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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 75

Photo of Karen "Kate" Schwartz

Karen "Kate" Schwartz

Health District Director
107,150 votes (45.5%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Pandemic and Economic Recovery
  • Healthcare and Housing
  • Impact of Climate Crisis



Profession:Health District Board/ l Healthcare
Supervisory LCSW - Integrated Primary and Behavioral Healthcare, Vista Community Clinic (2016–current)
General Private Practice, North County Counseling Associates (1986–current)
Director, Fallbrook Regional Health District — Elected position (2018–current)
Board Member on Fallbrook Regional Health District Board, Fallbrook Regional Health District — Elected position (2018–current)
Alternate San Diego County Central Committee Democratic Member, San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee — Appointed position (2019–current)
Volunteer Pro Bono Mental Health Evaluations for Otay Mesa Detention C, Self — Appointed position (2017–current)
Clinical Director- STAY Program - Crisis Residential Treatment Program, Stars Behavioral Health Group (2013–2015)
Clinical Director- Transitional Treatment Program for Homeless Young A, County of San Bernardino funded through MHSA Innovation funds — Appointed position (2013–2015)
Psychiatric Social Worker II- School Based Mental Health/Social Services, Rady Children's Hospital (2001–2012)
AB2726 Clinical Assessment Team, County of San Diego Children's Mental Health (2000–2001)


University of San Diego Certificate, Special Education Advocacy/Students with Special Needs (2009)
Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute Certificate, Clinical Psychotherapy with Adults (1994)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Family Studies Division PostGraduate Training - Certificate, Family Studies, Family Therapy, Clinical Focus on Environmental Factors Impacting Families (1987)
Columbia University Master of Science, Clinical Social Work, Health/Mental Health (1985)
California State University, Sacramento Bachelor of Science, B.S. Social Welfare. Minor in Women's Studies, and Western Civilizations (1983)

Community Activities

Volunteer, California Democratic Party (2015–current)
Member, National Association of Social Workers (1986–current)
Member, Columbia University Alumni Association (1986–current)
Member, CSUS Alumni Association (2019–current)


Kate Schwartz is a Licensed Behavioral Healthcare Practitioner with 35 years of experience in the Healthcare Field. A longtime advocate for patients and families, she currently serves as an elected Director on the Fallbrook Regional Health District Board of Directors. 

A native Californian and proud graduate of California public schools, Kate returned to her home state to raise a family after completing her master’s degree at Columbia University and graduate and post graduate training in Boston and New York City.

Kate currently resides in Fallbrook and has called North San Diego County home for over 20 years. In that time, Kate has served her community in a variety of professional and leadership capacities. Her proudest accomplishments include supporting her communities healthcare needs through her work on the Health District Board, uplifting at risk homeless youth through the creation of a crisis residential treatment program and raising a son as a single parent due to death of her spouse from cancer. Her son graduated from UC Berkeley and works as an Environmental Engineer managing water resources within California. 

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

To reach a goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, as set forth in a 2018 executive order what, if any, proposals, plans or legislation would you support?  Please be specific.
Answer from Karen "Kate" Schwartz:

Enhancing our quality of life within our district encompasses a number of inter-related issues needing to be addressed. We need to solve traffic congestion and the air quality/climate problems long commutes create, while reducing miles traveled for commuters to work, by both  updating our transportation infrastructure and creating 21s century transportation systems, which will include transportation hubs offering a variety of transit options, and encouraging through subsidies increased electric vehicle use and increased availability of EV charging stations throughout both San Diego and Riverside Counties.  We need improved and updated mass transit options. We also need to create affordable housing closer to employment areas, with decreased development in outlying unincorporated (and fire prone) areas. The development that should be taking place in our exburbs should be locating large employers to the outlying areas where their workers currently live. And I would propose policies to encourage industry to adopt remote workforce options for employees, thereby continuing to contribute to a stabile  economy while reducing traffic congestion and improving employee quality of life.

