Rich Gordon has achieved tremendous success putting our community first, drafting solution-oriented legislation, and emerging as a leader in the California State Assembly.
As an Assemblyman, Rich has committed to ending the gridlock in Sacramento, eliminating the dysfunction of the state’s governing system, and making government more transparent.
While it seems common sense to think that legislators from both parties would work together and jointly author legislation to address the needs of the state, this is most often the exception rather than the rule. Recognizing the need to move beyond ever-present partisanship, Rich has worked to forge relationships with Democrats and Republicans alike, and across all political spectrums. Rich worked closely with a Republican colleague from the Sierra Nevada region on forest protection legislation and has brought a new level of cooperation to Sacramento with each committee he has chaired – ensuring that the Republican vice-chair and members were consulted, their voices heard, and conflicts avoided whenever possible.
This bipartisan approach has been a crucial part of Rich’s legislative success, as many of his bills received support from both sides of the aisle. As a result, Rich has seen personal success in Sacramento, where in his first three years, he was among the most productive legislators – having 33 bills signed into law. Among the highlights are bills to:
- Extend a property tax exemption available for the preservation of natural resource or open space lands (AB 703, 2011),
- Expand the state’s Plastic Market Development Program, which has directly resulted in the creation of jobs remanufacturing recyclable plastics in California (AB 1149, 2011),
- Shed more light on the role of independent expenditures in political campaigns (AB 481, 2012),
- Extend a child care subsidy plan in San Mateo County that maximizes the efficient use of limited child care funding, while aiding working families in our community (AB 260, 2013),
- Make more funding available to local housing trusts such as the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County and the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust (HEART) of San Mateo (AB 532, 2013).
There is also a need to bring to Sacramento the important issues of the district that have statewide significance. Applying his experience in coastal San Mateo, Rich recognized the serious consequences of rising sea levels on California’s coastal communities and resources, as well as the need for state leadership. Rich requested the formation of a Select Committee to study the impacts of sea level rise. In February 2013, Speaker Perez appointed Rich to chair the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise & the California Economy. After holding four hearings throughout the state on potential impacts to infrastructure, fisheries, agriculture, tourism, and state parks and what the state’s responsible agencies are doing to prepare; the Select Committee will soon issue a report to the Legislature to provide budget recommendations and suggested legislation to address the severity of sea level rise.
Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Rich served 13 years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, five years on the San Mateo County Board of Education, and led a community-based nonprofit for more than 20 years. During his time on the Board of Supervisors, he:
- Advocated for and helped develop the County’s outcome-based budgeting system
- Co-Created the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust, which funds affordable housing projects throughout San Mateo County
- Facilitated the purchase of the El Granada Mobile Home Park by a nonprofit group on behalf of the park residents
- Played a critical role in the creation of the Children’s Health Initiative which guarantees health care coverage for children
- Advocated and assisted in the creation of the County Library Joint Powers Agreement
- Crafted the Youth Development Initiative to focus on asset enhancement and the construction of a Youth Campus to provide a comprehensive approach to at-risk youthv
- Worked to protect countless acres of open space, including the creation of the Mirada Surf County Park
In addition to local boards and commissions, Rich served as the 2008 President of the California State Association of Counties, and in 2009 was named the Chair of the City, County, Schools Partnership which brings together the leadership of three state associations for local government: the California School Boards Association, the California League of Cities, and the California State Association of Counties.
As the Executive Director of Youth and Family Assistance, Rich created innovative programs for at-risk youth including Daybreak, the first suburban shelter for homeless youth in the country, and MiMe’s Café, a restaurant in Redwood City that provided training in culinary arts careers for the unemployed and homeless.
As a champion for education, Rich is committed to working with local education leaders, state officials, and parents to improve our state’s education systems. In doing so, Rich hosts biannual Education Updates to discuss reform efforts in Sacramento and to actively hear from constituents on education matters.
Rich brought a successful conclusion to years of bureaucratic hurdles to the Los Gatos Unified School district by bringing together school and state officials to allow Lexington Elementary School to construct seismically-sounds facilities. His assistance ended the ongoing stalemate and fulfilled the local community’s commitment through self-assessment to safer classrooms for its students.
Safer & Healthier Communities
Along with other Bay Area elected officials, Rich has aggressively called for fundamental changes at the California Public Utilities Commission. Believing that leadership at the highest levels of the CPUC simply haven’t translated to the reforms needed to make the organization more focused on safety, Rich has called for the resignation of those who stand in the way of these basic reforms.
Rich has committed to bettering the lives of all the residents of the 24th Assembly District. Since 2010, Rich has hosted countless forums and educational hearings throughout the district that have provided citizens with information about the Affordable Care Act, Hepatitis B testing and treatment, and the impact of sea level rise on our communities. In special outreach to our most vulnerable seniors, he has hosted seminars on scam and fraud awareness and prevention.
