CRIMINAL JUSTICE: From “Re-imagining Safety” to Re-imagining Justice
Left untouched, California’s criminal legal system threatens our democracy and our collective freedom. Since its inception, the criminal “justice” system has been weaponized into a tool to implicitly and explicitly subjugate the country’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations and maintain its system of white supremacy. California must recognize, undo, and directly atone for state-sanctioned, generational trauma perpetuated by our law enforcement, judicial system, and Department of Corrections.
Godfrey has taken the #NoCopMoneyCA pledge, committing to neither seek nor take police association money or endorsements, and challenging other candidates to divest their campaigns from the same. He’s also taken the Racial Justice Candidate Pledge, which commits — among other things — to diverting funds from police departments and investing in communities most harmed by racism and policing.
From Punitive Systems to Preventive Supports
Godfrey will fight to reallocate funds from policing and corrections to investments in community supports, preventing engagement with any legal systems to begin with:
- Prioritizing funding for basic community services like health care (physical, mental, sexual and reproductive), housing, and jobs that help people to manage their lives independently and in community.
- Making possible the adoption of substitutes for services currently rendered by law enforcement, highway patrol, judicial systems, and corrections.
- Ending the criminalization of students, and investing in social-emotional supports and other school-based interventions that support the well-being of school communities.
- Ensuring rehabilitation and re-integration services for re-entry from incarceration.
Ending Practices that Perpetuate Racist Outcomes and Avoid Accountability
Black Lives Matter, and that means we must end qualified immunity; eliminate prosecutorial use of gang enhancements that increase sentences for those apprehended with alleged (and sometimes falsified) gang ties; end cash bail; expand public access to the Commission on Judicial Performance, which provides oversight over judicial misconduct; and ban the use of predictive algorithms that can perpetuate biases in policing or judicial decision-making.
We must remove state agents with any history of misconduct or engagement with explicitly white supremacist organizations, and offer ongoing anti-racism support for all judges and decision-making staff. Simultaneously, we can diversify and democratize who enters judgeships by enabling campaign finance reform and requiring judgeship information in voter guides.
Recognizing the Humanity of Incarcerated Californians
While we live in a world that maintains systems of incarceration, we can ensure that already-marginalized Californians are not further disadvantaged by those systems. We can:
- Support families with loved ones in incarceration, including allowing for flexible visitation hours for school-aged children; and ensuring access to parenting classes, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, mental health care, or counseling for all family members, particularly for those desiring to reunite with kids currently held in foster care
- Provide essential healthcare resources and services, including for the trans and gender-diverse community and for pregnant inmates
- End solitary confinement in all types of incarceration, including for trans and gender-diverse folks and anyone diagnosed with more severe mental health challenges.
See statement on Charter Schools in LA below.
EDUCATION: Quality, Free Public Education from Cradle to College
Wealthier Californians have consistently enacted self-interested policies over public education. Proposition 13 has led to decades of defunding schools serving low-income families and communities of color. White dominant narratives are at the center of our curricula, crowding out the stories and histories of our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Schools have to compensate for deepening systemic barriers impacting our communities including lack of healthcare access, unlivable wages, housing insecurity, policing, mass incarceration, and more, all on slimmer budgets compared to the rest of the nation.
While budgets continue to fall, student enrollment is dwindling in areas where families can no longer afford to live. Simultaneously, a growing marketplace of schools has splintered student populations across too many different school networks, leaving neighborhood schools to become under-enrolled and further under-resourced. In addition to these pressures, countless dehumanizing reforms have imposed accountability measures through standardized testing and teacher value-added scores, leading to conflicting priorities and an education system focused on numbers rather than students.
We need community schools that equip teachers and staff with the resources and support to develop the whole child, not only academically, but also socio-emotionally, artistically, and athletically.
Current definitions of school “quality” create a tyranny of quantitative performance measures contingent on overtesting and business modeling. Instead, Godfrey envisions schools as learning environments that enable students to choose whatever paths they want to pursue as adults while affirming their identities regardless of language differences, legal accommodations, cultural backgrounds, or any other needs they may have. As a former teacher, Godfrey will continue to support all teachers and other school-based workers in cultivating these learning environments, with fair compensation and treatment. He will also advocate for:
- The funding, staffing, and training to ensure schools can support the diversity of students who benefit from our public education system and the varied needs that stem from their lived experiences.
