Q and A WITH SAM AANESTAD | TheUnion.com


1 What brought you into politics?

I was perfectly happy being a small businessman and oral surgeon, but as more government over-regulation began to be too much of a burden, I got involved with my professional organization. Eventually, I became chairman of the Legislative Committee and spent time at the Capitol working to ensure health providers were able to practice and take care of patients, instead of wasting time with unnecessary regulations.

2. So what qualifies you to run for this office?

After starting my surgery practice, I was elected for 11 years as a trustee on the Grass Valley School Board, during which I earned a master’s degree in public administration. Even now, after four years in the state Assembly, I still don’t consider myself a politician. I see myself as small businessman trying to make things better for Californians to work, get an education, and live with the least interference from government as possible.

3. Republicans are outnumbered in Sacramento. Do Republicans matter?

Of course we matter. As the minority party, we have the job of presenting an alternative view. Government is still about checks and balances. Last year’s budget is a perfect example; if Republicans were not in Sacramento, every car owner would be paying 150 percent more for their car and California would still be facing at least $50 billion in deficits over the next five years. Also, issues like water storage, equalization funding for schools, controlling state spending, and, most important to me, rural health care, would hardly even be mentioned in Sacramento.

4.Your opponent (Marianne Smith) calls you an “obstructionist” and faults your opposition to the state budget. How do you respond?

Well, if you want to pay more for your car, vote for her. If you want businesses to close and jobs to leave the state, vote for her. If you want California to face bankruptcy, vote for her.That is what the proposed budget she supported would have done. I believe in providing a quality education, access to affordable health care, and less government intrusion into our daily lives.

5.This part of the state doesn’t have much voting clout. How do you deal with that?

Most of the issues we deal with are not partisan issues; those are just the ones that grab the headlines. Most of the bills I carry are for the north state: keeping hospitals open, securing our water facilities, transportation funds for rural counties, ensuring adequate funding for schools and law enforcement. The best way to get those important issues passed … is working on both sides of the aisle.

6.What are the major issues?

Right now, the deficit will be the major topic. The budget that passed is still $50 billion short. Gov. Davis used every accounting trick in the book to balance this budget. Borrowing at high interest rates, securitizing the tobacco settlement for 45 cents on the dollar, counting on funds that won’t be realized, and being woefully wrong on revenues that are not coming to the state are just a few examples. Education will remain a top issue. Students are still graduating from high school unable to get a job or go to college. School facilities around the state are still in deplorable condition. Teachers need access to continuing education.Water supply and quality are big issues. With growth throughout the state, we must add storage. For years, California has been taking more than its allotment from the Colorado River, and we are losing that very soon. Without more storage, the thirsty voters in Los Angeles and the Central Valley will look to the Sierra and our water to drink, grow crops, and water their lawns.

7. There’s been talk of protecting watersheds in the Sierra. How do we do that and allow logging?

I don’t think you can do one without the other. Using science to guide land stewardship is the best way to ensure quality water and a sustainable logging industry. California already has the strictest logging standards in the country. We don’t allow logging on steep slopes, and there must be a buffer around any stream. If we stop logging altogether, as we have seen in California’s national forests, the amount of fuel will build up until there is a massive wildfire.

8. We’ve heard for the last 20 years that people would move up to the Sierra, and now it’s a reality. How do we keep up?

Effective planning must be adopted. People will continue to move to Nevada County as long as it is a great place to live. Affordable housing, the efficient delivery of clean water and a good health care system must be planned for, and much of this responsibility falls to local government.

9. We have a large elderly population here. What are their concerns that we need to address?

Access to affordable health care and the increasing costs of living are the main concerns I hear. Most of the counties I represent no longer have Medi-Cal/HMO coverage. I worked to increase Medi-Cal payments to help decrease insurance costs in rural areas, and I secured a 17 percent increase. Unfortunately, most of that was eliminated in the budget my opponent supports, so health costs may be going up yet again.

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