Issues

Thank you for visiting my Issues page. I believe in a robust debate on the important issues facing the residents of this Senate District. This exchange should occur in the public domain not in the backroom with special interest groups.

I have pledged to post any written promises or commitments made in candidate’s questionnaires on this web page for all to see. I challenge my opponents to do the same. Our democracy is best served by an open and transparent debate on the issues.

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Summary

I am a socially-progressive, fiscally-conservative, independently-minded Democrat.

I have served in a wide range of representative roles over the past decade. These include serving for ten years as a city councilmember (3 terms as Mayor), four years as a California State University Trustee and more recently as your state Senator.

I have had other experiences that have influenced my view of the world. I owned a small business. I have worked for non-profit groups to protect open space lands and SF Bay. I served as a senior staff member in the State Assembly and Senate, a spokesperson for the California Supreme Court Chief Justice and in various roles for two California Governors.

Over the course of my private and public sector service, I have developed some philosophical touchstones for the choices facing government. I refer to them as my Governing Principles. They are reviewed in my Ballot Statement and are also detailed in the issues section below.

I have a record of proven independence to stand up to the powerful special interests that dominate the State Legislature.

I believe the best way to ensure budget stability is to create jobs and grow our economy. I support a ban on transit strikes. I want to break the link between legislating and campaign donations, demanding an end to secret promises made through candidate questionnaires.

I believe that state government needs to live within its means, curb pension abuse, make tax dollars work harder by setting priorities and always looking for efficiencies.

I believe we must protect open space and our environmental resources for future generations. As a lifelong environmental advocate, I am proud to have been recognized by the Trust for Public Land and Save the Bay for my environmental leadership.

I have organized campaigns to fund homeless shelters, affordable housing and residences for abused women and foster children.

I am strongly pro-choice; support marriage equality and equal pay for equal work.

In my twelve-year record of public service I have worked with the community to improve schools and libraries, protect open space, repair crumbling infrastructures to increase public safety, all while maintaining fiscal accountability.

Governing Principles

  1. Represent the people of our Senate district, not political parties or special interests.
  2. Maintain a balanced budget to allow government to help people and people to have confidence in government.
  3. Pursue bipartisan decisions. They are always better and long lasting.
  4. Emphasize education as the gateway to opportunity and prosperity.
  5. Work hard to set priorities and hold the line on taxes
  6. Incorporate environmental protection as a part of every decision.
  7. Empower local decision-making rather than state mandates. It is more responsive and trustworthy.
  8. Advance accountability and efficiency with every government program.
  9. Promote civility and respect for all people and perspectives.
  10. Conduct myself always with honesty and integrity.

Issue Statements

Opposing Special Interest Power

Powerful interests spent nearly $300 million in 2013 to influence the state Legislature. Combined with hyper-partisan politics, this spending spree has fueled the current atmosphere in Sacramento where money and power carry far more weight than the best interests of the public. In fact, a recent study ranked California’s legislature as the most polarized in America – worse even than Congress.

The solution is to elect candidates who have proved their independence from these narrow special interests. I believe that, if you aspire to public service, you should focus on problem solving, rather than pandering to special interest power.

I have demonstrated my independence by:

  • Supporting candidates who were not endorsed by my party leaders, but rather brought fresh thinking and broad perspective to the Legislature.
  • Supporting a ban on public transit strikes, such as the BART strike, that harm our economy and disrupt our lives.
  • Supporting pension reforms that ensure the public system is solvent without taxpayer bailouts.

I am also a pro-business leader who believes that growing our economy and creating jobs is a top priority. That has not stopped me from taking strong stands in the public interest. For example, I support standards to reduce carbon pollution that contributes to global warming and to require full disclosure and extensive testing for health risks from oil fracking.

As your State Senator, I will continue to stand up to special interests, even if they are supportive of me, whenever I believe their narrow interests conflict with the public interest.

My agenda includes:

  • Breaking the link between legislating and campaign donations. I support banning all fundraising by legislators during the last 30 days of the legislative year – when much of the deal making and shenanigans take place -- from any entity that has bills pending before the legislature.
  • Supporting and strengthening our open primary. The open primary system allows more moderate and independent leaders from both parties to advance to the general election and helps break the stranglehold of narrow interests.
  • Creating more transparency in the campaign process. My Transparency Pledge demands that all candidates fully disclose every secret promise they make to special interests through the ubiquitous “campaign questionnaire.” This is a vital reform if we are to change the culture of Sacramento and elect a more independent legislature.

