By John Crowder
State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, candidate for State Senate in the special District 7 election on May 19th, recently provided answers to ten questions asked by Antioch Herald staff. The questions and her answers are provided below.
1. Why are you running for state senate?
I am the only candidate with a proven record of building bipartisan consensus to get results, both on the state and local level, from balancing budgets, creating jobs, improving schools, fighting crime, opposing the twin tunnels, and protecting our water and the Delta.
2. What philosophy guides your legislative decisions?
As a local Mayor, County Supervisor, and State Legislator, I’ve always focused on bringing people together, Republicans and Democrats, to solve problems. I believe that the principles that have guided my life as a public servant are the reasons why I have been a successful legislator. I believe a successful legislator is someone who is accessible, approachable and trustworthy, who listens and respects others, leads by example, stands strong for their beliefs, advocates fiercely for their community and has the leadership skills to find common ground and solutions especially in tough times. In may of those respects, I believe that my approach to public policy and public service is one of the key differences between me and my opponent.
3. Would you oppose any new taxes?
In California new taxes have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the legislature or by a majority of the voters. This sets a high bar. For me, the decision is always focused on the need and a cost benefit analysis. For example, like my opponent I strongly supported Prop 30 because our state faced historic debt, and a fiscal emergency after years of drastic budget cuts where education and other vital services were slashed to the bone. Prop 30 was necessary to make our state finances solvent and we made the case to voters to make the ultimate decision.
4. Do you support or oppose changes to Proposition 13?
I have always supported and am 100% committed to protecting homeowners under Prop 13. I could not support any changes to Prop 13 that would put a new fiscal burden on homeowners.
5. What steps would you take to improve education?
I’ve led efforts to modernize our public schools, improve academic standards, and bring more funding to our local schools. For example, I succeeded in bringing more than $3.6 million in additional funding to Antioch schools for technology upgrades, professional development, and new instructional materials. I have passed historic reforms by working with Governor Jerry Brown in changing the state’s education funding formula so that more money would be allocated and streamlined directly into local schools, giving control to local school districts and parents. I want to continue modernizing our schools to ensure our teachers and students have the resources they need to succeed. When our schools perform at high level, we all benefit. I have worked – and will continue to work – to make college more affordable for middle-class families, and I will continue opposing tuition increases at UC and CSU university systems.
6. What steps would you take to reduce crime?
As a mother of four daughters, grandmother, and as an educator, I have always made the safety of our families, children, and seniors as a top priority. I have a proven record of keeping prisoners behind bars, cracking down on child predators, fighting back against gangs and drugs, and protecting seniors from abuse. For example, I have worked to ensure that local law enforcement would have the resources to ensure each officer carries a mobile fingerprint device to keep criminals off our streets. That’s why I have earned the trust and support from law enforcement leaders in Contra Costa County from Sheriff David Livingston and from District Attorney Mark Peterson, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, as well as local police officers, sheriffs, and firefighters who put their lives on the line to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe.
7. What steps would you take to deal with homelessness?
I support the proposal of Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins to address housing instability and create more affordable housing in California, using a comprehensive approach that includes new funding as well as improving government efficiency.
We also must continue to work on core issues like creating jobs and improving job-training programs that help people improve their own lives. At the same time, we must continue to support services like mental health counseling – especially for veterans, who make up a high proportion of those who are homeless, which is why I helped pass the Veterans Housing Bond last year.
8. Do you support or oppose the Twin Tunnels project?
As Mayor, Supervisor, and as a State Legislator, I have strongly opposed the twin tunnels, and have actively worked to stop them. For me, it isn’t just a recent campaign pledge like it seems to be for my opponent. That’s why I have earned the trust and support of key leaders in the fight against the twin tunnels – including Congressman Jerry McNerney and Congressman John Garamendi, as well as local environmental leaders across the district.
I have consistently opposed the tunnels and protected the Delta, but it isn’t enough to just say no. Leadership is standing strong and stopping bad policy, but also bringing people together to find solutions, especially during crisis. I’m proud of my work in protecting our water, and helping pass historic water legislation to protect our local water supply and address the crisis of the drought.
9. What was your reasoning behind your vote on AB 60, driver’s licenses for undocumented workers?
This is a public safety and a consumer protection issue. We need to face the reality that undocumented workers are driving on our streets, roads, and highways, and as such, we need to make sure that everyone on the road, including undocumented drivers, have auto insurance and are fully educated on driving safety, and the rules of the road. That’s good for public safety and for our local communities.
10. What was your reasoning behind your vote on AB 1266, regarding gender confused youth using opposite sex high school bathrooms and locker rooms?
As a parent, educator, and leader, I looked at both sides of this issue very closely, and it is a complex and emotional issue. At the end of the day, this legislation is about protecting vulnerable students, many of whom are being bullied and ostracized, facing physical violence, emotional abuse, and some even turning to suicide.
Public schools needed to do a better job meeting the privacy needs of all students and this bill has moved schools in that direction. The old days of locker room hazing are not something we need to protect. All students will benefit from this bill as schools update their restroom and locker room designs and standards. This bill will result in schools having more single stall self contained restrooms that many students will appreciate.
This issue can’t be ignored, and if we can help children feel valued, save young lives, and protect many, then we’ll have done our jobs. As I have said, I have always put protecting the safety of children as a top priority. This legislation is another step towards that goal.