Democrat Delaine Eastin, former state superintendent of public instruction and the only female Democratic candidate running in California’s 2018 gubernatorial race, came to Santa Cruz on Jan. 18 for a meet and greet at the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party headquarters. City on a Hill Press sat down with Eastin to talk about her platform and how she plans to take on the role of California governor if she’s elected.

Having attended two UCs and taught at several community colleges, her platform is built on improving education from preschool to college. Her plans include implementing policies dealing with universal healthcare, fighting climate change and supporting policies to further civil rights issues and immigration rights.

City on a Hill Press: A large portion of the Santa Cruz population is college students. On your website under the “my vision” tab is “tuition-free college […] so students graduate with minimal debt.” How would you achieve this?

Delaine Eastin: “We invest in education. So we used to spend 18 percent of the state of California’s budget on higher education, 3 percent on prisons. Higher education has dropped below 12 percent, prisons are above 9 percent. So budgets are statements of values […] the fact is our values are being turned around here and I have to set them right. Community colleges were free and should be again. We also need to build more campuses because we turned away over 60,000 CSU [California State University] students because there were not enough seats for them.”

CHP:So you believe we should allocate funding from the prison system to education?

Eastin: Exactly, we have to stop criminalizing drug use and mental health problems. We have to stop the school-to-prison pipeline. We have to begin to be much more serious how much we charge people and how long we charge them. If you compare our system to that of Europe or much of Asia, we have these long prison sentences for relatively modest crimes and we need to fix that.

CHP:California, particularly Santa Cruz, is experiencing a housing crisis, making it very difficult for low- and middle-class residents to find affordable housing. What kind of policy changes would you make to help change this?

Eastin: It’s not just Santa Cruz, it’s everywhere. […] We have people living in tents, carts and cars. Those are the lucky ones. We have had an outbreak of Hepatitis. […] In Union City where I was on the city council, we used redevelopment money to buy three huge industrial sites. We cleaned those sites, then we built multi-story affordable housing and market rate housing.

CHP: In general, if you become governor, what relationship do you believe the state and the UC should have? What changes would you make, if any?

Eastin: I would appoint more regents that look like the typical Californian. I was a regent when I was superintendent of public instruction. […] We have to have more people on the [Board of Regents] [who] experience this joy of education but don’t have a few billion in the bank. Also, we need to have more space for everybody. To have only built one UC campus since 1965 is embarrassing.

CHP: What does the sanctuary status of California mean to you? What further steps will you take to protect undocumented residents, if any? What will you do to protect undocumented students?

Eastin: I believe in the sanctuary state status. […] I listened for 40 years as the Republicans waved in my face the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. Power is not expressly given to the federal government nor denied to the states shall be the power of the states and the people. You know what, that includes people wanting to smoke dope, people wanting to live safely here, people wanting to support Dreamers and our [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] DACA residents. It includes California wanting the best future of this state. We should not allow a thug in the White House to frighten and terrorize our people.