Darrell Steinberg is the President pro Tempore of the California Senate and represents California's sixth Senate district, which includes the state's capitol, Sacramento. In his twelve years in the state legislature and the six years he spent on the Sacramento city council prior to his initial election to the Assembly, he has been a tireless supporter of education and many of the region's most successful progressive social programs. Many thanks to Alicia Trost, Senator Steinberg's communications secretary, for facilitating this interview.
Three Questions: When you sat on the Sacramento City Council, you were instrumental in the launch of Sacramento's START program, which data has shown to be one of the most successful after-school programs in the country. How do you suggest - given the current state budget situation - that local entities start and
maintain similar programs? Do you see after-school programs like this being used as a "filler" when school programs are cut, or always as supplemental to well-funded public schools?
Darrell Steinberg: We launched START with a variety of funding sources and it has taken off to be a great success. To those trying to start new programs during these tough economic times my biggest advice is to be creative. You need to explore both public (local, state, federal) and private funding. When you begin a program with a variety of funding sources and it does well you are basically building a track record putting yourself in a strong position to make the case for more public investment when the economy turns around.
I see these programs as supplemental as opposed to a "filler."
3Q: As the most influential (and arguably busiest) legislator in the most influential state in the country, your schedule has to be crazy. How do you make time for your kids, to go to shul, work out (do you still play tennis or basketball?) or have hobbies and a non-political social life?
DS: I see representing Sacramento as an advantage because I don't need to spend several hours a week traveling home to be with my family. I work endless hours Monday-Friday and then focus my attention on my family on the weekend.
I do squeeze in a morning run or a trip to the gym every day and I look forward to driving my two kids to school as often as possible. We attend Shabbat services as a family on most Friday nights at B'nai Israel where my wife Julie is the Cantorial Soloist. I love going to my son's soccer games on the weekend and checking out Second Saturday. I'm a baseball addict and love to watch the Giants or even better ... go to a game with my son. You can always find me shopping at the Nugget on Sundays.
3Q: Your wife, Julie, says your first date was at a Russian restaurant in Berkeley. I grew up in Berkeley - I assume that must have been Volga on Oxford or Petrouchka up on College, both of which are now gone. What are your favorite restaurants here in Sacramento, both for a night out with the family, as well as going out with friends?
DS: Our first date was at Petrouchka Restaurant in Berkeley. We decided to meet at the restaurant and Julie got in a minor fender bender on her way there. She later told me I won her over because I called her that night after the date to make sure she got home safely.
Here in Sacramento:
Our family enjoys going to Ernesto's Mexican Food for fajitas.
Date night with Julie is at Celestin's - I always get the gumbo.