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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 16

Photo of Catharine Baker

Catharine Baker

California State Assemblymember
106,683 votes (49%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Improve education: reform the rigid teacher tenure system, support children and great teachers, and put California students first in UC admissions.
  • Rebuild smarter infrastructure: stop High Speed Rail and the Twin Tunnels, and invest in roads and public transportation and smarter water infrastructure.
  • Require fiscal discipline: pay down debt and get our financial house in order, rather than go on a spending spree.



Profession:California State Assemblywoman
State Assemblywoman, California State Legislature — Elected position (2014–current)


University of California, Berkeley Juris Doctor, Law Degree (2000)
University of Chicago Bachelor of Arts, With Honors, Political Science (1993)



Catharine has been leading the way in supporting new ideas to make California’s schools better for all children. She authored legislation to lift the damaging cap on local school reserves and restore local control, to reform tenure to support good teachers and offer them more professional development, and to increase STEM curriculum to better educate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


Catharine is known for finding creative solutions to challenges facing our community. Her first act as a Legislator was to decline a state car and the extra pay Legislators receive as a perk of the job. The first bill Catharine authored was to prevent future BART strikes. Her idea was a creative solution, it was fair to both BART workers and riders, and simply closed the loophole that allows BART workers to strike even after they continue to receive pay under an expired contract. The Contra Costa Times wrote that her “attempt to end BART strikes deserves high marks for creativity.”


An active parent leader in local schools, Catharine served on numerous local school improvement committees and on a preschool board. She is a Trustee with the Diablo Regional Arts Association, supporting arts education opportunities for families and school children. She is active in local Scouting with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, serving as an archery instructor and camp volunteer. As small business counsel at Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel law firm in Pleasanton, Catharine’s practice is helping local small businesses and non-profit organizations get started and succeed.

Catharine is a native Californian. She earned her BA degree from the University of Chicago, overcoming cancer her senior year to graduate Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her JD degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. Catharine is married to her college sweetheart, Dan, and they have two school-aged children, twins. 



Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (4)

What do you think the State should do to encourage affordable housing for all Californians?
Answer from Catharine Baker:

There is no question we have a shortage of housing, causing it to be out of reach for many Californians. That’s why I’ve supported streamlining onerous state and local regulation that make it harder to build new housing (SB 540), voted for $1 billion in funding for veterans’ housing (SB 3), and co-authored bills to make it easier for home buyers to save for and make the down payment on homes they would like to buy (AB 1736, AB 53, and AB 198). I Co-authored a bill calling on President Trump to reinstate the mortgage fee reduction (AJR 4), and supported doubling the renter’s tax credit.

According to a "Civility In America” survey, 75% of Americans believe that the U.S. has a major civility problem. If you are elected what will do to address this?
Answer from Catharine Baker:

When I ran for State Assembly, I ran with a very specific mission: to tackle the major issues affecting our community and our state – our kids’ education, our infrastructure (water and transportation), public safety, our state’s affordability and financial stability – but to do so in a different way… a way that goes beyond partisan lines and special interest powers, that reaches across the aisle and listens to any good idea regardless of which political party came up with it. I’ve done just that from day one, and I’ve seen how effective it’s been.

Climate changes, and the shifting between very wet weather and drought, worry Californians. What strategies would allow that your district to both satisfy its water needs and protect the environment? Please be specific.
Answer from Catharine Baker:

As an avid hiker, I enjoy the outdoors with my family, and fight to protect our environment for future generations to enjoy. We have a responsibility to preserve and enhance our parks and open space, protect biodiversity, and keep our air and water clean. That’s why I’ve voted to protect our open spaces, and voted to do our part in fighting climate change. Specifically, I:

