Six challengers seek to unseat LaMalfa in District 1 congressional race |

Six challengers seek to unseat LaMalfa in District 1 congressional race

Doug LaMalfa.
Submitted Photo |

Doug LaMalfa has twice been elected to represent California’s 1st Congressional District. Both times, he was sent to Washington, D.C. with the resounding support of District 1 voters. In 2012, he defeated Democratic challenger Jim Reed by garnering more than 57 percent of the vote; in 2014, he defeated Democratic challenger Heidi Hall with 61 percent of the vote.

LaMalfa, 55, is once again seeking re-election in 2016. This year, he faces opposition from one familiar face: Reed, 65, a lawyer who lives in Red Bluff, is attempting another run at the congressional seat.

LaMalfa is also being challenged within the Republican party by Joe Montes, 60, an attorney and business development specialist who lives in Chico.

So far, LaMalfa’s campaign for office is the best-funded of the three. According to campaign finance documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, LaMalfa’s campaign raised $422,699 through the end of March. The Montes campaign raised $125,790 through that period, while Reed’s campaign raised $44,996.

Other challengers to LaMalfa’s congressional seat listed on the ballot for the June 7 primary election include Jeff Gerlach, an information technology analyst who is running as an independent candidate; Republican Gary Allen Oxley, a nurse; Republican Gregory Cheadle, a real estate broker; and Democrat David Peterson, an accountability system developer.

For more on Gerlach, Oxley, Cheadle and Peterson, visit

The top two vote-getters in the June primary election, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.

The Union asked LaMalfa, Reed and Montes to share their viewpoints on several of the issues facing residents in District 1.

Job Growth

Most of the state and country has recovered from the 2008 recession — but recovery in the north state continues to lag, Reed said.

In order to catch up, the area needs to invest in its infrastructure, Reed said, fixing and improving highways, bridges, airports and levies and ensuring access to high speed internet.

Funding for those projects could be found in the federal budget, Reed said — specifically, by shrinking the defense department budget, which he noted is over $600 billion annually. Trimming that budget wouldn’t compromise national safety, he said; those cutbacks could come from eliminating the independent contractors that perform services to the military, such as cooking and aircraft repair, and training military members to fill those roles. Infrastructure improvements would not only bring construction jobs to District 1, but, “once the construction is done, it puts our district in a much better position to compete in the private sector with the part of the country that has recovered,” Reed said.

Montes noted the north state is an ideal location for employers; it offers a high quality of life with ample access to outdoor recreation while still maintaining a connection to more urban areas such as Sacramento and the Bay Area. Employers who relocate to District 1 won’t face a significant amount of competition in recruiting employees, and, because those companies can pay a liveable wage, the jobs they create will enable workers to earn enough money to buy homes and put down roots in the area, Montes said.

“Our Congressman has not been active in opening those doors and that’s why we have such a high unemployment rate,” Montes said.

LaMalfa, however, pointed to government-imposed regulations that prevent businesses from relocating to or expanding in California as the biggest barrier to economic development in District 1.

“What [businesses] need is predictability or stability in the cost of doing business,” LaMalfa said. “And they need to know that the same regulations they have right now are going to be the same ones 10, 15, even 30 years from now.”

LaMalfa also advocated for further exploration of biomass as an energy source.

“Biomass means local jobs, it means local activity, it means a forest clean-up that is done within proper forest harvest specifications,” he said.


In November, California voters will likely have a chance to decide whether recreational marijuana use should be legal. Reed supports the legalization of the drug for recreational purposes.

“I don’t think you need to regulate anything that’s not really going to hurt anyone,” Reed said.

He can see legal recreational marijuana use leading to more incidents of driving under the influence, but, “I can’t conceive of it causing any more problems than, let’s say, alcohol already does,” Reed said.

Plus, Reed said, “if you tax it properly, you can make some money that the state can really use.”

LaMalfa’s viewpoint on whether recreational marijuana should be legal was succinct.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

He reiterated his support for Nevada County’s Measure W, which seeks to limit the size of medicinal marijuana grows, for attempting to more strictly regulate the drug.

Montes is also against legalizing recreational marijuana use; he cited concern about more people driving under the influence if the drug were legal.

When you remove the “social taboo” around marijuana by legalizing its use, “you make it cheaper and more accessible, and that encourages the use of more of it, particularly by young people,” Montes said.

Water storage

As California continues to grapple with a years-long drought, all three candidates supported building more water storage.

Reed said he supports the construction of Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley, but said the government also needs to invest in infrastructure that will further conservation and the reuse of waste water.

LaMalfa has supported the construction of Sites Reservoir, even introducing legislation that would help the project clear federal hurdles. He’s also supported a Republican-backed drought-relief bill that sought to suspend certain state water rights and environmental law to pump more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Montes criticized attempts to send water from the northern part of the state down to Southern California, a practice he said then requires the northern part of the state to pull additional water out of aquifers.

“It’s not a sustainable practice,” he said.

Montes also advocated for “thinning out” of forest land, which would allow more of the rain that does fall to be absorbed into the ground and replenish aquifers; water would also be more free to flow downhill into rivers and lakes, he said.

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email or call 530-477-4230.

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