Did you tune in to the gubernatorial debate this week in hopes that you might have a few California questions answered? Well, for the first half hour it seemed to be a night of hope for a discussion of such pressing Golden State topics as:

  • Housing and affordability
  • Healthcare and education
  • Entrepreneurial investment

Sadly, however, the conversation sharply pivoted from important issues that keep job creators and families awake at night and instead to missives about candidates’ alleged proclivities and scandals.

It’s a pity the candidates didn’t remind voters about the wall of challenges our state still faces and discuss solutions to fix them:

  • California K-12 schools rank 44th compared to others states in the nation – U.S. News & World Report
  • Violent crime rate in the Golden State is currently 15% higher than the national average – Office of the Attorney General
  • Tax compliance costs are 67% higher for small businesses than for big businesses. Compliance costs small-business owners $18-$19 billion per year. Paperwork costs come to $74.24 – National Federation of Independent Business
  • Small firms with fewer than 50 employees incur regulatory costs that are 29% greater than firms with 100 employees or more – National Association of Manufacturers
  • California state and local governments face more than $400 billion in unfunded liabilities for public employee retirement benefits – enough money to cover the state’s general fund for three years – Study and Story by CalMatters

Who’s going to pay for that? Our children’s grandchildren, if something isn’t done yesterday! What will our future chief executive be doing to raise standards, accountability and the success rate of our classrooms, schools and graduates? How are we going to safeguard our communities from theft and violence – and hold criminals more accountable?

It was with more than a sprinkle of irony that the passing of former Governor George Deukmejian was announced hours before this debate. “Duke” practiced – and hailed from an era that fostered – a culture of civility and respect that was essentially absent from this debate. The late Governor was a shining example of a leader dedicated to addressing, head-on, issues that really mattered to Californians.

This is a crucial election year. Be us Republican, Democrat or “Other”, let’s insist on continuing the legacy of “Duke’s way” and hold every candidate for every public office to the high standard of engaging in a truthful, civil and honest discussion about how we can restore splendor and promise to our amazing state.