Working Class Values
Delaine is running for Chair of the California Democratic Party because she believes that together we can—and must—build a better Party.
Delaine was born in San Diego to Hank and Dotty Eastin. Her father was a Navy machinist, and after his career in the Navy he went on to become a Union Shop Steward. Her mother was a dress sales clerk. Delaine’s parents taught her to value education and hard work. "It was clear my father and mother made my education a priority when they moved our family to a smaller house that was in a better school district. As I have said for decades, budgets are statements of values, and my parents taught me that lesson throughout their lives. My parents put their children and our education first."
Delaine received her bachelor's degree from UC Davis and her master’s in Political Science at UC Santa Barbara.
She taught at several community colleges, and then worked as an accounting manager and corporate planner. She later served on the Planning Commission and the City Council in Union City until she was elected to the State Assembly in 1986. One of her proudest moments was the day she was told that there would be a Delaine Eastin Elementary school in Union City.
In the Assembly, Delaine chaired the Education Committee and sponsored major legislation to reform California’s education system. Eastin authored the first school bond that combined higher education and K-12 schools into one bond. These bonds helped pay for new schools at all education levels while fixing and modernizing older schools.
As chair of the Governmental Efficiency and Consumer Protection Committee, Eastin combined two agencies into one, the first time this had been done in over thirty years. She worked to provide better consumer protection from the misdeeds of unlicensed contractors, carried the biggest landfill cleanup bill in the state's history, and won numerous awards for her innovative recycling legislation. She carried legislation to ensure that local transportation measures were not stalled for years at Caltrans and was awarded the Legislator of the Year Award by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, making her the first assemblymember and woman ever to win the award.
Delaine ran for State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1994 and overcame the Republican wave to become the first -- and, to date, only -- woman to serve in that position.
Delaine served two terms, from 1995-2003, leading a staff of over 3,000 and managing a budget that incorporated over 40% of the state budget. She served under two different Governors -- one Republican and one Democrat. "I can’t say I always agreed with them, but I fought every day to give more kids a chance to succeed –- just like my parents gave me. I was proud that I was able to personally visit over 600 schools across all 58 counties."
Delaine championed public libraries, wiring schools for technology and advocating for stronger technical and vocational training for students. She worked to create statewide standards and systems to increase accountability, collaborating with Governor Pete Wilson to successfully reduce class sizes in every K-3 class in California. She also joined the successful lawsuit against Proposition 187, which would have targeted immigrant students in our classrooms.
She took on the tobacco companies and helped pass Proposition 10, the measure that increased taxes on tobacco products. Those funds created First Five California and directed most of the revenue to early childhood development programs. When lawmakers worked with Governor Schwarzenegger to try and take this money to balance the state budget, Delaine said NO. Voters agreed with her.
Delaine fought for increased parental involvement, better teacher training, and a safer and healthier school environment for every child regardless of race, gender, ability, or sexual orientation. She commissioned the first State Department of Education LGBT Task Force to foster safer and more welcoming school environments for LGBT students at all grade levels. Through her Garden In Every School program, she encouraged students to cultivate growth inside the classroom and out and fought to improve nutrition in schools. Delaine led the fight to cut the outdated education code, and streamline state bureaucracy. She fought for improved school safety, arts education, and career technical education. She wrote the Deaf Education Bill of Rights and was the first superintendent to speak at the graduation at the Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. She also served as a Regent of the University of California and a Trustee of the California State University system, fighting for educational opportunity and against tuition hikes.
After the November 2020 election, Democrats reached out to Delaine and asked her to run to become the next Chair of the California Democratic Party. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from the exploratory phase, Delaine decided to run, for the future of the Party and for the future of California.
Delaine's plans for the party reflect a culture of inclusive management, transparent decision-making, and a vision that grows our party while bringing back those that feel left out of today’s Democratic party. She will create a sense of a shared mission and a sense of teamwork, as she has done in her past leadership roles.
As Delaine says, "I commit to building a Party where courage is fashionable, where vision is palpable and compassion and caring are expected. No more smoke filled, backroom deals where no one knows what is happening -- decision making and direction will be transparent."
"If I give you 28 pencils, one at a time, you can break every single one. If I give you 28 pencils all together, the strongest person cannot break them. If we organize and stand together we have the power to shape a magnificent future. I hope you will join me on this campaign to create a better California Democratic Party. Thank you."