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Voters to pick candidate for new congressional seat


The state’s 3rd Congressional District has new borders.

The district, which contains Nevada County, has new northern and southern borders in Shasta and Inyo counties, respectively. From east to west, it’s Lake Tahoe to Yuba City and Sacramento.

Four candidates are running for the newly created seat: Kevin Kiley, Kermit Jones, Scott Jones, and David Peterson.

Petersen couldn’t be reached for comment after multiple attempts.

The top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.


Kevin Kiley, 37, currently represents California’s 6th Assembly District, which, post-redistricting, resides in a pocket just west of the congressional district’s Sacramento arm.

“Right now we are at a critical juncture with our nation’s history,” Kiley said. “A lot of things that made America the greatest country in the world are being tested. Principles like limited government, the idea that citizens have inalienable rights and liberties, principles of economic freedom that allowed us to prosper and, even more basic than that, the core principles of the constitution.”

Kiley said over the course of the pandemic, the government failed to respect its commitment to the separation of powers and freedom of speech.

“All these things have been cast by the wayside to different degrees across the country,” Kiley said. “No where worse than in California.”

Kiley said he made the personal decision to get vaccinated, but said he did not support the California statewide mask mandate as it imposes on personal freedoms.

“The New York Supreme Court just struck that down as unconstitutional,” Kiley said, adding that pandemic mandates overstepped the government’s role in people’s lives.

Kiley said he believes “a more reasonable and balanced approach” to the pandemic would have been to allow local governments to conduct their own affairs.

“The reality is the lockdowns and school closures have done enormous harm to our kids and to our economy and has done nothing to advance public health,” Kiley said, adding that he believes the pandemic response marks one of the most significant policy failures in the country’s history.

“California continues to take exactly the wrong approach.”

Kiley gained some recognition during the special gubernatorial recall election in September, but said those who have yet to understand his political approach ought to consider him “reliably conservative.”

“I’m a Republican, I’m a conservative and I’m one who fights,” Kiley said. “People will also see that I’m an independent thinker. I will always make the decision about what is best for my constituents and not let the political winds sway me from doing the right thing.”

Pivoting to fire and water issues, Kiley described the catastrophic wildfires that affected parts of the new congressional district as avoidable.

“We have utterly neglected proper forest management, be that prescribed burns or other mitigation efforts,” Kiley said. “At the same time, we’ve made it extremely difficult for private enterprise (to help) with utterly pointless regulations … supposedly done in the name of the environment.”

Regarding water and water storage, Kiley said he has always favored a model of regional self-sustainability.

“We’ve failed to invest in water storage and maintenance of those projects, we’ve failed to recycle,” Kiley said, highlighting his interest in the More Water Now 2022 initiative that would send 2% of California’s general fund to water storage projects.

As vice chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee, Kiley said he wants to make sure schools are committed to “teaching the basics” and reject “radical curriculum” like Critical Race Theory.

Kevin Kiley
Photo by Diana Martinez


Democrat Dr. Kermit Jones, 45, said he brings the experience the congressional district and the nation need.

The unfortunate sadness of COVID-19 was that it was politicized a little too much on both sides, Jones said.

“We do have politicians who are using this as a vehicle to stay in office or run in office,” Jones said, adding, “without being genuine about the concerns of people.”

“As a doctor that’s treated over 20,000 patients, who have had patients and family members die of COVID, I treated people throughout the pandemic whether or not they wore the mask and respected their right to do that,” Jones said, adding, “I’m personally vaccinated. I looked at the data and felt that the vaccination was the best way to protect myself and my family.”

Jones said his commitment to helping those in need, regardless of their political leanings, is one facet of his medical vocation that will serve him well as he serves the community spanning from Sacramento to Inyo counties.

“Most of the things I believe polarize us — as we get people in the room and talk to them, we’re not as polarized as we think,” Jones said, adding that no one wants forest fires or droughts. “We want our kids to be healthy growing up, we want our preteens to grow old and businesses to survive. The problem is politicians pit each other against (one another) so they can stay in office.”

Jones said because the new district voted majority democratic not that long ago, the district is rife with competition.

“Competition makes people better,” he said, adding that it really does not matter if a district trends more left or right, as long as the options feel pushed to present their best selves. “They can’t just sit back and be Tom McClintocks and I’m not gonna do anything.”

