San Benito to get new state senator

Luis Alejo considers throwing hat in race

Luis Alejo speaks in 2014 during the South Valley Legislative Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn.

State Senator Anthony Cannella is set to term out next year, potentially leaving the San Benito representative’s seat open to a familiar face: Monterey County Supervisor and former State Assemblyman Luis Alejo.

Alejo announced this week that he intends to open an exploratory committee to consider running for California’s 12th state senate district in 2018. Alejo begins his exploratory committee with nearly $100,000 cash-on-hand.

The politician noted he had previously stated he had no plans to run for senate, but the threat posed to the community by President Donald Trump prompted him to reconsider. He issued the following statement upon announcing his exploratory committee:

“I greatly value the impact I can have as a local county supervisor and I never thought I would be compelled to go back to Sacramento,” Alejo said. “But President Trump’s disastrous and harmful administration has caused me to seriously look at running for an office where I am best positioned to fight back against the heartless policies of the federal government and protect the interests of Californians. Our state can be the leading light in the fight against the policies coming out of Washington, D.C. and I believe I’m uniquely positioned to be a part of that battle.”

The 12th District seat is currently held by Cannella, who can not run next year because of term limits. The senate district includes the Salinas Valley, all of San Benito and Merced Counties and portions of Fresno, Madera and Stanislaus Counties. The district represents nearly 1 million California residents.

With an overall population that is 65 percent Latino, 46 percent Democratic, 29 percent Republican and 25 percent Independent, the district is considered to be one of the most likely in the state to switch from Republican to Democratic in 2018.

“After recent press reports, I have also had many local residents and community leaders ask me to consider running for State Senate,” Alejo said. “It’s a big consideration because I greatly enjoy the work I’m doing now as a Monterey County Supervisor, on issues like homelessness and housing, expanding healthcare and local parks, protecting immigrants and civil rights, as well as working on local water infrastructure and sustainability issues. However, I also recall the impact I was able to make as a state assemblyman, passing laws that improved the lives of people throughout the state, and wonder if I am needed again in that role. Over the next few months, I will be very thoughtful about this big decision and will be reaching out to the grassroots along with leaders from Salinas to the Central Valley.”

Alejo is a former mayor of the City of Watsonville and served on the state assembly from 2010 through 2016 where he served as Chairman of the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, as well as Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He authored 76 bills that were signed into law and 16 legislative resolutions approved by the legislature during his tenure, including the landmark Assembly Bill 60 that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

Alejo was named 2015 Legislator of the Year by the League of California Cities and was ranked 2013’s Most Effective Democratic Assembly Member by a survey on AroundTheCapitol’s “Nooner” newsletter. He received his bachelor of arts degrees from UC Berkeley, his master’s degree in education from Harvard University and his law degree from UC Davis School of Law.

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