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Election 2020: North County’s State Assembly Candidates

Over the past two months, The Coast News sent electronic questionnaires in four batches to North County candidates in different levels of government, including federal (six candidates), state (four candidates), municipal/county (62 candidates for eight city councils and county board) and school boards (62 candidates in 12 districts).

The information contained herein is directly from North County’s four California State Assembly candidates in the 75th and 76th District races (* = incumbent). We wanted to share this information with voters so they can decide for themselves who is best suited to represent their interests in public office.

In the short answer section, we limited the candidates’ responses to 350 characters (PDF version). For the relative priorities matrixes, we instructed candidates to please assign relative priorities to several issues. While these issues all have merit and aren’t always mutually exclusive, in a world of constraints, every issue can’t have high priority relative to the rest.

Graphic by Dan Brendel

Marie Waldron (R-75)*

Total campaign receipts (as of Sept. 30)

$809,847

Top 5 Donors

Ca. Real Estate PAC; Ca. New Car Dealers Assoc. PAC; Anheuser Busch; Sempra Energy; Ca. Correctional Peace Officers Assoc. PAC

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running

As a small business owner, parent & former city councilmember, I care about our region, supporting job growth, healthcare access and improving our kid’s education. We need lower taxes, fewer regulations and more housing. Fire prevention is critical.

Some North County school districts have faced structural deficits exacerbated by COVID-19, while others have enjoyed healthier finances. What do you make of this difference and what can or should be done to address it?

The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light many issues which the state will need to address moving forward. While the specific circumstances of each local school district vary, ensuring funding for our schools, to support educational opportunities in a safe and healthy learning environment for all our students, must be a top priority.

Certain state legislation has aimed to increase housing affordability by reducing or otherwise reforming local governments’ zoning or discretionary powers (e.g. SB 50, SB 1120). Have you supported or would you support legislation along similar lines?

I am committed to increasing housing affordability but I didn’t support SB 1120 because it went too far and included the elimination of public hearings. However, I was pleased to support AB 2345 (Gonzalez) and SB 1085 (Skinner) which reformed local zoning by improving density bonus law and I will continue bipartisan work on this issue in 2021.

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve state finances?

In troubled fiscal times like the ones we face now, it is critical that the state spend every dollar wisely. The budget must focus on funding only what we need: education, public safety, public health, ensuring the stability of the social safety net for the neediest Californians, access to clean air and water; and not on funding what we may want.

Where do you see an opportunity for fruitful compromise or collaboration across the partisan aisle?

The biggest issues our state faces require bi-partisan solutions. One area is fire safety. There is broad recognition that what we’re doing is not sustainable. We need better vegetation management. We need resources for firefighting, equipment and pre-positioning. Preventing devastating wildfires is something we can all work together on.

For your highest priority issue above, why is it your highest and how would you address it?

Supporting legislation to mitigate fire risk & protecting the environment, reducing recidivism & racial inequity with criminal justice reform saves lives and money. Education, healthcare and job growth in the era of COVID through funding and reducing regulations will improve access and promote economic prosperity.

For your lowest priority issue above, why is it your lowest and how would you address it?

While it is not a low priority, immigration issues are under the authority of the Federal government so we can best maximize efforts and streamline processes and opportunities by working with the federal government to improve the lives of immigrants, streamline citizenship processes and increase success for individuals. My parents were immigrants.

Kate Schwartz (D-75)

Total campaign receipts (as of Sept. 30)

$24,841

Top 5 Donors

PACE of Ca. School Employees Assoc. PAC; San Marcos Democratic Club; Ca. Democratic Party; M. Mervich; Escondido Democratic Club

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running

I have worked in public health for 35 years and now serve as a Health District Trustee. I am committed to the people of this district, not corporate money. I intend to deliver the healthcare, housing, highways, & sustainable habitat we deserve.

Some North County school districts have faced structural deficits exacerbated by COVID-19, while others have enjoyed healthier finances. What do you make of this difference and what can or should be done to address it?

Schools receive more funding through the LCFF if they serve higher concentrations of high-need students, yet all schools in CA have been underfunded for decades due to revenue lost from Prop 13. With Prop 15, large corporations will pay their fair share and fund our schools and local governments, without burdening taxpayers and small businesses.

Certain state legislation has aimed to increase housing affordability by reducing or otherwise reforming local governments’ zoning or discretionary powers (e.g. SB 50, SB 1120). Have you supported or would you support legislation along similar lines? 

We all need to compromise in order to increase housing availability in areas that are safe from wildfires and near transit-hubs. Not only will we put more money in the pockets of consumers by lowering housing costs, but we will also reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and prevent more of our neighbors from experiencing homelessness.

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve state finances? 

I propose increasing tax incentives for business development and growth, particularly with more funding going toward transportation infrastructure, job training, and the development of renewable energy technology. More new jobs at living wages would increase tax revenue.

Where do you see an opportunity for fruitful compromise or collaboration across the partisan aisle?

There is a need to make exceptions for environmental regulations when it comes to building more homes to resolve the housing crisis and stem the homelessness crisis. We also must cut taxes on small businesses to bring jobs to local economies and give people the opportunity to earn a living wage as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For your highest priority issue above, why is it your highest and how would you address it?

There can be no economic recovery without a public health recovery. We can limit community spread by improving rapid testing and protecting essential workers. We can be better prepared for the next pandemic by increasing rural area healthcare services, expanding health coverage to all Californians, and funding our emergency preparedness Task Force.

