Searching for solutions
ELISABETH SMITH | ASST. NEWS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA
Solutions through innovation. That is how republican Duf Sundheim says he plans to change the nation if he is elected as the next California senator in 2016. With themes of education reform and economic relief, Sundheim plans to create change in Washington.
“Too many people are seeing the issues from partisan perspectives, and we now have a professional political class on both sides that are controlling the debate,” Sundheim said. “That’s been the type of situation where I come in, find the common sense solution, and drive it. I think that is what’s needed in Washington today.”
Sundheim is not the only choice for voters in the 2016 election. As of now he is running against three Democrats and five other Republicans. The chair was previously occupied by democrat Barbara Boxer, who is retiring in 2016.
Sundheim’s resume includes four years as chairman of the Republican party and 14 years as a mediator for GPS Mediation. During his time as chairman, Sundheim oversaw the only successful recall of a governor in California.
If he is elected senator, Sundheim plans to approach the job the same way he mediates. His approach is different than current party politics in Washington.
“Make sure we bring everybody to the table, treat everybody with respect, listen to what their concerns are, and then see how we move forward together,” Sundheim said. “And that’s how I think we make effective change.”
One of the major focuses of Sundheim’s campaign is education reform. He believes the education system in California is outdated, and based on methods that date back to the 1800s.
“For a college student there are two major problems,” Sundheim said. “Affordability, and whether the education they’re receiving now is preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Students at private institutions such as USD are affected by the issue of affordability.
“The people that don’t have the means, they get the scholarships, and the people at the high end can afford the tuition,” Sundheim said. “The people that get socked time after time are the people in the middle. They either have to pay the full freight and really put their family in a difficult situation, or take out loans, which makes them impossible for them to then achieve the financial goals that they have for 10, 20 years.”
Sundheim also believes that the solution to this problem does not lie with pointing fingers at institutions or people of power. Instead, he suggests providing better information to potential college students.
“What I’m saying is look let’s unleash the potential that we have in the country,” Sundheim said. “So the fundamental issue is, do you believe the answer lies with some unelected official three-thousand miles away, or lie in the hearts and the imaginations of the people? I think it’s the latter.”
In regard to young, college-aged voters, Sundheim wants to open up the lines of communication between the people and the government.
“[My smartphone] gives me the ability to target people irrespective of who they are, what they are, where they are, or what they think,” Sundheim said. “As long as they interact with me, they will have a voice and my goal is to give them a voice.”
As part of his campaign, Sundheim has listened to young adults and found out what concerns they have.
“What we’re hearing is the college affordability and there’s anxiety if the education they’re getting is preparing them for 21st century jobs,” Sundheim said. “There are also a lot of people in that age bracket that aren’t concerned about that. But we have the ability to say ‘okay, if that’s important to you, then let’s have a discussion.’”
Sundheim wants to focus his campaign on listening to the concerns of his constituents and giving back advice to those voters, creating solutions that they can apply to their lives.
These solutions through innovation apply to all levels of education, not just college students. Through implementation of the use of technology in classrooms, Sundheim believes that schools can unlock the potential of education.
“In today’s era of technology, what should be happening [in classrooms], we should get the best in the world, or the best in the country, watch it on your phone and then use the tremendous skills that our teachers have to actually teach and interact with students,” Sundheim said.
Through experience working with education reform in California, Sundheim found that there was a large disconnect between enthusiasm of students at the elementary level and the high school level. When he looked at the parents of these students, many had an average education level of the third grade.
“My view is we need to shift power away from the institutions to the individuals, the communities, the teachers,” Sundheim said. “We have a problem, here are our resources, and bringing them together to create a solution. That will be my approach not only to the education issue but to the broader problems we face as a society”
Sundheim and his opponents have many months of campaigning ahead of them. Students can follow the race through the individual campaign websites, and social media.