I attended a debate between two candidates running for the Assembly. My assemblyman has been termed out and it is an open seat. The debate was well attended and took place at a local school. Being that I live in a small town, over the years I have come to know both candidates. They are both good people. Both hold local offices, are well respected in the community and viewed as successful public officials.

The debate was civilized and was more an exchange of ideas than a debate or clash of different positions or philosophies. The focus of the debate was on children, including education. I have two daughters in public school, one of whom is autistic – and with a daughter in special education, I have witnessed both the best and worst that our public school system has to offer.

Interestingly, a lot of the questions raised at the debate by the audience focused on how the Legislature works (or doesn’t work) in Sacramento and the adverse implications for our children. Both candidates claimed that they would work hard to solve the State’s budget crisis. Both promised to “reach across the aisle” and work in a bipartisan fashion. Both cited the Nicole Parra banishment and promised that our children would come first and they would have no problem voting against the leadership of their respective political party.

As I sat through this discussion by the candidates it suddenly dawned on me what the greatest challenge my children face and the greatest threat to their future – it is the California Legislature.

Every candidate that runs for the Legislature or for a statewide office runs as an “outsider.” They claim to be different from the current ruling political class. I think these candidates sincerely believe that they hold the key to change in Sacramento. They are all clearly well intentioned.

Most candidates are fairly bright, articulate and successful people before heading to Sacramento. Yet once they arrive there, something happens. Budgets problems go unresolved year after year – mortgaging our children’s future. Fundamental issues concerning education, infrastructure needs, health care and the like go unresolved. Yet the institution is able to pass legislation to license ferrets and restrict allowing small dogs from sitting in our laps while driving.

I am not sure if creating fear and blaming someone else has become the primary objective of our Legislators, but it certainly has become the main work product of a dysfunctional system.

Every election my wife and I take our kids with us when we vote. It is a long standing tradition in our family. I am not sure who I am going to vote for in my assembly race. But one thing I do know, my kids deserve better from our political leaders.