I consider it a healthy part of our democracy to have an arm’s length relationship even with groups that I generally support. It is vital to maintain this perspective so you can serve all the people. Interest groups have a place as forceful advocates, but balance and longevity in public policy comes from legislators who pledge allegiance to all our citizens.

Fiscal Responsibility

Californians cannot afford a government that won't balance its books and live within its means. And Sacramento cannot continue to look to taxpayers to bail it out from bad decision-making.

As a ten-year Councilmember and three-term Mayor of Orinda, I have worked with all parties in my community to produce balanced budgets and prudent reserves. As a California State University Trustee, I voted repeatedly against excessive executive pay. And, I am proud to have been a key advisor to Governor Jerry Brown as he has brought California back to fiscal sanity. In just three years, we went from a $28 billion state budget deficit with massive unpaid state operating debt to a balanced budget with future projected surpluses.

But there is more – much more – to be done to safeguard California’s long-term fiscal health. Here’s what I believe:

  • California must live within its means. When voters approved a temporary income and sales taxes in 2012, they wanted Sacramento to protect our schools and make the tough decisions to balance its books. There are still more hard choices to be made. Those taxes were meant to be temporary and I will work to see we live within our means.
  • Strong action is needed to reduce the long-term liability of public pension costs. Our state pension obligation for public employees is billions of dollars out of balance. We need to own up to the extent of this problem and take steps now to eliminate this unfunded liability.
  • Fiscal security requires greater focus on creating jobs and growing the economy. The best way for California to pay its bills and keep its promise to future generations is to build a strong economy. I support minimizing regulatory burdens that don't diminish health and safety but would stifle our prosperity and send jobs to other states.

Curbing Public Pension and Public Benefit Abuse

A 2014 report from the Controller’s office estimated that California has at least $198.2 billion in unfunded liabilities for public employee retirement benefits. That is in addition to the burden carried directly by many of California’s cities and counties, some of which have gone through or face bankruptcy.

One of my most important priorities in the State Senate is to force the state to take accountability for this problem and take immediate steps to eliminate it:

  • Independent Leadership on pension boards. I support legislation to add independent directors on the boards of CalPERS and CalSTRS to ensure that the public interest is protected.
  • Capping pensions at no more than 70% of pay, based on a three-year average and with safeguards to prevent pension spiking and other abuses.
  • A hybrid system that includes 401(k) style benefits for new state employees. Public employees should not expect to retire with greater benefits than those of the taxpayers who are funding them.

I believe that when you work hard for a lifetime, it is important to have a retirement nest egg to carry you through your golden years. But our massive, unfunded pension liabilities are not just threatening taxpayers – they will also steal retirement security from the pockets of the newly hired schoolteacher or public safety officer. Finally, vital public services are impacted when operating funds are redirected to pay pension debt.

Legislators receive a salary that is set by an independent salary commission. The state constitution also provides lawmakers with tax-free living expenses while working in the State Capitol. I don’t believe legislators should be paid this per diem compensation when they are not working in Sacramento on weekends and holidays. If re-elected, I will continue to refuse these per diem payments.

Banning Transit Strikes

There have been seven BART strikes since the system's creation. I am committed to ensuring that there can be no more. I know this will not be easy. We will work at this -- laying down one track at a time.

BART carries nearly 400,000 passengers on an average weekday. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates that one-day of a BART strike costs the Bay Area economy $73 million. It also hurts our environment, wasting 800,000 gallons of gas each day of a strike and putting 16 million pounds of carbon into the air.

The impact of a BART strike is felt everywhere. When I visited all 44 BART stations in a single day, I met a student who needed public transit to get to college 30 miles from her house. She was sympathetic to workers, as am I, but she was missing midterms and the strike was costing her the education that was her future.

I also spoke to a retired San Francisco transit cop on the BART train and he told me that San Francisco transit workers can’t strike and he felt that should be the case with BART employees as well.

In fact, New York, Chicago, Massachusetts, Washington, and San Francisco all restrict transit strikes. Due to the crippling impact a BART strike would have on the Bay Area and California economy, it is imperative that the State Legislature provide a backstop to the regional BART Board through a ban on BART strikes.

