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June 28, 2022

Meet the candidates: Assembly District 29

Castro challenges Rivas for state house seat

Running for California State Assembly District 29 are Stephanie Castro and incumbent Assemblymember Robert Rivas. 

The boundaries for District 29 changed considerably as a result of the 2020 redistricting process. The new district includes all of San Benito County, eastern Monterey County and portions of southern Santa Clara County, including Gilroy. 

The primary election will take place June 7, but election officials have already started sending out absentee and vote-by-mail ballots. For more information on the June 7 election, including where to find drop boxes and vote centers where you can submit your completed ballot, visit the San Benito County Elections website at https://sbcvote.us/registrar-of-voters/

Castro, a Hollister resident, is a teacher with two credentials: Multiple Subject Credential from CalTEACH and Single Subject Secondary Art Credential from the University of Phoenix. She has taught elementary and high school students in the communities of Hollister, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Salinas. 

She is married with three children, as well as a “military and Eagle Scout mom,” she told the Free Lance. Her oldest son is an Eagle Scout who is currently serving overseas in the U.S. Air Force. 

Castro enjoys painting, making succulent arrangements, “glamping” and water sports, she said. 

Rivas is running for his third consecutive two-year term in the local district’s assembly seat. He was first elected to the assembly (in what was District 30 at the time) in 2018 and reelected in 2020. 

Before running for the assembly, Rivas began his public service career as a San Benito County Supervisor. 

Rivas grew up in farmworker housing, watching his grandfather negotiate “the first union contract for his fellow farmworkers at Almaden Vineyards,” Rivas told the Free Lance. 

He lives in Hollister with his wife, Christen, and their daughter. 

The Free Lance will continue to profile candidates for local and regional offices in the weeks leading up to the June 7 election. For more coverage, visit our website at sanbenito.com. 

Stephanie Castro

Why are you running for the 29th District Assembly seat?

I disagree with the government overreach that is happening currently, including with several Assembly and Senate bills being introduced in order to force their will on all Californians. I am running so that I can take a stand for my constituents who feel their voice is not being heard on these matters. I will also stand for school choice and parental involvement in their children’s education. I want to see a better curriculum for schools, one that isn’t plagued with divisiveness, hate for oneself, and perverse sexuality grooming.

Stephanie Castro

What do you think are the most pressing needs for the 29th District? How would you seek to fill these needs as a member of the state assembly?

I think the most pressing needs right now are finding common sense solutions to curb inflation, such as reducing taxes that will put more money into Californians pockets. Fighting for safer communities is another need that can be accomplished by being tough on crime, holding our criminals accountable for their crimes, and not giving them leeway to cause future havoc. This will also help to deter them from committing them in the first place. 

Do you think the state needs to do more to address the worsening drought situation? What would you propose as an assemblymember?

I do think the state needs to do more, but that doesn’t mean draining our lakes and reservoirs into the oceans and then putting it on our residents to conserve water. The state needs to use more common sense in the first place by not wasting what reserves we had and then crying wolf, so to speak, after the fact.  

With an above-average late April rainfall, did the State Water Board take that into account totals? Or are they too busy impersonating the Department of Fish and Wildlife to take it into consideration? I propose we hold our state boards accountable for the consequences of their questionable actions.

What would you do in the assembly to promote more economic development opportunities for the 29th District?

I’d like to focus on being business friendly, welcoming good companies of all types and sizes to our area that can increase employment opportunities, offer higher paying jobs, and will allow for the much-needed development of our District 29 infrastructure. We really need to focus on improving our highways, especially the bypass from Gilroy to Hollister so safety and mobility are increased.

Robert Rivas

Why are you running for reelection? 

I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved in my first two terms, including winning passage of the $89 million Golden State Teacher Grant Program, securing critical safety protections for agricultural workers, and fighting to ensure that every community has access to clean water. While we have made substantial progress, there is still so much to do. We must keep working to invest in our schools and roads, to protect our environment, and to address the critical shortage of affordable housing. 

State Assemblymember Robert Rivas

I hope to return to the State Assembly to advocate for our community and continue this important work. 

What do you think are the most pressing needs for the 29th District? How would you seek to fill these needs as a member of the state assembly? 

As housing costs have skyrocketed, it has become harder and harder for people to buy a home. Many are experiencing housing insecurity due to a lack of affordable options. The housing crisis is affecting people throughout San Benito County and across the district. 

In response to this crisis, I have introduced several critical pieces of legislation this year to accelerate the creation of new quality housing, while supporting infrastructure needs of our cities and towns. I am also leading efforts to address climate change and mitigate its immediate effects on our region, including wildfires and extreme heat.

Do you think the state needs to do more to address the worsening drought situation? What would you propose as an assemblymember? 

Our state must do more to contend with worsening drought, including investing in water reclamation projects, water storage infrastructure, and conservation measures to ensure our crops and residents have adequate water supplies. In addition, we will need to mitigate the economic hardships of the drought on the most affected populations, including farmers and farmworkers. 

What would you do in the assembly to promote more economic development opportunities for the 29th District? 

As a County Supervisor and now as an Assemblymember, I have led efforts to bring high-paying jobs to San Benito County by modernizing infrastructure and launching job-creation programs. A recent example of this is my work to expand access to high-speed internet access throughout the region, which would attract new businesses and enhance the competitiveness of existing businesses in the area. 

As Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I have secured critical state funding for our farms and ag businesses, and I continue to promote innovation and investment in our agricultural sector.

Mugshots of Stephanie Castro and Robert Rivas

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