Brian Dahle, Kevin Kiley talk issues, trade jabs in race for state Senate District 1 seat

Alan Riquelmy
Special to the Sierra Sun

About the candidates

Name: Brian Dahle

Age: 53

Residence: Bieber

Job: Farmer/businessman/Assemblyman


Name: Kevin Kiley

Age: 34

Residence: Rocklin

Job: Assemblyman/small businessman


The June 4 election for the state Senate District 1 seat is under a month away, though many Nevada County voters already may have their ballots in hand.

Nevada County is one of 11 counties in the state Senate district. It’s also a vote-by-mail county, meaning every registered voter should receive a ballot in the mail.

There’s only one question on that ballot: Brian Dahle or Kevin Kiley for state Senate District 1.

Dahle, 53, and Kiley, 34, are Republican assemblymen who took first and second place, respectively, in a March 26 primary for the seat. Neither received 50 percent plus one vote, requiring the June 4 runoff.

The candidates who failed to meet the top two threshold are Republicans Theodore Dziuba, 34; and Rex Hime, 70; and Democrat Silke Pflueger, 53. Democrat Steve Baird said he withdrew from the race, though his name remained on the ballot.

Baird, who ran as a Republican for the state Senate seat in 2016, drew controversy over his withdrawal. Some Democrats claimed his candidacy siphoned votes from Pflueger. A campaign advert sent on behalf of Dahle suggested Republicans should support Dahle and urged Democrats to cast votes for Baird.


Brian Dahle, in an interview with The Union, said the issues important to people depend on where they live.

Folks surrounded by trees are concerned about fire and worried about losing their insurance. Crime and homelessness are concerns everywhere, but pronounced along the Interstate 5 and 80 and corridors. Transportation is key in the Tahoe area. Broadband internet and health care top many people’s lists.

Dahle argued he’s the best person to serve as the District 1 state senator and help provide solutions to the area’s issues. He pointed to past successes like $1 billion he helped secure for vegetation management.

Dahle noted his opponent cast no vote for the legislation providing the funding.

Dahle has also brought legislators to his Assembly district, providing them a perspective they otherwise wouldn’t get. One such tour is scheduled for next week, he said.

Dahle said he and his opponent agree on much. They’re both Republicans. They both oppose sanctuary state status.

“The difference is quite clear to me — it’s experience,” Dahle said of what differentiates him from Kiley. “I don’t just author legislation or author resolutions. He authors them, but he doesn’t get them out of committee.

“My ability to get things done,” Dahle added. “That’s the main thing for me.”

Dahle emphasized that he’s a business owner and meets his payroll every two weeks. It’s a theme he spoke about during the primary campaign.

Asked about marijuana’s legalization, Dahle said he favors local control. As a former Lassen County supervisor, Dahle said he grew frustrated when the state imposed on local government.

According to Dahle, medicinal and recreational cannabis laws conflict with each other. He proposed setting both aside and having a statewide ballot initiative creating new rules for its regulation, taxation and control.

“Most consumers have no idea what they’re getting,” Dahle said. “There’s still a lot of inconsistencies.”

Switching topics — Dahle called it “crazy” for the state Senate to pass a bill prohibiting a candidate’s name from appearing on the primary ballot if they don’t release their tax returns. He said it appeared unconstitutional — a characterization Kiley also used.

President Donald Trump has refused to release his returns.

Addressing Kiley’s claim that he’s foregoing forums, Dahle said it’s been challenging to schedule events. The large district coupled with school schedules makes it difficult.

Dahle added that he’s looking forward to attending a forum, though none are yet scheduled for western Nevada County.

Dahle said he’d consider participating in a Facebook Live forum, as suggested by The Union Editorial Board.

“I look forward to representing Nevada County in the Senate,” Dahle said.


Kevin Kiley came out swinging.

In an interview with The Union, Kiley claimed that special interests and lobbyists support Dahle. They’ve contributed to his campaign. They want him in office.

Kiley is quick to say voters should support his opponent for the state Senate District 1 seat, if they believe the Legislature works well.

“Brian’s someone who’s been in politics a long time,” Kiley said. “He’s very much a part of the culture of the state Capitol.

“If you think things have been going well, you should certainly vote for Brian,” Kiley added moments later.

But if people want change in Sacramento, they should cast their vote for Kiley, he said.

“I’ve come to the Capitol to shake things up,” Kiley added.

Dahle served for years as a Lassen County supervisor before joining the state Assembly in 2013.

Kiley, who took state office in 2017, dismissed the suggestion that Dahle’s experience makes him better suited to serve in the state Senate. Kiley said he would bring new leadership and a break from special interests.

Kiley lambasted what he called defamatory tactics by Dahle in the campaign. He pointed to a “doctored” photograph placing himself next to Democratic U.S. Senator and former California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Kiley has served as a deputy attorney general. However, he said he never stood next to Harris and opposes her policies.

“I think it’s even worse than politics as usual,” Kiley said. “It crosses a line when you doctor a photograph. It’s defamatory.”

Fielding questions about the issues, Kiley said he was no supporter of the legalization of marijuana. However, California voters have spoken. He said it’s essential local governments maintain control over the permitting of cannabis businesses.

Kiley decried a recent move by the state Senate to prohibit a presidential candidate’s name from appearing on the 2020 primary ballot, unless that person releases five years of tax returns.

“It’s an absurdity,” Kiley said. “The bill is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Kiley said he’d be accessible as a state senator to Nevada County residents. He’d hold forums and attend community coffee events to meet with people, hear their ideas and state his own positions. He again slammed Dahle for failing to attend debates.

“I have agreed to debate him anytime, anywhere,” Kiley said. “That’s pretty basic.”

Kiley agreed to a suggestion by The Union Editorial Board, saying he’d participate in a Facebook Live forum with Dahle.

“I think it’s a vitally important election for the future of the state,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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