  • Voted for California’s landmark climate change legislation (AB 32, AB 398).
  • Authored HR 70 and AJR 29 to protect our California coastline from the federal proposal to expand offshore oil drilling.
  • Authored successful legislation to protect California’s National Monuments from federal reductions and de-listing proposals (AJR 15).
  • Voted for legislation to allow California to continue its strong environmental programs if the federal EPA tries to roll them back (SB 49, SB 51).
  • Voted for legislation to keep the U.S. engaged in the Paris Climate Accord (AJR 20).
  • Voted to increase use of renewable energy resources by 50% (SB 350).
  • Supported critical funding for our state and local park districts (AB 2444), and was the deciding vote in favor of more funding for parks and open space (SB 5).
  • Coauthored a bill that allows BART to increase its use of renewable energy, enabling BART to reduce the carbon footprint of hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters (SB 502).
  • Supported banning the sale of products that use microbeads, which harm environmental systems such as water and sea life (AB 888).
  • Voted to increase pipeline biogas development to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (AB 2313).
  • Voted to require pipelines in ecologically sensitive areas be retrofitted with enhanced spill prevention technology (AB 864).
  • Voted to clean up toxic lead-acid battery sites and facilities (AB 2153).
  • Voted to improve fleet modernization programs to remove high-polluting cars off the road AB 1691).
  • Voted to enact a moratorium on gas injection into Aliso Canyon wells (AB 380).
  • Coauthored legislation to develop a regional biosolids to clean energy project in the East Bay Area (SB 1213). 
What programs or strategies would you suggest to meet the educational needs of the youngest and most poverty stricken Californians?
Answer from Catharine Baker:

I’m a parent of school-age twins, and an active parent leader in our local schools. I am honored to have received the Legislator of the Year Award this year from the California School Board Association for being a champion for our schools, their funding, and their performance.

Teachers should have every dollar they need to help each child meet his or her full education potential. As your Assemblywoman, I’m fighting to ensure school funding actually reaches the classroom rather than being diverted into the education bureaucracy. That’s why I have authored and voted for legislation increasing state education funding each year I have served in the Assembly, and lead the successful fight to repeal the harmful cap on our school district reserves. I authored legislation to reform the rigid teacher seniority system so school districts can consider the needs of children and the school, and not just rigid seniority rules. I support legislation that creates a more comprehensive and useful evaluation system for teachers - to support and reward effective teachers, to provide more training and mentoring for those that are struggling, or to get rid of the ineffective ones. I have also co-authored legislation to support sustained career technical education (CTE) and STEM programs in our local schools. In addition to supporting teachers and parents, I’m a strong supporter of increasing local education funding. This includes legislation that I supported to increase school facility funding to help build new schools and modernize our campuses. I co-authored bipartisan legislation to make much-needed reforms to the Local Control Funding Formula to ensure our own local schools have the funding they deserve.

California colleges should be for California students first. In recent years, we learned that California students were being disadvantaged in UC admissions because UC administrators were admitting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition and get in under lowered admissions standards compared to our California kids. I authored bipartisan legislation that limits the number of out-of-state students UC can admit (AB 1711), ensures out-of-state students who are admitted meet or exceed the qualifications expected of our California students, and requires UC to identify and implement cost-saving measures to reduce UC’s reliance on tuition increases. I also authored a bipartisan bill that helps transition veterans to success in higher education when they leave active duty (AB 1401), and a bill to help better ensure students attending a CSU are more likely to graduate within 4 years (SB 412). These bills have all been signed into law and are making a difference now.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $2,683,292

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

California Republican Party
Alameda County Republican Party
California Dental Association
Employees of Pisces Inc
Farmers Insurance Group

More information about contributions

By State:

California 89.35%
District of Columbia 1.77%
Texas 1.25%
Illinois 1.06%
Other 6.56%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.55%)
Small contributions (0.45%)

By Type:

From organizations (64.01%)
From individuals (35.99%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

In her first term in the Assembly, Catharine has lived up to her pledge to be a different kind of legislator – one who works across party lines to get things done. She wrote legislation to better prevent child abuse in schools, to make the Bay Bridge oversight authority more transparent and accountable, and to offer veterans support in finding new careers when they return to civilian life. All these bills passed with unanimous, bipartisan support and were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. She has authored legislation to improve California’s transportation system and water infrastructure; modernize California’s schools so all children, regardless of the zip code they live in, can receive a great education; to make higher education accessible and affordable for California residents, and to make the state more accountable and financially disciplined with taxpayer funds. It’s no surprise the Contra Costa Times said, “Baker shows the Legislature there’s room for bipartisanship.”

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