The Westly Write Up - June 2016



The Westly Write Up


Here are a few updates from Team Westly over the past few months.






California’s entrepreneurs are changing the world with companies like Apple, Facebook and Tesla. But we’re innovating the democratic election process as well. Earlier this month Newsweek magazine published an op-ed I wrote with John Opdyke on California’s open primary system, “For More Inclusive Primaries, See how California Does it”.


We wrote that “In 2010, California voters were frustrated by an election system that produced perpetual gridlock and 99 percent incumbency protection. A broad left-right coalition, including the two of us, came together to shake up the status quo by adopting a public primary via ballot referendum.


Today, in California, there is no longer a Democratic primary and a Republican primary in races below president. There is one public primary. All the candidates appear on the ballot. Every voter is eligible to participate. And the two most popular candidates, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election. The seemingly modest change of moving from partisan primaries to public primaries has had major benefits for California.


The switch enfranchised 4.1 million independent voters who no longer have to ask permission to have a voice in their own government; elected officials must now reach out to all the voters in the first round, not just a partisan few, in order to get elected.” To read the piece in full, goto




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The mass shooting in Orlando in which 49 young people lost their lives and scores more were severely wounded was heartbreaking and provokes us, once again, to wonder how we can stop this carnage. It seems that every time our country is convulsed by another mass shooting we think that this particular tragedy in all its terrible dimensions will finally bring us to our senses and lead Congress to finally pass some reasonable gun safety measures.


There are signs now that the NRA’S stranglehold on so many of our lawmakers is loosening. A bipartisan group of Senators has introduced a bill to block gun sales to individuals on the government’s No Fly list. It is a very modest bill that doesn’t include other provisions that I think make sense, including a ban on assault style weapons, an expansion of background checks, ways to prevent the mentally ill from acquiring guns, a creation of a federal database to track gun sales and closing of the gun show loophole, but it’s a start and if Congress can muster the will and courage to actually pass it, maybe we can hope for more. After Orlando, I know I will.







Like all of you, I was saddened to learn of Muhammad Ali’s passing on June 3d. Muhammad Ali shaped my generation. Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson put it best when he said, “I was a boxer. Muhammad Ali was history”. I first met theChamp at the Democrat Convention in Chicago in 1996. One of my best friends, Ron DiNicola, had introduced me to the Champ. Ron had been the Marine Corps boxing champion and then went to Harvard and Georgetown Law. Ron had become Muhammad Ali’s lawyer and introduced me to Howard Bingham and Bernie Yuman who were Ali’s closest friends for 50 years. I got to know Ali and his incredible wife Lonnie over the next 20 years.


Both Sports Illustrated and the BBC voted Ali as “The Athlete of the Century”, But he was much more. Anyone who knew him will tell you he was the most gracious human being you will ever meet. He was inspiring, generous, had a great sense of humor and loved kids. One night I was having dinner in London with Howard Bingham and the Champ and the busboy came out and said he was an immigrant from Pakistan and that the Champ was his father’s all-time hero and that he had grown up watching movies of his fights. Ali could have asked for his privacy—but instead he said “bring me a piece of paper and I’ll write him a note”. It began, “you have a great son . . .”




On May 25th, I had the opportunity to speak to a cross section of California’s most senior business and political leaders at the Southern California Leadership Council. The bipartisan council is led by former governors Gray Davis and Pete Wilson. Governors Davis and Wilson disagree on a lot of issues, but they’re smart enough to know that to solve California’s biggest challenges like traffic congestion, public education and the shortage of affordable housing, we need to bring democrats and republicans together. Governor Davis also reminded us that close to half of all Californians live south of Los Angeles.


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On June 24th I joined Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other leaders from around the world to welcome President Obama to StanfordUniversity for the 7th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).  The President joined about 1,200 attendees - including entrepreneurs, investors, ecosystem supporters, educators, business representatives, and government officials representing the full measure of entrepreneurial talent from diverse backgrounds across our nation and the world. 

As the President has said, entrepreneurship is a fundamental American value, and a force that has the ability to unlock opportunity for people around the world. I was delighted to be able to take part in this gathering to support and spur continued entrepreneurial vision and achievement.



I hope folks have a tremendous 4th of July and that we connect soon. 

Warmest regards,





Office of Steve Westly

2200 Sandhill Road, Stuite 250

Menlo Park, CA 94025

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