Rich transformed the design plan of the state’s future High Speed Rail line by introducing the Gordon-Simitian-Eshoo “blended system.” This new design will allow Caltrain to upgrade from dirty diesel to an environmentally friendly electrified system. Should the Legislature approve additional phases of the project, the electrified Caltrain track can accommodate high-speed trains within the existing right-of-way.
Rich has worked closely with the Valley Transportation Agency and Caltrans to better provide efficient, cost-effective projects to Santa Clara County residents. Through his leadership VTA and Caltrans have developed an agreement which co-locates staff in Santa Clara County and provides clear lines of communication and points-of-contact, so projects under VTA guidance can be delivered much more quickly and under budget.
In his first year in the Assembly, with fifteen of his nineteen bills introduced, passed, and signed into law; Rich earned the title of “Most Productive Legislator.” The majority of this legislation received bipartisan support and the bills were largely focused on resolving locally identified or state government concerns, or making government work more efficiently. In addition to those identified above, some of the representative measures include:
AB 587 (2011) — Volunteers
AB 587 extended an exemption from prevailing wage for work performed by volunteers, such as beach and estuary clean-up on the coast, trail building in the mountains, or wetland restoration along the bay, from the public works wage requirement until 2017.
AB 612 (2011) – Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District: Fiscal Efficiency
AB 612 allowed the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District up to 30 years to repay promissory notes it has issued. This change allows a more efficient use of limited dollars, providing up to 20 percent more in funds to purchase and save open space in our community when issuing promissory notes.
AB 1933 (2012) – Recycling: Imports into California
In recent years, the people have been bringing recyclable materials such as empty bottles and cans into California by the tractor-trailer load, and collecting the California Redemption Value (CRV) for bottles and cans where the CRV had not been paid to the state. While federal law does not allow California to prohibit importation of used beverage containers, AB 1933 put in place reporting requirements on those seeking to redeem large quantities of material in an effort stem the tide of these imports and ensure that redemption funds are available for Californians that have paid CRV on purchases.
AB 2498 (2012) – Caltrans: More Efficient Project Delivery
AB 2498 authorized Caltrans to use an innovative contracting method known as Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC). Based on experience in other states, CM/GC can reduce delays during construction by allowing contractor input during the design phase. The U.S. Department of Transportation has even estimated that using CM/GC model will reduce change orders and overruns by 59 percent.
AB 224 (2013) – Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a way of buying fresh foods directly from farmers, is growing rapidly throughout California. AB 224 created first-in-the nation parameters for regulating CSAs, providing consumers with valuable information on where their food comes from, enhancing food safety, and assisting in the continued expansion of these unique agricultural enterprises.
AB 797 (2013) – Local Transit Districts: Project Delivery Options
AB 797 allows the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) to use the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) project delivery contract method on local transit projects. Like the authorization for Caltrans, CM/GC is expected to provide these transit districts significant project savings and reduced project delays.
Moreover, there are times when legislation is not needed or is a means to facilitate an agreement. In 2013, Rich introduced AB 1046 to support the implementation of a partnership between the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and Caltrans. AB 1046 led to the signing of an agreement between the two parties that will improve cooperation and collaboration between the agencies.
During each successive year in the Assembly, Rich has expanded his role within the leadership of the Assembly, taking on additional responsibility, serving is leadership roles, and receiving appointments to state and national governmental bodies.
Chair of Rules Committee
In July 2013, Speaker John A. Peréz appointed Rich to Chair the Assembly’s Rules Committee, one of the top-level positions in the Assembly. The Rules Committee is responsible for the administration of the Assembly, overseeing personnel and budgets, assigning legislation to committees, and setting the rules by which the institution operates. As Chair, Rich has been focused on enhancing the use of technology, determining the next generation of needs and how the institution can move to put more information online for the benefit of interested parties and the public generally. He is also working to examine how the Assembly can better recruit for staffing needs, as well as retain quality, experienced employees.
Chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Caucus
In January 2014, Rich was elected to Chair the Legislature’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus for an unprecedented third consecutive term. His tenure as Chair of the Caucus has been among the most active in its nearly 12-year history as the caucus hired its first full tie consultant. This illustrated the Legislature’s commitment to representation and enabled the caucus to strengthen relationships with other Legislative caucuses and community-based organizations. The caucus is now the largest since its inception, with members representing the diversity of our state, ranging from urban to rural and coastal to inland areas. The work of the Caucus has recently been significantly shaped by events happening across the country – from marriage equality being restored in California to the Supreme Court invalidating a federal law prohibiting the government from recognizing marriages between same-sex partners in states that allow them. Rich led the Caucus to reaffirm its commitment to equality, ensuring that policies originating with the Legislature or promulgated by state agencies are inclusive of all families.