Environment

In the Bay Area, we sometimes take our beautiful environment for granted. This is risky, because environmental stewardship requires ongoing vigilance. Our clean air and water, bays, forests, grasslands, and creeks won't stay protected unless they are a part of every discussion.

I strongly believe in an ethos of conservation. It has driven a big part of my three decades of public service. Here are some highlights:

  • In Northern California, I led campaigns to protect old growth redwood forests, San Francisco Bay, parks and open spaces.
  • I worked with the Trust for Public Land on measures in more than 25 states to protect clean water and thousands of acres of open space.
  • I helped pass the Propositions 12 and 13 Water and Park Bonds in 2000, which protects clean water, clean air, parks and coastline throughout California.
  • On the Board of Contra Costa County Solid Waste Authority for almost five years, my fellow Board members and I substantially increased recycling and reuse practices.

My environmental priorities for the State Senate include:

  • Conserve water. Protect California’s long-term water availability through recycling, reuse and better groundwater practices.
  • Oppose Delta tunnels. The current plan to build massive tunnels to take Delta water to Southern California does not make environmental sense and I will firmly oppose it.
  • Protect urban growth boundaries. Voter-approved growth boundaries prevent sprawl and protect the quality of life in our communities.
  • Reduce carbon emissions. One of my key priorities will be to keep California on track to meet our carbon reduction goal - 1990 emission levels by 2020 and beyond.

Education

Education is an area where I believe my experience can make a difference for our State. California should be the national leader in education, and our students should be performing among the best in the world. Our schools need more resources, and our students need more options for quality instruction.

As a public official, I have a proven track record of support for local schools. My record on education includes:

  • Serving as a California State University Trustee, helping guide 23 campuses, 447,000 students and 45,000 faculty and staff — the largest, most diverse and one of the most affordable university systems in the country. As Trustee, I voted repeatedly against excessive executive pay.
  • Playing a leading role in the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012 which prevented billions of dollars in additional cuts to our public schools and universities.
  • Working directly to enhance education at the local level, helping to pass funding measures aimed at improving the quality of libraries and public schools.

The State Senate plays a critical role in education. It goes beyond funding – which is vital – to creating educational reforms to ensure that each student who attends a public school has an equal opportunity to succeed. My priorities include:

  • Local empowerment. We need to empower local school boards to lead on educational issues. The centralization of educational decision-making in Sacramento is not healthy and should be reversed.
  • Restore School Reserve Protection. I believe we should restore school reserve protections that were stripped away by the Legislature in 2014.
  • Teacher Accountability. I believe in accountability at all levels of government, including the public schools. There are few jobs more important or difficult than being a public school teacher. We need to support our teachers in every way possible. But they should also be accountable for performance.
  • Allow families to select the best schools for their children. I support the ability of families to select the best school environment for their children, be that a public charter school or a nearby public school. I don't support private school vouchers as they siphon vital tax dollars from public schools. Charter schools are an important part of the solution. They provide a healthy alternative for California families who are looking for the best possible education for their children. I am familiar with their many accomplishments and support their goals. The charter schools in our state deliver high-quality, community-based learning that meets tough state standards without excessive bureaucracy and regulations. The state Board of Education should not limit charter schools’ programmatic and fiscal flexibility. They have a strong track record of building student success. I have seen for myself the benefits of a charter-school education, and the pride these students have for their school and their accomplishments.
  • Classroom effectiveness. State law should set a framework for helping schools hire and retain high-performing teachers in the classroom. Local communities are in the best position to make these decisions that promote classroom effectiveness.
  • Greater educational resources. As a Member of the Senate, I will work to strengthen California’s economy and bring greater resources to our education system. There can be no higher priority for improving K-12 education. Through economic vitality, we can achieve funding equity for charter schools and traditional public schools without pitting them against each other.
  • Encourage public charter schools. The important role of our high-performing charter schools cannot be undermined by their inability to achieve the same levels of support, as do our public schools. Their legal access to public facilities must be respected, as should their ability to seek voter support for construction bonds. Local school boards should include needed charter facilities in any proposed school construction bond. Classroom achievement, and not classroom funding, should be the focus of competition between traditional public schools and charter schools.

Higher education is a gateway to lifelong learning and employment opportunity. We need to ensure our state universities and colleges remain catalysts for societal progress and individual opportunity, and that they remain accessible and affordable to all Californians.

