State assembly contest not much of a race
June 2, 2014
Current City: Bieber, Calif.
Occupation: Farmer and Assemblyman
Education: Big Valley High School
Family: Wife Megan Dahle, and three children.
Current City: Gazelle, Calif.
Education: Student at the College of the Siskiyous
Family: Father and mother both work in hope support services.
Q&A with Dahle and Smith
1. How will you help support the farming industry in Nevada County and the district as a whole?
Dahle: Well I will continue to do the same things I’ve been doing. I know there’s been some controversy over some of the legislation that was posed in Nevada County, I know there’s a lot of organic farmers and farmer market type people, and I respect that fully. My wife and I shop at farmer’s markets when they are available, but I always want to make sure to protect the public so they know what they’re getting. Sometimes we have some conflict with how we should go about that, but I’m trying to protect the public and also give the people the freedom to have access to the kinds of agricultural products they want.
It can be tough sometimes with the small grow it in your backyard types and then marketing it. We had a few bills I took a little heat over, one was the raw milk bill, which didn’t even receive a motion out of our committee and didn’t make it out. I caught a little heat for that, but in my heart I felt it was the right thing to do, and let the chips fall where they may.
Smith: Unfortunately and ironically in a sense I live in a rural county, and it does have a very high focus on farming. Unfortunately as it stands I would have to look into the views of the farmers of Nevada County and of the requirements as a whole of that area. I wish I could give you more information in that regard, but as it stands as of right now, I would say that I would have to gather more information.
2. What will be your top priorities as state assembly member?
Dahle: We have a lot of natural resources in our district and that’s obviously a focus because that’s where all the jobs come from, natural resources. But also education is very important to me and making sure that we have the infrastructure in place to grow the economy of the first assembly district. So those are all my top priorities so I would mainly run legislation that would help bring jobs to the district. Secure our water, those are things that we need to continue with our agriculture and recreation opportunities. So those are the top things to make sure that we secure our rights and don’t get taken advantage of and make sure that we’re well represented at the state level.
I represent 25,000 square miles and where some members have very small districts, letting them know what we’re up against because the one size fits all legislation that is passed at the state level doesn’t always work for the northern states, so trying to educate them on those issues will be my top priorities.
Smith: My priorities as an assembly member, as someone elected to a public position, I would like to try and represent the views of the county, or the assembly district rather, than my own personal views, regardless of what they may be. For instances take gun control and economics, both of which I have strong opinions on, but my personal opinion is not necessarily what I want to show and support and give to the rest of the assembly. My job is to express the views of the people who elected me.
3. As assembly member, how would you affect policy for your constituents?
Dahle: Always on the regulatory side of business, trying to make common sense regulatory laws. Less of them actually, take the burden off of the business owners so they can focus on running their businesses and taking care of their employees, and being successful.
The other thing I think is important is that we change what we have to grow the economy, and the only way you can do that is making sure the business community has security. When we’re changing things all the time, that makes them insecure in their investments, so we want to make sure that they know we’re not going to change the rules, so if they actually do invest and create jobs, they are going to be able to be successful.
Smith: I would try to get in touch with, more intimately acquainted with, the people in my district. I would like instead of making decisions off the cuff if you will, to give a more comprehensive mirror of the thoughts and feelings of the people who would be affected by such legislation.
The 2014 California First District Assembly race between Republican incumbent Brian Dahle and Democrat Brigham Smith may be one of the least competitive races on this year's election ballot.
Dahle has a sizable advantage over Smith in campaign contributions, experience and voting demographics — Smith said he knows he is beat.
"It's really a very solid Republican area," Smith said. "So the chances of victory in this, regardless how hard I campaign, would be slim to none."
The district encompasses the state's northeastern region, which includes Nevada, Butte, Lassen, Placer, Siskiyou, Plumas, Modoc, Shasta and Sierra counties.
With a background in farming, Dahle became an assembly member in November 2012 after beating fellow Republican Rick Bosetti with 65.6 percent of the district's vote. Dahle said he is running for his first re-election bid this year with a unique perspective as a farmer and businessman.
"I'm trying to take that perspective to the state Capitol to make California a better place," Dahle said. "We have a lot of debt, we have high unemployment, so I'm trying to educate other members on ways that we could make California a better place and make it a stronger state. We're number nine when it comes to economies in the world, and we used to be number six, and I'd like to be back to number six."
At the age of 21, Smith, a student at the College of the Siskiyous, has no experience in public service or politics, and says he decided to run for the experience after his father was asked to run by the Democratic party but declined.
"My dad is too busy; he takes care of my uncle, who has severe Down syndrome and end-stage renal disease," Smith said,
"Instead I was offered this chance, and I decided to take them up on it kind of as a favor to the Democratic party of California."
Smith points out that there are key differences between himself and Dahle that voters should consider.
"Economically, I don't believe we share the same beliefs," Smith said. "Where Brian Dahle is kind of stand pat in regards to extremely limited government interference in the marketplace, I would support or believe in much heavier market regulation in an effort to make sure that large corporations cannot get out of hand as they are, and have, so far."
Dahle points out that Smith's lack of public service separates the two candidates.
"I honestly haven't met him or debated him, so it's been a little difficult to really know what he's about," Dahle said.
"But I think for me, my experience as a local legislator for 16 years on the board of supervisors up in Lassen County and the past 18 months down at the state level, that's experience I have more than he does."
The gap in experience is wide between the two candidates, and so are the campaign finances.
Dahle's latest campaign disclosure statement for the period between March 18 to May 17 states his campaign received $100,743 in contributions, with $123,963 for the entire year to date.
Smith has had no contributions to his campaign and has raised no money for his election bid, according to records obtained from the California Secretary of State's office.
"I'm not competitive by a long shot, I'm not going to lie to you," Smith said.
"I do feel like it's an experience."
While it is evident that Dahle has a significant advantage in the race, he says he has too much respect for the voters of the district to take any opponent lightly.
"I always respect the voter, and I take every single election I've ever been in very seriously," Dahle said. "It doesn't matter who my opponent is, I think you need to ask the voters for their vote. And I respect that and I don't ever want to take anything for granted, so I never do. I always campaign like I can be beat, because I can, and I realize that."
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.