We asked each candidate to answer a few questions so that you can know a little more about their priorities. See the response from the other candidate running: Vicki Nohrden.

This year, voters in the majority of SLO County cities will have the chance to enact sales taxes that would support long term community and economic health; do you support any of these sales taxes? Why or why not?

There are twenty-one cities and four counties in the Senate district, and I have not reviewed every ballot measure in those jurisdictions.  In general, I support local voters making investments in their future for long term community and economic health.

Which Senate committee has the biggest impact on our region and why?

The Budget Committee – because of support for local schools, firefighting, cities and counties, local health care institutions – and for state institutions located in San Luis Obispo County such as state parks, the Atascadero State Hospital and the Men’s Colony.

Do you think the state government is doing enough to support infrastructure in our region? If not, what would you do to change it?

I believe the state can always do more in supporting local infrastructure.  In particular, I believe that the high cost for a sustainable water supply sometimes outstrips the local ability to finance – and would support state assistance in that regard.

Rank the issues in order of importance for our city:

All of the issues below are a tie for most important.

If elected, what will you do to address the issue you identified above as most significant?

I would suggest that it is a five or six way tie for first.  We cannot get to an economic recovery, which should be the highest priority, without prioritizing the public health and ending the pandemic.  The economic downturn exacerbates the affordable housing and homelessness crisis.  We must respond in a way that includes everyone, and it requires regional collaboration.  If we do not address the climate crisis, none of this will matter.  We have to do all these things, and they all are a number one priority.

Is there something the state is not currently doing to address impacts of COVID-19 that you would take up if elected?

Yes, I believe there is a gap in having enough testing, having the results available quickly, and then being able to hire enough people to do contact tracing to isolate the identified cases.  I would hope that this would be addressed by the time a new legislature is sworn in, but if not, I would work to address this gap.  It is important to stamp out this pandemic to be able to re-open fully.

What is the most significant difference between you and your opponent?

I have a long background as a local government analyst, Mayor and City Councilmember, Transit Board Member, Transportation Commissioner, Non-profit director, community college trustee, state legislator, and state cabinet secretary – bringing knowledge on major issues, relationships across the district and state, and also bringing the skills to address them.  At a time of a major economic and public health crisis, I have the background to hit the ground running with no on-the-job-training on issues of importance to this Senate district.  Prior to the primary, I visited San Luis Obispo County twenty-five times – working to build relationships and learn local priorities.

Do you support any housing legislation currently under consideration at the state level? If so, which bills are you most in favor of?

I would have voted for Senate Bill 1120, which died on the last night of session.  I would support a limited return of redevelopment agencies for the purpose of affordable housing.  As a city council member, I worked to develop hundreds of new units of affordable housing after the 1989 earthquake, in part because we had a redevelopment agency as a tool.  As a legislator, I was instrumental in making sure there was an affordable housing ballot measure with the bond package in 2006, which led to the construction of tens of thousands of affordable units across the state.  

Which theme in the Chamber’s economic vision, Imagine SLO, do you think deserves the most focus in the next four years and why?

I believe it is two themes around one issue – planning for the best possible use of Diablo Canyon facilities and lands, and a regional economic strategy to best transition in a way that replaces the economic loss from that closure.  I supported the state legislation which would allow local support during that process, and want to work with all parties in developing the next steps.  I support the land conservation of the Wild Cherry Canyon lands, and also a strong economic use for the main Diablo Canyon facilities.  This transition is looming and presents daunting challenges.

What are you most proud of having contributed to our community in the past 10 years?

I am proud of many things in my recent service, but one is work on moving to a sustainable water supply in California.  Together with the Secretaries of Agriculture and EPA – we authored the California Water Action Plan, which laid out an “all of the above strategy” for California: more water storage, managed groundwater basins, more conservation, and more water recycling.  The 2014 water bond was written around these goals, and has helped local agencies across the state develop new water supply. Given the changing climate, we have much more to do.