Local Candidates Tackle Their Platforms: STATE ASSEMBLY

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Correction Appended

After serving six years in the State Assembly, Loni Hancock has termed out, leaving the District 14 seat open to one of four Democratic contenders.

The four candidates come from diverse backgrounds and would each bring a different focus to the assembly. At a forum held by The Daily Californian, Nancy Skinner spoke at length about environmental issues, Phil Polakoff spoke about the state of health care, Kriss Worthington said the California budget-making system needs reform and Tony Thurmond spoke about preventing violence in the streets of District 14.


Polakoff, a former health diplomat in Chile who has degrees in environmental engineering and public health, among others, said his background in various fields, including years spent investigating worksite health hazards, will help him fully represent District 14.

Though his political experience may be limited to a failed Berkeley mayoral run in the 1980s, Polakoff said he has a passion for several issues and that his experience introducing legislation makes him a competitor in the race, calling himself a political Don Quixote.

Polakoff said the goals that drive his passion are that all children should have health care

regardless of their immigration status, that there should be more disease prevention, especially in the areas of childhood obesity and asthma, and that there should be increased emergency preparedness as well as improved mental health services. He also spoke about the need to test a single-payer health care system, and if it works well to expand it further.

According to Polakoff, two main issues he would focus on in office would be health and education and he would do a good job representing his constituents.

"I am more driven by results than change," he said.


Skinner, an East Bay Regional Park District Board member and former Berkeley City Council member said her unique skill set separates her from other candidates running for the State Assembly.

In 1990, near the end of her term in the City Council, Skinner helped found the non-profit ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, which helps cities across the U.S. tackle environmental issues. Skinner created a job training program in 1980, which trained young adults who were underemployed on how to do energy audits.

Skinner's recent work includes bringing

Fortune 500 CEOs to meet with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to help pass the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, AB 32.

Skinner said her philosophy is to use the business sector as a means to better living standards throughout District 14.

"My philosophy is work with industry-pull them to high environmental standards," she said. "We need those industries, we need those jobs."

Skinner said she wants to make higher education accessible by stopping budget cuts, increasing decision transparency of the UC Board of Regents and minimizing administrative costs.


Thurmond, a Richmond City Council member and the only candidate who is not a Berkeley resident, said his 15 years working with non-profit organizations and other accomplishments make him a viable contender.

Thurmond, who currently runs a non-profit that aids youth transitioning out of the foster care system, for which he has raised more than $1 million, said his main issues are preventing violence, improving health care via a single-payer system, creating more environmentally friendly jobs, improving education as well as balancing the budget, among other things.

Thurmond said gun control could be an effective tactic in preventing violence and homicides, especially those of the district's youth.

"I support the strongest gun control laws we can have," he said. "I mean who needs to have a Mac-10?"

Thurmond said he would help fight the state budget deficit by reintroducing the vehicle license fee. He also said he would address health problems throughout the district, such as those caused by emissions from the Chevron Richmond Refinery.


Berkeley City Councilmember Worthington said his experience introducing legislation in the City Council and his experience with transit make him a qualified candidate for the State Assembly.

Worthington, who cited that 98 percent of the legislation he introduced to the council was passed, and that he has thorough knowledge of the city budget, said he feels that he can use his success in the City Council at the state level.

As the self-proclaimed "most progressive candidate in the race," Worthington said he would fight for the homeless, the poor, the elderly and others in the State Assembly.

Worthington said he wants universal health care for children, a living wage for all Californians and that he would, in most cases, fight against fee hikes in the public education system.

In terms of taxes, Worthington said he wants to push for tax reform that will put property tax burdens on commercial real estate.

"I am not a tax-and-spend liberal," he said.

Worthington also said he hopes to improve the economy in District 14 by improving the Port of Oakland, which is not in the district, but which he said could create more jobs and is critical to business success in the East Bay.


Correction: Thursday, June 5, 2008
Monday's article "Local Candidates Tackle Their Platforms" listed Assemblymember Loni Hancock's profile under Richmond City Councilmember Tony Thurmond's name.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Ashley Trott and Carol Yur at [email protected]

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