Joel Campos considered himself an underdog the last time he ran for office, but now he seems to be ahead of the pack when it comes to earning the trust of the Republican party to represent the new Assembly District 22.
A graduate of Stanislaus State in Turlock and Modesto native, Campos this month has earned endorsements from both the Republican Party of Stanislaus County and the California Republican Party. Campos was selected from a pool of GOP candidates and is one of four Republicans running for the open seat, which features no incumbent thanks to the state’s redistricting process.
Being born and raised in Modesto, going to school in Turlock and even meeting his wife as they were part of the National Guard in Merced, Campos hopes to use his ties to the area to better provide for the Valley in the Assembly, if elected.
He works as a regional planner with the San Joaquin Council of Governments but is no stranger to politics; Campos sailed past the 2020 primary election for Assembly District 21 as a write-in candidate, then lost to Assemblyman Adam Gray after receiving 40 percent of the vote in the general election. Now, he hopes to represent the newly-drawn district which encompasses Ceres along with Modesto, Turlock, Patterson, Newman, Gustine, Hilmar, Snelling and Stevinson.
“With the little resources I had, I was able to get those results,” Campos said of his first Assembly run in 2020. “I found confidence in that, and I saw people who were hungry for change…That gave me momentum to pursue it again.”
Campos says his top priority in the Assembly would be to address crime and safety: he’s against Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for various theft in California, and wants to decrease crime in the Valley because it’s something he’s witnessed in his own front yard. His work with SJCOG has provided him with experiences collaborating closely with local governments, working with budgets, fund sourcing and even facilitating committees, he said.
“I believe this is just the next step for me to be able to serve Stanislaus County, and I love my community,” Campos said. “People hate on Modesto, people hate on Turlock, but I don’t because this is where my family lives. This is where I grew up. And I’m still here.”
Campos is running against other Republicans like Sean Harrison, Guadalupe Salazar and Juan Alanis, who dropped out of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s race to run for Assembly and has been endorsed for the position by Assemblyman Heath Flora, who represented much of the new District 22 prior to redistricting.
In addition to his GOP endorsements, Campos boasts other support of his own as well: Turlock’s Vice Mayor Pam Franco said in a statement endorsing Campos that he “demonstrates the depth of knowledge and understanding of the challenges that local communities in Stanislaus County are currently facing.”
“As our assemblyman,” she continued, “he will fight for improving our infrastructure, securing more resources to help local authorities keep our neighborhoods safe and helping to reduce homelessness.”
In addition to Democrat Jessica Self who is running, Ceres resident Chad Condit tossed his hat into the race this month as well. Though he has yet to file papers to run, Condit has launched a website and Facebook page for his Assembly campaign.
Condit, the son of former Congressman Gary Condit and father of Stanislaus County Supervisor Channce Condit and former Ceres Vice Mayor Couper Condit, also served as the chief of staff for Dennis Cardoza in the California State Assembly, and as an assistant to former Gov. Gray Davis. Condit unsuccessfully ran for Congress 10 years ago, losing in the open primary election of 2012 as an independent.
“Safe neighborhoods and affordability must be at the heart of the California dream,” Condit says on his website. “Our state government must improve the quality of life for our residents to ensure California thrives in the future. As the next Assemblymember for District 22, I will always put the needs of our residents and our great state above partisan politics.”