- More nuanced data disaggregation based on race and ethnicity, so that our school systems can be more responsive to the needs of specific communities served by our public education system.
- An overhaul of History/Social Science and English curricula to integrate principles, lessons, and stories from Ethnic Studies to disrupt lessons that perpetuate narratives rooted in white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism.
- Implementation support for the FAIR Education Act, which would provide schools and districts access to textbooks and curricula that include LGBTQIA+ histories; support would mean educators are able to build cultural competency and navigating implicit biases to be able to teach the content well.
- Ensuring teacher education programs require new educators to build knowledge and skills in creating affirmative learning environments, including coursework in anti-oppressive and anti-racism pedagogies.
- Ensuring the reinstatement of affirmative action into California’s higher education system, particularly if Proposition 16 does not pass on the November 2020 ballot.
Reform school funding to be able to serve the whole child.
Godfrey will fight to increase funding for public education through a combination of:
- Revising budget allocations to use cumulative enrollment rather than average daily attendance to provide additional funds for districts with larger, more diverse student bodies that may experience higher rates of absenteeism due to systemic barriers such as healthcare, housing, immigration status, and more.
- Expanding the state’s block grant allocation for special education funding, alongside advocacy for full federal contributions (currently promised but unfulfilled).
- Re-working funding sources for pension payouts to relieve school districts as a primary source for pensions while ensuring that employees receive their pensions.
- Pausing the creation of any new schools that contribute to the thinning of student enrollment in our public school system so that we can launch a plan to ensure that the health of our public education system is sustainable and strong in the long-term. A specific statement about charter school can be found below.
- Defunding school police and using that additional funding for supports, such as support for mental health programs, that replace the need for policing.
- Supporting the overall vision for Schools and Communities First, which ensures corporate accountability for contributing its share of taxes to public schools and services, particularly if Proposition 15 does not pass on November 2020’s ballot.
Along with reforming school funding, Godfrey will fight for fair wages and health benefits for teachers and for classified school staff, many of whom are relegated to part-time status so that they are not owed health benefits. Godfrey will also work to close gaps in the resources, programs, and experiences offered at community colleges, as compared to CSUs and UCs. Godfrey believes in returning our public higher education institutions to their tuition-free visions; our top-notch higher education system should not be contingent on a student’s ability to take out loans.
COVID-19 has shown that we must act now to make sure that all students have access to a quality and safe public education, especially in an emergency.
Godfrey will also advocate for:
- A permanent infrastructure for emergency distance-learning days beyond the pandemic (similar to snow days in other areas of the country), given the dire effects of fires, climate, our current pandemic, and other unpredictable events.
- Ensuring broadband access for all Californians if SB 1130 does not pass out of this year’s legislature, not only for the purpose of ensuring digital learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also for all of our communities’ telehealth and communication needs.
About Charter School Growth in LA
Our campaign’s vision for education is simple: we must protect and improve our public education system, first and foremost. Here in Los Angeles, that means LA Unified School District (LAUSD), which serves the majority of students in the county. No child or family should have to turn to any other type of school, be they private, charters or other. Families should be able to be served by a publicly-funded and publicly-accountable community school committed to treating all children with dignity. Their community schools should be resourced and skilled enough to develop the whole child, not just academically, but also socio-emotionally, artistically, and athletically.
We are far from this vision. Depending on your source, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 children in Los Angeles are currently enrolled in charter schools (53 affiliated with LAUSD and 224 unaffiliated), while 440,000 are in LAUSD traditional public schools. LAUSD’s student enrollment is dwindling because of the high cost of living, lower birth rates, and simultaneously, this growing marketplace of schools. With student populations splintered across too many different school networks, neighborhood public schools have become under-enrolled, further under-resourced, and further under-funded. We must pause the creation of any new schools to slow the defunding of our public education system and launch a longer-term plan to ensure that the health of LAUSD and other mainstay unified school districts is sustainable and strong.
