“Start with the homework, finish with the vision, and then have the guts to go for it,” Bob Hertzberg told candidates for state office at a forum hosted on Thursday by the Leadership California Institute at the Citizen’s Hotel in Sacramento.
Hertzberg, former speaker of the Assembly, was joined by fellow California Forward Leadership Council colleagues Sunne Wright McPeak and Bob Balgenorth, as well Jim Brulte, Curt Pringle, and Willie Brown. Their charge was to mentor candidates from across the political spectrum.
Redistricting, the top two open primary, and a presidential election create a 2012 electoral landscape never seen before. Combined with a changing California electorate, Brulte suggested it becomes impossible to predict outcomes based on past experience.
McPeak characterized an angry and frustrated voter base. In a recent poll, nearly 80% of Americans say they can’t trust their elected leaders. She also shared good news: 86% of Californians believe that the state can be governed and react positively to proposals for government that is more responsive, results oriented, and accountable to the people. McPeak challenged candidates to take personal responsibility for joining the effort to restore the golden state.
Many candidates told California Forward the forum provided a great opportunity to hear from those who have been there.
“The California Leadership Institute training for candidates provided me with an in-depth insight and understanding of the workings of Sacramento,” said Santa Ana city council member Michele Martinez. “Our state is facing unprecedented challenges, and I believe that now, more than ever, Sacramento needs local leaders who have experience making tough decisions in diverse communities to help solve our current issues.”
“Distrust in the political process and an imbalance in the number of women representing our communities in leadership positions are two reasons that it was just important for me to run for public office,” said Dr. Jennifer Ong. “Any emerging leaders knowledgeable and passionate about the solutions to California’s priorities must be just as determined as I am to refuse to accept status quo and offer to work together to restore success to California.”
Pringle, Brulte and Hertzberg also recalled days when the Legislature was more collegial. They encouraged candidates to listen carefully, dig deep and become policy experts, and learn the art of compromise.
“Your job,” said Hertzberg, “is to make California better.”
Susan Lovenburg is California Forward’s Sacramento regional partnerships lead.