VOTE Now – 2016
Following is a list of local candidates for federal and state offices.
U.S. Representative – District 10
- Jeff Denham (R)
- Michael Eggman (D)
CA State Senate – District 5
- Cathleen Galgiani (D)
- Alan Nakanishi (R)
CA State Assembly – District 12
- Heath Flora (R)
- Ken Vogel (R)
CA State Assembly – District 21
- Adam Gray (D)
- Greg Opinski (R)
* This publication includes the individuals who fully complied during our process. All answers are direct quotes from the candidates.
1. What are the qualifications that propel you as the ideal candidate for state office? How would you suggest the residents of your district gauge your job performance?
2. Describe ways in which you, as a member of the legislature, would encourage a collaborative and cooperative relationship with other units of local government.
3. What role does the legislature have in local economic development? How can the assembly best support the growth and retention of jobs?
4. Should the business community be concerned with the current state of water issues in your district? With you in the legislature, how can the community rest assured that you are best aligned to address water issues?
5. How do you believe your district should prioritize local transportation funds to ensure citizens and businesses have an efficient multimodal transportation system? How can the state and your local district work together to ensure that ideal system?
6. What steps will you go through in reviewing the state’s annual budget proposed by the Governor? If a balanced budget is important to you, how will you prioritize funding?
CA State Senate – District 5: Senator Cathleen Galgiani
1: I’m proud to have served the people of Stanislaus County for close to ten years in elective office, as an Assemblymember and Senator.
I chair the Senate Agriculture committee where I’ve worked hand-in-hand with local farmers and statewide agriculture organizations to help promote and grow California’s $54 billion dollar agriculture economy and to protect our water rights.
I also currently serve on the senate committees on Banking and Financial Institutions; Business Professions, and Economic Development; Government Organization; Transportation and Housing; and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
I and my Valley colleagues have set an example of working in a bi-partisan manner to best serve our districts. We managed to craft and pass a water bond measure to store more of our valuable water resources and build the dams that are needed to ease the effects of this drought and better prepared us for future droughts.
2: I have consistently advocated that the legislature take into account local needs and that one-size-fits-all state policies often put our communities at a disadvantage. I have a long record of working with the counties, cities, and other local government entities in my district and my fellow legislators on local priorities.
This is exemplified this past year with the “Negative Bailout” fix for Stanislaus County. The Bailout was a post-Proposition 13 action taken by the state that had an unexpected negative on six counties, costing the county up to $3.4 million in annual revenues. Working with local government officials and fellow legislators, we were able to obtain enough votes to pass the measure on the last day of the session. As a result, Stanislaus County will have more than $6 million in additional revenues each year. This is just one example of what we can accomplish when we work together.
3: The legislature can aid local economic development and growing and retaining jobs by establishing a stable and predictable tax
system, reducing regulatory hurdles and making investments in infrastructure.
Last year I was recognized by the California Taxpayers Association, receiving a 100 percent rating on tax policy legislation. Holding the line on wasteful tax policies and building up the state’s rainy
day reserve are important policies which I continue to support.
Creating a sensible regulatory environment is key to job growth. I co-authored a new law that streamlined environmental reviews on major infrastructure projects to improve the job market.
Reducing frivolous lawsuits is especially critical for local small businesses. This year the governor signed a new law that I co-authored that increases protections against costly, predatory lawsuits over minor violations of disabled access laws. The new law allows businesses to make minor and technical fixes to avoid penalties.
4: My district is ground zero for the state’s water issues and we should all be concerned. The Delta starts in Stanislaus County and runs through most of San Joaquin County. MID and TID are threatened with increased unrestricted flows by the State Water Board supposedly to improve salmon runs and provide more water for the Delta. At the same time the Governor with the Water Board are proposing to build tunnels to have Sacramento River water by-pass the Delta on its way south.
In addition to this and the drought, the state is mandating that we make our underground aquifers sustainable but they refuse to recognize the need to use surface water from the Tuolumne and Stanislaus Rivers to recharge the aquifers.
All of these issues are current and I will continue to strongly represent our interests.
I and my Valley colleagues were instrumental in getting $2.7 billion committed to water storage in the 2014 Water Bond. Now we must work to make sure that those funds are used for storage projects that benefit our area.
5: The recession and reduced state and local transportation income have taken a toll on local road maintenance and I understand the need to address the crumbling roads through current state funding and any local funding mechanism.
I think we all know that we need improvements to Hwy. 99 and other goods movement and commuter corridors. I worked with local legislators to have $1 billion earmarked for Hwy. 99 in the last Transportation Bond and we need to seek new funding to do further improvements to 99 as well as the east to west highways.
