The race for the state's 14th Senate District seat pits incumbent Andy Vidak, a Hanford Republican, against Democratic challenger Melissa Hurtado, a member of the Sanger City Council.
Hurtado, a healthcare advocate who has fought efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cuts to community health clinics and attempts to defund the Children's Health Insurance Program, is well aware she's the underdog in this race. But she believes she can accomplish more than Vidak, who she said once had a vision of what was right for the valley, but that vision's gone.
"I want the Kern County voters to know that I'd be the greatest advocate for them," she said. "This is a community that I live in. This is a community I was raised in. This is a community I really care about."
"I want (voters) to take a chance, and take a chance on me."
Hurtado said the district needs more funding to help with affordable housing and repair roads, and she'll advocate for that money. She said she can work with people and make things happen regardless of their party.
And, related to her work in the medical field, Hurtado said more needs to be done to keep doctors in the Central Valley. Too often, she said, they're here for a few years and then move elsewhere. Increasing Medi-Cal reimbursements and better transportation would help, she said.
She also supports more funding for research on valley fever, and educating the public about its symptoms so they can get immediate treatment.
Vidak has said he favors construction of the Temperance Flat dam, supports more local job fairs and endorses the repeal of the gas and car tax hikes that he says are hurting family budgets.
He said he'll be working to provide safe drinking water, quicker access to health care, more career education and laws that more effectively lock up violent criminals.
Vidak first won the office in a 2013 special election following Democrat Michael J. Rubio's mid-term resignation in February of that year.
"I plan to continue my fight to build Temperance Flat water storage, stop radical environmental lawsuits that block water deliveries, support more funding for Valley schools and increase Medi-Cal reimbursement rates so more doctors accept low-income patients in need of health care," Vidak said.
"Not only will I oppose job-killing regulations that prevent local businesses from hiring folks, but I will work hard to repeal the recent gas and car tax hikes that are hurting family budgets. Plus, work to direct additional funds from the state water storage bond I co-authored to our Valley so that we can build more clean drinking water facilities."
The 14th California Senate District covers portions of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties, including the cities of Arvin, Delano, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco and a substantial portion of Bakersfield.