Senate candidates opine on economy, rural region
Editor’s note: The Union is presenting the positions of candidates in local elections in a question-and-answer format as part of our overall election coverage.
By Greyson Howard
California’s sprawling Senate District 4 has been occupied for eight years by Grass Valley’s Sam Aanestad. With the Republican bowing out due to term limits, two new candidates are vying for his seat.
From the Republican Party, Doug LaMalfa is a farmer from Richvale; running as a Democrat, Lathe Gill is an attorney from Crescent City.
The largely rural district runs along the Oregon border, down through the northern reaches of the Central Valley, and along the foothills of the Sierra.
The Union posed questions to both candidates about the economy and the unique needs of the region; read each candidate’s responses below.
Q: If elected, how would you represent the unique needs of a rural district in a down economy, when urban areas dominate the Legislature?
Doug LaMalfa: Conveying to urban colleagues that “one size fits all” legislating doesn’t fit us in rural California, as it may for urban issues, has always been one of my efforts.
I have been effective in getting urban legislators to understand the impact of proposed laws on rural California by bringing them to the district to see our needs and the beneficial projects firsthand. Because of these efforts, I was honored by the Regional Council of Rural Counties as their Legislator of the Year (as an assemblyman).
I look forward to continuing my fight for issues that are important to our rural communities such as water storage, proper forest management and protecting local governments from state funding raids.
Lathe Gill: Infrastructure and education are the major components of economic development in rural economies.
By this I mean road, rail and air links with larger cities such as Portland, Reno, Sacramento and San Francisco, improved fiber density for high speed access, and higher funding levels for our community colleges and California State University, Chico and Humboldt.
Investing in these areas will give private businesses the tools they need to create jobs in our region.
Our region has unique challenges, including maintaining health care facilities and ambulance services, fire protection, and preserving local control over our water supplies. Rural votes are needed for many important legislative priorities, which means our views and needs have to be considered.
Also, we gain access to many resources because of urban taxpayers, including sending our children to the University of California and using Interstate 5 and Interstate 80.
Q: The needs of the foothills and Central Valley often are very different. How would you balance those needs within the district?
LaMalfa: Being available and accessible is key to understanding and championing issues that are important to the foothills. Preventing runaway bureaucracies and over-regulation is universal to helping the needs of this entire district.
My office and I have been very attentive to the needs of all of the regions in the past, and it is our intention to keep focused on excellent customer service and building relationships at the local level.
Gill: Every citizen deserves representation. The foothills have problems with population growth, associated fire protection issues, climate change and infrastructure that are dissimilar from the issues surrounding growth in the valley, because of geography.
The first priority has to be safety – ambulances, fire trucks, police coverage, and the second priority should be long-term infrastructure.
I would like to see carefully planned growth in the foothills, to preserve what makes them an attractive place to live in the first place. We don’t need to build Orange County in the Sierra.
Q: What would you do to help Nevada County balance stimulating the economy and preserving the rural quality of life that draws people here?
LaMalfa: Allowing a region to specialize in what it does best and how it can optimize its own natural resources will help create a vibrant local economy that, in turn, protects rural quality of life.
When Sacramento and Southern California politicians force local government to do things that are not in the citizens’ best interest, such as forcing out local industries and jobs, it damages our way of life.
By emphasizing local control and limiting state mandates, we can promote job and industrial growth that fits best in our communities.
Gill: I see this as a local responsibility.
However, I would support creative use of block development grants to use existing infrastructure instead of more sprawl.
As a senator, I also could help to promote the events that make Nevada County so colorful, like the Constitution Day parade.
To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4237.
Education: Degree in agriculture/business from California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo.
Experience: Northern California farmer, founding director of the California Rice Commission, Assembly District 2 representative 2002-08.
Education: Law school, University of San Diego.
Experience: Labor and employment attorney licensed in California, Oregon and New York since 2002.
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