Four candidates face off for state assembly | SierraSun.com

Four candidates face off for state assembly

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

The California Assembly race for district four has attracted an eclectic group of candidates vying to replace termed-out Assemblyman Tim Leslie.

The four-way race features Democrat Rob Haswell, Green party representative Jerry Fritts, Libertarian Michael Patrick Murphy, and Republican Ted Gaines.

Gaines is the only candidate with prior experience in elected office. He sits on the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

Democrat Rob Haswell, a technical writer and Tahoe Truckee High School graduate, has launched a vigorous campaign, appearing at public forums across the district, where he has staked out his stances on statewide issues like electoral reform, regional transportation enhancements and long-term planning. But he also showed his knowledge of Tahoe issues.

Haswell said he would support conservation, both inside and outside of the Tahoe Basin, working with the California Tahoe Conservancy and the newly formed Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

“The environment is a vehicle to economic sustainability,” said Haswell, following a Thursday night forum in Kings Beach.

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Haswell said he would push the state to award incentives to communities that employ clustered, smart growth development principles. Compact development not only protects undeveloped land, but also will help resolve transportation challenges exacerbated by “hopscotch development,” he said.

“Big, mega-developers run the politics in the region,” Haswell said.

Republican Ted Gaines, who did not attend the candidate forum in Kings Beach, said he also has high hopes for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

“I think there are opportunities for land conservation and a strong economy,” he said.

Gaines, who has been endorsed by outgoing Assemblyman Tim Leslie, said his experience as an elected county officials gives him an advantage over his opponents.

But his elected experience also comes with a record. Gaines voted to approve the Martis Valley Community Plan, a long-term blueprint for Martis Valley development that allowed for approximately 6,000 new homes and 1 million square feet of commercial space in the delicate alpine valley.

The approved plan was later sued by environmental groups who won their case before the state’s superior court.

Gaines did point out that he supported increasing affordable housing associated with Martis Valley development Siller Ranch.

On social issues, Gaines said he wants to boost state funding of mental health services, streamline the adoption process, and create mentoring programs for young adults.

Haswell warned that promoting development at the cost of the environment and while ignoring progressive planning principles, as he said Gaines has done, will come back to hurt the region.

“[The local Republicans] believe in unfettered development and that is a recipe for disaster,” said Haswell.

Jerry Fritts, the Green Party candidate, has a simple three-issue platform he is using to seek election. The retired Lincoln social worker and teacher said campaign finance reform, universal health care for Californians, and a state-wide mass transit system are his three priorities.

Fritts said he represents an alternative to the two major political parties he calls “tweedly-dum and tweedly-dee.”

“I think we’ve reached a time now where we need to take back our country,” he said.

Michael Patrick Murphy has absolutely no political platform. The Libertarian political science author is seeking to institute a form of direct democracy that will guide each of his political decisions.

Murphy said if he is elected he will poll the district on the issues using the Internet and mail, and vote according to the consensus of the district.

“We’ve drifted away to an elegant totalitarian state,” said Murphy.