Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
Get the facts before you vote.
Brought to you by
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
Invest in unbiased information

With your support, we can reach and inform more voters.

Donate now to spread the word.

California State SenateCandidate for District 9

Photo of Katherine Grace Welch

Katherine Grace Welch

Public Education Advocate
32,698 votes (13.4%)
Use tab to activate the candidate button. Use "return" to select this candidate. You can access your list by navigating to 'My Choices'.
For more in-depth information on this candidate, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.
Candidate has provided information.
Thank candidate for sharing their information on Voter's Edge.

My Top 3 Priorities

  • Producing the next leaders, employees, taxpayers and consumers of our state by providing stable, adequate and logical funding for our education system - from cradle to career.
  • Insisting on transparency in the allocation of our tax dollars, so they fund what our community needs - including education, transportation, affordable housing and support services for our most vulnerable populations.
  • Get special interests out of decision making - whether for our environment, our criminal justice system, or other critical areas. Be the voice of our district, NOT special interests/



Profession:Advocate for children and public education
Financial Consultant - part time while raising my children, Various start up companies in Silicon Valley (2000–2007)
Senior Consultant, Recruiting Manager, Accounting Solutions (1997–2000)
Associate Director, Summerbridge National (1994–1997)
Business Manager, Film and Video Service (1991–1993)
Consultant, Apple USA Product Marketing Communications (1990–1991)


Harvard University Masters in Business Administration (1988)
Duke University Bachelor of Arts, Public Policy Studies (1983)

Community Activities

Board Member, Board Chair (similar to ED as this is an all-volunteer org), Educate Our State (2011–current)
Volunteer, National Charity League (2014–current)
Court Appointed Special Advocate, CASA (1992–1995)


Katherine Welch is a long-time leader with Educate Our State, a statewide organization of tens of thousands of parents and other community members committed to improving California’s public schools. 

She is pro-choice, and is an advocate for children and families, racial justice, civil rights, the formerly incarcerated, veterans, the homeless, the environment, labor, immigrants, and the LGBT community. She believes we must demand transparency and accountability from our government, political campaigns and public servants. When we advocate for our most vulnerable populations, our whole community comes out ahead - from more robust mental health services, to housing and job training.

The California public school system’s increasing and long-standing financial struggles led Katherine to ask the question, “Why does California, the 8th largest economy in the world, have one of the worst funded school systems in the country?” Her answer was to join Educate Our State, to challenge the status quo and demand transparency, accountability and funding to improve our schools.

Since 2011, with Katherine’s work with Educate our State, and her advocacy in Sacramento, she observed that you don’t have to be a politician to run for office. She also realized that children, who do not vote nor do they have a wealthy interest group representing them, have no voice - and our state pays dearly when it does not take care of its youngest citizens. She realized her unique background and passion to improve our schools is just what is needed in Sacramento. She has never run for any office. Until now.

Katherine has a background in corporate finance and business management and gained valuable real-world experience working with both Silicon Valley start-ups and publicly-traded companies.

In the mid-1990’s Katherine joined Summerbridge National (now Breakthrough Collaborative) as the Associate Director. Summerbridge offers urban, under-served middle school students the opportunity to participate in academic enrichment programs in preparation for college, and offers high school and college students the opportunity to teach.

Katherine also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for several years. A CASA is a guardian ad litem, a liaison between the providers of legal, social and therapy services and the dependent children in the legal system. A CASA also spends time with these children, similar to a big sister.


Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (6)

Climate changes and the continuing drought worry many in California. What new strategies do you believe would ensure that California is able to both satisfy its water needs and protect the environment? Please be specific.
Answer from Katherine Grace Welch:


I am a supporter of local strategies, like the proposed expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County, which could provide enough storage to provide drinking water to more than 1 million users.   I believe wetlands restoration is another area in which we can combat the drought and protect the environment.  I am also interested in looking at ‘water credits’. Our local water agencies can be doing more to encourage conservation by creating an exchange for drought water rations, similar to the carbon market. I believe it is a mistake for our local water agencies to back off on water conservation goals, while we had a wet winter, our drought is not over and there is the threat of a dry winter in 2016-2017.

