allow schools to implement the safety protocols that are readily apparent and proven. I will listen to a wide range of experts in each field and balance the need for getting kids in class. Bottom line, we must get back to normal.  

Do you support school choice? What does school choice mean to you?

John Cox: School choice is hugely important to me. It levels the playing field for all California children and it returns power to parents and away from the teachers’ unions.  School choice means that the underprivileged kid in Los Angeles can choose the best school for him or her, just like Gavin Newsom does for his own kids.  It means taxpayer money will be spent more wisely and that all schools will need to up their games.  Competition is the best way to get quality and efficiency.

Kevin Faulconer: I strongly support school choice. Our school system in California has been

failing our students. I believe in empowering our parents to find their children the best opportunity to get a world class quality education regardless of where you come from. Right now the deck is stacked against students in low income communities – I will change that as Governor.

Ted Gaines: Every child deserves a proper education. While many families have experienced the difficulty of balancing working from home with stepping into the role of teacher, many others enrolled their children into private schools for in-person learning. Parents know one-size does not fit all and many public schools are letting our children down. Parents should be able to choose where their child receives their education. I support school choice because no child should be locked into a school that doesn’t meet their needs simply based on their address.

Caitlyn Jenner: I fully support school choice because it means giving power back to parents and students, not to the teachers union, Sacramento bureaucrats, and special interest groups. Let’s be honest. Public schools in California have not been up to par when it comes to educating our children. For those students who are vulnerable to being left behind, we need to provide their parents the best educational options available and every opportunity to succeed in positive, healthy environments that can tap into their potential and realize their goals.

Kevin Kiley: I strongly believe that your zip code shouldn’t be your destiny: that quality public education options must be available to all students. I have fought for school choice in the State Legislature, and have often been one of the few voices willing to speak out in defense of charter schools.

After one of my signature school choice bills was defeated in a Legislature dominated by Special Interests, the Sacramento Bee’s editorial board released a scathing critique entitled: Democrats Reject Bill to Help Poor Kids. Among other things, the piece stated, “Kiley’s bill…might disrupt the public school establishment…But maybe any schools left in the lurch could use some disruption.”

In California, it must be said, school choice is already fully available to a portion of the population: wealthy families like Gavin Newsom’s who can pay private tuition or move to a neighborhood with quality public schools. The prevailing education agenda at our state Capitol seeks to entrench this inequity.

A school choice agenda, by contrast, seeks to overcome it by putting every California parent in the driver’s seat, regardless of where they live or how much money they make. That is what I will fight for if elected Governor.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: My children attend a public Spanish-language charter school. As the candidate running to Free California, I support school choice and support the School Choice Ballot Initiative proposed for the 2022 election.

I support funding policy where educational funding follows the student, giving parents the flexibility to use funds to enroll a child in the type of school that works best, whether that is public school, charter school, private school, or homeschooling.

My Smart Schools reform plan will achieve school choice and broad educational reform to bring California schools back to the top of US school systems.

Doug Ose:  I support school choice defined as parents having absolute final control for where their children attend school, and the state ADA funding follows the child. In addition, we need to shift final control of curriculum to local elected school boards, because this is where parents can hold elected trustees accountable. 

How will you ensure all students – regardless of whether they are educated in a traditional public school, charter school, private school, home school, or virtual school – receive equitable funding?

John Cox: Equitable funding occurs when we have the money follow the student. Spending per pupil in public schools continues to go up, but results are not. Meanwhile, many private schools are doing more with less. Through real school choice, we will ensure that funding is equitable because it is controlled by the parents and students, not a formula created by the teachers’ unions and their allies.

Kevin Faulconer: I believe we must first focus on reopening our schools. What Gavin Newsom has allowed over the last year is a travesty. Private schools have been open because they report to parents but public schools that ultimately report to Gavin Newsom have remained closed. I will change that as Governor because I believe that your zip code should not determine whether or not you receive a world class education.

Ted Gaines: When it comes to the best method of education, no two students are exactly the same. Having a variety of school options and school choice through vouchers gives children of all backgrounds and styles of learning the ability to meet and exceed expectations. But having the options is worth nothing if our students don’t have the means to access them. We need changes that ensure the funding follows the student, not the system.

