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Nursery owner seeks Congress
John Duarte
John Duarte is a candidate for Congress.

Republican co-founder of Duarte Nursery John Duarte announced his candidacy for the newly created 13th Congressional District on March 9, which was two days before the filing deadline for the 2022 state primary elections.

Duarte joins Democrats Adam Gray, Phil Arballo and Angelina Sigala and Republicans David Giglio and Elizabeth Heng, in seeking the seat.

District 13 includes Ceres, the west side of Turlock, as well as parts of Modesto, reaches up to Lathrop, down through Patterson and Mendota, and into Coalinga in Fresno County.

Duarte, who grew up and still resides in Modesto, said he believes that he could win this seat to help regain a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and get this country “back on the right track.”

Water is Duarte’s number one priority — and connecting it to other issues on voters’ minds.

“It’s easy to understand water in terms of food and it’s fairly obvious with irrigation,” said Duarte. “Californians don’t fully understand what I want to bring to the front is to get more water for affordable housing. Builders can build new homes and address the housing shortage, but in California, until they can provide a long-term source of water to supply those homes and until we have a bunch of water in California, we’re going to have a housing crisis in California.”

He also wants to prioritize school choice because “moms and dads deserve to choose the types of schools their children go to,” and cost of living. 

District 13 is expected to be a competitive race in the general election and Duarte plans on campaigning on issues that appeal to all voters in the district.

“This is a working-class district,” he said. “The cost of living we’re seeing is the complete result of bad policy and we could deliver good policy. We see people all across the country moving to the Republican Party, because the Republican Party is the party of common folks.”

Duarte believes he can represent farmers because he is one and has been a part of disputes over laws regulating farmers. One of the more recent examples was a years-long battle with the federal government after being fined for plowing over wetlands on his property.

Duarte settled and agreed to pay $330,000 in fines and another $770,000 of “compensatory mitigation,” according to a settlement agreement reached shortly before proceedings were to begin in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. The trial was set to determine if Duarte would have of had to pay a $2.8 million fine and tens of millions of dollars in mitigation expenses.

Duarte said at the time he settled reluctantly but feared a big penalty would jeopardize his family and his main business that employs hundreds of workers. 

Duarte said he isn’t looking to become a career politician, stating that representatives are not meant to stay in office for too long. He wants to serve his time and go back to his business and family.