As Glendora moves into a smaller 48th Assembly District, two of the three candidates pursuing a spot on the November ballot vowed to help put a struggling state economy and “wayward” policies back on track.
Joe Gardner, Republican candidate and retired Santa Monica police officer, and Mike Meza, an Independent retired Pasadena Police sergeant, spoke to a group of local Glendora voters during Thursday’s Candidate Meet and Greet at the Citrus Valley Association of Realtors in Glendora.
Democratic candidate and incumbent for the 57th District Roger Hernandez was invited to the forum, but did not attend.
The top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary election will advance to the November election.
“I’m a conservative, but that does not mean I am a Republican,” said Meza. “Hopefully as an Independent, I can garner cross over support.”
Gardner criticized the direction of current state policies and the financial health of the state economy.
“We have escalating taxes and excessive regulations,” said Gardner. “We’re ranked dead last as a place to do business. I’m disappointed in our representatives and I think we can agree that they no longer serve the interests of the people.”
The two discussed their views on current local issues, including the state budget, school funding and realignment.
Both candidates spoke about making conservative and painful cuts to balance a ballooning deficit.
“We all have to live within our budgets and the state has to do the same,” said Gardner. “We have wasted a lot of money. A lot of problems have occurred because of the dismantling of the redevelopment agencies and now the cities are left with this huge burden and faced with the responsibilities of cutting funding and staff. It hurts everybody. I think the state has to recognize we can’t live the way we did before.”
Meza also voiced a strict conservative approach to cutting the massive.
“Every city needs to know what it means to be minimal,” he said. However, he stopped short of support for the now defunct redevelopment agencies.
“I didn’t agree with it, although I think it did a lot of good,” said Meza. “I am concerned with eminent domain, its ability to take property away.”
Candidates spoke of bolstering the local economy to help schools as they deal dwindling funding resources.
“ I think we should look at decentralizing school districts,” said Meza. “Give the money to the school districts, let the people decide how to spend it and move on from there… State government does not have any role in education whatsoever other than assuring some level of competence.”
Gardner also supported local control for schools.
“I support charter schools,” said Gardner. “I support the concept that parents have oversight and control of their schools and how they’re run.”
As former police officers, the two candidates criticized realignment and warned of higher crime rates as criminals are released back into society.
“Putting the load onto local jurisdictions, it’s appalling,” said Gardner. “Glendora has seen an11 percent rise in crime. Prisoners are getting out early…If that means taking prisoners into privately run facilities, then so be it.”
“To say that these prisoners harmless is not necessarily true,” said Meza. “We’re going to end up with more people out here committing crimes and potentially committing more violent crimes…It’s creating a dangerous situation and I’m opposed to it.”