Caitlyn Jenner: In California the state spends over $20,000 per pupil but we currently rank 49 out of 50 when it comes to educating children for poor backgrounds. We must give parents every opportunity to choose the best education environment for their children and empower them to do so. Children do not learn at a homogenous pace and we need to put them in a position to succeed and reach their full potential. When public schools are simply inadequate, a parent should have the option to explore alternative forms of education. We must take the power away from the teachers union and special interest groups in Sacramento places a monetary figure on each child instead of doing what’s best for their future.

Kevin Kiley: I will support and champion legislation to put education dollars directly in the hands of parents to use on the schooling option that is best for their child.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: My Smarter Schools education reform plan gives every school-aged child in California an education savings account. Each year, the funding that California allocates for each child’s education will be deposited into this account.

Parents can use the funding however they wish for their child’s education – whether that’s for public school, charter school, private school, or virtual school; saving funds for college education is also an option.

This way, each child – regardless of how or where they learn – will receive equitable funding.

Doug Ose:  This is basic math. You determine how much you are going to fund the entire system with, take account of statutory requirements and divide by the number of students. Each child can take their proportionate school funding to the school the parent selects. 

How would you handle Critical Race Theory (CRT) and/or ethnic studies in our K-12 schools?

John Cox: Our schools should be about reading, writing and arithmetic. They should teach civics and how to lead a good, productive life. They should have more vocational training and make sure all students are ready for higher education or a job at graduation. Divisive and highly political “theories” have no place in our schools. As Governor, I would ban them. Education should be about learning, not indoctrination.

Kevin Faulconer: I don’t believe critical race theory has a place in our schools. It’s wrong, it’s divisive and it’s toxic.

Ted Gaines: Our public schools do not exist as a means to force particular worldviews on our children, but as springboards of knowledge that they can use to jump into other studies and career paths. Students should not be forced to study politically charged and otherwise divisive material during their mandatory years of schooling, particularly when such political theory is all too often presented as fact. We have a responsibility to instill in our children universal knowledge and the sort of unifying values that prepare them for productive lives in the real world.

Caitlyn Jenner: Critical Race Theory has no place in our schools and ultimately creates more racial division instead of bringing our children together. Indoctrinating our children with lies and outright falsehoods will never happen on my watch. We live in the greatest state in the greatest nation in the world. Our history has not been perfect, but we live in the most free, civil, and democratic society the world has ever known. What the California Department of Education did in adopting CRT in our schools is a travesty. I will appoint people to my administration who have common sense values and truly serves in the best interest of our children.

Kevin Kiley: When the Assembly passed a bill to make Critical Race Theory (dubbed “ethnic studies”) a high school graduation requirement, I gave the only speech in opposition.

When the first version of this curriculum was released, it was universally condemned. The Legislative Jewish Caucus said it “echoes the propaganda of the Nazi regime.” And anti-Semitism is just one manifestation of what is so fundamentally wrong with this curriculum. Its undisguised purpose is to impose on students a particular worldview, rather than giving them the tools to construct one for themselves.

This effort demonstrates that we’ve simply lost touch with the purpose of education. That purpose used to be preparing students for citizenship; civics wasn’t just an add-on to one subject but was a unifying thread across all subjects.

As that unifying thread has unraveled, CRT is filling the void as the anti-civics. A failure to teach students how to build their communities up has created an opening for those who would have them tear their communities down.

As Governor, I would immediately call on our Legislature not only to reject this misguided curriculum, but to renew the true meaning of civic education – one based on a deep appreciation for American institutions and values – so that nothing like it ever rears its head again.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: I have a plan called “Remove and Replace.” While conversations about race are important and should be taking place in our schools, Critical Race Theory and California’s current ethnic studies curriculum are divisive. I would ban their teaching in California’s K-12 schools.

Our state is ranked 40th in K-12 education by U.S. News & World Report, even though education is the most expensive line item in our budget. I will implement engineering, coding, and vocational classes into our public schools instead of focusing on divisive theories to prepare students for the jobs of the 21st century.

We need engineering, not social engineering, to build a free and prosperous future in California.

Doug Ose: K-12 education should focus on giving kids the following skills:Children should have the ability to read by the end of third grade, a good understanding of US History by the end of sixth grade, a solid understanding of math by the end of eighth grade and a comprehensive exposure to civics by the time they graduate high school. CRT diverts a child’s attention away from those subjects and provides excuses for failure.  It’s anti-merit, anti-objectivity and anti-achievement. CRT is absolutely the worst thing we could teach our children. America is not a racist country; it is a country full of opportunity for all. Kids need to be taught that with hard work and dedication, they can do well in life. They don’t need to be told they are victims and given excuses. Kids need to be taught perseverance and shown examples of people who have overcome adversity to do great things, and our history books are full of examples!

