2018 Brings Conversations

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This February, the McCarthy Center kicks off the inaugural season of a new speakers series, Conversations for the Common Good, co-presented with news media, POLITICO. The McCarthy Center Board and staff have been planning this series in conjunction with the 15th Anniversary of the Center celebrated this past November 9th at the Merchants Exchange Club where Mayor Art Agnos was honored with the first Leo T. McCarthy Award.

Conversations, envisioned as an annual signature series of speaking engagements, will bring local, regional and national figures to share their visions of the challenges of serving the public good. This year, the series invites leading candidates for California’s upcoming gubernatorial election in fall, 2018.

Entitled, The Race for the 2nd Most Important Office in the Country — Who Will be the Next Governor of California?, the series invites five top candidates (with others to be possibly added) including four Democrats and one Republican.

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 Join us in meeting California’s gubernatorial candidates on the Hilltop campus in McLaren Conference Center. Free limited seating is available. Register to attend here.


Questions For John Chiang


California State Treasurer John Chiang will be our fifth speaker to participate in Conversations for the Common Good, a new speaker’s series that invites inclusive voices to the challenge of serving the public good. Join us in meeting California’s Treasurer, John Chiang and POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci in conversations on Thursday, March 22nd, 5:00 PM on campus at USF’s McLaren Conference Center.

John Chiang has never been one to chase the spotlight, Chiang has been getting the job done throughout every successive tier of public service. He was first elected to office in 1998, as a member of the Board of Equalization. In 2006, California voters elected Chiang to serve as the State’s Controller for three terms. As Controller, Chiang managed the state’s finances throughout the Great Recession and prevented the state’s credit rating from falling into junk status. Chiang also reformed the pension system, and implemented programs to increase the state’s transparency and accountability to the public. In 2014, Chiang was elected as the State’s Treasurer, where he sold bonds, invested state funds, and managed California’s growing cash reserves. Chiang has seen it all throughout his two decades of public service, from financial deficits and budget cuts to California boasting the sixth largest economy in the world, and he now he is running for the state’s highest office, California Governor.

Chiang describes himself as the only candidate who understands how to finance the programs Californians want, which would lead to ideas becoming a reality rather than a talking point. Chiang’s priorities as governor would be creating more affordable housing, investing in the states K – 12 and University systems, and preventing sexual harassment and assault. John Chiang asserts that he is a fiscally responsible leader and as Governor, he promises to make California accessible and affordable for families who dream of a better future.

Questions To Ask:

  • Proposition 13 has limited a city’s ability to fund services. What are the biggest roadblocks to reforming Proposition 13, and how would you overcome those barriers?
  • Divisions exist between California’s inland and coastal communities. Politicians spar over taxes, environmental regulations, and poverty reforms. How would you bridge the existing divides in California as Governor?
  • You have two decades of experience managing the state’s finances. How would someone who has been all about the numbers in California, apply those skills to address the social issues throughout the state?
  • Many middle-class Californians are struggling to purchase homes, send their children to college, and maintain a quality standard of living. What is your agenda to help our struggling families?
  • The impacts of climate change will compound throughout the twenty-first century,  and California will experience harsher droughts as a result. What is your plan to address future water shortages?
  • Many seniors and retired adults live on fixed incomes; every year the cost of food, utilities, services, and housing increase, but their incomes stay flat. How will you address the needs of aging Californians?

This post was written by Justin Balenzuela, M.A. Urban Affairs ’18. Justin will be introducing Treasurer John Chiang on Thursday, March 22nd.

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Questions for Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will be the second speaker to participate in Conversations for the Common Good, a new speakers series that invites inclusive voices to the challenge of serving the public good. Join us in meeting San Francisco’s former mayor, Gavin Newsom and POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci in conversation on Monday, February 5th, 5:00 PM on campus at USF’s McLaren Conference Center.


Gavin Newsom has had extensive involvement in government at all levels. He served as a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, representing District 2 for seven years. Immediately after his second term as supervisor, Newsom was elected the 42nd mayor of San Francisco, preceding Willie Brown. While he worked on many issues, including development and health care, his mayoral career was very focused on homelessness and LGBTQ+ rights. During his mayoralty, Newsom led an initiative that provided permanent shelter and support to thousands of homeless individuals throughout the city and also brought national attention to the issue of same-sex marriages.

After his time as San Francisco Mayor, Newsom won his race for Lieutenant Governor of California in 2011. His work as Lieutenant Governor has been focused on technology, education, cannabis legalization, and repealing the death penalty in California. More specifically, he fought for the advancement of technology in government to serve the public good, the decriminalization of nonviolent drug offenses, and access to free, quality community college education throughout the state.

Below are Newsom’s stated top priorities as he runs for Governor of California:

Economic Growth – Newsom’s plan is to create jobs in all fields from tech to agriculture, reduce poverty, and invest in California’s infrastructure.

Education – The Lt. Governor believes that part of sustaining a booming economy requires providing more access to affordable education at all levels, especially early childhood education and college. He is also working to keep tuition fees down for the UC and CSU systems.