For your lowest priority issue above, why is it your lowest and how would you address it?

We face many compounding crises, but each can create jobs as we address them. Healthcare professionals are needed for the pandemic, manufacturing jobs are needed to decarbonize our economy and produce PPE, social workers are needed to address the homelessness crisis and end the criminalization of marginalized Californians and those seeking asylum.

 

Melanie Burkholder (R-75)

Total campaign receipts (as of Sept. 30)

$142,935

Top 5 Donors

$142,935

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running

I am a wife, mom, business owner, and patriot who has served this country as a former US Secret Service Agent. I am running to serve my constituents, to protect our freedom to work, to preserve the middle class, and to lead us to a brighter future.

Some North County school districts have faced structural deficits exacerbated by COVID-19, while others have enjoyed healthier finances. What do you make of this difference and what can or should be done to address it?

A month after the initial lock-down, I saw what justifies my advocacy for school choice: Not all kids learn the same way. Decreasing student populations exacerbate deficits and parents are opting for alternatives because public schools are failing to deliver. We cannot use COVID-19 as an excuse. Children need in-person learning.

Certain state legislation has aimed to increase housing affordability by reducing or otherwise reforming local governments’ zoning or discretionary powers (e.g. SB 50, SB 1120). Have you supported or would you support legislation along similar lines? 

I support legislation that makes it easier to build affordable homes. I believe in local control for housing and development. Examples like SB50 and SB1120 work against the goal of housing affordability. I will work to eliminate these impediments and fight to delegate authority to local governments to increase affordable housing.

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve state finances?

We have a spending problem. Increasing revenue, as evidenced by recent tax increases don’t work. I would end the high-speed rail initiative, bond measures for special interests, and spending billions on illegal immigrants. We need local control to fix roads, improve schools, and finally fix homelessness and put power back in your hands.

Where do you see an opportunity for fruitful compromise or collaboration across the partisan aisle?

One area where I see a bipartisan effort is in the retirement of our military. Currently, many who retire move away from California because it is so expensive here and they get more for less with their military pensions in other states. I would propose legislation that lessens the burden on our retired military and helps keep them in California.

For your highest priority issue above, why is it your highest and how would you address it?

Taxation and Education: Sacramento has a spending problem and it’s getting worse. Promises are made, then broken in favor of special interests. Our roads and schools aren’t improving. I’ll propose a tax cut for working families and demand accountability of how our money is spent, focusing on teaching students and not on political indoctrination.

For your lowest priority issue above, why is it your lowest and how would you address it?

Non-tech jobs are important. These individuals have suffered greatly during the business closures. If we focus on the rest of the problems, make it cheaper to run a business, lower the cost of health care, build more affordable housing and stop creating so many roadblocks to economic growth, those job numbers will increase.

Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-75*)

Total campaign receipts (as of Sept. 30)

$1,808,924

Top 5 Donors

Ca. Democratic Party; Sonoma County Democratic Party; Riverside County Democratic Central Committee; Ca. Professional Firefighters PAC; SW Regional Council of Carpenters Polit. Action Fund

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running

As a businesswoman, mother, and Assemblywoman, I am the effective leader we need on sustainability, opportunity, equality and equity issues. I’ve delivered results, protected public health and helped our economy. I’d be honored to earn your vote.

Some North County school districts have faced structural deficits exacerbated by COVID-19, while others have enjoyed healthier finances. What do you make of this difference and what can or should be done to address it?

COVID-19 has put a tremendous strain on our schools, which is why I voted for SB 74 and helped secure $5.53 billion to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on our students. For the long term, we need to look carefully at funding formulas, like LCFF, and ensure they are based on a comprehensive picture of the financial pressures our districts face.

Certain state legislation has aimed to increase housing affordability by reducing or otherwise reforming local governments’ zoning or discretionary powers (e.g. SB 50, SB 1120). Have you supported or would you support legislation along similar lines?

Cities are usually in the best position to make local zoning decisions, and a one-size-fits-all approach from Sacramento is inappropriate, which is why I voted against SB 1120 and opposed SB 50. As a 3rd generation North County resident, I am committed to working to lower housing costs, while protecting the local character of our cities.

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve state finances?

Voters have been generous in their willingness to raise taxes through propositions on homelessness, education, and infrastructure and we have an obligation to ensure those dollars are spent wisely. That is why I have proudly voted for numerous audits to help identify where we can cut costs and make programs more effective and efficient.

Where do you see an opportunity for fruitful compromise or collaboration across the partisan aisle?

We govern best when we work together on solutions. I’m known for my strong bipartisan record, including co-authoring AB 1949 with Senator Bates to strengthen California’s fish hatcheries. I also worked with our District Attorney on a bill with near-unanimous bipartisan support, AB 1927, to help protect sexual assault victims and witnesses.

For your highest priority issue above, why is it your highest and how would you address it?

Many of these topics are interconnected. Protecting our environment & natural resources requires building clean energy infrastructure, which will lead to non-tech job growth across the state. We can’t solve many of these issues without tackling all of them, so to put some above others wouldn’t reflect an effective approach to serving North County.

For your lowest priority issue above, why is it your lowest and how would you address it?

Immigration is largely a federal issue. There are places where California should protect our immigrant residents and taxpayers, but most of these issues can only be changed at the federal level. Voters will have to put pressure on federal representatives and make their voices heard nationally to reform our immigration policies.