There are a number of challenges facing our higher education systems that need attention; remedial educational needs of incoming students in English and math; achievement gap between student groups; faculty and staff diversity; and low four-year graduation rates in the CSU system.

I am very proud of the fact that the Cal State System issued degrees to more than 100,000 Californians last year. About 60% of these graduates were the first in their family to graduate from college. I support a merit-based admission policy for our public higher education institutions. We need to make it a priority to support our public universities, as they are making a difference for so many.

Tobacco

Tobacco is addictive and deadly. Every citizen has the right to live, work and recreate in a smoke-free environment. As a state, we should do everything we can to prevent minors from having access to tobacco products.

I have not accepted and will not accept campaign contributions from tobacco companies.

Health Care Issues

The national Affordable Care Act is being implemented in our state with hundreds of thousands of Californians getting access to care. It is an important state initiative and its implementation requires careful oversight.

Mental health is an oft-neglected branch of the health-care system. "Laura's Law" allows families to get mental health treatment help for their loved ones, with a court order, if necessary. I support implementation of Laura's Law in Contra Costa County and statewide in other jurisdictions that choose to adopt it.

I voted for legislation to support end-of-life options for mentally competent, terminally ill adults. It contains safeguards to ensure that the exercise of the patient’s right to self-determination is voluntary, informed and not misused by family members or health care providers. People should be able to bring about a peaceful end-of-life in the most comfortable manner possible.

Reproductive Rights

I support every woman’s right to safe and legal abortion under the terms set out in the Roe vs. Wade decision. I support public funding for abortion services for low-income women. I oppose targeted restrictions on abortion access, including to teenagers.

I support funding for the Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment program. I support Medi-Cal reimbursement rates at a sustainable level. I also support the ability of health centers to provide services under the Affordable Care Act as well as public agency partnerships with health centers.

I support the teaching of comprehensive sexual health education, including information about both abstinence and contraception in public schools as well as confidential access to reproductive health services for minors.

I am 100% pro-choice.

Asian Pacific Issues

Asian and Pacific Islander Americans make up about 16% of the 7th Senate District and include ethnic Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Filipinos, just to name a few.

Important issues to this community include the desire for a high-quality K-12 education, access and affordability in higher education, a robust economy that supports small businesses and good paying jobs and transportation infrastructure, including an efficient and affordable BART system.

Young people in the API community, as well as the broader community, are at risk from drugs, bullying, and truancy. We all need to work together to guide our young people in safe and positive ways.

Health care is a universal concern, but certain Pacific Islander communities have a greater percentage of health problems, such as diabetes and Hepatitis B.

We all need to encourage greater community involvement in civic and cultural affairs. This would be my observation with the API communities, although the API community seems to be actively engaged in educational matters.

Increased communication is essential to expanding understanding and engagement with the API community. This should include translation services.

There are many leadership opportunities in local and state government and we should look for ways to ensure that the great diversity of California is represented in these important positions.

I look forward to working closely with the API community during my service in the State Senate.

Veterans

Like all Americans, I am grateful to the men and women in uniform who defend our nation’s liberties and values around the world. Nearly 1.9 million veterans reside in California, each with a personal story of service and sacrifice.

My late father Morton S. Glazer was a U.S. Army private in the Atlantic Theater of World War II. He received this Purple Heart in battle. Like most in his generation, my father seldom spoke about his experiences and sacrifices, but he took tremendous pride in doing his small part to liberate nations and defend America. To help in the construction of the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Center, my family purchased a brick in tribute to my father’s military service.

Even though there was conflict about our involvement in the Vietnam War, I appreciated the commitment and sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors, and aviators. In middle school, I joined with my classmates in collecting books and magazines to help bring comfort to our military personnel stationed in Southeast Asia. Our school collected 8,000 items and we were honored with a photo in my local newspaper. “Steven Glazer was the top collector bringing in 810 magazines and books,” the photo caption said. This project taught me the importance of service and to never lose sight of the people who sacrifice for our country.

California has an obligation to help veterans when they return to their communities. As a California State University trustee, I supported our system’s work to help our 13,000 veteran students at our 23 university campuses. Every CSU campus has a veteran team with a Veterans Service Coordinator serving as the primary point of contact. Veterans receive priority admission and registration for classes throughout their CSU educational careers. CSU supports their academic success through veteran-focused tutoring, advising, mentoring and counseling.

