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Secretary of State keynote speaker at local Republican Party dinner

February 21, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

California Secretary of State Bill Jones — the only Republican to hold statewide elected office — was the keynote speaker at this year's Imperial County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner.

Jones said it is historic that there is a Republican president and Congress.

"Everyone should be very proud of that, not just as Republicans but as Americans," he said. "I'm very optimistic."

Jones said he believes a Republican Legislature can be elected in California and just because a Democrat is governor doesn't mean Democrats will retain control of the state any more than they did when Republicans were elected as governor.

"These absolutes are not true," Jones said. "What is true is we have to have very strong party structure, and then you have to reach out to independent-minded Democrats and cross-over voters. You have to give them issues that make them want to vote for your candidate, and you have to give them strong candidates they can believe in.


"While the party is important, California is about candidates and issues that matter to people, and that's really what our party's about: freedom of choice, opportunity and a real optimism about the golden state of California for the next 20 years," he said. "This is about building back the Republican Party in California so we can support (President) George W. Bush when he runs for re-election."

Before that can happen, Jones said the state must undergo a fair redistricting.

"Not gerrymandered districts," he said, adding that reapportionment will not pass the Legislature without votes from Republicans.

Jones said he'd like to see a Republican governor and Legislature elected in 2002.

El Centro City Councilman David Dhillon said Jones' comments that the Republican Party must expand were correct.

"I hope that people listen to him and heed his words," Dhillon said. "I'm not sure that the party's expanding but I enjoyed his speech."

Supervisor Wally Leimgruber said it was important that Jones visited the Imperial Valley.

"California needs representation from the Republican Party," Leimgruber said. "When these districts are redrawn we want to have at least an opportunity to win these seats that come up for election. I appreciate his concerns that redistricting allows Republicans as well as Democrats to have an opportunity to run for office."

Jones was the main sponsor of the three strikes bill that results in even more harsh prison sentences for certain felony convictions. He served 12 years in the Legislature and also served as minority party leader.

He is a rancher in the Fresno area. His grandfather moved to the Imperial Valley from Texas at the turn of the last century and brought a cotton gin with him.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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