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Kristie Bruce-Lane, of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, is a Republican candidate seeking the 76th State Assembly District seat. Courtesy photo
Kristie Bruce-Lane, of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, is a Republican candidate seeking the 76th State Assembly District seat. Courtesy photo
Cities Elections 2022 Escondido News Politics & Government Rancho Santa Fe Region San Marcos

‘Experience working on issues’: Interview with Kristie Bruce-Lane, 76th District candidate 

SAN MARCOS — As the June 7 primary approaches, The Coast News sat down for an interview with Kristie Bruce-Lane, a Republican candidate for the 76th State Assembly District and current Division 4 Director for the Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

Bruce-Lane is one of two challengers, along with attorney and political fundraiser June Cutter, seeking to unseat Democrat incumbent Brian Maienschein, a 10-year representative of what was formerly the 77th District. The top two candidates in the June 7 primary will advance to the November general election.

New district lines have moved much of what was previously the 77th, including the inland communities of San Marcos, Escondido, and Rancho Santa Fe, into the 76th, increasing its Republican voting power. Bruce-Lane said these changes in the district work in her favor, as they prevent issues from being bent toward one political party.

“This newly drawn map is actually a benefit to my election,” she said. “In my race, the issues are no longer Democrat or Republican issues … We are now down to fighting for people’s issues. And my constituency knows I will do that.”

Along with favorable district lines, Bruce-Lane’s confidence about her chances in the primary come down to experience — both as an elected official, and as a longtime volunteer and advocate for relevant issues including homelessness, public safety and working with vulnerable populations including foster youth and nursing home residents.

This experience is also something she said differentiates her from Cutter, who has not held elected office before but did previously run against Maienschein for the 77th District seat in 2020. Much of Bruce-Lane’s social media campaigning focuses on what they claim is Cutter’s comparable lack of chops, as well what she said is a track record by Maienschein of increasing taxes and homelessness.

Candidate campaign donations: Kristi Bruce-Lane with her family.
76th State Assembly District candidate Kristi Bruce-Lane with her family. Courtesy photo

“I’m an elected official, which separates me from June Cutter,” Bruce-Lane said. “Those are the sort of things that we need in Sacramento — we need experience working on the issues, so you can enact effective legislation for the people.”

Raised in a middle class agricultural family in Bakersfield, Bruce-Lane said she learned the value of hard work from an early age, going on to pay her way through college with a slew of part-time jobs.

Bruce-Lane’s professional career began in the agriculture and healthcare industries, and has since grown to include volunteering and advocacy work on a self-founded nonprofit and various regional boards related to homelessness, educational opportunities and support for youth and the elderly.

Her upbringing in agriculture also taught her about the importance of water, a cause she continues to advocate for on the Olivenhain Water Board as Division 4 Director overseeing the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve and 4S Ranch.

“Fighting for water is in my blood. Sitting here in San Diego, we see how it impacts our health, our food production,” she said. “I’ve lived all over California now, and we’re pretty lucky here in San Diego, but that’s not what it’s like for the rest of the state of California.”

Bruce-Lane is evenly matched with opponent Cutter in fundraising with a net total of $158,757 as of early May, and both are trailing Maienschein’s net total of approximately $1,292,000. However, said her fundraising campaign is not slowing down.

The California native also highlighted her long list of endorsements from elected officials, local organizations and political action committees. Among them are 50th District Congressman Darrell Issa, 38th District State Senator Brian Jones, San Diego County District 2 Supervisor Joel Anderson, and representatives from the Equal Rights For All PAC and CrimeSurvivors PAC.

“My endorsements are earned, and there’s a reason why I have been endorsed by top elected officials and community leaders,” she said.

Environment

When it comes to environmental issues, water is at the forefront of Bruce-Lane’s mind. After being elected to the Olivenhain water district board in 2020, where working to mitigate drought conditions became a prime responsibility, she said she knew she wanted to continue to fight for water access throughout the state.

“That’s what led me to run for this position, so I can fight for water here and raise awareness up and down the State of California,” she said.

Looking ahead, she said she wants to see improved management of water resources and policies to improve water storage, which she identified as a big issue in the state’s capital.

“It is a priority for me to continue to address water issues, advocate for more water storage especially in times of drought and continue to raise awareness about our local Escondido Creek watershed and what we can do through personal and community stewardship regarding the environment,” Bruce-Lane said.