The charter school movement, originally popularized in the late 1980s by the American Federation of Teachers to create small, community schools as a way to support and improve traditional public schools, has instead become a multi-billion dollar industry in California alone. Charter school networks have created competition with traditional public schools for students and funding. During the pandemic, many somehow qualified for small business loans (PPP) at the same time that our public education system lost essential funding. Public education is a public good. It’s not a business, nor is it an industry. We must come back to the larger goal of ensuring a public education system that works for every child, not a system that serves some children at the expense of serving others.
As always, while we work at a systems level to ensure that protecting and improving our public education system is our main focus, we cannot forget that the 150,000 to 200,000 students at charter schools still deserve a high quality education, or that teachers and staff in charter schools need fair wages or benefits. On the contrary, while we solve the tensions between traditional public school systems and the growing marketplace of schools around them, we must also ensure that all currently-running schools, traditional, charter or private, meet students’ needs with a high-quality education and that all of their employees have their rights to wages, benefits, and fair treatment protected.
HEALTH CARE FOR ALL
Godfrey has been endorsed by the Los Angeles chapter of Health Care for All - California.
In a global pandemic, universal access to health care must be among any government's top priorities. But rather than expanding the coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration continues to attack and destabilize this essential safety net for millions of Californians. Our state legislators in Sacramento have taken some steps toward protecting existing care, but they fall far short of guaranteeing the access to quality health care that is necessary for our communities -- a problem that a single-payer healthcare system would solve.
According to a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, 70% of Californians are "somewhat worried" or "very worried" about their ability to afford health care. Even though lawmakers have proposed -- and failed to pass -- bills to expand access to Medi-Cal (California's current public health insurance program), Medi-Cal as a program inherently reinforces inequitable experiences in healthcare and continues to enable profiteering among private companies. We need advocates like Godfrey who will fight for, instead of dragging their feet, to universal health care.
Godfrey has been endorsed by the Los Angeles chapter of Health Care for All - California, and has also pledged to neither seek nor take money from the tobacco industry.
Godfrey will fight to defend marginalized communities' access to care, and pledges to:
- Ensure equal access to quality health care for everyone, including our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities, vis a vis single-payer healthcare
- Ensure that single-payer healthcare also supports undocumented Californians of all ages, with a commitment to outreach focused on helping residents understand their health care rights.
- Protect sexual and reproductive health services that are under attack from our federal government, including birth control and abortions, prenatal and postnatal care, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and abuse, and eliminate the ways we penalize women with the astounding costs of egg retrieval and in vitro fertilization
- Implement services and structures for LGBTQIA+ communities, including evolving state-wide definitions of basic primary care to include gender-affirming medical needs.
- Ensure access to proper health care for our unhoused community.
These imperatives have only become increasingly urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has disproportionately affected vulnerable populations, both in infection rates and in their exposure on the front lines as essential workers.
In addition to the above, Godfrey will also advocate for:
- Economic justice and a living wage for all healthcare workers.
- Increased incentives for physicians and clinicians serving marginalized communities.
- Restoration of funding for community-based clinics around California.
- Weekend and evening access to medical care facilities for working communities.
- Adequate health services for students in public schools, including mental health care.
- Investment in educational opportunities to create more sustainable health care career pathways for Californians.
HOUSING FOR ALL: The Homes Guarantee
Housing is a human right, not a commodity that goes to those who can afford the price. Our elected officials, predominantly homeowners or even landlords, are trained by real estate associations and developers to protect profits made by the housing industry. Our homelessness crisis was caused by Sacramento through laws that heavily favor developers and landlords over renters and tenants. Meanwhile, NIMBYs prevent any local change to support the unhoused. It is high time our representatives in Sacramento intervene to solve the problem they helped create and supersede the influence of NIMBYs in local politics.
The passage of AB 1485 (the statewide rent control bill) last year may be celebrated as a victory, but it does not go nearly as far as it should to guarantee housing for all Californians. We need massive zoning reform and increased supportive housing to build a sustainable future, and we need an immediate rent freeze and comprehensive eviction protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Godfrey will aggressively attack the root causes of our homelessness crisis, and push Sacramento to house all Californians now.