I have long been interested in the needs of California veterans, especially affordable housing. In 2002, I managed the successful statewide campaign for Proposition 46, which created a trust fund for military veteran homeownership assistance, among other purposes. The Vietnam Veterans of California organization gave its endorsement: "Our veterans have protected American interests at home and around the world. This measure makes available low-interest loans so they can purchase their first home.” Four years later, I served as campaign manager for Proposition 1C, which extended homeownership assistance to more California military veterans and their families. As homeownership is beyond the financial reach of many Californians, I am pleased to have helped veterans to settle down and achieve their dreams.

The following are important goals to improve state services to veterans:

  • County Veterans Service Offices (VSO’s) need adequate state funds to staff and assist veterans with navigating through myriad levels of bureaucracy, especially claims for service-connected injuries and access to state aid.
  • The California Department of Veterans Affairs needs adequate resources to promote its services and county services statewide.
  • The State Employment Development Department (EDD) should develop a partnership with County Veteran Service Offices so that veterans can more easily file for unemployment benefits, especially after they are discharged from active duty military service. Many veterans are eligible for unemployment benefits but fail to file for them due to ignorance or stigma. The County VSO’s could be empowered to file the forms with EDD on behalf of veterans and act as a liaison between veterans and EDD.
  • Each California community college with more than 200 veterans enrolled as students should provide a special veterans counselor to help veteran scholars with academic support, career advice, health services and veteran benefit counseling. Ideally, the counselor would be a veteran. The program now at Las Positas College in Livermore could serve as a model.
  • Some veterans exhaust their G.I. Bill education benefits before completing their bachelor or graduate degrees. Those in this situation often do not finish their schooling. The University of California and CSU should explore the possibility of granting tuition waivers to veteran students who have run out of G.I. Bill benefits but are within 12 units of attaining their degrees. This program would allow more California veterans to achieve their educational and economic aspirations that otherwise would be deferred or denied.
  • We need increased state involvement in helping homeless veterans to find safe and adequate housing. The state-run veterans homes need support, too. It is a big disappointment to see homeless veterans.

I am honored to enjoy the support of many distinguished veterans* and I hope to serve their important needs and interests in the California Senate.

* Includes former Livermore Mayor Dr. John Shirley, a Silver Star World War II infantryman in Italy (Battle of Anzio), France and Germany.

High Speed Rail

California needs to invest in infrastructure to accommodate future growth and industry. Improved rail service in and between our cities is one of those important investments. Although Californians have approved $10 billion in bonds to support high-speed rail, there is not a viable financial plan to complete the project. Accordingly, I am opposed to future state spending on this proposal.

Preventing Gun Violence

Eleven years ago, in October 2003, I was shot in the neck by a high-powered pellet rifle while driving with my family. The .17-caliber projectile just missed my carotid artery and lodged next to my spine. The perpetrator was caught but never charged with a crime because pellet guns were classified as toys in the criminal code.

After recovering from this injury, I worked with then-Senator Tom Torlakson to author legislation establishing penalties for pellet-gun attacks (SB 532, Chapter 180, Statutes of 2006).

I strongly support California’s laws to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals, including background checks and a 10-day waiting period for gun sales, regulations on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, gun safety standards, firearm recordkeeping, and bans on the open carry of unloaded firearms in public.-

Following the 1989 schoolyard shooting in Stockton, California, I worked closely with Senate President pro-Tempore David Roberti in enacting the nation’s first assault weapon ban. In my first term as Mayor of Orinda, I was a charter member of Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign.

There is much more that we can do to keep our communities safe from gun violence. It should be a requirement that lost or stolen guns be reported to law enforcement. I support the regulation of ammunition sales. With the improvement of technology, I support efforts to include owner-recognition features on new handguns. I support maintaining discretion with law enforcement in the authorization of permits to carry concealed weapons. I also believe we should continue to look for ways to update and strengthen California’s assault weapons law. This year, I am authoring legislation to close a loophole in the assault weapon’s law that allows for the quick loading and re-loading of deadly firearms.

Our Second Amendment right to own guns must be tempered with reasonable standards to keep our communities and our people safe from gun violence.

Open Primary

I strongly support the voter-approved open primary and the right of independent voters to fully participate in primary elections.