Malia Cohen

Malia Cohen is the most experienced candidate running for State Controller. Looking to represent one of the largest economies in the world, Cohen wants to contribute to the growth in underrepresented communities all over the state of California. Since announcing her candidacy earlier this year, Cohen has built her platform on trust, empowerment, and building a stronger financial bridge between government and the needs of the people.

“I spent my entire career working in a more equitable community for all; with an eye towards the community of color– an eye towards women in working families,” Cohen said as she explained her background and how it widened her lens as a public servant.

Cohen devoted her life’s energy to serving the public for over 10 years. In an exclusive interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, she explained that her platform has been forged over time; Cohen has been a consistent force, looking out for the collective interests of the people she represents.

In a previous interview with California Black Media, Cohen stated, “I am running because I am committed to equity, empowerment, hope, and opportunity for all Californians.” She has shown this level of dedication throughout her professional career.

In her current seat in the California Board of Equalization, Cohen has worked under committees that handle the concerns of the collective community directly. She represents 10 million people living in 23 different counties throughout the state of California.

Part of her mission is to be a viable resource for everyone, with an eye for demographics that are generally underrepresented. With a strong sense of self, Cohen focused her lens to connect to women across the state. “I definitely know how important it is that we support women as they continue to enter the workforce,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s work has served as evidence of her commitment and many of her peers acknowledged her efforts. The current State Controller, Betty Yee has shown her support for Cohen along with the Chair of the California Democratic Party Black Caucus, Taisha Chair.

Cohen emphasized the need to uplift as one climbs. She expressed the importance of her own candidacy, in addition to the growth of representation within multiple departments of government.

Cohen stated, “I read yesterday that there are only 17 Black women elected to statewide offices in the history of our country,” she continued, “We have an opportunity to meet this moment and elect three African American officeholders… that is really powerful.”

Cohen continued, “Three out of the eight positions that are spoken in the Constitution, will be African Americans and that has never happened in the history of the state of California.”

California has one of the largest economies in the world. As the elected Chief Fiscal Officer, Cohen would oversee two of the largest public pension funds in the nation, welcoming the responsibility of protecting the financial well-being of the state.

Cohen will monitor a budget that reaches over $100 billion in receipts and disbursements, ranging from public finances to government-funded initiatives. She would also oversee the monitoring of fraud and abuse of the taxpayer’s dollars.

  • According to the official State Controller website, functions under this position include:
  • Overseeing accounts for and controlling the disbursement of all state funds.
  • Determining the legality and accuracy of every claim against the State.
  • Issuing warrants in payment of the State’s bills including lottery prizes.
  • Administering the Uniform State Payroll System.
  • Auditing all personnel and payroll transactions for state civil service employees, exempt employees, and California State University employees.
  • Informing the public of the State’s financial condition.

Cohen confirmed her understanding of this role by stating, “I’m running to protect the fiscal viability of the entire state.” She continued to specify the tools that will be utilized to uphold the state’s financial health, Cohen said, “The audit tool is the most significant tool that the controller has at her disposal–I simply peel back the layers and reveal what is going on, where’s the disconnect.”

Reflecting on the current state of the world, Cohen observed the financial gaps that were unveiled during the spread of COVID-19. “A lot of people suffered at the hands of the pandemic, and it showed us where our weaknesses were,” Cohen said.

Aligning herself with the nation’s mission set by President Joe Biden, Cohen shared that “building back better” is something that she can easily relate to and apply to her work daily. Within her years in learning what it means to be in public service, her approach to new challenges is observed without a jaded disposition. Cohen stated, “My approach is humble–when I don’t know something I go seek out expert advice.”

Cohen expressed her confidence in owning this responsibility, by stating, “I am the most experienced candidate in this race–meaning that I’ve had statewide experience, I have a local experience, and I have the physical background in terms of understanding investments and how investments grow. She continued, “With Policymaker experience, I think it’s fair to distinguish myself from all other candidates that are in this race.”

As the most experienced candidate, Cohen is looking to serve the public as State Controller. Representing the sixth-largest economy in the world, Cohen is focused on equity and maximizing the awareness of underrepresented communities in California. Leaning heavily on trust and empowerment, Cohen is set on contributing to the agenda of cultural diversity within all branches of U.S. government.