West Covina resident Joe Gardner, 57, said he felt compelled to run for his first Assembly seat when he saw his native state of California fall into further financial debt. The retired sergeant had worked for 27 years in law enforcement and had volunteered in fundraising for the Republican Center in Covina when he decided to run for the new 48th Assembly District, which includes Glendora, Azusa, Monrovia, Industry, Covina, Duarte and El Monte.
Gardner is running against Democrat Roger Hernandez, incumbent in the 57th District, and Independent Mike Meza. The top two vote-getters in the June 5 Primary Election will earn a spot on the Nov. 8 Election ballot.
Gardner said he would bring a set of strict conservative values to the Assembly, ideals he said can bring California back to financial and economic health.
Patch interviewed Gardner by email as a part of our series of candidate profiles.
1. Why are you running for the 48th Assembly seat? What change do you think you can make through this position?
I was born here and have resided in Southern California all my life. I love this state. I am concerned about the direction the state and its economy is headed. Escalating taxes, job-killing regulations and deteriorating public safety are among my concerns. I want to be part of influencing positive change to bring back jobs and prosperity to our state.
2. What do you think has contributed to the state's current fiscal situation? What would you do to help with the state's recovery?
State government has mismanaged our finances and has failed to operate within a budget. Over the last decade, over regulation has contributed to hundreds of businesses closing down and leaving the state and over one million people moving away. I will advocate for fiscal, regulatory and tax reform to attract businesses and people to return to California. If we are to pay down our debt and improve our infrastructure, we need revenue. The way to do that is to embrace the concept of private-sector job creation.
3. What is your stance on illegal immigration and what policies do you think must be in place or changed to address the issue?
It is simple. The federal government must enforce the laws on the books already.
4. Would you have an instrumental role as previous local representatives have had in bringing funds to the Gold Line extension project? Why or why not?
Although the Gold Line has cost overruns that are of concern, I believe it will bring jobs and opportunity along the corridor. I would support bringing funds to a fiscally sound project. It requires oversight to assure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
5. Schools have long struggled with dwindling state resources. How do you think the state should treat funding for public schools and higher education? What should be done to maintain quality education?
If we are to promote a business-friendly environment, we need a skilled workforce. Schools and funding must be a top priority. Schools must be efficient and parents must be able to influence the quality of schools by having choices for education. The state should allow more local control and funding of schools by block-granting funds to districts.
6. Many local government officials have pushed for more independence from the state and gaining more local control of funding. What is your stance on this perspective?
I favor independence. The state bureaucracy has proven it cannot act responsibly with our tax dollars, from squandering our taxes on the 911 License Plate Program to High Speed Rail. It has also lost touch with the needs of local governments. The state must gradually reform itself and stop unfunded mandates to local governments. Let local governments address their own needs and give them the money to do so.