Ceres is now within the new State Senate District 4, which stretches from Lake Tahoe, down through the foothills and all the way into Inyo County, forcing candidates to expand their priories for the variety of communities they will represent if elected.
Candidates are saying, however, that the issues voters care about most are universal and stretch across political boundaries.
Former Ceres Councilman Jeff McKay, a Modesto native and graduate of California State University, Stanislaus, is a businessman who is currently on the Stanislaus Union School Board.
His companies include Chico-based farming manufacturer Jessee Equipment Manufacturing Company, Intermountain Truss Company, almond processor Wholesome Nut Company and payment processing firm FP Omni Technologies.
Some of the priorities McKay has are increasing jobs, decreasing crime, wildfire management and water. He also supports making the biggest middle-class tax cut in state history
“I love this state but seeing what’s happening to everyday Californians has pushed me to join the fight in Sacramento,” he said in a statement. “We’re losing jobs, crime is up, fires keep ravaging our state and our farmers don’t have water. Politicians have been fumbling the basics for too long. I’m running for State Senate so if my daughters decide they want to start a family or a business, they want to do it in California because it’s safe, affordable and livable for not just their generation, but for generations from now.”
Former Republican Congressman George Radanovich is getting back into politics after retiring over a decade ago. The Mariposa County native served as a member of the Resources Committee, chairman of the National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands Subcommittee, chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee and co-chair of the Water Caucus from 1995-2011.
After leaving Congress, Radanovich served as chairman of the board of a small family retail business founded by his parents in 1955. In 2016, he became president of the California Fresh Fruit Association.
Radanovich said the key issues facing rural California are water, the economy, transportation and infrastructure and public safety.
“This is the district where I was born, lived and farmed and where my family started a business in 1955,” said Radanovich. “Over the last several weeks I have heard from community leaders urging me to run because our district needs a state senator who understands the agricultural, resource and recreational based economy of our district and who has the proven ability to get things done.”
Modesto resident Jolene Daly spent much of her life in Turlock despite her current residence, and graduated from Turlock High in 1992.
The marriage and family therapist and her husband lost everything they owned in 2002, but she created a new beginning for herself by going back to school and starting her own practice — a success story she believes helps her relate to constituents, many of whom she feels are overlooked when it comes to policy decisions.
“My background is one of a working-class individual,” said Daly. “I didn’t go to college until I was in my thirties. I worked everything from piloting oversized loads to working at Starbucks as a barista. I’m the only person that understands what it’s like to struggle as a working-class person and have to work your way up.”
As a therapist, Daly wants to make mental health a central focus in her campaign, which she said Republicans typically don’t do.
“Whether the Republicans want to admit it or not, they do not like the idea that I’m running on a platform of mental health,” she said. “However, it does encompass everything we do on a daily basis; one in four individuals requires mental health services every year.”
Sacramento resident Tim Robertson is executive director of the North Valley Leadership Federation which aims to fight for a level playing field of workers. Robertson also serves on three county-wide workforce development boards.
Robertson believes that the Valley typically gets left behind in access to resources California has for development.
“California has these massive state programs, but for whatever reason the Valley always gets left behind,” he said. “We have these massive programs that are aimed for job development and infrastructure, but we don’t get as much of it as we should. I want to be in Sacramento to make sure we have our fair share.”
While Robertson is running as a Democrat, he feels that the issues he wants to address go across party lines.
“I don’t have any interest in engaging in partisan issues right now,” he said. “We need to work together to address these very real problems and challenges the Valley is facing.”
Republican Jack Griffith is a 39-year-old Beyer High School graduate and U.S. military veteran who lives in Turlock.
“I was just getting sick and tired of being lied to by politicians,” said Griffith about his reason for running for office. “I think my children deserve better, so I want to try to give them the childhood I had that doesn’t exist anymore.”
As a Purple Heart recipient, Griffith knows the struggles of returning home post-war and the suffering which often accompanies it, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He’d like to focus on veterans’ rights if elected. After starting a non-profit to help local veterans with legal consultation in 2016, Griffith said he frequently sought help from local politicians but was often left hanging. Some of the priorities he has are education, water and taxes, including addressing the gas tax.
“We’re only on this gas tax cycle that we’re on because people were misinformed of the bill that was passed,” he said. “We left it open so that they could increase it whenever they wanted.”
Griffith believes he is the best candidate, because he “fully encompasses all of the constituents in the district.”
Former California Superior Court Judge Steven Bailey is running to represent District 4 in the State Senate. He joins fellow Republicans George Radanovich, Jeff McKay, Jack Griffith and Jolene Daly, as well as Democrat Tim Robertson.
“I’ve always been a policy-oriented person,” said Bailey. “My approach will be to find solutions that will help the greatest number of people.”
After growing up working on the family farm, Bailey enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves. He then went on to graduate from California State University, Sacramento and then served Governor George Deukmejian for nearly eight years as the Deputy Director, Legislation, for the California Department of Social Services.
The three policy priorities Bailey has are public safety, cost of living and forest and watershed management.
“We created a situation where our streets aren’t safe,” said Bailey. “Violence and crime are going up, and we need to make our neighborhoods safe again.”
To address affordable housing Bailey would be “an advocate for reduced regulation.” He understands why some regulation is needed but believes California has too much regulation and “we need to free the private sector.”
Bailey believes his time as a judge helped him prepare for this role, but understands that the role of a legislator is different.
“As a judge you have to handle individual cases and apply the law,” he said. “When you’re a legislator you have to find solutions that impact our citizens, not just individual cases.”
Bailey defended Turlock Unified School District Board Trustee Jeffrey Cortinas earlier this year when the school district presented him with a lawsuit after he refused to wear a mask during board meetings. The lawsuit was later dropped after California announced it will no longer mandate masks in K-12 settings.
In conjunction with his non-profit, California Constitutional Rights Foundation, Bailey’s team has represented businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
“Heavy-handed politicians are willing to gamble with people’s lives to further their agenda,” said Bailey. “Fortunately, we have a constitution that protects a person’s fundamental rights. I commend Mr. Cortinas for his courage to take a stand on behalf of Turlock parents and students.”
“I am thankful for Steven Bailey and his team’s work on my behalf,” said Cortinas. “The cost of a frivolous lawsuit against working people like me can bankrupt families. It gave me peace to know Mr. Bailey’s team had my back and that someone was looking out for the little guy.”