By Aaron Schwartz, 15, Gabrielino HS (San Gabriel)
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Aaron wants you to remind your parents to vote.

Even though I can’t vote, I am trying to follow the race for governor because it affects my life, and other teens too. Whoever becomes governor will make choices that affect my education, my job opportunities and even the air that I breathe.

In the past five months, I have heard the names Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, but all I knew about them was that they were running for governor. The current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, can’t run for re-election because he’s already served two terms. I wanted to learn more, so I went to the Los Angeles Times website to read about who they were.

Whitman, 54, is a Republican and was the CEO of eBay. She grew it from a small Internet auction website to the corporate giant it is today. She’s now a billionaire. The Times reported that she’s spent $119 million of her own money on the campaign, which makes it seem to me like she is trying to buy the election. I’m not sure she’s ready to be governor because she has no political experience.

Brown, 72, is a Democrat and was governor of California from 1974 to 1982. After that, he stayed involved with politics, running against Bill Clinton in the presidential primaries in 1992 and being elected mayor of Oakland in 1998. Since 2007 he’s served as the state’s Attorney General, which means he’s the state’s top lawyer. He’s an experienced politician, but I wonder if he will be able to solve today’s problems since we have such a huge deficit.

Aaron wonders why there aren’t better choices than Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman.

How do their views differ?

Since one of them will be governor, I wanted to know how they would handle the issues I care about. So to find out I went to each of their websites and read their plans. The information was easy to find, but it was kind of confusing.

Because the state had a $19 billion deficit this year, Governor Schwarzenegger has cut billions of dollars from education. To save money, my school year was shortened by five days. This really annoys me because we barely had time to learn everything important before. We’ve also lost the option of having a seventh period, which means fewer electives for everyone. I had to cut speech and debate from my schedule, which was my favorite class.

According to his website, Brown would create a cheaper state-testing program, by having multiple shorter tests during the school year, instead of longer year-end tests. This is great because my school spends about two weeks taking state tests, so spending less time taking tests would give teachers more time to teach students. Brown would also increase state funding to community colleges. I like that idea because community colleges can be a cheaper way for students to take required general education classes.

Whitman’s plan says she will give schools more control over how they spend their money. She also wants to reward good teachers with better pay and give $1 billion more to the University of California system. I believe teachers are underpaid, but I don’t know what standard she would use to determine how well a teacher is teaching. I do like that she is willing to give more money to the UC system, because it would help improve colleges that I might end up going to, but I wonder where she plans to get the money to do this.

I have friends whose parents are out of work, so I am interested in how the candidates will deal with the high unemployment rate. After all, if it’s not handled now, my generation will have a hard time finding jobs in the future. Brown plans to create half a millions jobs by expanding California’s renewable energy businesses, such as wind and solar energy, and the technology industry. He also says he will create jobs to help the construction industry. I think this is a pretty good plan because it focuses on providing jobs for people.

Whitman’s economic policy is based on helping businesses. If elected she plans to lower taxes on businesses, so they will hopefully hire more people. But giving businesses tax cuts might increase California’s deficit. She also plans to cut state spending by $15 billion by cutting 40,000 state jobs. I think her plan is bad because she doesn’t have a concrete way to create new jobs and she has to fire people.

They should focus on the environment

I also think it is important that our next governor does something to help California’s environmental problems. Both candidates want to cut pollution and preserve natural areas, but Brown seems to have a better idea of how to do it because his plan is more detailed than Whitman’s. I’m not sure all of Brown’s ideas are doable, but I think he has the better plan.

If I could vote in this election, I would vote for Brown because I don’t think Whitman has enough political experience to be governor, and I don’t agree with her plans to fix California. Still, I’m not excited by Brown. The best candidate that the Democratic party has is someone who’s old enough to retire. I wish there had been someone else who would have run instead.

The election is Nov. 2. To learn more about the candidates go to and