To relieve commuter traffic from Merced to Sacramento and Manteca to the East Bay, we need to improve our regional rail systems. I carried the legislation which enabled the creation of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) with a board made up of local elected officials which has now taken over the operation of the San Joaquin Amtrak.
Recently I and my colleagues were able to get a commitment from the state to prioritize bringing ACE Rail to Modesto and to release planning funding to make improvements to the Merced to Sacramento Amtrak.
6: Balancing the state budget has and will continue to be a priority along with paying off debt and building a substantial rainy day fund. At around $6.7 billion dollars, our reserve fund is still short of meeting the ten percent of expenditures goal. Too often the legislature has contributed to the boom and bust cycle of the state’s budget putting our economic vitality at stake.
Getting our fair share of resources is a constant battle for the Valley and I work closely with my Valley colleagues to invest in education and our infrastructure to ensure that we have the transportation network and water facilities needed for our local economy. Taking care of the basics doesn’t necessarily garner headlines but it is important for job creation and keeping our communities competitive. I’m dedicated to ensuring that the Central Valley becomes strong economically.
CA State Senate – District 5: Alan Nakanishi
1: I am a physician of many years in San Joaquin County, I founded a medical group, and a small business group. At present, I am a Lodi city council member, former mayor, and former State Assembly member. I currently serve on the Groundwater Basin Authority, alternate to the City of Government, and alternate to the Delta Protection Agency. I also worked two years under a Board of Equalization as a job/economy specialist. I am endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. My job performance can be judged by reviewing my records in business, on the city council, and the state assembly.
2: During my time in the Assembly before being termed out, I was able to work with the opposing majority party to pass legislation for my district and state.
A major bill for businesses was the workers’ compensation reform bill. Businesses were hurting because of the rising costs of workers’ compensation. I was one of the co-authors of the Workers’ Compensation reform bill.
During my term in the Assembly, I had open communication with the council members and county supervisors in the district. I worked with them to pass several state bills for their districts. I plan to do so in the future.
3: The legislature plays a major role in economic development. The majority party continues to pass laws that increase regulations, and increase taxes and unfunded mandates to cities and businesses. They make it more expensive for businesses, cities, and counties. We need a new direction and to pass laws that bring jobs and economic development.
The legislature can support growth and job retention by decreasing taxes, decreasing regulations, and cutting unfunded mandates and other onerous demands.
4: Water is paramount along with job creation and economic growth. The twin tunnel plan supported by Governor Brown and the majority party will devastate our valley. It will destroy the five billion dollar farming economy. It will bring salt water intrusion into our rivers and aquifers. Water quality will be harmed for both human and animals and cause subsidence of land. The plan is similar to the poorly-advised peripheral canal that was voted down by voters many years ago.
I will continue to work against water transport out of the district, as I have done as a city council member, an assembly member, and now serving on the various water committees. I continue to be aligned with local water district members, farmers, and officials in the fight against the
5: I believe the local district, the City of Government of San Joaquin, and Stanislaus should be the one to prioritize the use of state funds for transportation. They are the ones near to the people and know their needs the best. Citizens and businesses should be heard, to ensure an efficient cost-effective multimodal transportation system.
The state should work cooperatively with the
local districts and cut mandates, not desired by the local district.
6: I will take the similar steps in reviewing the state budget as I have done many times for other budgets that have come under my purview as a city council member, assembly member, a business ,and a nonprofit organization. I believe in a fiscally sound balanced budget and to spend within ones means.
The majority of funds for the state budget are already directed because of previous legislation and initiatives. The schools must be paid for, then other services.
The discretionary funds are limited. Additional funds should go for reserves, for unfunded liability, and into infrastructure and sent back to counties for roads and highways.
CA State Assembly – District 12: Heath Flora
1: I am a farmer, small business owner, and director of International Sales for a family owned manufacturing company. I am also a volunteer firefighter. My private sector and public safety background gives me experience that will help make me an effective representative for this district as I know how to deal with the region’s #1 economic concern, emergencies, water issues, and understand the regulatory burden.
I will have an open door policy and will gladly meet with anyone who needs help.
2: Like any relationship, it must be built on mutual respect and continuous open communication. I will meet regularily with locally elected officials to hear their concerns and help craft solutions to reional problems.
I will also have regular business roundtables in the different regions on the 12th district as it is essential that we grow our economy at a faster rate.
3: The legislature should work very hard at getting out of the way of and supporting the growth and development of small businesses. The legislature needs to reduce the regulatory burden, expedite construction of water storage facilities, reform the tax code to encourage job creation, and reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits filed against businesses.
