5 candidates seek state Assembly District 1 seat; special election is Aug. 27 | SierraSun.com

5 candidates seek state Assembly District 1 seat; special election is Aug. 27

Liz Kellar and Sam Corey
Special to the Sierra Sun

Meet the candidates

Elizabeth Betancourt

Age: 39

City of residence: Anderson

Current occupation: Chief, Cannabis Permitting and Compliance Unit, Central Valley Water Board

Relevant experience: Founder and lead, Redding Women’s March

Megan Dahle

Age: 43

City of residence: Bieber

Job: Dry wheat farmer

Experience: Owned Big Valley Nursery, served as president of Big Valley Joint Unified School Board

Patrick Henry Jones

Age: 51

City Residence: Redding

Job: Worked at Jones’ Fort gun shop

Experience: Former mayor, Redding City Council member

Lane Rickard

Age: 24

City Residence: Redding

Job: Lane Rickard Consulting Services

Experience: Intern for Redding mayor; representative for state Senator Ted Gaines’ Office

Joseph Turner

Age: 36

City Residence: Milford

Job: Retired (medical reasons)

Experience: Lassen County Republican Central Committee chairman

Five candidates are running for the state Assembly District 1 seat.

Candidates for the office are Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt; and Republicans Megan Dahle, Patrick Henry Jones, Lane Rickard and Joseph Turner.

Nevada County voters, along with voters across the 1st Assembly District, will cast their ballots Aug. 27 to fill the spot left vacant when Brian Dahle vacated the seat and joined the state Senate. A forum for the state Assembly District 1 race is scheduled for Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

A vote-by-mail county, Nevada County already has received completed ballots. More are expected over the next three weeks as voters select their choice for the Assembly.

If no one candidate receives 50% of the vote, plus one vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a Nov. 5 runoff, regardless of political party.

The 1st District is composed of part or all of nine counties, including Nevada County.


Elizabeth Betancourt is the lone Democrat running for Dahle’s seat, in a district she acknowledges has been a conservative stronghold for many years.

But she thinks it could be time for a new direction for the North State.

“We have been represented for several decades now by a super-minority party member,” Betancourt said. “How can we effectively negotiate for what we need, if we are not actively respecting what is happening in the rest of California? As a Democrat, I would be better able to negotiate for what we need.”

From Betancourt’s perspective, Republican politicians in Sacramento spend too much time focused on issues that are not, ultimately, productive.

“California is a progressive state, so pushing back on LGBT rights, on the State of Jefferson, that’s not going to be something that is a productive use of time,” she said. “I’m not making any judgment on whether (their stances) are right or wrong. Let’s spend time on things that this region needs.”

Betancourt slammed Brian Dahle for his participation in a “Faith and Values Town Hall” shortly after becoming a state senator.

Dahle received some criticism for the town hall’s invitation, which appeared to invite only Christians from nearby churches.

There is a “lack of deep understanding” of what it means to live in rural California, Betancourt said.

And that’s a big reason she decided to run.

“I have been involved in policy making on water and natural resources issues for nearly 20 years, advocating for rural regions,” Betancourt said, adding that over the years people have approached her about running for office.


Megan Dahle is seeking husband Brian Dahle’s state Assembly District 1 seat, but said she is not running on his laurels.

Still, she says, her time as a politician’s wife gives her a big advantage over the other candidates.

“I know the job,” Megan Dahle said. “I know what it means and what it entails — a lot of committee hearings and meetings. It’s definitely not glamorous, but I understand it. … I have traveled with Brian and gotten to know the constituency, the challenges and the issues.”

Megan Dahle said that experience is what will make her effective right out of the gate.

“I have built the relationships,” she said. “I will be able to go to work as soon as I get there. That’s a huge advantage.”

Often, she said, it can take new Assembly members a year or more to get acclimated to the political culture of Sacramento.

“I know the ins and outs of getting a bill through,” Megan Dahle said. “I’m a Republican, I’m a super-minority. You have to have relationships in order to be effective.”

Megan Dahle noted the Democratic Party has been in power in California since the mid-1990s, and critiqued the policies that have been implemented under their auspices.

“We have the second highest poverty rate in the nation,” she said. “The cost of living (here) is incredibly high. … It’s really hard to live in California.”