Energy and the Environment – Newsom has crafted the first strategic plan for the State Lands Commision in over eighteen years. His plan is targeted at protecting the environment and prioritizing transparency within practices and operations.

Technology in Government – For years Newsom has viewed technology as a tool to empower citizens and ultimately create a government that is more open, transparent, and accessible to everyone.

Questions To Ask:

The implementation of municipal broadband throughout the state would not only create countless jobs but also protect the use of the open internet.  What do you see as being the biggest roadblock for municipal broadband and how would you address it?

Considering how bloated the tech industry is today, do you think it’s important to promote higher education degrees in fields such as environmental science, renewable/sustainable energy, education, etc.?

Considering the popularity and cost of the UC and CSU schools, many of the programs have become incredibly impacted, requiring students to attend college for longer periods of time and pay more for their education. How do you plan to address the issue of impacted state schools and low acceptance rates?

 This post was written by Jackie Prager, M.A. Urban and Public Affairs ’19. Jackie will be introducing Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, February 5th.

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Questions for Antonio Villaraigosa

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Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be the inaugural speaker to participate in Conversations for the Common Good, a new speakers series that invites inclusive voices to the challenge of serving the public good. Join us in meeting Mayor Villaraigosa and POLITICO’s David Siders in conversation on Thursday, February 1, 5:00 PM on campus at USF’s McLaren Conference Center.



Can Antonio Villaraigosa trump the competition?

The upcoming 2018 California gubernatorial race will be loaded with interesting democratic candidates. Amidst political heavy hitters such as Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and State Treasurer John Chiang, Antonio Villaraigosa stands to run on a platform of educational equity. The former California State Assemblyman, who was also the Mayor of Los Angeles, is hoping to fortify a well distinguished political career by winning the vote to occupy California’s top office. Villaraigosa’s reputation is hallmarked by epic civic and municipal partnership building efforts. He is credited with turning around the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)’s poor performing schools with the construction of an organization called the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which works with the LAUSD as a coalition. Additionally, Villaraigosa led efforts that have  resulted in successfully combating spiking Los Angeles crime rates by hiring more police officers.

Villaraigosa has stated publicly numerous times that if elected to office as California Governor,  he would defy President Trump if his administration were to order the deportation of undocumented persons, including DREAMers. Villaraigosa has also said that he is not in support of building a wall to keep out immigrants from our southern border. Given his policy stances on immigration, Villaraigosa will no doubt find himself bumping heads with one America’s most controversial president. On the campaign trail, Villaraigosa will find himself challenged with the daunting task of unifying the Mexican-American vote which has been sharply sliced by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. As the campaign season begins to ramp up, it will be very fascinating to see how Villaraigosa energizes his base.

Questions to Ask

  • In what ways do you feel your experiences as State Assemblyman have prepared you to govern California?
  • What measures can be implemented in the State Assembly and Senate to ensure transparency and fairness regarding the investigation into claims of sexual harassment in the state legislature?
  • Given the current socio-political impact of the #MeToo movement, is there a credible need for comprehensive re-training on sexual harassment as well as cultural and gender sensitivity issues within the state legislature?
  • What strategies can be used to protect California’s coastline against the ongoing threat of offshore drilling?
  • Can we legally protect California as a sanctuary state with minimal federal disruption?
  • What are your thoughts on allocating cannabis tax money towards the implementation of a state-wide cannabis equity program?
  • In what ways can California restore its educational system to its once highly regarded status?
  • Given the current lack of bipartisan participation in Washington D.C., how are you prepared to discourage that type of political climate in the state legislature?

 This post was written by Calyn Kelley, Urban and Public Affairs ’19. Calyn will be introducing Mayor Villaraigosa on Thursday, February 1 in the opening event.

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Learning to Care About Politics

Hallie Balch, McCarthy Sacramento Fellow 2017

Something that I often hear from family members, friends, and teachers is, “The government doesn’t work.” Chances are, if you’re familiar with American politics, you have heard or even said something similar yourself. This was the mindset that I even had as I prepared for my internship with the McCarthy Fellows program. Pessimistic? Sure, but political inaction is prevalent within our society.

As a student at Dominican University, I have been surrounded by people with different political ideologies throughout my college experience. I came to the McCarthy Fellows program expecting liberal individuals with a streamlined theory on politics and little room for my own conservative ways of thinking. What I found in the Fellows was actually quite different – a unique group of people like me, eager to learn and better understand the ways of our government in California.

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This is the most important observation from my time in Sacramento is—just because someone holds different beliefs does not mean their reasons are not valid or that they lack a voice or passion. In my McCarthy Fellows cohort, we each study politics and government in our respective fields. To be a part of the process is eye-opening, to say the very least. For example, I comb through hundreds of bills every day that have an impact on my home district, my community, and people that I love. I study legislation that people may never see or notice. These are bills that legislators craft with teams of policymakers and spend months perfecting. This is a side of government that the public does not see.