If elected, Godfrey would be the only renter in our 80-person assembly. He has signed onto the Homes Guarantee (championing policies and practices that support housing as a human right) and taken the #BigRealEstateOut pledge, committing to neither seek nor take money from real estate developers and associations, which profit over rising costs of living in our communities.
Preventing Homelessness by Protecting Renters
As a renter, Godfrey will ensure that California’s laws shift to protect tenants over their landlords by:
- Introducing a repeal of the Costa Hawkins and the Ellis Act, putting an end to rampant real estate speculation that results in evictions.
- Championing a tenant’s right to counsel and protecting a tenant’s right to organize.
- Creating new routes for tenant co-ownership as an alternative to building owners seeking to go “out of business”.
- Pushing for rent registries so that officials can track rent pricing and hold landlords and property owners accountable for exploitation and unfair rent increases.
- Ensuring that as many folks as possible are released of the burden of backpay that they cannot afford due to unemployment from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Enacting vacancy taxes to ensure that every current unit sells at prices that people in need of housing can afford.
Urgent Support for Those Currently Unhoused
Now more than ever, unhoused persons need urgent action during the COVID-19 pandemic. Godfrey will fight for an expansion of supports that are already underway, including acquiring hotels/motels and other available off-market units as housing. He will also advocate for the supports that Sacramento has been talking about for too long, but has done nothing about:
- Preventing the seizure of property during and outside of “sweeps,” including cars/RVs that are providing shelter.
- Ensuring the availability of basic sanitation services, including bathrooms and hand-washing stations.
- Differentiating supports based on experience with housing insecurity, such as accelerating stabilization services for temporarily unhoused folks who are working or attending school, or widening sheltering, service and work possibilities for folks in need of support to get back on their feet.
- Policies that reduce and eventually eliminate policing and particular profiling of Black people, who make up a disproportionate number of LA’s unhoused population
Godfrey will always look at policies related to homeless services and facilities through an equity lens so that no marginalized communities among the unhoused are left behind in gaining access to shelter, regardless of gender identity, having dependents like children or pets, historic experience with substance abuse and more.
Meeting the Urgent Need for 1.4 Million Affordable Rental Units
Our most cost-burdened communities need to be able to know they can rent with stability. Godfrey will fight for:
- Repurposing publicly-owned land for public good, including housing.
- Supporting a public ballot initiative that repeals the ban on public (social) housing to reinstate housing options that are mixed-income, not-for-profit, and community controlled.
- Producing housing that is specifically and primarily affordable, not partially affordable.
- Encouraging community land trusts that make housing permanently affordable.
- Sourcing funding for housing from the properties of the wealthiest corporations and billionaires.
- Providing incentives for property-owners to take on ADUs meant to serve Section 8 vouchers, unhoused folks in need of transitional housing, or other cost-burdened low-income tenants, with support from organizations that help ease property-owners into those responsibilities.
WORKER JUSTICE: Power and Dignity for the 99%
California has built the world’s fifth largest economy off the backs of everyday people who are now barely able to make ends meet. Our leaders unabashedly demonstrate their allegiance to big business by making backdoor deals with real estate developers, the oil and gas industry and many more, widening the gap between workers in our district and wealthy, corporate capitalists, and creating a state too expensive for most people to afford. California’s economic growth will not be at the expense of residents in our district. We demand safe, quality jobs; income equity; affordable housing; reliable transportation; and sustainable energy resources that produce a better quality of life for everyone.
Redistributing excessive billionaire wealth.
California claims to have the most progressive tax structure in the country, but we must definitely go further to break down the widening gap between those at the top and those barely getting by. Sacramento enjoys incrementally increasing taxes here and there, but California has too many billionaires who hoard their growing wealth, while the state becomes too expensive for many who have lived here their whole lives. Godfrey will fight to increase taxes on the extremely wealthy to fund public supports and services by proposing:
a 6.5 percent tax increase from its current rate on every dollar a Californian hoards over $1 billion in net worth.
an exit tax on all California billionaires who leave the state upon passage of these new tax laws.
