In the News

Divisions clear in race for 28th Assembly District

Candidates split on emission law's effect on economy

Tuesday October 19, 2010


The Monterey County Herald, October 19, 2010

Divisions clear in race for 28th Assembly District

Candidates split on emission law's effect on economy


WATSONVILLE — Progressive Democrat Luis Alejo squares off against conservative Republican Rob Bernosky in the 28th Assembly District race, giving voters a clear ideological choice.

The winner will replace Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, a moderate Democrat who's made a name working on water and agricultural issues.

In a district with above-average unemployment, getting the state's slumping economy moving is the key issue.

Alejo, Watsonville's mayor, is the front-runner after trouncing two rivals in the Democratic primary in June. He leads Bernosky, a Hollister business consultant, in endorsements and fundraising, and the district favors Democrats in voter registration.

"The No. 1 issue is to get people working again," Alejo said.

Alejo, 36, proposes that state government, which spends upward of $30 billion a year on construction projects, give a 5 percent preference in bidding to California companies to reward those who are investing in the state and to keep taxpayer dollars and jobs here.

"A lot of these contracts are being won by companies from outside California or countries abroad," he said. "We want to make sure the money circulates in the state."

He opposes Proposition 23, which would suspend AB 32, the state law designed to combat greenhouse gases. Alejo argues the law will generate jobs in green industries.

"California is taking the lead in creating future jobs, (and) at the same time, having policies to reduce carbon emissions," he said.

Bernosky pointed to AB32 as an example of state regulations that, along with "excessive taxation," are strangling California's economy.

He questions the science behind climate change, but beyond that, says tackling the issue alone puts the state at a competitive disadvantage.

"The rest of the country, the rest of the world, has to be onboard," he said.

Bernosky, 46, also wants to cut corporate taxes to avoid losing businesses to states offering a better deal.

"The No. 1 way we can create jobs is by becoming a business-friendly state," he said.

Bernosky said his corporate experience will serve him well in Sacramento. He said he's more conservative than the district or state at large, but that he'll limit his agenda to four areas: private sector job creation, education reform, agriculture water and shrinking government.

"My agenda is a mile deep and an inch wide," he said.

Alejo said his other top priorities are ensuring safe neighborhoods and that schools have adequate resources.

He said his stint as a legislative assistant in Sacramento and the relationships he's built with elected officials throughout the district will make him an effective leader.

"I have the credentials, the education, the only experience in the Capitol. For me, that's the main message," Alejo said. "Who's going to be most effective?"