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Turlock area farmer Eisenhut seeks state Assembly seat
Almond rancher and former Turlock Elementary School District board member John Eisenhut aims to succeed Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton, as the next assemblyman of the 26th Assembly District. Aghazarian is being termed out of office.

Eisenhut, who served on the Turlock School District board for 12 years (1989 to 2001) is pitted against Ceres farmer and Republican Bill Berryhill, who was featured in last week's edition of the Courier.

Democrat Eisenhut, 62, owns a family almond farming operation with one of three locations on Keyes Road where Eisenhut grew up.

"Interests that are important to me and important to the area right now are ... the economy, jobs, agriculture," said Eisenhut. "Ag is a key driver of jobs in the area. The lack of water and the lack of growers' ability to grow crops over on the west side and diminished job opportunity is huge. First thing we need to do is protect farmers' access to water and increase water availability."

Eisenhut said he supports a bond proposal backed by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Schwarzenegger to build new dams in California.

Eisenhut says he's every bit as pro agriculture as his opponent despite the fact that the California State Farm Bureau has endorsed Berryhill. Eisenhut noted that the endorsement was handed out before he entered the race.

Calling himself a "Valleycrat," Eisenhut said he is "more conservative than your state Democrat." But like most in his party, Eisenhut opposes off-shore oil drilling in response to rising international oil prices.

"I need to have it shown to me that off-shore oil drilling, that opening up California's shores is actually going to change the surplus into which it lowers oil prices," said Eisenhut.

Berryhill supports domestic drilling.

On another controversial issue, Eisenhut feels the state has no right to stand in the way of same-sex marriages. "Government's role is not defining people's relationships," said Eisenhut.

On crime, Eisenhut says the state needs to "continue to support local efforts to fight crime." With no new prison facilities proposed on the horizon, he said the state needs to "make choices about who we put in prisons."

Vice-chairman of the US AgBank Board of Directors since 2005 and chairman of the American AgCredit Board of Directors for 15 years, Eisenhut said he wants to take his "business sense to the state Capitol where fiscal responsibility is desperately needed."

He said the state must develop a solution in the way the state budgets and spends its money "so that we create a reserve in the budget to carry into recessions." Eisenhut said he's concerned about the governor's proposed sales tax increase hurting the economy.

The candidate, who came back from the Vietnam War with a Purple Heart medal, said the state needs to do more for its veterans now that California has "more folks actively serving.

He said the state needs to "reintroduce them to their jobs and educational opportunities. The state's deferring to the VA. Almost all states defer tuition to returning veterans and California does not."

Eisenhut stated that he has a good shot at winning the election, noted that Democrat registration has superceded Republican numbers in the 26th by a margin of 43 to 40 percent. He corrected a statement made last week in the Courier that state Democrats weren't investing in the race.

"They're sending money and we're opening a headquarters in Turlock and in a couple of weeks we'll have one in Stockton," said Eisenhut. "When folks start coming back from the (Democratic) convention, I will have people and money."

He will be taking a sabbatical from his primary employment, Hilltop Ranch, soon to actively campaign.

The 26th district occupies a large chunk of San Joaquin County, taking up an area from east of Galt down to areas of Stockton, and Manteca and include Escalon, Lockeford, Linden and Ripon. It also includes a portion of Stanislaus County, missing most of Modesto, and taking Vernalis, the area east of Modesto, most of Ceres, and all of Keyes, Denair, Patterson, and Turlock.

In Eisenhut's endorsement column are Turlock Mayor John Lazar and four members of the Turlock School Board.

Eisenhut lives in Turlock with wife Cynthia. They have two children Gretchen, a grad student at U.C. Santa Cruz and Stephen Eisenhut, who is assisting in the campaign.