Voters in the 32nd Assembly District have a choice between two candidates who agree on a lot when it comes to state government but have starkly different backgrounds.
Pedro Rios, who served eight years on the Delano City Council, came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 9. He served in the California National Guard and went on to work as a teacher and vice principal. He later started a driving school in Delano and then tried his hand at farming in Argentina, where he went bust. He returned to California in 2010 and today operates a company that provides portable toilets to farmworkers in the fields.
Rios' experience in government and business is an ideal backdrop for serving in the state Legislature, except that he seems to lack both a depth of knowledge on many issues and any specific ideas on how to fix them. At a recent editorial board meeting, he rattled off common GOP complaints about overregulation, taxation and overspending but when specific issues like air quality and farmworker protections came up, he treated them as little more than pesky annoyances for business.
His opponent, Democrat Rudy Salas, has fewer years of elected experience than Rios but has spent the bulk of his career so far working in the Legislature, mostly on behalf of the 32nd District's constituents. Salas has served just shy of two years on the Bakersfield City Council but previously worked as an aide to former assemblyman and state senator Dean Florez, where he worked on key issues affecting the 32nd District. He was born in the district, graduated from UCLA and helps to run a family construction business. He knows the ins and outs of the complex issues affecting the constituents and has specific proposals to fix them, for example how to change the state's environmental laws that are commonly blamed for hurting the state's business climate. It also helps that he's on a first-name basis with many of the political powerhouses on both sides of the aisle in Sacramento. We are concerned Salas could fall in line with partisan positions but he has pledged to work in bipartisan fashion and put the needs of the district above politics. We plan to hold him to that promise.
With his experience and understanding of the 32nd District, Salas is best suited for the job.