Welcome to election week.
As you know, the California primary is just a day away. And the November election is just around the corner.
This election year, The Modesto Bee will put a sharp focus on the policy challenges that most affect our community and its future. We know — because you’ve told us — that on everything from housing affordability to education to healthcare to water quality, you want deeper insight into potential solutions our officials can pursue.
And you deserve a better understanding of where our candidates stand on the policy issues that matter most.
To deliver this, we today are launching an important and long-lasting conversation between you and the leaders and influencers in our state — the California Influencer Project.
The Modesto Bee has chosen 60 influential Californians to discuss the issues and engage in a thoughtful conversation about solutions our government and our communities can pursue together.
Our Influencers include former California Governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, current University of California President and former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Antonia Hernandez, President and CEO of California Community Foundation, among others. One Influencer with ties to the Northern San Joaquin Valley is Kristin Olsen, former minority leader in the California Assembly and a member of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.
They represent many entities in our state. Some are large employers and some represent employees. Some are academic leaders and some are community organizers. They include leaders in the faith community as well as people who have dedicated their careers to public service in our state.
For some, such as Hernandez, it’s that California has become unaffordable for the vast majority of its residents. She’s not alone in voicing concern for income inequality. For others, including former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, it’s access to high-quality education.
Olsen also points to education as a vital issue: "We must ensure access to a quality education for all California students in order to secure our long-term economic success and to provide opportunities for all Californians to pursue their dreams – educational excellence is key to our future."
The full list California Influencers is here.
You are a crucial part of this conversation.
On Thursday, The Modesto Bee will send a survey to our subscribers, asking what issues are most important to you this election year. We also want to know what questions you have for the Influencers.
To capture your questions both throughout the series, we also are partnering with Hearken, a digital media company that makes engaging easy. We will use your guidance to set the course of the conversation through Nov. 6, as we survey the Influencers and bring them together for live public events to discuss solutions to the challenges you identify.
This is an important election year in California. We hope you will join us in keeping the conversation focused on the policy issues that matter most.