Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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Tuesday November 8, 2022 — California General Election
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California State SenateCandidate for District 6

Photo of Paula Villescaz

Paula Villescaz

Health Policy Director
160,846 votes (44.3%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Strengthen our economy and find solutions to public safety, homelessness, and housing
  • Create a future where everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare
  • Fight for clean air and water



Profession:Director, Assistant Secretary, President SJUSD BOE
Director of Legislative Advocacy, County Welfare Directors Association California (2021–current)
Board Member, San Juan Unified School District — Elected position (2016–current)
Assistant Secretary, California Health and Human Services Agency — Appointed position (2018–2021)
Member, Advisory Panel on Medicare Outreach and Education (2015–2018)
Principal Consultant, Assembly Health Committee (2014–2018)
Legislative Aide, California State Assembly (2011–2014)


University of California, Berkeley Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Political Science & Public Policy (2011)


Paula Villescaz is a proud product of public schools from attending K-12 education all the way through graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. She has always placed importance on receiving a high quality education, knowing that with education there would be success and opportunities. Paula was raised by a single mother with an 8th grade education. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college. Paula has been fortunate to be impacted by great schools, caring teachers, and quality counselors, having first hand experience what resources can do for our students.


Elected to the San Juan Unified School District Board of Education in 2016, Paula served two consecutive terms as the board’s president. In her first term on the SJUSD Board, she led the passage of Measure P, the largest K-12 school bond on the ballot. As a result, SJUSD rebuilt aging facilities, ensuring that students of our district could attend great schools at the lowest possible cost to homeowners. Additionally, she spearheaded initiatives to expand access to extracurricular academic programs for all students and increase the number of counselors, social workers, and other support staff working to improve student outcomes. Paula believes every young person should be encouraged to keep learning and striving, whether that’s finding meaningful employment or attending a community or four-year college. She also believes that those who help our students succeed should be properly honored for the work they do. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Paula secured a $3,000 bonus to every worker in San Juan Unified as a ‘thank you’ for their service and sacrifices.When Paula was in college, she was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She faced difficulties with stubborn insurers and benefit caps, and this motivated her lifelong commitment to ensure affordable, quality access to health insurance for every Californian. As an Assistant Secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency, Paula led the statewide COVID-19 response efforts and the initiatives to expand access to health and human services programs. In her travels across California, she witnessed firsthand how significant the challenges faced by public health departments, schools, and communities were in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. As Assistant Secretary, she prioritized equitable administration of key health and human services programs to reduce health care disparities.

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

Describe what proposal(s) you would support to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for middle and low income people in California?
Answer from Paula Villescaz:

A comprehensive approach to achieving affordable housing production must include: streamlining the building of new homes, breaking down barriers to build more affordable housing, addressing systemic bias by elevating fair housing principles and holding local governments accountable to do their job.


I support a Housing First Approach. I believe that providing people with a consistent place to live is an essential first step to helping them hold down a steady job and maintain good physical and mental health. Growing up, I was housing insecure and know first hand that people must access basic necessities—like a safe place to live and food to eat—before being able to achieve quality of life or pursue personal goals. However, it is important to acknowledge limited housing supply and the barrier this poses to achieving a “Housing First” approach.

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 Paula Villescaz:

I believe that electrification is a key part of the effort to accelerate California’s transition to 100% renewable energy so that California can be the first state to reach net zero emissions. However, I also understand that practical constraints may affect the speed at which the transition to electrification takes place. I think a cost-benefit analysis should be taken into account whenever we consider the extent to which 100% electrification should be immediately required for new construction projects versus, in certain instances, gradually phased in or incentivized. 


Additionally, California’s engineers will be a key player in helping California reach net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible. The knowledge engineers bring to the table through their on-the-ground work will play an essential role in California’s effort to find new ways to harness the power of sustainable energy and reduce our carbon footprint.

What programs or strategies would you suggest to meet the educational needs of young, low-income Californians?
Answer from Paula Villescaz:

My top priority for California schools is to make sure they are adequately funded. Given the tremendous wealth and prosperity that exists in our state, it is a travesty that we are investing so little in our students. I will make it my personal mission to put California into the top 10 of all US states in per-student funding by the end of my first term in the state senate. As a senator, I will push to adjust the funding formula for our schools, including an increase to the LCFF base so that all districts see an increase in funding. Currently, with declining enrollment, we are headed into some challenging years that are of significant concern.  I will propose that the extra revenue this adjustment generates be invested in more training for teachers and classified employees and more after school tutoring, extracurricular activities, and counseling services for students.

What programs, proposals, projects, or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of all Californians?
Answer from Paula Villescaz:

I believe that we need to invest in structural solutions to address statewide droughts. We need to expand California’s water storage capacity through investing in the construction of more groundwater banks across the state. We should also limit practices that threaten the viability of California’s existing water supply. The damage that fracking can do to the quantity and quality of California’s water supply makes it an unsustainable practice, and so I support phasing it out.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $894,508

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

California Democratic Party and employees
Paula Villescaz
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) California People Small Contributor Committee
Association of California School Administrators
California Nurses Association
California Professional Firefighters
California Teachers Association
SEIU California

More information about contributions

By State:

California 97.14%
District of Columbia 0.60%
Maryland 0.58%
Oregon 0.35%
Other 1.32%

By Size:

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

By Type:

From organizations (83.56%)
From individuals (16.44%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Videos (1)

Paula Villescaz is a public servant and an advocate, with extensive experience in the fields of education, health care and emergency response. During the pandemic, Villescaz has served as President of the San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD) and as an Assistant Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

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