- a 5.5 percent tax increase from its current rate on every dollar a Californian hoards over $50 million in net worth.
Holding businesses accountable to acting better.
But we must go beyond merely taxing the extremely wealthy. Companies must start closing the widening gap between their highest-paid and lowest-paid employees. Godfrey will fight for:
- Enabling local enforcement of anti-discrimination laws protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act, instead of forcing cases to wait in line at back-logged state agencies before being investigated
- Incentives for businesses to increase their minimum wages to an actual living wage.
- Legislation that will hold companies accountable to closing their wage gap, especially for employees of color and women, trans and non-binary employees.
- Approvals of new developments, including housing, to include “community benefits agreements” drafted with long-time community members that counter the effects of gentrification and displacement, particularly when an area is home to predominantly low-income or Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
- Commercial rent stabilization for family-owned or small businesses meeting demand in their communities to protect them from gentrification.
In the long term, Godfrey will fight for a universal basic income, including for undocumented Californians, so that basic survival does not rely completely on one’s ability to work.
A fair workweek and benefits for all workers.
Every worker, including hourly workers, deserve the same benefits and stability given to a well salaried employee. Godfrey will fight for:
- Extending paid family leave to 12 weeks for every employee without fear of retaliation or demotion. Employees earning at or below minimum wage should earn 100% take-home pay to ensure the stability and wellbeing of their family.
- Protections for hourly workers to have predictable schedules, so that they can account for their expected wages and benefits, as well as plan for any other jobs or responsibilities they might need to juggle in order to meet the cost of living in Los Angeles.
- Expanded workers’ rights for undocumented workers to include access to unemployment insurance and protections available to documented workers who face retaliation for union organizing.
IMMIGRATION: No life is illegal: Fundamental human rights for all
In California, every human life deserves dignity. California is not the sanctuary state it claims to be. A hierarchy of human worth has been created based on self-interest mired in white supremacy, xenophobia, and capitalist interests. No one’s safety or well-being should be based upon their immigration status. Policies full of loopholes do an insufficient job of protecting and supporting all California residents.
Until our federal government can abolish ICE, Godfrey will fight to minimize its impact as much as possible, ensuring that immigrant families feel as safe and secure as possible.
Demanding Humane Treatment for Immigrants
Sacramento must do everything within its power to protect all California residents, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, from the oppressive entity that is ICE. This means:
- Banning solitary confinement in the name of protection.
- Demanding accountability for the mistreatment of those who have been, or are currently, detained by border and detention officials.
- Ensuring that all migrants and asylum seekers are granted real due process.
- Protecting migrants’ access to services and work opportunities while stuck in court proceedings so that they may provide for their basic needs.
- Severing all possible interactions between the current criminal legal system and the current immigration enforcement system indefinitely, so that undocumented immigrants are not automatically entered into detention for any engagement with the criminal legal system.
Moving Beyond Providing Sanctuary to Providing Access
Godfrey will also advocate for:
- Increasing state funding to improve and expand legal services programs for undocumented people, including deportation defense, regardless of criminal history.
- Ensuring that the state does not use immigration status as criteria for discrimination and inequitable treatment when distributing public benefits, particularly in public health emergencies like the current pandemic.
- Advocating for federal pathways to security and citizenship for more undocumented residents, including DACA and DACA-like protections, as well as the reconsideration of DAPA with the next administration.
- Granting undocumented families the right to vote in municipal and state elections, while ensuring that they are protected from ICE while exercising this right.
- Creating a public-facing, service-industry grade system that reports an establishment’s treatment of all of its workers, including forms of exploitation such as wage theft.
CLIMATE JUSTICE: A Green New Deal for California
California has made a commitment to battle climate change, but it has not made a commitment to provide climate justice. Sacramento is still dripping in oil money - corporations that benefit from our dependence on carbon still continue to make a profit. California provides subsidies to the wealthy who can afford electric cars or solar panels on their homes, while underfunding public transportation that would both reduce emissions and serve low-income communities. Affluent communities shelter themselves from the daily impacts of pollution, living far away from highways, plants, and polluted sites. Meanwhile, many of us in AD 53 have to live surrounded by freeways, breathing what is left behind as people drive in and out of downtown.
