The Golden State has long been a breeding ground for powerful politicians. And within the greater union, California has always been a movement leader. The same is true of elected officials up and down the ballot. 

Following last month’s primary, all eyes are once again on California’s new and established politicos alike as they seek out a spot in the 2022 election. And while Senator Alex Padilla is expected to sail back into office, officially elected for the first time, challenges lie ahead. With a handful of legislative days left in the US Senate before the midterms, a laser focus on our biggest issues will be imperative.  

Californians are looking at a prolonged, painful spike in consumer prices and crime rates. Our leadership needs to show voters a focused agenda that sets us apart from radical Republican challengers and an increasingly noisy legislative and regulatory space. 

California’s leadership has shown up for the task at hand. In recent weeks, it has been especially reassuring to see the state’s leadership on reproductive rights, and now gun control as both are thrust into the spotlight.

In the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision, a horrifying blow to reproductive rights, that focus has never been more important. While California remains a safe asylum for women who seek refuge from those states where reproductive care is banned, we rely on the continued efforts of our leadership to make policies in California known to every state. We can only hope that our work will encourage movement and change in other states where Attorneys General, Governors, and other political leaders have been more hesitant to take a bold stance on encouraging reproductive rights for all.

Unfortunately, this summer has brought another issue back to the top of the public’s mind. Two mass shootings, first in New York and then in Texas, have raised the issue of gun violence prevention for all of us. 

Senator Padilla has not given up hope that more sensible gun reform policies can be put in place, and in fact, he helped to lead the passage of historic gun control legislation in the US Senate. 

When pressing and devastating issues like these are thrust into the limelight, voters are watching political leaders to see their next steps. Californians can expect Padilla to continue moving us in the right direction.

The uncertain times we live in call for steady leadership, and should Padilla keep pursuing their agenda, there is no doubt that he will remain a successful role model for what effective political work looks like. 

Given the quick swings of politics and movements, our leadership must remain cautious to avoid any distracting pursuits that could further disrupt communities as we face a rocky economy. 

Avoiding an anti-tech agenda, for example, is a smart path to follow. With pressing consumer and community issues in dire need of attention today, it has been curious to see some leaders in Washington, DC focus their attention on technology companies. 

But of course, Senator Padilla has thankfully recognized the economic and political consequences of advancing antitrust legislation ahead of November, and remains a steady voice atop our state’s leadership on this issue. 

We all know that time and resources are much better used tackling the issues of the moment. Particularly with so few legislative days left before November. 

Politics is about answering the needs of the people, and so far, Padilla has been a strong force in meeting the call of the office. As we face our greatest challenges, currently embodied in the battle for our bodies and to protect the lives of school children, our state, and nation, we’ll need dedicated and focused leadership more than ever.

Chuck Carpenter,

Democratic Party of Contra Costa County

Elections Committee Chair