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Wilson, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, eliminated or sharply cut back scores of affirmative action policies or programs that are not mandated by state or federal laws or that exceed those laws. He also abolished 118 boards and commissions created to advise state agencies on ethnic and gender diversity issues.
Although he has no direct authority to order policy changes for public schools, colleges and universities, Wilson told his appointees on state educational governing boards that he wants them to dismantle race and gender preference programs that are not required by law.
As mayor of San Diego in the 1970s, Wilson championed affirmative action, adopting a plan to increase the hiring of minority workers and requiring major city contractors to adopt similar programs. But opposition to affirmative action has become a common theme of the Republican presidential candidates and many Republicans in Congress.
Flanked today by a group of Forestry Department firefighters from various minorities, who the governor’s aides said symbolize Californians who resent a public perception that they were hired on the basis of pre…