Many Californians are concerned about the influence of money in politics. What can the state legislature do to ensure that decision-making by elected officials is not swayed by moneyed interests at the expense of constituents?
Answer from Katherine Grace Welch:


I am committed to campaign finance reform. In my advocacy in Sacramento, with all legislative offices as well as other governmental bodies and special interest groups, I can see there is an ‘entitlement’ culture where certain interest groups expect to be major decision makers. The voters pay the salaries of elected official and staffers, and they need to be accountable to their constituents, not special interests. I am committed to working with others in the legislature to enact common sense campaign finance reform. The only special interest in my campaign is children, and they and other vulnerable populations truly have no voice in Sacramento. Yet.

There are a variety of proposals to raise California's minimum wage. Many of these proposals face opposition from business groups who are concerned that they would kill jobs. Do you support increasing the minimum wage in California?  In your answer please explain your position on the relationship between wages and jobs with specific reference to the situation in your district. 
Answer from Katherine Grace Welch:


As you know, the state recently passed minimum wage legislation, which will bring us to $15 per hour in 2022, or 2023 for small businesses. It is the nature of business groups to oppose minimum wage hikes, but I think history has shown that these wage hikes are a win for employees and for our economy, in term of increased demand for goods, and less reliance on government support. The state is currently subsidizing large low wage employers because the wage puts families below the poverty line. With regard to our district, we have successfully raised the minimum wage in several cities, and I believe a regional ‘supplemental approach’ is the way to address cities with a higher cost of living, while ensuring those with a lower cost of living are not unfairly burdened.

What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending? 
Answer from Katherine Grace Welch:


  • Increase transparency in budgeting and allocation of state resources.
  • Return property taxes allocated to schools, to schools.
  • Work with stakeholders to return equity to our property tax structure while ensuring the revenue is shared from these reforms.
If elected, what solutions do you propose to deal with the high cost of living in the Bay Area?
Answer from Katherine Grace Welch:


The high cost of living is a reflection of our thriving economy. The problem is, not all are sharing in this economic upturn. Efforts to ease the high cost of living must be multi-pronged. I will work to create opportunities to attract new businesses to our community, especially those that need workers with different skill levels, bringing jobs closer to where people live.  We must also address housing affordability.  The high cost of housing is a direct result of the Bay Area not keeping up with population growth in building housing.  I support Senator Wieckowski’s legislation allowing residents to build on an additional structure to current homes -- like an in-law unit -- to ease the lack of housing.  Finally, we must also improve transportation and transit infrastructure to make it affordable and easy for people to get to work.



What steps are needed to improve region-wide transportation planning and the growing traffic congestion?
Answer from Katherine Grace Welch:

I believe when we approach transportation challenges we need to do so with the long term view, and not be distracted by ribbon cutting projects. In addition, like many issues in California, we wait and wait as our population increases without the housing and transportation to support it.  It is like a family that doesn’t fix their leaky roof or maintain their dependable transportation, but instead goes out and buys an antique car to impress the neighbors. Our district and our state are challenged in part because gas tax revenues, used to maintain our roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure, have been declining for years due to higher mpg and electric vehicles. Measure BB, passed by Alameda county in 2014, is helping fund increasing support of our infrastructure, but due to declining state revenue we are unlikely to get the state match at the level we were hoping for. We need to look at more innovative solutions, including investigating taxes associated with use of our roads, while continuing to support the increase of high mpg and electric vehicles, as well as addressing the backlog of BART maintenance and the increase in riders. Potholes ruin our cars and our roads, and when BART doesn’t work well, commuters return to the roads. We must address these issues, as well as increase housing near transport hubs to reduce cars on the roads, while simultaneously making sure that we have the transportation infrastructure to successfully support those hubs. There is much work to do, and I look forward to tackling this issue and others if I am fortunate enough to represent you in the state senate.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $333,048

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

Employees of Broadway Angels
Employees of Camberview Partners
Employees of Health Evolution Partners
Employees of Tintri

More information about contributions

By State:

California 93.12%
Massachusetts 3.08%
Washington 0.91%
Texas 0.64%
Other 2.25%

By Size:

Large contributions (98.89%)
Small contributions (1.11%)

By Type:

From organizations (0.30%)
From individuals (99.70%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I believe in the 'trickle up' theory - that when we provide security to the most vulnerable among us, they are better able to thrive, contribute, and provide stability to their family and community.

Videos (2)

— May 9, 2016 Cut Canvas Creative
— May 9, 2016 Cut Canvas Creative

Please share this site to help others research their voting choices.