California Election 2018:
Gubernatorial Candidates
Town Hall Meeting

FILE PHOTO: 2016 Empowerment Congress Summit. Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

Six candidates vying to become the next Governor of California will face off for the first time during a town hall meeting at the University of Southern California on January 13.

Travis Allen, John Chiang, John Cox, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom, and Antonio Villaraigosa will attend the 90-minute town hall meeting, themed Empowering California: A Local Perspective.

The event, hosted by the Empowerment Congress, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, will be open to the public, as well as streamed live on the internet and broadcast live on public radio. To attend, register online at

“This is an opportunity for voters to see and hear first-hand how the candidates intend to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing California and, specifically, Los Angeles County,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Our state’s future is at stake, and people deserve to learn about potential policies that will likely affect them for years to come.”

ABC7 Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown will serve as moderator. KPCC senior political reporter Mary Plummer will also sit on the panel, focusing on concerns raised by voters. ABC7 and KPCC are media partners for the event and both will provide a live stream of the proceedings.

“In a time of political turmoil, there is no more fitting way to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day than to engage in a spirited yet civil discussion of the great issues facing California,” said Robert Shrum, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “This town hall meeting is an affirmation of our values and our faith in democracy.”

The January 13 town hall meeting will begin 9:00 a.m. at USC’s Bovard Auditorium. Immediately afterwards, the public will have a chance to discuss what transpired and visit with members of the various campaigns in what is being called a Festival of Democracy.

“An informed electorate is crucial to deciding who will become our next governor, so the Empowerment Congress is proud to present this town hall meeting to educate, engage and empower voters,” said Empowerment Congress Summit co-chair Charlene Dimas-Peinado.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas founded the Empowerment Congress 26 years ago, when he was a member of the Los Angeles City Council. It is widely considered a national model of civic engagement, built on the core principles of participatory democracy, reciprocal accountability and intentional civility. It holds an annual summit during the national observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to address issues of importance within local communities.

The mission of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC is to motivate students to become active in the world of politics, and to encourage public officials to participate in the daily life at USC.