The PCC Faculty Association welcomed state Senate candidate and former assemblyman Anthony Portantino, opponent of Michael D. Antonovich, last Thursday in the Creveling Lounge to discuss some of the issues of his campaign, the most noteable being a free K-14 public education plan.
Portantino and Los Angeles County Supervisor Antonovich are competing for the state Senate seat currently held by Senator Carol Liu.
An avid supporter of community colleges, Portantino proclaimed PCC as “the finest community college in the State of California,” and recalled supporting the school when he was in the state Assembly, as well as when he signed for Measure P—a $150 million spending measure to repair and rehabilitate PCC facilities—while he was mayor of La Canada.
According to Portantino, community colleges are the key to upward mobility, giving immigrant populations an opportunity to get an affordable higher education.
“President Barack Obama was the first president who ever said the word ‘community college.’ I think he understood the value of community colleges,” Portantino said. “They play a significant role. I’m going to be a champion for community colleges students in my hopeful Senate district.”
Portantino shared with the PCC crowd one of the ways he would improve the education system as a state senator.
“One of the first things I’m going to do when I go to Sacramento is institutionalize a guaranteed K-14 education,” Portantino said. “So every student has the ability to be equipped to go to the work force.”
Portantino also addressed several other public matters he said were dear to him and his campaign.
He shared his support for Proposition 54, a ballot measure that would force transparency by prohibiting the legislature from passing any bill unless it is published on the internet 72 hours before vote.
“I support it even though many Democrats opposed it, and that is typical; those in power want to keep their power,” Portantino, a Democrat himself, said. “I think we do better when we have transparency.”
He also discussed the problem of mass incarceration, saying that there is “a supply problem and a recidivism problem” within the prison system. California has the highest recidivism rate in the world, and, according to Portantino, 70 percent of inmates that get out of prison eventually go back.
“Every day we release 300 inmates, but we return 308,” he said. “That is an unsustainable model.”
To alleviate this problem, he suggested that the state should fund job training, drug treatment and rehabilitation programs for people in prison. He expressed his opposition to Assembly Bill 109, which released 30,000 inmates in 2011, a time when “we had cut every single reentry and drug treatment program … so you knew seven inmates out of ten would go back anyway.”
Portantino and his Republican opponent Antonovich are competing for the District 25th seat that covers 1 million residents in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, with the largest clusters in the cities of Glendale and Pasadena.
They will face off in the California general election on Nov. 8.