BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — First of all, everything you vote for matters.
Your local city council, school board races, state and county accessory measures all have a noticeable and visible effect on your daily life.
Statewide and local district offices and the roles of their incumbents can have very high visibility across the state, your city, and sometimes across the country if they are actively seeking (or quietly considering) a higher position. You will also see many ads for these offices and measures.
The Lieutenant Governor of California is just one of those offices that may not be very visible, but have important state constitutional responsibilities.
California has had 50 lieutenant governors since 1849. Current Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis is the first woman to hold the position.
Generally speaking, you can think of the lieutenant governor as a vice president of a president, but in California, gubernatorial candidates don’t run with lieutenant governor candidates on the same ticket . The positions are elected separately and it is possible to have a governor and a lieutenant-governor from different political parties.
In recent history, Republican governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger had Democratic lieutenant governors. Republican Abel Maldonado served as lieutenant governor between late April 2010 and January 2011 when Jerry Brown was governor.
Under the California Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is one of the eight constitutionally elected members of the state. Anyone elected to the office of Lieutenant Governor can serve a maximum of two four-year terms.
And in the event of a vacancy, the lieutenant-governor then exercises the functions of acting governor. The state constitution stipulates that the lieutenant governor serves when the governor is absent from the state, has a “temporary disability”, or is impeached.
The lieutenant governor is also president of the California Senate and votes in the event of a tie in that chamber.
The Lieutenant Governor also plays a policy implementation role in several councils.
Lieutenant Governors are voting members of the councils of the state’s university and college system – the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University Board of Trustees, and the California Community Colleges Board of Governors .
A lieutenant governor, rotating with the state comptroller, is also chairman of the three-member state lands commission, which manages California and oversees the control and leasing of 4 million acres of state lands. This includes authorizing or leasing land for offshore oil drilling and state waterways.
In some cases, the office of lieutenant governor can be a stepping stone to higher office. Ten lieutenant governors then became governors of California. Gavin Newsom was the last to do so.
This year, voters will choose between incumbent Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis (D) and Republican Angela E. Underwood Jacobs.
Kounalakis was elected California’s first female lieutenant governor in 2018 and previously served as US ambassador to Hungary in the Obama administration. Kounalakis previously served as acting governor briefly when Gov. Gavin Newsom was traveling out of state and became the first woman to sign a bill.
Jacobs previously served as a member of the City Council and Deputy Mayor of Lancaster. She also has years of banking experience, referring to herself as a community banker helping people live the “California Dream” on her website.