Posted by Steven Levin on November 05, 2015 at 1:29 PM
In January 2016, California will have a new Republican Leader in the state’s lower house – and that person is former CCSA Advocates-endorsed Assemblymember Chad Mayes.
In September of this year, Republicans tapped Mayes to be their next leader. Mayes will take over from current leader, Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto, who was also endorsed by CCSA Advocates. He will be the first legislative leader who was elected under the term limits approved by voters in 2012; he can serve up to 12 years in either the Assembly or Senate. Mayes was also appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly to the widely respected Little Hoover Commission, which will allow him to dig deeper to develop policies to make state government more efficient and effective.
We took a moment to speak with Assemblymember Mayes about his political experience and his views on public education in his district and across the state.
Mayes started his career in the Yucca Valley Town Council in 2002, where he was twice chosen by his colleagues to serve as Mayor. Mayes’s leadership helped deliver a remarkable record of balanced budgets without tax increases. He also served as a board member of the San Bernardino Associated Governments and on the Statewide Board of Directors for the League of California Cities.
In the Assembly, Mayes has been appointed to a number of key legislative committees, including the Human Services Committee (where he serves as Vice Chair) as well as the Governmental Organization and Insurance committees. Also noteworthy was Mayes’s selection to serve on the important Assembly Rules Committee, which serves as the administrative body governing the Assembly, and to the Special Committee on Legislative Ethics.
Mayes’s district covers parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the cities of Beaumont, Palm Springs and Twentynine Palms. He and his wife Shanon live in their lifelong hometown of Yucca Valley.
What made you decide to run for the Assembly?
I could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch policymaking at the state level fail to deliver a better California. I’m fighting to improve the lives of every Californian—not only in regards to education reform, but in the entire spectrum of issues facing our state.
How are charter schools operating in your district? Any success stories?
One of the real stars of the movement has been George Washington Charter School in Palm Desert. Students deserve more than just great classrooms and great teachers—schools won’t become truly excellent without stronger parental involvement. Principal Lehmann’s work to create such a robust learning environment at Washington Charter should serve as a touchstone for those looking for a model that delivers.
Do you have any special words of inspiration for the California charter school community?
This is an issue worth fighting for. Nothing is more important than preparing our next generations to not only succeed in tomorrow’s competitive economy, but also to thrive in all aspects of life.
Can you describe the district for those that are unfamiliar with it?
The 42nd District is incredibly diverse. From the resort towns of the Coachella Valley and bedroom communities like Yucaipa, to economically challenged areas in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, it’s clear that a one size fits all approach won’t cut it. Because every community has a different set of needs, we have to do a tremendous amount of listening to understand how best to serve. It’s a great district and I’m proud to have the opportunity to represent every corner of it.
What plans do you have to further public education in California as the newly elected Republican Leader?
It’s naïve to think that the key to improve our public education system lies with increasing salaries or building new classrooms—it’s far more complicated than that. As I said above, improving education is a fight worth having and I’m committed to making reforms that shift decision-making to the local level, which will empower parents to join in making those decisions. We must also find ways to reward great teachers, and provide a process to remove those with poor results.
How does serving in the Legislature differ from serving on the Town Council and as Mayor of Yucca Valley?
Decision-making at the State happens much more quickly, and unfortunately more superficially than in local government. In Yucca Valley, we had weeks, at least, to consider significant proposals and their effect on the community. In the Legislature, sometimes we’re only given hours to evaluate major changes to law that may in fact result in unintended consequences that make the problem worse. It’s no way to run a railroad.
What role does technology have in the classroom? What is the legislature doing to ensure that students are properly trained for the workplace in the 21st century?
Unfortunately, too many California schools don’t have access to the latest technology. While the so-called “rich” districts very likely do, many of our urban, rural, and economically challenged schools don’t. Having said that, it’s about more than just installing interactive whiteboards and computer labs. Schools should be focused on ways in which students will apply technology to prepare them for the future. Technology is not going away and it’s important that all students have technology as deeply integrated into their educations as possible.