Megan Dahle insists the Republican Party has great ideas on combatting issues like rising crime and homelessness, saying, “We are solution-driven.”

But to get elected, Republicans need to get better at telling their story. Part of that, she said, is emphasizing the role of women in the party.

“I’m starting a series called ‘Women who Lead,” Dahle said. “We need to do a better job as women telling story that we are strong leaders, we embrace all genders, all races. We need to do a better job of telling people what we stand for.”


Redding resident Patrick Henry Jones was on Redding’s City Council in 2006, 2010 and in 2014 he was elected its mayor.

Jones is running to change California’s public retirement system so, he said, cities don’t default on their budgets due to increasing pension payments. He wants to take newfound money previously invested in pensions and invest it in police stations and firefighter departments. Jones also wants to improve forest management in the state by deregulating work for people in the logging industry.

“Reducing the regulations is the answer to the problem,” said Jones, adding that California is “in crisis because of stringent environmental rules.”

Jones supports parents having the right to choose whether their children should be vaccinated, and believes the “over-regulation of vaccinations” to be problematic.

On some issues, Jones said there are “fundamental differences” between rural and city residents, and that will sometimes force partisanship and non-negotiation. This, he said, is particularly true with regards to the Second Amendment, which he said he will go to great lengths to protect. He also said providing undocumented persons with driver’s licenses and health insurance is unconstitutional.

Jones, who is on his seventh political campaign, is “very much a Trump supporter.” He wants every county in California to have a state senator, and is pleased with less government intervention at all levels of government.

“I would be happy if I didn’t pass one new law,” said Jones, adding that if he did pass a new law, he would aim to remove four more.


Lane Rickard is the youngest person running for the Assembly seat. A Native American Indian of the Wintu Tribe, Rickard graduated from Shasta College with a degree in political science. Having worked in the state Senate for five years, Rickard has three specific policy goals: reducing crime in Redding, bolstering disaster relief and improving the state’s economic development.

“We need to make sure we have proper fire measures,” Rickard said.

Rickard wants to expand funding for public safety officers, and reduce California’s homeless population in part by passing a state mental health bill that provides more funding for mentally ill individuals.

If elected, the candidate hopes to create a statewide volunteer program to receive training by, and subsequently partner with, the Office of Emergency Services to provide additional first responders to help ameliorate wildfires.

Rickard also hopes to fight large tax bills, specifically regarding funding for high speed rails, and wants to instead focus on local transportation issues and improve the state’s water reservoir system.

He wants to ensure taxes aren’t increased for businesses.

“It can’t be a privilege to own a business in California,” he said. “It should be a right.”

To improve the state’s Republican Party, Rickard hopes to get more young people attracted to conservative ideas about the free market.

“The Republican party has core values everyone can get behind,” he said, adding that “capitalism doesn’t see ethnic or social lines.”


While Joseph Turner hasn’t served in public office, he spent 17 years working in the California Army National Guard, and has led combat soldiers in Afghanistan. More recently, Turner became the central committee chairman for the Lassen County Republican Party.

When asked why he was running, he said: “I’m running because there’s an availability.”

He supports more federalism, which he said has been lost on a lot of Republicans, and believes that people should have the ability to protect their property and parental rights as well as the right to bear arms. These issues, he said, “are not negotiable.”

Turner believes the Republican Party needs to change.

“I think the Republican party has been feckless for years,” he said, later adding that the president “is right and wrong on a few things.” Turner specifically believes President Trump needs to be educated on the country’s Constitution.

Mostly, Turner is running on fixing the state’s pension problem and wants to deregulate the timber industry. The candidate also wants to spend more on veterans, particularly the homeless, who he said frequently include single mothers.

Turner supports the legalization of marijuana and believes citizens have the right to consume whatever drug they choose.

He does not support “the right to a living wage or the right to health care” because, he said, these are not rights, but rather expectations from an outside institution.

Turner believes Californians are being discouraged from staying in the state, partially due to new school policies. He said it is “child abuse to teach gender identity” in the classroom, which will only serve to confuse kids.

The candidate supports having a senator for every county, adding he also believes there should be one Assembly member per county as well.

Liz Kellar and Sam Corey are writers at The Union, a sister paper of the Sun. Email lizk@theunion.com and scorey@theunion.com, or call Kellar at 530-477-4236 and Corey at 530-477-4219.

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