Hear from the candidates for the 67th Assembly District

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The 67th Assembly District covers a significant chunk of western Riverside County, including Murrieta, Menifee, Wildomar, Canyon Lake and part of Hemet. It’s currently represented by Melissa Melendez, a Republican and former Lake Elsinore city councilmember, but Melendez is not running for reelection – she is instead running to fill the 28th Senate District that was vacated by Jeff Stone when he left to take a position in the U.S. Department of Labor. That decision leaves the 67th Assembly District wide-open for fresh faces. Valley News sent questions to each candidate in the district. Steve Manos, Nick Pardue and Jeremy Smith – all Republicans – returned responses, while Republican Kelly Seyarto and Democrat Jerry Carlos did not. Hear what the candidates had to say about their plans should they be elected.

Steve Manos
Steve Manos. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Steve Manos (R)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

Of the five candidates running, only two of us have more than a year’s elected experience. Between the two candidates with actual elected experience, I’m the only candidate with a track record of turning around a disadvantaged community. As an elected official, I can say that Lake Elsinore has reduced crime more than any other Southern California city over the past decade, we’ve reduced our homeless population by half, we’ve paved roads, cleaned up the city and we’ve never raised our taxes – in fact we dropped property tax bills for thousands of residents.

Another unique attribute is my willingness to engage the public openly, especially on social media. I also have spent more time than any of the other candidates traveling to Sacramento on behalf of our region to fight for causes important to our region. Voters will find that I’m extremely knowledgeable about state matters and familiar with the way Sacramento works.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you hope to represent in the years to come?

There are many pressing issues facing our district, but they all are related to the state ignoring core responsibilities in favor of serving special interests. This tendency has led to the housing crisis, homelessness crisis, the need for higher taxes, the failure to pave roads, poor performing schools, revolving door prisons and more. The imbalance is pushing moderate Democrat legislators to make difficult decisions that run against the values of their constituents or face the threat of primary challenges from the left.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

The truth is that without changing the balance of Republican versus Democratic representation in Sacramento, nothing much will change, no matter who is elected. We’ve had very strong conservatives serve this region, but the status of the party overall has diminished during the last eight years to a super-minority status. Republican registration statewide trails “decline to state” voters.

I was the first candidate in this race that announced his intent to work both inside and outside the district to organize registration drives, recruit quality challengers for state office and raise money to help other candidates. Assembly District 67 is a safe conservative seat, so a representative for this area can be selfless and take risks for the greater good of the party and the State of California.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

I can use the real-world examples of working on homelessness and crime to offer solutions that can be applied statewide. I’m also a housing champion and can point directly to the causes of the housing shortage. We must work to repeal Proposition 47, Proposition 57 and Assembly Bill 109 to make California safer.

I also intend to be as completely available as possible to residents. I don’t care if you’re a major donor or a retiree living paycheck to paycheck – I’m looking for input from every person I represent and more.

Jeremy Smith. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Jeremy Smith (R)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

I’m not a politician – I’m a business owner and family man who can no longer sit by and watch as Sacramento politicians ruin our once-great state. I was born and raised in Riverside County and I’ve lived here most of my life. I graduated from a Christian university and earned my master’s degree in public administration from California Baptist University. My wife Elissa and I are raising our daughters in Riverside County, and we hope to spend the rest of our lives here. I’m blessed to serve on (the Canyon Lake) City Council and, as a community leader, I understand the issues we face, and I share your priorities and values.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

Public safety. Crime continues to rise across California as a result of bad legislation, like AB 109, that reduces serious crimes to infractions and releases violent criminals into our neighborhoods. The homeless crisis is also a serious public safety issue and we need representatives in Sacramento who consider this a top priority. I will work to implement proven, effective solutions to strengthen public safety, enforce the rule of law and reduce the homeless population – starting with our veterans.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