Worker rights

How will you ensure all government workers in California are made aware of their Janus rights when it comes to the choice of joining a public employee union or abstaining from membership?

John Cox: I’ll do everything in my power to make sure state employees know their rights. Part of becoming a state employee should be knowing what your rights are. This will be mandated by my administration.

Kevin Faulconer: My administration will follow the law to ensure that all California employees are made aware of all applicable laws and standards when it comes to joining or abstaining from union membership.

Ted Gaines: California already has stringent laws in place when it comes to informing employees of their rights and benefits. Walk into the back of any private business in California and you will see a massive poster detailing each and every right of its employees. There is no reason we can’t extend this system to public employee unions in a manner that clearly communicates the choices as well as the benefits a worker can expect there.

Caitlyn Jenner: The landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court was a victory for Californians and a welcomed defeat to overbearing unions who were stealing from workers. We have seen workers exercise their right to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets since that ruling. As governor, I will ensure all California government agencies follow the rule of law by allowing any and all discussion about Janus rights to happen without prejudice. Being a leader also means having the biggest megaphone and protecting workers’ rights will be a priority in my agenda.

Kevin Kiley: I pursued legislation to ensure that every public employee in California knows their rights following the Janus decision. Too many are still being fed misinformation so that the state’s largest special interest groups can maintain their hold on power.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: A free California requires free employees. I will make this education a part of the employee onboarding process. At the very beginning of a government worker’s employment, they will receive necessary and accurate information to make a decision that is best for them regarding union membership.

It is the government’s job to educate, not mandate.

Doug Ose: It is vital that workers have a say in how their hard-earned dues are spent.  Each worker should be made fully aware of their rights and how to opt out from union membership at the time of employment and through the course of it.

Do you accept public employee union donations or endorsements? Which unions have contributed to your campaign (current and past)?

John Cox: I have not received any donations or endorsements from public sector unions. Furthermore, I believe it is a conflict of interest for an elected official to do so.

Kevin Faulconer: I’ll take any support from Californians who want to recall Gavin Newsom and make California a better place to live for everyone. I have previously received support from law enforcement during my mayoral runs in San Diego and my campaign for Governor.

Ted Gaines: I believe that CCPOA has donated to my campaigns in the past.  The money I receive allows me to spread my message of individual freedom and free markets.

Caitlyn Jenner: I am a political outsider and I am not beholden to anyone. I don’t owe any politician or special interest group a favor, and I never will. My campaign has been funded by Californians from all across this state, as well as from Americans from every state in the country. Unions will never control the work I will do for the people of California and they know that I will always be on the side of workers.

Kevin Kiley: I am the only 100 percent citizen-backed California elected official, refusing all funding from Special Interests, including public employee unions.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: No, I do not.

Doug Ose: When I was in Congress, I received contributions from private and public employee unions. I am not aware of any unions that have contributed to my campaign for governor. 

Do you think government unions have undue influence over California policies? If so, how would you address this?

John Cox: California government is run of, by and for the insiders. The public sector unions are amongst the most powerful insiders in state government.  As an outsider, elected without the support of the insiders, I won’t owe them anything. I’ll stand up to the unions and the insiders, but doing what’s best for the people of California. I’ll negotiate hard against them and always remember that the taxpayers are in charge not the unions.

Kevin Faulconer: There’s no doubt unions have undue influence over California policies and this Governor. You saw very clearly the effects of this in our schools with Gavin Newsom clearly abdicating his responsibilities as Governor to reopen our schools for in person education to his special interests allies.

I will be a Governor that sides with Californians, not outside interests.

Ted Gaines: I don’t agree with many of the union-backed initiatives or pieces of legislation. Unions do have great influence in our policies but I would not want to limit their ability to participate in our politics. I would continue to work to elect candidates who share my belief in freedom and the primacy of the individual.   

Caitlyn Jenner: Public sector union absolutely have a significant influence over California policies and the individuals they are supposed to represent. “Release Time” is something we need to address because it affects our government workers who should be working on behalf of the people, not taking time off to work on unrelated union jobs. When that happens, guess who foots the bills to find their replacements and fund their benefits? California taxpayers. This gives government unions way too much power to disrupt how our government functions, which ultimately harms every Californian. We need a process that is open and transparent so the public can really see how these union deals are made.

