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Cannella starts up Senate campaign
Ceres Mayor Anthony Cannella formally announced last Wednesday that he is a candidate for the 12th Senate District seat being vacated by Senator Jeff Denham.

A fiscal conservative, Cannella called for a renewed quest to draw jobs to the Valley and state, curb over regulation of business and turning Delta pumps on for Valley agriculture.

"Our Legislature has failed us," said Cannella. "I'm going to go up there and I'm going to shake it up. It needs to be shaken up. We have a fiscal disaster in Sacramento.

"I have decided to run for the State Senate because California needs to change direction and change its policies. My top three priorities are jobs, jobs and jobs. We need to stop over-regulating businesses and agriculture. We are killing tens of thousands of jobs in our region alone with government regulation that simply drives employers to other state."

The Republican has the support of Denham who is being termed out and running for lieutenant governor. Cannella said the district is considered the "only one in play" and predicted that the race will cost $5 million to $6 million with support from the Republican Party.

"These districts are so gerrymandered that it's neither safe Republican nor safe Democrat," said Cannella. "Although there are more registered Democrats, it's been held by a Republican - really after Jeff finishes his term - for 16 years."

If elected Cannella would represent in the Senate a wide region including the southern half of Stanislaus County, all of Merced County, part of Madera County and all of San Benito County and parts of Monterey County. Seventy-five percent of the population of the 12th district is in the Central Valley and 25 percent in the Salinas Valley. Valley Democrats tend to vote more conservative than Bay area Democrats, he noted.

Cannella said that while there is widespread discontent over how the state is being governed, he is optimistic that he can make a difference.

"If we don't send people up there that are willing to change the system, we'll keep having the same problems," said Cannella. "I'm willing to get a bloody nose. I'm willing to go up there and help try to make reform."

He said Denham's stand against deficit budgets may have cost him the energy and finances to overcome a failed recall attempt by Democrats but noted that Denham "helped start some of these reforms that we've been able to see."

Cannella said that Californians cannot afford additional tax hikes and commented that the Valley is "ground zero for high unemployment, the mortgage foreclosure crisis and small businesses trying to survive in the midst of this severe recession."

As mayor, Cannella has led the city of Ceres in budget slashing and layoffs of department heads and mid-managers to get spending in line with revenue. He said that same kind of leadership is needed at the state level.

"We need to reform state government and actually balance the state budget once and for all rather than using accounting gimmicks to claim it is temporarily balanced two or three times a year. California state government has become a national example of how not to run a state. As a small businessman and as a mayor, I have had to balance a budget. It's time for common-sense and fiscal responsibility to prevail in Sacramento.

"As a local mayor, I've had to balance the city budget while Sacramento's fiscal mismanagement and reduced funding have wreaked havoc on local governments across the state. I want to put that experience to work for the people of our region."

Cannella is calling for the state to do what it can to provide water to Valley farmers.

"The Delta water pumps must be turned back on," he said.

Also supporting Cannella are Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, Senator Dave Cogdill, and Assemblymen Tom Berryhill and Bill Berryhill.

Cannella said he doesn't expect any Republican opposition in the June 2010 primary. However, state Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, is seeking the Democratic nomination. If she is not opposed within her party, Cannella and Caballero will face off in November 2010. Caballero, who was elected to the 28th Assembly District in November of 2006, is a lawyer and previously she served as mayor of Salinas.

Cannella was elected to the Ceres City Council in 2003 and elected mayor in 2005. In 2007, Cannella was re-elected to a four-year term as mayor. He is a licensed civil engineer and has been self-employed for 12 years.

He and wife of 13 years, Julie have three children. He is a graduate of Ceres High School and U.C. Davis.

Cannella said it's going to be difficult running his engineering firm and the city of Ceres as mayor as he conducts a campaign.

"It's going to be very hard," admitted Cannella, the son of former state Assemblyman Sal Cannella. "That's something my wife and I talked about. And my partners at my office. I told them what was in store. I understand the dedication that's required just because I saw what my dad went through. I saw what it takes."

One thing that will "suffer" is he won't be able to coach his kids in Little League, he said.