From the Campaign to the Capitol

It's the June of summer break but I still have to get up at 7 am, the temperature will be over 100 degrees for half of this week, and I have to hand-carry groceries from Target to my room because I don't have a car here. Yet I wouldn't have it any other way. It's only been a week, and Cal-in-Sacramento has already been a growing experience.

I moved to Sacramento just before midnight on Tuesday, June 3rd, right after the primary ended and Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski threw his victory party in Fremont. Bob Wieckowski. That's my boss. He is running for State Senate and was first in the primary in a majority Democratic district. The second place winner is Republican Peter Kuo. Given that the tenth State Senate district is majority Democratic and Assemblyman Wieckowski will be the only Democrat in the November election, I'm not too hesitant to call my boss soon-to-be State Senator Bob Wieckwoski.

I was fairly confident that he would win the primary when I was campaigning for him the weekend before my official internship start date and the first two days of my internship. While I regretted missing out on moving in with all the other Cal-in-Sac fellows on Sunday, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work on the campaign before officially starting my internship in the State Assembly.

To be clear, the campaign work was not fun. I remembered how exhausting canvassing homes, calling voters, labeling mailers, and entering data was during the 2012 election, and Wieckowski's 2014 campaign was not any less tiring.

With that said, my few days on the campaign gave me the opportunity to interact with Assemblymember Wieckowski and his staff in a way I would never have had the opportunity to if I had started my first day in the Capitol. Driving around precincts while playing music, dropping literature, celebrating Wieckowski's victory, and driving up to Sacramento after the election completely altered my relationship with the Office of Assemblyman Wieckowski. I was able to get to know the office staff on a personal level. I was able to meet Assemblyman Wieckowski's family and gain a better understanding of his background and motivations for his legislative work. I was able to meet his constituents and see his district first hand.

When I started my first day in the Capitol on Wednesday, I felt a bit behind the other Cal-in-Sac fellows. They were unpacked, they had groceries in their fridge, and they already knew how to use the light rail. Regardless, my unconventional week was exhilarating and eye opening.On Wednesday my tasks completely shifted from voter contact to legislative research. I was assigned the daunting task of answering the million dollar question in the United States: how can we grow green manufacturing jobs here? I have to come up with legislative ideas and other actions Wieckowski can take to grow manufacturing jobs in the green and hi-tech industry in California.
I was utterly overwhelmed when assigned this project, but then I realized that many organizations have already started to answer this question. Those include one at Cal: the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. While I am still struggling to put the ideas already researched and recommended into the context of the California State Legislature, I think I am finally going somewhere and will soon have a tangible list of legislative ideas.
My dream come true would be if one of my ideas turned into real public policy in the next legislative cycle when Wieckowski's in the State Senate. Here's hoping.

Disha Banik is a UC Berkeley junior majoring in Political Science. She is currently interning in the office of Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski.