State Senate Distrit 4 (north-central California)
Dr. Sam Aanestad
Dr. Sam Aanestad, 55, R-Grass Valley, a two-term state assemblyman, is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
A former 11-year member of the Grass Valley School District board of trustees, Aanestad belongs to the Rotary Club of Grass Valley . He’s a youth soccer, football and baseball coach, as well as a KNCO radio broadcaster for Nevada Union High School football.
He and his wife Susan have three grown children.
Aanestad is vice chair of the state assembly committee on Health, and serves on the Agriculture, Rules, Water, Parks and Wildlife committees.
What problem do you most want to solve in the Fourth Senate District?
Certainly there are many problems, with more on the way. We’ve been consumed for a year in the budget deficit. We’ve gone from a $15 billion surplus in the first year I was in the assembly (1998) to now a $12 to $16 billion deficit. It’s a complete turnaround. It has to do with the rampant spending in the state of California.
In 1998, spending was $70 billion. Today it’s $102 billion, which is more of an increase than the previous 16 years under two governors. I voted no on that budget because there was not much of a reserve.
Then a couple of things happened: the economy in California and the rest of the nation went down, but they increased the income of the state. All the people who invested in high tech and dot.com lost money. And the energy crisis mishandled by the majority party. The governor dipped into the General Fund for $6 to $8 billion to pay for electricity that we are now turning around and selling for less than we bought if for.
Last year’s budget had a built-in deficit of $4 billion. They knew when they passed that budget that we had $79 billion going out and $74 billion coming in. Yet the governor pushed that budget and Democrats voted for it and four Republican assemblyman voted for it in exchange for pork in their district.
John Burton (D-San Francisco) wants an increase in personal income tax. Don Perata (D-Oakland) wants an increase in sales tax. Then we start talking about an increase in tuition to state universities.
All of this is to tell you that we are in the worst financial crisis in over a decade.
How can you accomplish this in a Democrat-controlled state senate?
You say no. For three years, Dick Dickerson has voted for the budget and has gone against Republican leadership. That’s the main difference between me and my opponent.
There are 26 Democratic state senators, so for a two-thirds vote, you only need one Republican senator to cross the line (there are 14 Republican state senators). The Republican caucus is very concerned that my opponent will get in and won’t be able to say no to the Governor. I’m endorsed by 11 out of the 14 Republican senators. The majority party will have their will, but it doesn’t have to happen on Day One. We held out for a month and got significant improvements in the budget. My opponent has not been able to say no to Gray Davis.
What’s unique about state senate District 4?
It extends from Placer County to Oregon and over to Del Norte. It includes the Sierra Nevada, the Sacramento Valley and the coastline. It’s larger than New Hampshire and Rhode Island put together. It’s huge. I’ve been averaging 400 miles a day in the car. Some days we cover 650, 700 miles. We’ve had to take planes, but I don’t want to do that in stormy weather.
Nearly half of all the water in California falls in that district and yet we represent one-sixth of the land mass. People south of us are very thirsty for that water. Who really has first rights (to water)? I believe in the point of origin. The courts say that long-term contracts throw that out. Last summer it came to a head in the Klamath Basin. The economy was just devastated. Schools were closing. The national Academy of Sciences called it a bad, flawed decision of agencies to restrict water so they could protect Coho salmon further down the river. We knew that at the time. In the meantime, these families downstream were devastated. The Endangered Species Act does not take into account the economic impact on the area (of decisions). I introduced legislation to require that the California Endangered Species Act as a part of the process consider the economic impact of decisions. Also in U.S. Congress.
What is the last book you read?
“Tuesdays with Morrie,” an account by a journalist, a light, inspiring read. It’s from the perspective of a sports journalist who finds out that his journalism professor is dying and he starts to spend every Tuesday morning with him. The meetings changed his life.
Is there anything else you like to include that we didn’t ask you?
The state is growing. We need more water storage. I support the Auburn dam. Agriculture is one of our mainstays of the California economy. Electronics (industry) goes up and down, but agriculture is the backbone of our state. It requires a stable water supply.
Dick Dickerson, 64, a Colorado native and 16-year Redding resident, is a retired law enforcement officer and former Shasta County supervisor.
He and his wife Betty have two sons, two daughters and eight grandchildren, five of whom are under the age of seven and live in Redding.
As a veteran who served three years in the Army Security Agency on Okinawa, Dickerson is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He was chairman for the Shasta County United Way. After a 30-year career in law enforcement in the Riverside Police Department and the California Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, Dickerson is a retired member of the California Union of Safety Employees.
Dickerson serves on nine policy committees – Water, Parks and Wildlife, Budget, Natural Resources, Government Organization, Public Safety, Veterans, Health, Insurance and Energy Cost and Availability – and the Task Force on Terrorism.
What problem do you most want to solve in the fourth senate district?
In all rural California, health care access is a big problem. In many parts of north state, HMOs are pulling out. Insurance industry folks are pulling out or raising rates. And certain parts of the district population are older. The overall problem is that they don’t have good access to affordable health care. We have to determine what causes that and how to fix it is the problem.
In the last six to eight weeks in my assembly district, I’ve been holding a series of round table discussions. We met first in Red Bluff with administrators of rural hospitals in the area. We discussed the problems, what they believe are escalating costs. Then we met with major HMOs, PERS and insurance companies and had a lengthy discussion. Then we met with Chico doctors on their spin on what causes it. In the future, we’ll meet with nurses and pharmacists. We’re asking these people to identify solutions.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be meeting with representatives from each group and spend half a day face to face…without fingerpointing. We need to to look at this problem as more than a health care delivery problem. It’s also an economic development problem. If we can’t tell potential employers that employee will have health care, they’ll go somewhere else and we’ll continue to be an economically depressed part of the state.
The general basis of the solution is getting the business community, the chambers of commerce, the building trades, and industries at the table talking with insurance carriers and determine what sort of program can be put together collectively, how to spread costs out and make it affordable for people and profitable for HMOS.
How do you think you can accomplish this in a Democrat-controlled state senate?
I think it’s doable. You have to take a regional approach to things. In most cases, you get support out of legislature whether they’re Democrats or Republican, because health care is a statewide issue.
I approach government in California from the perspective it’s as much urban versus rural as much as Democratic versus Republican. We have two states here, at least. Some say six. Certainly there are clear definitions between hugely populated areas and rural ones and what their needs are. We’re all elected to represent our areas. There are just more urban legislators than rural that’s where differences come in.
What’s unique about state senate district 4?
The district runs from Crescent City to Nevada City. There are a lot of the same issues; there’s heavy agriculture and natural resources. Del Norte is coastal and their issues are water and fisheries, which is somewhat different than the rest of the district. Nevada County is an important part.
The board of supervisors is not necessarily the driving force in representation there.
Nevada County is growing and there’s a great deal of disagreement about how growth should take place, a lot of open space issues. What I look for in all representation is balance between growth, the environment, private property rights….it’s a situation where all sides need to be at the table to strike a balance where the county is best served. It should be the position of a state senator not to drive that outside of the district. People within the county should be the driving force. They should have local control.
I don’t believe in dictating from Sacramento how land use planning should happen in Nevada County.
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