Kevin Kiley: More than any in the nation, our Capitol has fallen captive to powerful special interests and their lobbyists. These interests use the power of government to benefit themselves at the expense of ordinary Californians.

For example, Assembly Bill 5 banned most forms of independent contracting and made it impossible for thousands of Californians to earn a living — all as a payoff to the state’s most powerful special interest group. Restoring the vitality of our state starts with rooting out such corruption and restoring integrity to state government.

Our government needs to stop interfering with the lives and livelihoods of Californians, and instead get back to basics: Pave our roads, store our water, manage our forests, maintain our grid, fund our police. Do the things government is supposed to do, do them well, and do nothing else. That’s what I will do as Governor.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: California needs to be freed from the undue influence that government unions wield upon both the Legislature and current Governor. After Gavin Newsom shut down schools for the remainder of last school year, the teachers’ unions funneled $2M to his recall defense fund. Every time common-sense building reform is proposed in the Legislature, the trade unions threaten Democrats to oppose reform or risk a union-backed challenger in the next election.

I will address this influence in two ways: one, I will never take a dime in campaign contributions from a public employee union. There can be no conflict of interest. Second, I will work with legislators (Republican or Democrat) who support common-sense reforms in the face of union opposition by backing them with messaging and political support.

Doug Ose: I think special interests from all sorts of different sectors, including government unions, have undue influence over California policies. One of the reasons I’m running is to break the strangle hold the special interests have over policies that should be benefiting Californians but are not. We need significant levels of disclosure as to who is contributing to whom and through which channels.  We also need teeth behind sanctions when violations occur.

 Other priorities

How would local control factor into your solutions for other pressing issues facing California, including the housing shortage and homelessness, water shortages, state mandates, taxation, etc?

John Cox: Conservatives believe in the power of small government and government that is close to the people. Sometimes the state government needs to implement solutions to big state wide problems, but other times the state can partner with local governments to fix a problem. And in some cases the local community just needs the state to take a step back and not interfere.  As Governor I’ll be mindful of the power of limited and local government.

Kevin Faulconer: I’ve seen first-hand as Mayor how local control can be effective and how

aggressive state overreach can be problematic. As Governor, I will partner with local governments and lead by example to address the pressing issues our state faces.

Caitlyn Jenner: We need to put the power back into people’s hands and that begins at the local level. To address the homelessness crisis, I will work with local leaders to remove restrictions and revisit any regulation blocking developers, charities, and others interested in building affordable housing. I will also challenge our largest, most vocal employers to turn their commitments into tangible investments in their communities by helping build safe, affordable, lasting housing facilities. Our faith-based organizations need to also be empowered to help the people they serve.

One of my first priorities will be to appoint a commission of housing, real estate and land-use experts along with local leaders and mortgage bankers to help create short and long-term solutions to the growing problem. My administration will aggressively work with the private sector, not-for-profit organizations and the federal government to identify development and re-development areas, opportunities for home ownership and creative ways to help people secure and keep affordable housing.

Kevin Kiley: As I said above, decision-making going forward should be in the hands of local communities and their citizens.

The best thing we can do to help small businesses and create jobs is to allow our economy to fully reopen. Our unemployment rate remains one of the worst in the country and many small businesses are permanently closing their doors.

Our state needs a fundamental course correction that sets high expectations for a swift recovery and unleashes California’s full economic potential. If elected I would assure every school is open full-time so parents can go back to work, provide businesses with the confidence to resume operations without fear of further shutdowns, and structure unemployment assistance to incentivize a return to work.

Furthermore, I would forgive all COVID-related fines, penalties, and license revocations, provide liability protection for businesses, and reform PAGA and other litigation traps. I’d also propose restoring meaningful tax relief such as Net Operating Loss carrybacks, and removing arbitrary barriers to work such as Assembly Bill 5.

On housing, we need to eliminate the overregulation that makes it so difficult and costly to build in California, while pushing back against policies like the rooftop solar mandate that increase the price of a home by tens of thousands of dollars.

Our state also continues to spend billions on homelessness as the problem gets worse. We must immediately audit all homelessness spending in California and eliminate wasteful programs, while simultaneously supporting policies that get at the root of the problem.

Our state also needs to substantially increase its forest management and fire prevention measures, and we need a governor who will not mislead the public about these efforts. A recent investigation from CapRadio found that Gov. Newsom overstated the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns “by an astounding 690%.”