I will work through enacting legislative policies, to direct the needed funding to our Counties of San Diego and Riverside, to enable our County and local governments to create the needed changes to improve our quality of life.  I will work with our San Diego County leaders, such as SANDAG, to create new and innovative solutions to our needed transportation upgrades, and I support the Big 5 Moves Plan.  I would work in a similar fashion with funding for transportation projects for Riverside County Transportation Commission, leveraging both federal and state funding for improvements and upgrades. I support increasing density and creation of affordable housing near transportation corridors and transit centers, as well as near employment centers throughout both counties. We have a need to fund and create thousands of affordable housing units throughout our state, and in the areas where the jobs are - rather than far off out in the countryside where there is inadequate infrastructure, and increased commute hours for workers.  All of these measures will also keep us on track with our greenhouse gas reductions regionally and align with our regional Climate Action Plan.

Describe what proposal(s) you would support to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for all income groups in California?
Answer from Karen "Kate" Schwartz:

Over the decades, California has not built adequate housing to meet the demand. Clearly, we have a desperate need for more affordable housing and there is much to be done.  We need to work with the counties and builders to encourage the construction of truly “affordable” housing near transit centers and existing infrastructure including fire, utility, medical and school services. It makes no sense to allow our unincorporated countryside which lacks adequate services and infrastructure, and is at higher risk for wildfires, to be developed into expensive properties that working families cannot afford. Moreover,  this will not address the true problem which is a lack of workforce oriented housing stock.   

As your Assemblymember, I will support the reduction of regulatory barriers, such as reducing or waiving permit fees for affordable housing projects near transit systems and essential services. In turn this will increase transit ridership thereby decreasing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.  I will also support legislation to utilize existing unused retail and industrial buildings for repurposing to affordable housing units, particularly due to already existing infrastructure.

If elected, I will also work with my colleagues in the Assembly to allow for increased benefits to those builders who agree to exceed the state mandate by including additional affordable and attainable units. The current practice of only designating small percentages of new residential developments as affordable is clearly not working. We are facing a crisis level housing shortage throughout the state our lawmakers need to get their arms around the problem. Ideally, we could work across the aisle to devise methods of incentivizing builders without sacrificing worker safety, increasing environmental impact, or reducing the structural integrity or aesthetic charm of these new developments.


Recent laws such as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 have begun to make a difference by limiting rent increases for some. However, we need to do more to address the housing crisis which is forcing many Californians to move out of state, away from friends and family. I will fight to greatly increase available affordable housing stock for California families and prevent them from being pushed out by rising rents and unobtainable starter properties.


According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, we spend over $81,000 per individual who is incarcerated.  Other than incarceration, what ways can the State address safety and justice?
Answer from Karen "Kate" Schwartz:

Our prisons and jails are needlessly overcrowded.  Issues such as mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness, are more appropriately and cost effectively addressed outside our criminal justice system. Let me be clear:  I am not advocating for release of violent offenders who would be a safety risk for our communities. I fully support our law enforcement departments in fighting violent crime and property crime such as burglary, larceny, fraud and theft. However, we do need to continue making serious efforts, such as Prop 47 was intended, to spend far less on costly incarceration, and rather send more funding to programs providing Behavioral Healthcare services, social services, job training, education and safe housing options.  These services have far greater success in both rehabilitation and reduction in recidivism, and in enabling offenders and non-offenders to become stabile and self-sufficient members able to contribute to their communities. I will advocate for more consistent Behavioral Health services for offenders while incarcerated to improve mental health and substance use disorders before offenders are released back to their communities.   These programs foster healthier and safer communities.

Experts report our overall crime rate is down.  This is the empirical data.  Some politicians may reinforce fears about crime and suggest decision making based on these fears.  Regardless, crime is at a historical low per the evidence-based research.  On the national level, the Senate followed California's lead, by passing a bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill.  The First Step Act would expand job training and other programming aimed at reducing recidivism rates among federal prisoners.  It also expands early release programs and modifies sentencing laws with minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of all Californians?
Answer from Karen "Kate" Schwartz:


Due to global warming, we anticipate less frequent but higher intensity precipitation events, with more of the precipitation falling as rain rather than snow.  I want to see California investing in additional groundwater recharge facilities, and river restoration efforts, in order to capture the runoff from these high intensity events to store for later use for our agricultural, domestic and municipality needs.