Sacramento politicians continue to throw our tax dollars at the problem, but that’s not going to fix the crisis they created. We need representatives who will roll up their sleeves and get to work to find real solutions. We must be willing to look at best practices and implement proven strategies to reduce homelessness. Cities like San Diego, for example, have had great success cutting regulations and streamlining government policies to address homelessness. There’s no single policy that will end homelessness; the solutions will come from the local level. We need to promote local control and allow communities to have a voice in the process instead of enforcing one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter policies.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

Career politicians have failed us. I will fight to make California more affordable and improve our quality of life. I signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and one of my main priorities is opposing all new or higher taxes. Sacramento takes too much of our hard-earned money, and politicians don’t spend it responsibly. They waste money on their pet projects, like the bullet train to nowhere, instead of investing in our infrastructure and reducing traffic congestion. As a business owner, I understand how to balance a budget and use resources wisely to achieve results. I will work to implement business-friendly policies to encourage job growth and stop the progressive Democrats from killing jobs and running businesses out of California. As a strong man of faith, I also believe we need more representatives with traditional and faith-based values who are willing to take a stand against the unconstitutional and immoral actions of our state legislature. I will fight to defend the Second Amendment and the entire U.S. Constitution and secure our southern border.

 

Kelly Seyarto. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Kelly Seyarto (R)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

Experience. For 35 years I served as a firefighter. I have seen firsthand the troubles many people face at their most vulnerable times. Additionally, I have more experience in local government than all of my opponents combined. I have served on the Murrieta City Council going on 13 years and served as mayor four times. In addition to that, I have been involved regionally serving on the Western Riverside Council of Government for 10 years, the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency for seven years, the Riverside Conservation Agency for three years, the Riverside County Transportation Commission for one year, the League of California Cities Public Safety Policy Committee for nine years and am currently serving as the president of the Mayors and Councils Department for the League of California Cities. All of this combined has given me a unique perspective of the  many issues that face our communities both in the 67th Assembly District and statewide.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

The increasing homeless population and the problems that our communities are faced with because of it. Traffic congestion is a close second.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

Why is it that half of all of the homeless individuals in the United States live in California? California’s policies have created an environment that creates more homelessness not less. The homeless issue can only be addressed if we acknowledge our failings to deal with the issues that contribute most to the increasing numbers of homeless. We have to take people who are mentally ill and or are addicted to drugs off the streets and get them rehabilitated so they can function again. I will take a leadership role in discussing how we go about doing that, but it will take both sides of the political isle to come up with solutions and implement them. If we don’t solve those two problems, the homeless issue will continue
to worsen. Streets littered with needles and human waste is simply not acceptable for a state or a country like ours. The other contributors to the homeless problem can be managed and communities are stepping up to do just that, but unless we come to grips with treating drug addiction and mental illness, we will not fix the problem.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

Keep our communities safe by giving our public safety agencies the support they need to do their jobs; create a less onerous regulatory environment for our small and large businesses to increase opportunities for local well paying jobs; fight against State tax increases and fight to keep our Proposition 13 property tax protections in place; address the homeless crisis; and work diligently to help people in the 67th Assembly District with the problems and issues that are affecting the quality of their
lives.

Nick Pardue. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Nick Pardue (R)

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

I am running for State Assembly to represent the people of the 67th District. I am a firm believer in government for the people by the people, making me uniquely qualified to hold this office. I am a proud U.S. Army veteran. My wife and I raised our three children in Murrieta. I have coached high school and youth sports throughout the area. I have taught in Menifee since 2005. I know the people and understand the needs of our community. I am committed to our community and to helping ensure that southwest Riverside County continues to be a great place to live.

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come?

Education reform should be our top priority as California ranks 49th in education and schools have turned into political recruitment tools instead of staying focused on educating children. The state uses any crisis as an excuse to grab more taxpayer dollars, and I will fight against any attempt to increase taxes until we get spending under control.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

Education is easy and cheap to fix, as districts just need legal protections for school safety and from frivolous lawsuits. Parent choice and curriculum that treats the trades as viable options, paid for by public/private partnership.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

I would like to see us return schools to a model that allows students to choose a regular graduation path that would include trade/career options and a separate path that would be focused college preparation. That simple change would improve student outcomes dramatically and cost zero dollars.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.