We need to empower local communities in fire prevention. I have proposed legislation to authorize local fire departments to conduct fuel management on nearby state lands. And our state budget should be providing additional funding to local fire departments that are often first on the scene.

Furthermore, we need real accountability for PG&E. The utility has used its political influence to evade proper oversight, and our communities have paid a devastating price.

California’s recurring water shortages are also entirely avoidable. But we have failed to invest in the storage and infrastructure that would allow us to save water in wet years that could be used in dry years.

My plan would allocate a percentage of the state’s general fund for construction projects – dams, aquifer storage, conveyances, desalination, potable reuse of wastewater, and water treatment – to increase the annual sustainable supply of water to California’s cities and farms by several million acre feet. It would also require state agencies to spend the money as intended and safeguard projects against excessive litigation and liability.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: The goal of my time in office is to Free California from a one-size-fits-all government that does more harm than good. To solve the homelessness crisis, I will ensure funding is focused on coordinated care managed at the local level, with specific focus on sufficient substance abuse and mental health support.

To accelerate home building, I will streamline regulatory approvals and development impact fees, and will incentivize localities to stop new local growth ordinances which increase house prices by up to 5% per ordinance.

I will allow public health decisions to be made on a county-by-county level, and decisions on masking in schools to be left to the individual parent.

California’s remarkable diversity means that state officials in Sacramento don’t know what’s best for different communities in Bakersfield, Fresno, or Orange County – these decisions will be made by local leaders.

Doug Ose: The tone is set at the top.  We need a state government that provides direction and respects local authority and knows when to get out of the way.  Good government ensures that essential services are provided but only taxes or charges fees at a level that is absolutely necessary.  I have been a staunch supporter of local authority on land use and taxation for the last 45 years.

  •  Local land use decisions need to be made at the local level.
  • Homelessness is a public health issue that involves drug addiction and mental illness concerns. Dealing with individuals suffering from drug addiction or mental illness requires individualized care with a one-by-one program. We must require sobriety and treatment with the goal to get homeless individuals back to self-sufficiency. The programs must be managed at the local level, while the state and federal government act as funding partners.
  • Everyone knows we have a weather cycle in California in which we have periodic droughts as well as water surplus. We need to find a way to store the surplus from wet years so that we can use it in times of drought. The voters of California recognized that in 2014 when they approved Prop 1 by a two-to-one margin.  We need to build water storage facilities immediately.
  • Taxes are too high. We need to lower taxes across the board.
  • The state of California has established a pattern of significant overreach using mandates.  That needs to stop.

What are your top 3 priorities, and what do you plan to accomplish in the first 6 months of your term?

John Cox: Taxes, homelessness and affordability are three of my top priorities.  California has the highest taxes in the country. The cost of taxes and living are driving the middle class and small businesses out of the state. California has lost population for the first time in history. I’m going to pass the largest tax cut in California history – a 25 percent across the board income tax cut. Every family and small business in California will benefit. In all, $30 billion will be returned to taxpayers every single year.

We will also cut homelessness in half in California. The career politicians have spent BILLIONS on homelessness, but it’s only gotten worse and worse. I have a four part plan to reduce homelessness. The key is enforcing the laws and getting the homelessnes off the street and into treatment – by court order if necessary. The politicians have built thousands of extra beds that go empty at night. It’s because you have to fix the underlying problem – and that’s done through mandated treatment.

Lastly, we need to make California more affordable. That means slashing taxes and it also means reducing the cost of housing. Housing is killing California. We need to reform the zoning in California that limits housing options. We need to reduce the fees that drive up costs. And we need to dramatically reform CEQA that special interests use to delay projects by years – making them cost prohibitive. We need to be able to build more housing in order for the cost housing to come down.

Of course California is in too much trouble to limit ourselves to three issues. We also have to address wildfires, educations, energy and water. As an outsider, CPA and businessman who has gotten results my entire career, I have plans to deal with all the problems facing California. It’s vital we fix California now, before it’s too late.

