Ron Cedillos has long been recognized as a leader of a number of important public policy issues for the past twenty years. The following are just a few of the more publicized statewide and national programs he has shepherded on behalf of California.
Aerospace and Defense
In one of the largest and most successful undertakings to preserve a critical industry in the state’s history, Ron Cedillos with the support of Governor Pete Wilson formed Californians for Aerospace Leadership (CAL) that has been credited with saving tens of thousands of jobs in California.
Cedillos, long known as an advocate of strong job producing economies recognized a dangerous economic trend that was eroding California’s largest manufacturing sector. He also recognized that the state had not responded to this perilous economic downturn that was threatening to cost hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the state.
While dining with newly elected Governor Pete Wilson at his inaugural dinner, Cedillos warned the Governor
that California’s aerospace and defense industries were hemorrhaging jobs at an alarming rate. Cedillos further argued that if these job losses were not immediately halted, the crises within these industries could drag the state's entire economy down with them.
After detailing the core issues with Governor Wilson, Cedillos then outlined what he believed should be the state’s response. With the agreement and support of the Governor, Cedillos quickly assembled a coalition of top executives from virtually every major aerospace and defense firm in the state -- including those from Northrop, Rockwell, TRW, Lockheed, Douglas Aircraft and others. These industry executives convened with Cedillos and Governor Wilson to formulate a strategy to safeguard the state’s remaining 1.4 million aerospace and defense industry jobs. In addition to working with major contractors, the task force unified most the state’s elected officials behind the industry – a feat unprecedented in California’s history.
Indeed, one of the primary objectives conceived by Cedillos and undertaken by the task force was to unify the state's elected officials and create a solidified backing for the industry. Specifically, the task force sought to garner more support from the fractious California Congressional delegation in bringing Pentagon business to the state. As Cedillos stated at the time, “All of California has a stake in the viability of the aerospace industry” (Orange County Register). It quickly became apparent just as Cedillos has warned, that the exodus of aerospace jobs out of California had widespread ramifications throughout the state -- including a significant impact on the real estate industry, reduced support for universities and charities and serious financial repercussions on various other economic sectors.
Many describe Cedillos’ formation of the CAL task force among his most significant achievements on behalf of California. The institution of this initiative, in addition to ultimately saving thousands of aerospace and defense jobs within the state, brought critical attention, at the highest levels of government, to the crucial need for strong and proactive strategy -- not simply with regard to preserving jobs, but also in creating important employment opportunities and fostering a hospitable environment for businesses to grow their companies and create jobs. Indeed, by developing sound public policy, the initiative helped to make California a more open and cost-effective place in which to operate a business.
In assessing Cedillos’ efforts,
The New York Times declared: “The willingness of Mr. Cedillos to work his Republican connections and plunge into hardball politics sets him apart from top executives at the major contractors, most of whom profess to hold themselves above the fray. And in a business dominated by engineers, Mr. Cedillos brings a background [professional athlete] that stands out even in California.”
The UAW International Union, one of the largest unions in the United States said the following about Cedillos’ initiative; “Your efforts on behalf of Aerospace have been well documented and now you can add this effort to the many successes of the past. The leadership is committed to your ongoing effort to save jobs and we look forward to working with you in the future.”
With the state’s economy quickly deteriorating during the last major recession, the newly elected governor called upon Ron Cedillos to join Peter Ueberroth and a handful of other business and labor leaders to develop an emergency economic revitalization plan for California. The resulting California Council on Competitiveness quickly brought together Cedillos and other top business and labor leaders under a mandate to analyze the prime components of the state’s diverse economy -- and to formulate a detailed plan which would provide California with a sound and effective approach to the challenges of an ongoing recession and a quickly changing global economy.
With just four months in which to work, and a myriad of often conflicting interests demanding input in the process, Cedillos and the other members of the Council were able to present the Governor and State with a landmark appraisal of the economic situation and a detailed blueprint for dramatic changes to the state’s economic platform. The blueprint included needed capital and economic incentives, regulatory streamlining, legal system reform and support for critical industries. The report's innovative initiatives helped make possible what the Governor later called the “California comeback,” and he characterized the report itself as the cornerstone for “the most productive session of the legislature in more than two decades.”
Ron Cedillos is proud not only of his service on the Council -- but more importantly of the many positive effects the Council's work has had in streamlining regulatory disincentives to growth while removing barriers to job creation for California.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce
When the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times reported that Ron Cedillos was under consideration for the cabinet position of U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush, it set off another round of speculation of whether Cedillos would leave the private sector for full-time government service. With the opportunity to advise the President on U.S. competitiveness
and economic growth policy, Ron Cedillos knew it was a once in a lifetime prospect, but he also knew it would mean the end of fulfilling his work helping govern the largest institution of higher education in the nation -- the California State University System.
The confidence placed in Ron Cedillos by the Governor through his many appointments to important policy boards, projects and commissions had been noticed by the White House in search of problem solving talent and leadership. California’s Governor characterized Cedillos through his spokesman thusly; “No challenge is too big for him. I think through his dedication and his energy he’s able to accomplish a lot of feats that others write off as lost causes.” Moreover, Ron was being ardently supported for the cabinet position by many leading Californians from both the Democratic and Republican parties who knew firsthand of his abilities and problem solving skills.
When interviewed by the Press Telegram regarding his possible appointment, Ron Cedillos replied “I don’t know the timing is right for me. There is a lot of work to be done in California.” Cedillos was at least in part referring to his work in advising state elected officials on economic strategies and education reform.
While creating broad based economic opportunity is Cedillos’ passion, in the end, providing the best education possible for our youth is his first priority. As such, though distinctly honored when put forward for the post, Cedillos declined further consideration. Notwithstanding his decision, Cedillos continued to advise state and national leaders on a variety of policy matters.
Border Governors Conference
California’s Governor appointed Ron Cedillos as a member of
the state’s team at the Border Governors Conference. Members of this important conference work to develop policy and viable new solutions for cross-border economic development, health, education, science and technology, environment, border security, and such issues as the continuing problem of human trafficking. Other important issues deemed uniquely critical to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas as well as their counterpart states in Mexico are also within the Conference's purview.
Ron's participation helped frame unique roadmap approaches for
resolving complex challenges to the member states. He brought with him a wealth of policy and problem solving experience gained through his positions in both the private sector and on public sector boards and commissions -- as well as a deep personal interest in many of the key development issues continually addressed by the Conference.
His participation in the Conference also added fresh insights
to Ron's own perception of the many challenges and opportunities presented in the new global economy.
The Border Governors Conference continues its work on serious contemporary policy issues such as pandemic influenza, border security in the post 9-11 era, development of bi-national health alerts and preservation of natural resources. By sharing information, technology and personnel with the common goals of preparedness, security and the smooth and continued flow of goods, services and people the Conference plays a vital role in fostering cross-border understanding and development.