I see policymakers in the Capitol working every day to negotiate across the aisle to craft policy that will benefit constituents. This is not what people outside of the Capitol see. They don’t see Assemblymembers buzzing around on the floor, lobbying to get votes from their colleagues for hours on end. They don’t see the effects that a seemingly monotonous bill on water consolidation will have on a community struggling to gain access to reliable, clean drinking water. They don’t see the countless staffers researching bill after bill in order to maximize the benefits for the state of California as a whole.  My greatest takeaway from the McCarthy Fellowship thus far—California’s state government is active. I just have not been staying involved with the politics that have the potential to impact my life.

It can be hard to stay up to date with the ins and outs of policies and procedures, but it is important to try and stay informed. The resources are there and the members of the California Assembly and Senate constantly try to reach out to the constituents of their state. Additionally, legislators are consistently working to pass legislation to increase transparency and open the lines of communication between government and the people. The next step is to use the tools and resources that our government provides us.  One can tune into the Assembly floor while they’re in session and listen to the debates taking place. One can get in contact with their district representative if they’re not happy about something in their community. Getting involved is not hard, one just hard to start taking action.

If we are not informed about what is happening in the world, how can we possibly expect to enact any positive change? I cannot express how important it is to understand what is going on in our government. Not only in Sacramento, with its fast-paced politics and savvy legislators, but also in our individual communities. So the next time you feel like throwing government under the bus, try researching it. Try learning about it. Try understanding it. After all, we’re all in the same bus and who says someone has to be thrown under it?

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Meet Our 2017 McCarthy Fellows

In this summer program, McCarthy Fellows spend 12 weeks in full time internships at Sacramento institutions that contribute to the California policy-making process. Student engage in everything from conducting legislative research to responding to constituent concerns to drafting policy memos. Concurrently, they participate in a California Politics course focused on exposing and analyzing the structures and systems that frame our state’s policy making processes and helping students make meaning of their first-hand experience. Students live, work, and learn in the state capital, while taking advantage of powerful learning opportunities within the context of their internships, their academic course, and the co-curricular offerings that abound in their thriving host city.

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Abigail Fay, Politics ’18 

Abby has spent the past year as a legislative intern in the office of Supervisor and Board President London Breed. Her time there has helped her develop a passion for community development and constituent relations, as well as for the unique culture of California politics. During her time in Sacramento, she hopes to further hone her policy analyst skills and knowledge of the California legislative process to enable her to accurately represent, and advocate for the people of San Francisco.

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Arely Escoto Pineda, Political Science ’18

As a first generation college student, Arely plans to use this fellowship as a new experience to gain a greater sense of independence. She hopes to use and expand the leadership and communication skills that she has learned from working for the local government in the City of Santa Ana. Arely will use this opportunity to gain a new perspective on the inner workings of the state capital.

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Chiweta Uzoka, Politics ’18

Chiweta is looking forward to gaining more knowledge about policy-making and developing stronger communication skills in a office in which serving the public good is a priority.

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Crystal Vega, Critical Diversity Studies and Urban Studies ’18

Crystal hopes to bridge her existing knowledge of San Francisco nonprofits with her experience working in the state capitol. She is most interested in learning how to integrate intersectionality and community building into local politics.

Hallie Balch, Communication Studies, Media Studies & Political Science ’18

Hallie will be joining the McCarthy Fellows Program in Sacramento this summer to pursue a greater depth of knowledge of legislation. She plans to use this time to hone in her research skills and is excited to have the opportunity to work with her peers with similar passions and to learn from the immersive experience. Similarly, she will use her writing and analytical skills and use this program to aid her in becoming a legislative analyst.

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Kayla Derby, Sociology ’18

Kayla is excited to be working and learning in Sacramento this summer. She plans to use her writing skills and Spanish fluency to help impact public policy surrounding immigration. Kayla hopes to apply the skills she obtains over the summer in her dream career of immigration social work.

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Kelli Hughes, International Studies ’17

Kelli is looking forward to a future in public service promoting international trade and investment. While in Sacramento, Kelli hopes to use her research and analytical skills in supporting California reach its economic development goals.

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Mathew Maulino, Computer Science ’19

Matthew is excited to be a part of the 2017 McCarthy Fellows Cohort. Matthew will be working to further develop his leadership qualities, build his communication skills among a team, and foster his passion for service to his community. He is looking forward to taking full advantage of the unique opportunity the McCarthy Fellows Program offers, so that he can learn from this new experience and one day fulfill USF’s motto to “change the world from here.”

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Rachel Chin, Communication Studies ’18 

Rachel is hopes to gain the skills to help her in her career as an environmental lawyer in the future. During her time in Sacramento, she plans to learn more about her career path and bring these skills back to San Francisco.

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Maddelyn Bryan, International Studies ’18

Maddelyn is excited to build upon her skills for interpersonal engagement and research through an internship in Sacramento. She expects to gain an in-depth understanding of the California legislative process while developing field-experience relevant to a career in public service. After completing the program, she hopes to have new insight into how she can apply her skills to help resolve issues on multiple levels of society.