Investment in groundwater recharge capacity:

California's combined aquifer capacity is exponentially larger than California's total dam reservoir capacity is or could be. Therefore it has the potential to sustain us much longer into a drought. However, development in the 20th century eliminated most flood plains across the state. This makes it so that excess water in wet periods runs off instead of having places to percolate into the ground for later use. In 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, requiring regions of rapid groundwater decline to arrest further lowering of groundwater levels. More funding and fewer barriers for groundwater recharge projects are needed to increase our potential to capture water in wet periods for later use by agriculture and households. Storage projects such as the Lake Shasta dam raising will aid in extending time periods in which water is available for recharge, however these projects are only effective in conjunction with enhanced conveyance and recharge infrastructure.

Investment in water conveyance infrastructure:

The capacity of California's water conveyance infrastructure, including the California Aqueduct, is threatened by land subsidence in the Central Valley. Meanwhile, other conveyance infrastructure, including the Colorado River Aqueduct, which supplies 80% of San Diego County is threatened by the risk of a large earthquake. More investment in water conveyance infrastructure will not only preserve existing capacity from these threats but will also allow water agencies more flexibility in moving surplus water to available storage and recharge facilities in other regions of the state so that more excess water from wet periods can be stored for dry periods. Not only that, funding for conveyance infrastructure to improve flexibility increases reliability for a given area and improves resilience to disasters such as droughts and earthquakes, by allowing more water to be transferred from alternate sources.

Limitations on rural development in source watersheds:

Rural development in mountain regions from which we source our water will add to future cost for water infrastructure and strain on firefighting agencies. Fire suppression to defend such housing causes unnatural overcrowding of forest and brush, increasing the risk of larger, more intense fires. Large fires and the resulting devegetated land are a huge risk to our water resources, causing flood risk, degraded water quality, and reduced water retention for later release. Keeping these areas free of housing that needs to be defended from wildfire will allow the forest service to freely engage in forest and brushland management activities to maintain healthy watersheds that release less water in wet periods and more water in dry periods.                 

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $45,427

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

International Brotherhood of Teamsters
California School Employees Association (CSEA)
Employees of Vista Community Clinic
San Marcos Democratic Club
California Democratic Party

More information about contributions

By State:

California 88.24%
District of Columbia 11.52%
Pennsylvania 0.25%

By Size:

Large contributions (89.85%)
Small contributions (10.15%)

By Type:

From organizations (56.86%)
From individuals (43.14%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I am a Democrat with a passion for social justice and for working in a nonpartisan manner to solve problems. I believe that California offers equal opportunity to all who are willing to work to become part of the solution.  As a longtime member of my local Democratic Club I have volunteered on many campaigns I have believed in. I currently serve as an alternate on the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee- the decision making body of the County Democratic Party.

I would describe my political philosophy as pragmatic progressivism. I see the mounting problems facing us as a  state and as a nation and am committed to resolving them in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. I am wise enough to know that solutions may not always be readily available, but I am determined to never stop working toward them. 

California is world's fifth largest economy according to gross domestic product (GDP). We have the resources to confront our most incessant challenges.  I believe that through the prudent application of those resources we can begin to dramatically improve the quality of life for all Californians. 

There is much to be done.  First, managing our Public Health crisis and Economic Recovery Plan.

We need to provide quality healthcare to Californians and move past the delays that are putting lives at risk. We need to maintain positive forward momentum on eliminating student debt, equal pay for equal work, job creation, living wages for our CA labor force, labor rights,  and women's, LGBTQ and communities of color civil rights.

We must support our veterans and military families and address homelessness, mental health, and aid in transition to civilian life.

We must also create more affordable housing, improve our aging infrastructure and transportation systems while moving toward expanded public transit options, and focus on job creation.

It goes without saying that none of this will be possible unless we commit to combating climate change. 

I would be honored to represent Assembly District 75 which encompasses the communities of Temecula, Escondido, San Marcos, Valley Center, Fallbrook, Bonsall, Rainbow, Del Luz, Pauma, Pala and a portion of Vista.




Videos (2)

Finding His Path - The Critical Years — January 29, 2020 Mental Health Channel

This video demonstrates a project I previously worked on as a start up program created to assist homeless youth.  Within this 

program we created safe and therapeutic housing for young adults experiencing homelessness, trauma, behavioral health crises,

substance addictions.  Full wrap around services were provided, educational and vocational assistance with the goal of assisting 

young adults in crisis to stabilize, move into permanent housing while pursuing vocational and/or educational goals, and serving

their community.

— January 29, 2020 Kate Schwartz for State Assembly 2020

In this video, I introduce myself and talk a bit about why I'm running. 

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