Four vie for open state assembly seat representing county

This sign was in front of the old courthouse in June 2014.

San Benito County residents casting votes for a new assembly member in District 30 have four choices on the June ballot.
The region’s current representative, Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, has termed out of the seat and is running for a supervisor position in Monterey County. Two Democrats and two Republicans have come forward to succeed him.
District 30 includes San Benito County, Salinas Valley, South Santa Clara County, North Monterey County and the City of Watsonville. Here’s more on the candidates:
Georgia Acosta: Watsonville resident Acosta, a Republican, was born in Gilroy, raised in Morgan Hill and is the only candidate to have lived her whole life in the district, she said.
“My platform has been built off of education, transportation and agriculture,” Acosta said.
Agriculture: She and her husband have deep roots in the agriculture industry, which has gone poorly represented in this seat for more than 16 years, she said. “I believe ag needs to be supported. It’s what we do. It’s what we do well,” she said. “It is the backbone of California and particularly of this district.”
Education: Education is also especially important to her, she said. There are 22 school districts and 93 schools that have been identified as “low performing,” and that is just in Assembly District 30, she said.
Her background in education includes serving as a board member and chairwoman for the Pacific Coast Charter School in Watsonville, she said. She is currently the taxpayer representative for the Cabrillo Community College’s bond oversight committee, she said. Acosta is a huge proponent of vocational and charter schools, she said. She also wants more local control of schools, since districts and schools have a better understanding of the needs of their students, she said.
Transportation: Acosta is also against the highspeed rail and would be an active advocate against it, she said. She wants funding to go back to local roadways to keep up with an increasing number of houses, she explained. The state also needs more water storage, a priority that should come before the highspeed rail system, she said.
Acosta has also worked as a proponent on three local reform measures—Measures H, I and J—in Watsonville that won with landslide victories in June of 2014, according to her website.
To learn more about Acosta, visit her website: acostaforassembly.org.
Karina Cervantez Alejo: Cervantez Alejo is seeking the position vacated by her husband, Luis Alejo.
The state is grappling with significant issues including adapting to a historic drought and guaranteeing high-quality schools, safe neighborhoods and a clean environment to residents, according to her website.
Cervantez Alejo could not be reached by deadline. Her website included a tab for issues, which displayed the words “Coming Soon!” as of press time.
Cervantez Alejo is the second Latina in the city’s history to serve on the city council in Watsonville, according to her website. In 2014, she served as the city’s mayor. She is currently the mayor pro tempore.
Cervantez Alejo is also an educator at the California State University of Monterey Bay and previously taught at Cabrillo College.
To learn more about Cervantez Alejo, go to votekarina.com.
Anna Caballero: A self declared “lifelong Democrat” Salinas resident Caballero resigned from her position as a member of Gov. Jerry Brown’s cabinet to seek election as the assemblymember for District 30.
“I love this district so I was looking for a way to come back home and again do something that was very meaningful,” she said.
Issues of importance to Caballero include affordable housing, water and decreasing youth violence through education programs, she said.
Affordable housing: Caballero would like to have communities identify underperforming properties such as strip malls where a major tenant is no longer present and then create a mixed-use project where retail would be below and housing would be above.
“The issue that I’m really interested in working on are affordable housing, in particular land use as it relates to affordable housing,” she said.
Water: While water is always an issue in rural California, that is particularly true during the drought, she said. Pollutants, especially nitrates, are poisoning potable water, she said.
Safety: Finally, Caballero wants to curb youth violence through early education, literary and after-school programs, she explained.
While working for the governor’s cabinet was fulfilling, she had to live full-time in Sacramento, returning to Salinas just four to six days each month, she said. This is a unique opportunity to come home and run for the seat, and if elected, she would work during the last two years of Gov. Brown’s administration with staff she already knows, she explained.
In the past, Caballero served on the Salinas City Council for seven years, was the first woman mayor of Salinas, and was elected to the State Assembly in 2006, according to her website. She has served as the assemblymember of District 28. Caballero also established a law firm with a satellite office in Hollister for about 20 years, she said. At the time, it was the first Spanish speaking law firm in town and the first with women, she said. To learn more about Caballero, visit her website: annaforassembly.com.
John Nevill: John Nevill, a Republican who lives just outside of King City, is running on a platform of health care, agriculture and water.
“The district is so big that there are areas of the district that are always unfairly represented,” he said, adding that King City is one of them.
Health care: Nevill was the director of cardiopulmonary services at Natividad Medical Center before he retired. It was a job that involved using taxpayer dollars to fund programs, such as an asthma outreach program, to keep people out of hospital rooms, he said. During his career in public health, he also worked as a respiratory therapist at Hazel Hawkins Hospital, he said. He wants to make sure that everyone is covered with health care, he said.
Ag: With agriculture, he wants to work with King City and Salinas to develop affordable housing for male workers, while in Hollister that housing would be for entire families, he said.
Currently, he owns the Triple L Sheep Ranch, which is located south of Pinnacles in Hernandez Valley. It operates in South San Benito and Monterey counties.
Water: Nevill also wants to see San Justo Reservoir reopened. While there have been local steps taken toward this goal, he wants to take on the issue and make sure people are aware of it at a state level.
“Water’s good for growing things, drinking, but it’s also good for recreation,” he said.
He is also a proponent of the InterLake Connectivity Tunnel Project for storage. To learn more about Nevill, go to nevill4assembly.com.

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