Policy & Popcorn: “A Run for Your Money: What California’s Chief Deputy Director for Budget Learned from Running 625 Miles Across California”

About the Session
In 2018, Vivek Viswanathan ran for California State Treasurer as a first-time political candidate. But this was no ordinary campaign. Vivek literally "ran" for office by covering the 625 miles from Sacramento to the Mexican border on foot, meeting with community members every step of the way. Though Vivek ultimately lost the election, he soon found himself back in Sacramento regardless as the Chief Deputy Director for Budget at the California Department of Finance. During this session, Vivek will discuss issues and lessons learned from his experiences as a presidential campaign policy adviser, adviser in the Governor's office, candidate for office, and state budget officer. Topics he will touch on include insights from the 2016 presidential campaign (and what that experience can tell us about 2020), the process of running for statewide office as a first-time candidate, what it's like to work in state government and on the state budget, and the future outlook for California. He is happy to take questions on any aspect of the California state budget as well as how the state is positioning itself on key policy issues as we enter a new decade.


About the Speaker

  • Vivek Viswanathan serves as Chief Deputy Director for Budget at the Department of Finance. Prior to his appointment in January 2019, Mr. Viswanathan served as a special consultant to the Governor’s transition team, with a focus on budget development. He previously served as a special advisor in the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. from 2017 to 2018 and as a policy advisor on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign from 2015 to 2016, where he focused on issues related to higher education, health care, civil rights, and civic engagement. He was a candidate for California State Treasurer in 2018. Vivek earned a BA from Harvard University, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, a JD from Stanford Law School, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He lives in Sacramento.