Kevin Faulconer: My top three priorities as Governor will be to tackle our homelessness problems head on, leading by example. I will clean up tent encampments, end open air drug markets and help people off the streets and into safe shelter. It’s what I did as Mayor of San Diego where homelessness went down and individuals on the street got the help they needed. We reduced homelessness by double digits. My plan:

Crime is at a 13-year high in California. Instead of enabling and coddling up to defund the police activists, I will be a Governor that works with our police departments and actively encourages more funding for the training and equipment necessary to keep all our neighborhoods safe regardless of zip code. When I was mayor of San Diego, I knew that if you didn’t have safe neighborhoods you didn’t have anything. And when protesters outside my home demanded I defund the police, I said no. Instead, I increased the budget by 7% because I thought it was important to have the training and tools necessary to attract the best men and women to wear the uniform and protect our neighborhoods. I will bring that same attitude as Governor.

Lastly, our state is too expensive. We have the highest income taxes, highest gas taxes, highest sales taxes, and highest supplemental poverty rate in the U.S. Recent projections showed our state is also flush with cash despite the pandemic. It’s time we give some of that surplus to Californians. We must cut taxes for our middle-class families that have been squeezed by Gavin Newsom’s one-party rule in Sacramento. I will start by enacting the largest middle class tax cut in California history.

I will also fight for tax-free retirement for veterans by eliminating state taxes on military retirement. This will help strengthen our economy and keep families together. Most service members start a new career after military retirement and now under my administration will have a new reason to stay right here in California. It’ll also bring our state in line with the rest of the country as only 3 states fully tax military retirement.

That’s how we’ll attract the jobs and help rebuild the economy California had before Gavin Newsom’s disastrous policies were put in place. My plan:

Caitlyn Jenner: One my first day in office, I will veto any tax increase or any new taxes to ensure Californians keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets. My mission to make your state government work harder for you.  We will also cut duplicate programs, streamline spending, and hold the legislature accountable when they try to take more of your money for pet projects or special interest favors.

I will also commission a review board to assess outdated regulatory rules. California has more than 200 regulatory agencies and 400,000 individual regulations. We are by far the most regulated state in the nation. I will establish a working group to review all state regulations and recommend changes and elimination of any regulation that has outlived its usefulness, is contradicted by another state regulation, or is overly restrictive to the people and businesses of this state.

Kevin Kiley: On day one, I would end the State of Emergency. For every executive action Gavin Newsom has taken to violate our rights and diminish our freedoms I will take executive action to restore and defend them.

Then, after ending the State of Emergency, I would immediately call Special Sessions of the Legislature to address our failing schools, soaring cost of living, rising crime rates, and jarring homelessness. The Legislature would have two choices: pass the necessary reforms or face accountability from voters in 2022.

The order of the day will be back to basics: Pave our roads, store our water, manage our forests, maintain our grid, fund our police. Do the things government is supposed to do, do them well, and do nothing else.

Most importantly, I will restore power to local communities and citizens. That’s the larger promise of this historic recall: a return to government of, by, and for the people.

Jenny Rae Le Roux: I will restore economic growth to free California to live, work, and breathe.

First, I will free California to live by restoring our cities. I will stop prison releases and closures and reduce homelessness by addressing root cause issues. My “Spend Smarter” plan will use data to base local funding on progress, increase mental health and substance abuse support, and ensure the homeless are legally bound to use available housing options.

Second, I will free California to work by celebrating our businesses. I will support small businesses by phasing out extended unemployment benefits, removing harmful regulation (like AB5), and reducing fees.

Finally, I will free California to breathe by sustainably managing shared resources with a long-term plan. I will renew water deliveries to farmers. I will free California to breathe by reducing wildfire risk, managing 1M acres of managed forest per year through thinning, biomass permits, and controlled burns. And I will stop power source closures, increasing the diversity of our power supply and ensuring we can keep the lights on.

Together, we can restore local control and free California to live, work, and breathe.

Doug Ose:  

  • ADDRESS THE HOMELESSNESS PROBLEM: We need to re-write the legal standard so that we can compel homeless individuals to get drug addiction treatment and mental health services and stop releasing criminals back into neighborhoods.
  • FIX OUR SCHOOLS: Our children are going to be in class, in-person with a teacher at the blackboard and we will give parents school choice with funding following the child and give local school boards control of curriculum.
  • MORE WATER: We are facing an avoidable crisis that will repeat itself.  We need to build water facilities as the voters approved in 2014.

Further reading

To learn more about each candidate and their platforms, we encourage you to visit each of their websites.

John Cox

Kevin Faulconer

Ted Gaines

Caitlyn Jenner

Kevin Kiley

Jenny Rae Le Roux

Doug Ose

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