Jones studied electrical engineering at Georgia Tech before participating in a dual degree program at Duke to get a higher level degree in law and medicine. He was sitting in a Red Cross donation bus on campus when he learned of 9/11 “and made the decision right then and there.”

Jones was enlisted between 2004 and 2009, and then used the GI bill to go to Colombia’s School of International Public Affairs.

Afterward, he worked for the Barack Obama Administration at the White House, “working on health care issues for veterans and innovation.”

Eventually, Jones finished his residency and moved to Northern California to work for Kaiser — seeing patients and working in government affairs.

Jones said he grew up on a rural farm in South Haven, Michigan.

“I got my values from growing up in that community,” he said. “You just did what you said you were going to do and that was expected.”

Kermit Jones

The reason he’s running for office now is because he told himself he would be a doctor after seeing his mother work as a nurse when he was 8.

“I ran right for it as fast as I could,” he said of his pursuit of his medical career. “What I’ve seen over the last four years, a lot of people aren’t getting the care they need. As a country we are in a dangerous spot because we have politicians in office — not leaders.”


Republican Sheriff Scott Jones, 54, made a point of quickly trying to set himself apart from Kiley.

“I’ve had a career,” Jones said. “I’m not trying to make a career, I’m trying to bring a career to Congress having run one of the largest Sheriff’s Offices in the country.”

Jones announced his bid to represent the district in late January, after confirming that U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock was not in the running for the seat.

Jones has worked in some capacity of the Sheriff’s Office for 33 years, with 12 of them most recently as the Sacramento County sheriff.

“It’s a different kind of public service,” Jones said. “I still have a lot to give. The issues happening in this country right now have accelerated over the past couple of years.”

Jones said he found himself exercising his role as a different kind of community leader from Day 1 of discussion with other stewards regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I took a stand to not enforce any of the health orders,” Jones said. “This was when we were just at 15 days to flatten the curve. Our role was not one of enforcement, but education.”

Jones said that “enforcement mandates by closing gyms and restaurants would have destroyed trust between law enforcement and the community.”

Although his department did not enforce mask protocol written by the state, he did oversee the agency as the local crime rate descended.

Jones listed his primary concerns in the following order: public safety, “the border piece,” and the economy — “the issue people care about the most.”

Regarding the economy, Jones said he manages a “half a billion dollar annual budget and leads 3,000 women and men.”

“This happens to perfectly coincide with what I have a lifetime of personal experience doing,” Jones said.

Scott Jones

Pivoting to crime, Jones said, “the statewide trend has been climbing up for years,” Jones said, adding that local crime statistics confirm his effectiveness as a leader. “I know something about keeping people safe, and more importantly, making them feel safe.”

Jones said he respects Kiley and shares most — if not all — of his political ideology.

“I consider him a friend,” Jones said. “The reality is he’s been in the Assembly for five years and this is the fourth office he’s run for.”

Jones said raising his children in Colfax means that he lives a literal stone’s throw from the Nevada County border.

“My wife worked at Flour Garden Bakery for a while,” Jones said, adding that his older son took his driving test at the Grass Valley DMV and his younger son took his permit test there. “We spend a lot of time turning left on the 174 and heading to Grass Valley instead of Auburn.”

Jones said as someone who has survived off a well for 20 years, he understands the importance of landowners maintaining their water rights amid changing climatic conditions.

“It’s short-term gain for long-term pain,” Jones said, adding that he is pro-business but if a venture causes wells to run dry, for example, “I’m not sure it is a partisan issue, when you can just do a cost-benefit analysis.

“I think ‘environmental policies’ should not be a bad word,” Jones added. “The sides differ on causes and cure, but average rainfall and average snowpack is on a decline — whether it’s temporary or permanent, people disagree but you can’t argue with the facts.

“I’ve been on a well for 20 years,” Jones added. “I understand the criticality of having that well produce water when you turn it on.”

Jones said he became a spokesperson for harsher immigration policy — Jones believes ICE should have access to law enforcement records — following the death of one of his officers at the hand of a man without proper documentation in 2014.


Name: Kevin Kiley

Age: 37

Occupation: Assemblyman

Hometown: Sacramento

Name: Kermit Jones

Age: 45

Occupation: Doctor

Hometown: South Haven, Michigan

Name: Scott Jones

Age: 54

Occupation: Sacramento Sheriff

Hometown: Southern California

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com


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