4: We must focus on ensuring water, property, and privacy rights are respected. As noted above, we must speed construction of new water storage facilities. We should plug the leaks in water districts which cost us hundreds of billions of gallons a year. The state must continue education efforts so that Southern California appreciates how precious water is. Count on me to oppose schemes that will lead to confusion and litigation or allow government bureaucrats to stop people from pumping water that’s needed for crops and livestock.
5: I will meet with county supervisors, regional government leaders, and city councilmembers to advocate solutions to the unique transportation needs facing the Central Valley. I will lead efforts to get our fair share of transportation dollars and work to ensure the gas tax funds are spent on road improvement as was intended.
6: An in-depth review and a balanced budget is a must. Some of my top priorities are bringing reliable water supplies to our district, stopping job-killing tax hikes, improving vocational and career opportunities, and ensuring public safety programs are funded.
CA State Assembly – District 12: Ken Vogel
1: I have experience in local government as a School Board member and a County Supervisor. I have worked on the water issues that affect our area and have relationships with people in and outside the 12th Assembly District that work with those issues. I have extensive experience in agriculture, which is a major industry in our area.
2: To encourage a cooperative relationship with local government, I would meet regularly with their representatives and maintain an open office and phone to encourage that relationship. I would continue to be involved with the local Chambers of Commerces as I have in the past.
3: The Legislature can help our local economies by looking at meaningful regulatory reform in California.
4: My positsion on water issues is that we should invest in more water storage, groundwater recharge and desalinzation. We do not need to invest in projects that merely move water around and take vital irrigation water from oureastern rivers.
5: The State must realize that we need to take care of our existing roadway infrastructure. The High Speed Rail proposal is hugely expensive whereas other projects such as the Ace Train make more sense.
6: We must spend our citizen’s tax money with a great deal of thoughtfulness. Our existing infrastructure must be maintained, water supplies provided, and public safety assursed–before tax money is used for new, non-economic programs.
CA State Assembly – District 21: Adam C. Gray
1: Experience and commitment to the Valley help qualify me for this office. I have always believed voters should judge elected officials on their voting records and also on their ability to work toward goals that improve the community beyond the legislative record itself. Much of that occurs outside the actual roll call votes on issues. Organizing the community and negotiating issues with others so that a local need is addressed in the first phase of a proposal are necessary components of a successful legislative record. It is essential that members who represent our area possess that ability.
2: I have had a good response working with local government on issues ranging from water and ADA reform to local economic development. Last year, the years-long negative bailout that penalized Stanislaus County residents was finally eliminated, saving local taxpayers up to six million a year. That would not have happened if state and local officials did not work hand in hand. Removal of the negative bailout, as well as transportation issues like the expansion of the San Joaquin and Ace rail services, will not occur unless we work together.
3: The legislature and governor set many of the ground rules that impact economic development. The legislature also plays an important role in making sure regional carve-outs do not penalize one part of the state at the expense of another. On issues like minimum wage, job creation incentives, and environmental regulation, the state’s role is overwhelming. We should be allies in economic development, not indifferent bystanders, and certainly not obstacles. We need to constantly be mindful that what may work in Los Angeles or San Francisco is not necessarily workable here in the Valley.
4: Absolutely. The proposed water take by the State Water Board represents the most significant threat to our economic development and our future that we have ever faced. This threat cannot be overstated. In their own words, the state intends to force our area to accommodate a “regulatory drought,” which will become a permanent condition with “significant but unavoidable” impacts. It is ironic that water systems like Don Pedro and Exchequer, which were financed only by local ratepayers, are being targeted to
help the recovery of systems that are state and federal responsibilities.
5: We need regional connectivity transit projects, new regional goods movement infrastructure, and local road maintenance money. The state has a major role, but local government does also. Merced and Stanislaus counties do not have self help road revenues. Every other Valley county does. Until Merced and Stanislaus enact such a measure, we will always be behind the other counties in state and federal funding because so much of it requires a matching component.
6: For our area, the priorities are health care, economic development (transportation and education), and law enforcement. I would also rephrase the question slightly. All spending must be looked at from both an efficiency and a priority perspective. I am not against spending in all state programs, but I am opposed to wasteful spending in all state programs.
I also watch for regional disparities in funding formulas. A homeless program that claims to operate on a competitive grant basis may in fact include a formula, which builds in an advantage for one region over others, or disadvantages a region. This should be factored into the decision-making process. For example, the state recently approved a revised tax on health plans to protect the State’s ability to receive federal money. Many health groups and insurance plans supported this proposal. I refused to sign on to the measure however, because it did not specifically address the medical services shortfall that we see in the valley. After negotiations, we secured a commitment of $100 million a year for three years that would be directed to Valley health challenges. We need that approach throughout the state budget process.