On October 7, 2003, Californians will decide whether or not to recall Gray Davis, who was re-elected to Governor only nine months ago. This is the first time in a century that a recall election is being held for the position of state governor.
Citizens and politicians around the country will be watching this historic election very carefully, as some experts believe that the results in California could follow in other U.S. states.
I believe this election is very important to the future of California and that is why I am strongly encouraging Iranians residing in California to vote on October 7. (For those Iranians who are not registered to vote, September 22 is the deadline for registration so you can participate in the recall election.)
I am strongly against the recall and I believe this recall election is wrong for California. Just nine months ago, 3.5 million Californians elected Governor Davis to a second term. Thirty days after Governor Davis was re-elected, right wing Republicans led by Congressman Darrell Issa decided to start petitioning to recall Governor Davis.
Congressman Issa spent more than $1.5 million of his own money to recall Governor Davis and his campaign gathered 1.2 million signatures to have a recall election. Issa then announced he was running for governor in the recall election, but tearfully pulled out of the election weeks ago.
Here is why I am against the recall. First, this recall is costing Californians more than $66 million. This money can be spent on education, health care and public safety. Second, there are over 100 candidates running for the governor in the October 7 recall election, so our next governor could be elected by only 15% or 20% of the vote. Third, it is possible that we may elect an inexperienced person to govern the largest state in the country, and to handle a $99 billion state budget.
Governor Davis' popularity in California has dwindled. The Republicans blame him for California's economic problems, although the majority of U.S. states are suffering from an economic downturn.
Mr. Charles Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan political newsletter based in Washington, said in his August 11 commentary in the Los Angeles Times, “The nation's economic downturn which has turned the federal budget from a surplus of $237 billion to a deficit of $455 billion today has resulted in dramatic decrease in federal, state, and local tax revenues. Rising health care costs, meanwhile, and increased demands on social spending also caused by the economic downturn have pummeled governments on every level.…. But at least 45 states and some say every state but New Mexico and Wyoming are facing fiscal crises of one level or an other.”
He went on to say, “No doubt part of California's fiscal problems date back to significant increases in state spending during the high tech boom, when taxes paid by Silicon Valley millionaires and billionaires and their upstart companies poured into state and local governor treasuries, far more than anywhere else. Budget decisions based on those revenues allowed increase in government spending, but when the high tech bubble burst, the spending was unsustainable.”
In California, almost 44% of our generally funded budget is expenditures mandated by voter passed initiatives. By doing this, we have taken the power away from politicians in Sacramento and put it back into our hands. It seems like we are going against the process.
Talking about the problems and issues facing California is easy but offering solutions to these problems and issues is not. The August 11 editorial of the Los Angeles Times discusses the many problems California is facing: “A few of the issues that need discussing: how to restructure the budget process to eliminate built-in deficits and wild revenue fluctuations; how to maintain essential spending levels for schools, transportation, local government, health care, prisons and other necessary programs; how to make state and local government more accountable and more efficient in the delivery of services.” Booting Gray Davis out of office is an easy solution, but is it the best solution?
Gray Davis has been the Governor of California for five years. Previously, he was the Lieutenant Governor for four years and State Controller for eight years. After being elected to the statewide office five times, he understands the issues and problems facing our state and has provided solutions. Governor Davis' signing of the nation's first paid family leave bill, increasing the minimum wage, and his efforts to provide affordable day care are among some of his accomplishments during his term as the Governor of California.
The leading candidate on the Republican side is actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. As much as I personally admire him as a person and as an actor, I do not think he is the right person for the job. California has the fifth largest economy in the world, we are the largest state in the country, and we currently have a $99 billion budget. California needs to have someone who understands the issues and problems of our state, and can offer solutions for these issues.
Since he announced his candidacy for Governor on Jay Leno's The Tonight Show, Mr. Schwarzenegger has avoided questions about how he is going to fix California's budget and economic crises. He has only said that he is going make California a better place. But how are you going to do that, Mr. Schwarzenegger? In addition, how are you going to encourage more business in California? How are you going to handle housing prices? How are you going deal with the health care costs? Without solutions, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not up to the task.
On October 7, I encourage all Californians to vote “No” to the recall. Ousting Davis will not solve the state's problems; indeed it might make things worse in Sacramento. The new Governor will take the office within days of the election and may face a very hostile Legislature.