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May 24, 2022

Old names, new seat

27th Assembly candidates are new to Morgan Hill-San Martin
Night and day is probably the most apt way to characterize the
differences between the Democratic and Republican candidates hoping
to replace Fred Keeley as representative of the 27th Assembly
District.
Democrat John Laird, 52, is a soft-spoken, long-time elected
official and government employee, who wants to reshape the approach
to education, environmental protection and health care. He squares
off against Republican Chuck Carter, 52, a pugnacious real-estate
agent, who would dismantle a lot of what is in place now.
27th Assembly candidates are new to Morgan Hill-San Martin

Night and day is probably the most apt way to characterize the differences between the Democratic and Republican candidates hoping to replace Fred Keeley as representative of the 27th Assembly District.

Democrat John Laird, 52, is a soft-spoken, long-time elected official and government employee, who wants to reshape the approach to education, environmental protection and health care. He squares off against Republican Chuck Carter, 52, a pugnacious real-estate agent, who would dismantle a lot of what is in place now.

Carter’s rat-a-tat responses may be partially explained when he says “I get excited when I talk about runaway government.”

The reason the race is of interest in the South Valley – and only in Morgan Hill and San Martin, at that – is that the two communities were ripped from the 28th Assembly District in last year’s decennial redistricting, to serve political purposes. Now, this sliver of the South Valley (12 percent of the 28th District’s population) is lumped with coastal communities while Gilroy remains in the 28th District, where Democrat Simon Salinas is challenged by Republican Jane Howard.

It means that the candidates are stomping new grounds and what might be familiar names in the original portion of the district are unfamiliar locally.

The candidates are no strangers to the political process. Carter, whose campaign signs read “Less Pork, More Chuck,” ran for the 27th Assembly District seat in 1998 and 2000. Laird ran in a special election to fill the seat in 1993 when Sam Farr moved on to Congress. Neither has had any luck so far.

Laird served on the Santa Cruz city council from 1981-90, including two terms as mayor. He currently is on leave from his job of seven years as Santa Cruz County personnel manager. He has a total of 21 years with the county.

Carter, an 18-year resident of Monterey County, earned a degree in architecture from the University of Arizona, and hosts the Constitutional Perspective talk show on radio KSCO 1080 AM.

Carter decries what he says is a bloated state government and vows he would cut expenditures and reduce the involvement of government in the lives of individuals.

“California has a $30 billion deficit, but the real debt is $100 billion in term of repair needed for our road, water and school systems,” Carter said. “In Colorado, the government operates in the black, staying in the confines of a legitimate budget. In Texas, the tax base is less than in California, but they’re better off than we are.”

Addressing education, Carter said he would scrap bilingual education in favor of total immersion, and would give parents more flexibility in choosing where they send their children to class.

Also, he favors local control of schools, more oversight by parents and teachers than administrators, higher salaries for teachers and the hiring of fewer administrators. He wants administrators to be more accountable for budgets and more emphasis on the three Rs than social engineering.

Carter would look for lower electricity rates than those provided in the long-term contract signed by Gov. Gray Davis, build more power-producing dams and improve the economic climate for private power companies.

“State government should stay out of housing and allow the private sector to build affordable housing according to the need of economic demands,” Carter said.

An early goal as an Assemblyman, Carter said, would be better protection against terrorism by using the National Guard to improve security at borders, airports and harbors.

Laird has his platform, too.

Noting that the 27th Assembly District is one of few in the state to have community colleges and campuses of the University of California and the California state university system, Laird ranks education high on his Sacramento to-do list.

“The recession has placed a big burden on community colleges, which have become workforce retraining grounds. They need some help,” said Laird, an eight-year member of the Cabrillo College board of trustees.

“Also, Proposition 98, which was approved about a decade ago to guarantee a level of funding for kindergarten through high school, was really not implemented. I want to guarantee a floor of funding,” Laird said.

Health care is in crisis, too, Laird said. Seven million Californians without health insurance are turning to hospital emergency rooms for routine care.

“We have to help medical students, too. High numbers of them leave California to practice because they’re find it hard to pay their loans and afford housing,” Laird said.

California, which has received seven or eight million new residents since the drought of the early 1990s, faces a water crisis, too, Laird said. The crunch will be felt, he said, as the state’s quota of Colorado River water, 4.4 million acre-feet annually, is reduced over several years.

“The reduction means cutbacks in Southern California or more water from Northern California,” Laird said. “Residents of the 27th District can play a leadership role in water conservation. We have some of the most efficient water customers in California. They use a minimum, which is not true in all of the state.”

The two candidates are scheduled to go head-to-head in a mini-debate Tuesday on the KSBW Channel 8 six o’clock news. They also are supposed to debate for an hour on Oct. 21 in the Morgan Hill City Council chamber. The debate will be carried on the city’s Channel 17 public access station.

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