It’s been a little over two months since I left City Hall in Modesto to assume my new duties as a State Assemblymember for California’s 25th District.  Like any transition, it has had its joys and frustrations, its excitements and disappointments.  I am especially pleased that I have been named to key committees and positions that will help me serve the needs of my district in the Central Valley and Motherlode. 

I ran for State Assembly largely because I was frustrated by the state raid of local dollars that has crippled cities and counties like Modesto.  Throughout the campaign, I voiced that the state needs to balance its budget on its own back, rather than on the back of local communities and citizens.  As a Modesto City Councilmember, my colleagues and I worked hard over the past three years to cut spending in order to balance our budget.  It wasn’t easy, but the cuts were necessary to ensure Modesto’s long-term fiscal health and stability.  Cities and counties throughout the state have taken similar steps, and it is far past time for the state to follow suit by setting priorities and cutting spending to eliminate its $28 billion deficit. 

In orientation sessions, other newly elected legislators and I have sat through a number of presentations to help smooth our transition to state office.  One meeting in particular stands out in my mind – a session where we were learning about the Assembly’s budget committees.  Proposition 22 came up for discussion as one of the presenters implied that the initiative’s provisions may be retroactive.  I asked whether they, in fact, were and commented that local governments would be pleased to hear that their money would be returned.  He responded that as newly elected members of the Assembly, we hadn’t yet learned to take off our current hats in order to put on our new hat of a broader state responsibility.  In dismay, I turned to my colleague next to me and said, “I came here to wear my local government hat so please stop me if you ever see me take it off.”

Fortunately, several of the State Assembly’s new members are from local government.  I am hopeful that as we assume our new roles, we will all continue to be mindful of how our decisions impact local communities.

One adjustment in going to the State Assembly is leaving a non-partisan environment for one that is inherently partisan.  As a councilmember, I worked with people who had a broad array of perspectives, some similar to mine, others vastly different.   But in the end, we had a common goal. In the State Assembly, I will seek to work in a similar bipartisan manner.  Extreme partisan bickering has led to legislative dysfunction and paralysis, and does nothing to serve the citizens of California.  As Republicans and Democrats, we must find ways to work together for the good of our state, while remaining true to our core convictions.  We cannot continue childish games as the state deficit climbs and our unemployment rates soar.  Californians deserve better.    

Toward that end, I am pleased that I have been named by Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway as part of the Assembly Republican Leadership Team.  As a Republican Whip, I will have the opportunity to help set the tone and strategy for the Republican caucus.  Hard work, solution-oriented attitudes, and effective messaging are essential to rebuilding a legislature that truly responds to citizens and restores faith in government.     

Overall, my transition from city council to state assembly has been smooth and encouraging as I meet other enthusiastic freshmen Assemblymembers who are ready to get down to business and restore California’s economic strength.  I look forward to serving the people of the 25th Assembly District, and all Californians, as I begin my term and my positions on the Agriculture; Insurance; Water, Parks, & Wildlife; and Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media committees.