Policy-makers have to focus not only on decreasing carbon emissions, but on a just transition for workers and communities currently dependent on fossil fuels. Godfrey will fight for Sacramento to move beyond incremental policies like cap-and-trade to ensure that everyone has clean air, clean water, and clean food.
Godfrey is endorsed by Sunrise Movement LA, and has taken the Green New Deal pledge, committing to champion Green New Deal-aligned policies and reject money from the fossil fuel industry.
A Just Transition for Workers
Sacramento must ensure that every former fossil fuel industry laborer, along with workers in adjacent jobs, have a quality job placement as we phase out fossil fuels. This means:
- Prioritizing former fossil fuel industry laborers in clean energy and green jobs as fossil fuel jobs phase out.
- Providing financial support, benefits, relocation assistance, new job-training and degree-earning opportunities for workers who can’t transfer to new jobs.
- Increasing financial support to education and social services to help provide a transition for workers.
- Ensuring that every worker has access to stable, family-sustaining wages and benefits, along with the right to organize and unionize.
- Ensuring the safety of all workers involved with environmental clean-up and hazardous materials.
- Ensuring the state tracks job transitions by race, ethnicity, gender identity, language access, ability, and sexual orientation so it is held accountable to everyone.
A Shift Away from Depending on Fossil Fuel Profits
The fossil fuel industry has its hands in our schools, community organizations, food and agriculture, water, and even our housing. We must identify new resources for funding and support so that our universities, schools, arts groups and many more who have been buoyed by fossil fuel industry donations can divest while continuing to thrive. We must change how we zone and approve new housing and development to prioritize green space, reduce emissions and our dependence on vehicles. As we change our laws to further sustainability of our water and food sources, we must also provide reparations for Californians who have suffered the worst environmental injustices to their health and communities.
Godfrey will also advocate for:
- Prohibiting cap-and-trade schemes that allow the biggest emitters to continue regular operations, primarily in low-income communities of color.
- Closing the Aliso Canyon and Playa del Rey Gas Storage Facilities and replacing that energy with sustainable alternatives.
- Expediting permitting processes to install new infrastructure for a clean energy grid.
DEMOCRACY: Un-rig California: Everyone at the table
California’s democratic system does not echo the voices of its everyday people. There are too many barriers in the way of regular, everyday people being able to inform the work of their government. Elected officials have little incentive to engage with the everyday voter, instead selling their time to wealthy Californians who make financial promises to their campaign. Without modern electoral policies like publicly financed elections or automatic voter registration, regular people struggle to run for office, get civically involved, or even vote, diminishing the meaning of democracy.
Godfrey will refocus the state’s priorities to reflect its residents’ by fighting to make voting accessible and limit the power of big corporations.
Expanding State and Local Voting Rights to Those Most Impacted By Our Laws
Current voting laws exclude those most impacted by them: the justice-involved, immigrants and youth. Godrey will fight to expand the right for:
- Californians currently incarcerated in a state prison, including those currently serving a state prison felony sentence in a county jail or other correctional facility, those awaiting transfer to a state or federal prison for a felony conviction, those in county jail for a parole violation, and those on parole with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
- Undocumented adults of voting age, including the right to appropriate privacy while voting for their protection.
- Youth of age 16 and higher for school board elections.
Godfrey will also push to have automatic voter registration at the age of 18 in the state.
Making It Easier For Regular Voters to Influence Elections
As California’s population has skyrocketed, its legislature has not kept pace. Only 80 assembly members go up to Sacramento each year, each representing more than half a million people. This ensures that elected officials focus more on raising money from big donors than talking to people in their district. Godfrey wants to reform this system to bring in the regular voters by:
- Publicly financing campaigns at the state level and lowering contribution limits for state candidates, to incentivize candidates to engage with constituents in their districts.
- Limiting contributions from corporations and big businesses, such as real estate developers, pharmaceutical companies and oil, so they have less influence on our laws.
- Enabling campaigns to be published in official state ballots shared with voters, regardless of funds raised.
- Establishing election days to be days off, to encourage civic engagement for all.