My name is Paula Villescaz and I am running to represent our Placer and Sacramento County communities and families in the California State Senate. I am a public servant and an advocate, with extensive experience in the fields of education, health care and emergency response. After serving as President of the San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD) and as an Assistant Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency during the pandemic, I understand firsthand the opportunities and challenges our communities are facing as we try to keep schools open and our economy moving.
I am a proud product of local public schools and graduated from Mira Loma High School before attending the University of California, Berkeley. My mother, with an 8th grade education, raised me by herself. I am the first in my family to graduate from high school and college with my mom’s support. I personally know the impact that a good school, good teachers, and good counselors have on a student’s chances to become a successful adult. That’s one reason I have worked so hard to keep schools open during this pandemic, while still fighting to close the achievement gap and improve access to advanced programs for those who need it most.
Building Great Local Schools
I was elected to the San Juan Unified School District Board of Education in 2016 and served two consecutive terms as the board’s president. In my first term on the SJUSD Board, I 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. In addition, I 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. I believe 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.
Advancing Quality Health Care
As an Assistant Secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency, I led the statewide COVID-19 response efforts and the initiatives to expand access to health and human services programs. In this work I witnessed the challenges faced by public health departments, schools, and communities in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. As Assistant Secretary, I prioritized equitable administration of key health and human services programs to reduce health care disparities.
Currently, I am the Director of Legislative Advocacy for the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), overseeing CWDA’s legislative policy and advocacy and serving as one of CWDA’s federal liaisons. I have expertise in local and state government disaster preparedness, emergency response, and community recovery.
Why I’m Running
I know what it means to fight and win tough battles. As a college student, I was diagnosed with a rare, metastatic cancer. This experience gave me a front-row seat to the inequities in our healthcare system and fueled my passion for creating a future where everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare. If I could beat my diagnosis, I knew that I could take on any challenge. This is the optimism and determination that I bring to every challenge I face - whether it’s fighting cancer, keeping schools open, or protecting our community from COVID. If elected, I will bring this optimism and determination to work every day on behalf of the residents of Senate District 6.
I want to earn your support and I look forward to meeting with you in the coming months. Thank you.