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Despite incredible economic growth, California is dealing with widespread poverty, struggling schools, concerns about public safety and justice and an extremely high cost of living. What will the state’s leaders do to grapple with these problems? What is the future of politics and what are the short- and long-term debates we’ll see in Sacramento? At this year’s Politifest, Voice of San Diego’s Sara Libby and Ry Rivard sat down with Assemblywomen Shirley Weber, Lorena Gonzalez and Assemblyman Chad Mayes to discuss it all and much more.

One overlapping theme of the discussion centered on the relationship between the Legislature and the governor. While all three panelists said they enjoyed working with departing Gov. Jerry Brown, they noted moments of frustration when it came to advocating for certain issues, including childcare and police accountability.

Weber, a Democrat, and Mayes, a Republican, both lamented the enormous power of special interests in Sacramento. Mayes said there were more Republicans who supported the controversial cap-and-trade deal than the number who ultimately voted for it. “That’s because of the political pressure, not because they didn’t know that it was the right thing,” he said.

Weber, meanwhile, said there are few legislators who are willing to follow her lead in reforming police practices or the education system because the police and teachers unions are so powerful.

“I’m not sure if most folks are willing to fight as hard because when you take on teachers’ unions and when you take on the police, you are in for a battle, Weber said. “And it is a battle that most people … seldom realize how complicated it is. And everybody s not willing to take on that battle.”

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