Article City Forum Samantha Caygill

California Civic Leadership Institute® Makes Strides in League-Legislative Relations

Samantha Caygill is assistant director of public affairs for the League and can be reached at

The Legislature welcomed one of its largest freshman classes ever in 2013. It’s likely that 2014 and 2016 will also bring substantial numbers of freshman legislators. Accordingly, the League is continuing its prestigious California Civic Leadership Institute® (CCLI) with a focus on recruiting the most viable candidates possible for the next two years.

CCLI is one of several programs that address the League’s key strategic priority to “build effective partnerships to help respond to growing community needs.” Each year, 20 to 30 local government elected officials interested in running for legislative office participate in the two-part CCLI program.

Program Details

Officials meet at Southern California Edison’s Big Creek Hydroelectric Facility for the first part of the program, which comprises policy education and informational tours. The lodge at Big Creek is nestled in a quaint mountain town and provides an informal environment where League staff, League Partners and city officials can become acquainted away from the stresses and distractions of everyday life. The group holds policy discussions that encompass a wide range of perspectives. CCLI participants also tour the hydroelectric facility, America’s first large-scale integrated hydroelectric project, and experience firsthand the vision of those who brought the project to fruition in 1911.

The program’s second part takes place in Sacramento and addresses the political realities of serving in the state Capitol. Former legislators, top political consultants, lobbyists and others address the group about the ins and outs of public service in Sacramento and the related challenges they may encounter both personally and professionally. Panelists candidly address topics ranging from how to handle political party pressure to how serving in the Legislature may affect one’s family life. CCLI participants get their most important questions answered and gain a deeper understanding of the demands and rewards associated with a legislator’s responsibilities.

New Term Limits Change the Focus for Many Legislators

Since the program’s inception, city officials and the League staff have built more collaborative and open relationships with legislators. In the context of the new term limits that allow an individual to serve up to 12 years in the Legislature, more legislators are focusing on longer-term goals that will benefit the state. In the wake of the abolition of redevelopment agencies, the League experienced tremendous support from new legislators such as Assembly Members Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), who as former local elected officials understood the impact the loss of redevelopment had on cities and sought to alleviate some of the hardships it created for cities. The League also appreciated the efforts of Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), who in his role as vice chair of the Assembly Committee on Local Government proved a thoughtful partner to city governments on many issues.

Looking Forward

Alumni of CCLI become part of a connected group that the League works with on a regular basis. While it may be impossible to agree on every issue, having an established relationship and a shared experience of open dialogue is extremely beneficial for all CCLI participants as they seek solutions to the challenges facing California. The League looks forward to continuing the CCLI program and building strong working relationships with its alumni in the Legislature.

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Western City
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