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Advocate for Norcal

John HartState Senate District 4 candidate Sam Aanestad of Grass Valley gestures during an interview.
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Want name recognition in western Nevada County?

Try spending a decade or so announcing the ever-popular Nevada Union High School Miners’ football games on radio station KNCO-AM.

Until three years ago, that was one of Sam Aanestad’s jobs, so you could say he’s got “Miner Magic” on his resume.



For four years, the Grass Valley oral surgeon has been the state assemblyman representing western Nevada County.

Now Aanestad – the Republican candidate in an overwhelmingly GOP district – hopes to step up to the sprawling state Senate’s 4th District. It includes western Nevada County and a huge chunk of Northern California from just north of Sacramento to the Oregon border.




“I see myself as somebody who1s supposed to be a watchdog over state government,” Aanestad said. “I am not there to help the government. I am there to help the people deal with the government.”

“I think we have an outstanding record in that regard,” he said.”If you were to ask the community leaders in the communities I’ve represented, they’ll all give you a pretty good report.”

Aanestad is opposed by Democrat Marianne Smith.

Most of the state’s water comes from the 4th Senate District, Aanestad said. He wants to safeguard that water for agriculture.

“Agriculture has been the most stable backbone of the economy of California,” he said.

Defense plants, the space race and military bases boosted the economy for a while, but “that’s pretty much gone belly up.” High-tech industry hasn’t been stable, either.

“You have a bad year, and look what happens,” said Aanestad.

“If you really look at the sustainable, stable economy of California, it’s agribusiness,” he said.

“They need to be assured that they have access to the water,” he said. Farmers also need to be assured of stable electrical rates to pump that water, he said.

The 4th Senate District includes the entire Klamath River, a battleground between farmers who want water for their crops and Indians, environmentalists and fishermen who want more water released for salmon.

As an assemblyman, Aanestad supported Klamath-area farmers and said similar water battles are on the horizon in the 4th Senate District.

“The Scott River is under assault now because of the listing of the coho salmon,” he said.

Aanestad beat GOP Assemblyman Dick Dickerson of Redding in the March primary to win the party’s nomination for Senate.

Aanestad thinks Republicans should stick together in the Democrat-dominated legislature. He attacked Dickerson for being one of four Republicans who crossed over to give Democrats the votes necessary to pass the budget.

Even if Democrats had a two-thirds majority in both houses and a Democratic governor, Republicans could still criticize their policies and “stand up and say, `This is wrong,'” Aanestad said.

“I don1t think the Republicans will ever be irrelevant,” he said.

He dismisses Smith’s contention that Nevada County needs a Democrat in the state legislature if it wants any clout.

“Send a Democrat to Sacramento if you want bigger deficits,” he said. “They had their way for three years, and there’s a $24 billion deficit.”

Aanestad is a native of Wisconsin. He and his wife, Susan, have lived in Grass Valley since 1980 and have three grown children.


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