Bruce-Lane’s emphasis on community responsibility for the environment also extends to other environmental issues, including the carbon crisis. She noted that her role as a water district director includes oversight of the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve in Escondido, with grasses, trees and plants that serve as carbon sequestration banks

She said that while climate change is undeniable, she is not a proponent of “radical climate change solutions,” and noted that all residents, including those working in agriculture, have a part to play in addressing the carbon crisis.

“I believe there is a balanced approach and need to continue to explore and develop alternative sources of energy, but not at the exclusion of traditional sources,” she said.

Taxes, the economy and affordability

Like her fellow Republican challenger, Bruce-Lane is focused on lowering taxes for residents, stating that Sacramento politicians like Maienschein have allowed residents to become extremely overtaxed.

Frequently referring to Maienschein as the “poster boy for Sacramento dysfunction,” she said his liberal policies have led to devastating impacts on working class families, causing many people to want to leave the state.

“What I hope to do is cut taxes, reduce the cost of living, continue to address our homeless crisis and clean up our neighborhoods,” she said.

While other candidates may have goals of keeping costs low for working class families, Bruce-Lane believes she has the actual experience needed to bring about change. She held up her work in the Olivenhain water district as an example of her commitment to fiscal transparency and fighting to lower costs for everyday ratepayers.

“From the day I took office, I’ve been committed to bringing accountability and transparency. San Diego needs a principled representative that reflects the voice of our communities,” she said.

When it comes to housing, Bruce-Lane acknowledged that there is an affordability crisis in California, partially driven by rising costs due to the housing shortage. She advocated for removing barriers to housing development in order to meet this need.

“We need to make it cheaper for builders to build, shorter timelines for permitting approvals, reduction of fees and continue to cut regulations. We have hard working people here in San Diego that have good jobs and still cannot afford to buy a house,” she said.

Homelessness and public safety

In a region where homelessness is among the top concerns, Bruce-Lane feels confident that her past experience with several different sides of the issue, from identifying core causes of homelessness to working with homeless and foster children, speaks for itself.

Bruce-Lane has served on the Salvation Army’s Homeless Services Subcommittee and as a member of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for San Diego. She also founded The Thumbprint Project Foundation, which works with local and regional agencies to assist homeless children who have experienced domestic violence.

All of this, she said, sets her apart from her competitors. Homelessness has only increased under Maienschein, she said, with the increasing number of encampments throughout the region an apparent sign of a worsening problem.

“I’m the only candidate in this race with the experience of working with the homeless,” she said. “It’s become a humanitarian crisis, and I believe we can solve this issue with my experience. I know we can do better.”

Specifically, Bruce-Lane has advocated for increased early intervention resources related to trauma, mental illness and addiction in order to prevent homelessness, along with collaborative strategies on the community level.

“We are dealing [with] layers of trauma that started at youth,” Bruce-Lane said in a tweet earlier this month. “It will take strategically placing resources/not hiding the sick behind hotel walls. Key partners in the community play a vital role. Early prevention is crucial.”

While other candidates may have goals of lowering statewide costs of living, Republican candidate Kristie Bruce-Lane believes she has the experience needed to bring about change. Courtesy photo
While other candidates may have goals of lowering statewide costs of living, Republican candidate Kristie Bruce-Lane believes she has the experience needed to bring about change. Courtesy photo

At the heart of her homelessness policy, as well as her stance on crime, is the importance of protecting children and the elderly, who she said have been “put in the crosshairs of bad policies.”

She is currently fighting for improved treatment of skilled nursing facility residents as a member of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, and advocates for the future for underserved youth on the board of the nonprofit San Diego Council on Literacy.

Bruce-Lane also criticized Maienschein’s introduction of Assembly Bill 1641, which sets parameters on where sexually violent predators can live in residential communities, saying that it did not do enough to keep children safe.

“He [Maienschein] introduced a bill that allows a sexually violent predator to come as close as a quarter mile to our homes. I want to protect our communities from crime, and I am opposed to defunding the police,” she said.

For more information about the June primary, check out The Coast News voter guide. Also, check out the Registrar of Voters’ interactive maps for the newly-drawn voting districts in the California Legislature and U.S. Congress.

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