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Local candidates among 7 seeking Assembly seat

March 04, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

Much like the state Senate, Imperial County's state Assembly district boundaries were redrawn after the 2000 census, changing the district's population to a Latino and Democratic majority.

Assembly District 80 changes moved the boundaries so incumbent David Kelley, R-Idyllwild, was no longer part of the district, leaving the seat open for a field of seven candidates.

Local Democrat Ramon A. Saucedo, 34, of Imperial, and Republican Blake L. Miles, 47, of El Centro join Riverside County residents Democrats Joey Acuña and Gregory S. Pettis and Republicans Bonnie Garcia, Svetlana "Anna" Nevenic and John J. Peña in the Assembly race.

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Here is a quick introduction to the Assembly District 80 candidates in the Tuesday primary:

Joey Acuña (D)

Age: 39

Residence: Coachella

Occupation: construction

Family: married, one child

Education: Coachella High School, ongoing at College of the Desert, pursuing political science degree.

Web site: none

QUOTE: "Building bridges. We need to build coalitions to get things done."

Q. Why are you running for Assembly?

I'm running because I think this district needs new representation that we haven't had for 10 years.

Q. How will you help the Imperial Valley with its challenges?

I think the first thing is to start, to show up and work with these groups. I would work to get back our tax money, our transportation taxes. We need to make sure the playing field is level for all communities.

Q. Where do you stand on:

- the San Diego/Imperial Irrigation District water transfer?

The issue goes back to bringing people together. If we do nothing, other people — a judge or people in Washington, D.C. — will make decisions about our water for us, without our opinion.

- power plants being built in Mexicali?

Imperial County will get all of the negative and none of the benefits. Some of the companies are going across the border to get away from U.S. controls — but they are U.S. companies. You can't just go across the border and pollute Imperial County. I applaud the elected officials who stood up against this.

Bonnie Garcia (R)

Age: 39

Residence: Cathedral City

Occupation: legislative aide, businesswoman

Family: husband, two children

Education: bachelor's degree in workforce education and development from Southern Illinois University

Web site: bonniegarcia.com

QUOTE: "Our American dream depends on quality schools and a vibrant economy."

Q. Why are you running for Assembly?

With the demographic changes, I think it's important to have someone who represents the public and has state level experience. We need someone who can address the agricultural, economic, educational and public safety challenges.

Q. How will you help the Imperial Valley with its challenges?

I am already in Sacramento working on these issues. Imperial County is deemed rural. A lot of the money just falls into a general pot. We need to reevaluate how we distribute those funds. We need to build the infrastructure so we can have jobs. You can't attract a car plant if you don't have sewage, roads and a trained work force.

Q. Where do you stand on:

- the San Diego/Imperial Irrigation District water transfer?

I believe we need to use better technology to conserve water. I don't believe we should do wholesale fallowing. It will only increase unemployment. We need to manage the transfer so it has the least impact on the economy.

- power plants being built in Mexicali?

The project has no benefit to Imperial County. We have the technology available to prevent the health of people on both side of the border from suffering. While it's important to resolve the energy crisis, it's also important to protect the health of people.

Blake L. Miles (R)

Age: 46

Residence: El Centro

Occupation: Boy Scout professional, former teacher

Family: wife, five children

Education: bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University, teaching credential from San Diego State University.

Web site: blakemiles.com

QUOTE: "Education, the only true exit from poverty."

Q. Why are you running for Assembly?

When I talked to different teachers and educators, I found out there's very little flexibility at the local level. If we really want to do something we need to do it at the state level.

Q. How will you help the Imperial Valley with its challenges?

For education, students need more motivation. I think a reward-punishment system will help, something like students who don't turn in their homework will have to stay in a lunch.

Crime is another problem and the court system is overwhelmed. I would propose if you go to court, and you're found guilty, the penalty is doubled, from five years to 10 years.

The easiest thing we can do to help the Salton Sea is to harvest the fish and sell them before they die. There's a market there. It's much better to sell live fish, even for pet food then to sell when they're dead.

Q. Where do you stand on:

- San Diego/Imperial Irrigation District water transfer?

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