Truckee native will run for state assembly | SierraSun.com

Truckee native will run for state assembly

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

Rob Haswell

After the November 2006 election results are counted, Truckee-area native Rob Haswell hopes to be representing the 4th District in the California Legislature.

Haswell, a Tahoe Truckee High School graduate who grew up along the Truckee River in Placer County, announced his candidacy Sept. 29 for the seat that will be vacated by Tim Leslie (R-Tahoe City) in 2006, when Leslie is forced out by assembly term limits.

The 4th District encompasses most of Placer, El Dorado and Alpine counties and a portion of Sacramento County. Haswell will face off with Democrat Todd Schwenk, from Placerville, in a June primary for an opportunity to run against Republican Ted Gaines in the November 2006 contest.

Haswell, who comes from a third-generation Truckee family, said he hopes his deep roots in the area will help him connect with voters he feels are discontented with the current political landscape.

As a Democrat now living in Auburn, he said he wants to break the Republican hold on the assembly seat that has lasted more than a decade and a half. After moving to Auburn last spring, Haswell said he has sensed an uneasiness about suburban growth pushing into traditionally rural parts of the district.

“People are worried about urban sprawl,” Haswell said. “And people don’t feel like there is anything that we can do about this.”

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He feels voters, Republicans among them, are ready for a politician who listens to the ordinary voter and is not ruled by development interests.

“I really think the time is right for someone that wants to get out and listen,” Haswell said in an interview on Wednesday.

Haswell’s candidacy will force a Democratic primary, a contest the district has not see in years. The fact that voters will have more than one choice in the party will in itself be a positive step for the voters, Haswell said.

“That’s what democracy should be,” he said.

One of the issues that helped him make up his mind about running for the state assembly, despite never having held political office, was the debate over development in the Martis Valley.

Placer County’s decision to give the go-ahead to a development plan that allowed more than 6,000 homes in the valley, just miles away from where Haswell grew up along the Truckee River, hit home for him.

“To me that project is a perfect example of what is wrong,” he said.

If he wins the primary, Haswell will have an opportunity to bring up the Martis Valley project with Republican candidate Gaines, who voted for the plan as a Placer County supervisor.

“These politicians have a voting record and we feel they need to be held to account,” Haswell said.

One of the strengths of his candidacy, he said, will be his knowledge of the fourth district ” a connection that goes back to his grandfather Eldon Tonini, for whom the Tonini House on West River Street is named.

Haswell’s father, Fred Haswell, who has lived near the Truckee River since 1958 when he came to Truckee to help build Interstate 80, said his son’s roots in the area will help him as he begins his grassroots assembly campaign.

“It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of talking, walking and knocking,” Fred Haswell said.

The fact that his son will have to beat Gaines, who has the endorsements of U.S. Rep. John Doolittle, State Sen. Dave Cox and outgoing Assemblyman Leslie, does not faze the elder Haswell.

“It seems nowadays the less political ties you have when you get into political office, the better off you are,” Fred Haswell said.

Rob Haswell now has to begin implementing the plan he believes will land him in Sacramento next November.

“This race can be won and how we are going to do it is we are going to mobilize people,” Haswell said.