Incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Mullin will one again face off with the same Republican he bested two years ago as well as a young candidate who is running for office for the first time in the June 3 primary election.
Mullin, D-South San Francisco, is just finishing his first term representing the 22nd District and said he’s proud seven of his bills were signed into law and to be working closely with Gov. Jerry Brown on the upcoming budget.
Mark Gilham, a Redwood City Republican who served in the military but now runs a production company, ran against Mullin in 2012. Gilham said California government needs serious reform if it wants to be competitive against other states. Gilham said a 20 percent spending cut across the board would help resolve the unbalanced budget. He also said unfunded liabilities make him think that outside of law enforcement, all public employees should get their own 401(k) retirement plans.
“The issues aren’t being addressed, they’re just kicking the can down the road. … If we don’t make those hard choices now, we will later and we won’t have the choice,” Gilham said.
Jonathan Madison, a 25-year-old Millbrae Republican and law student, said he wants to apply his experience working as a policy staffer in Congress to benefit his hometown district. He said he’s seen how public policies affect communities and supports local control. Madison said redevelopment is what will help the economy thrive but he’s also concerned about the rapid rise in housing costs and the lack of affordable options.
“I think it’s time for some fresh ideas and I think it’s time for a new voice and a new way of looking at the challenges we face,” Madison said.
Mullin is the assistant speaker pro tem of the Assembly and serves on various committees and subcommittees, which cover the budget, local government, business, revenue and taxation, local government and biotechnology.
Mullin said he’s been an advocate for his district and passed legislation that encourages tax incentives to promote biotech companies, research and development and support the Peninsula’s innovation economy. Mullin said he wants to focus on finding a replacement for redevelopment agencies to assist local governments and is working on special election reform. Mullin said he’s also very concerned about the lack of affordable housing.
“San Mateo County has the most expensive rents in America. It’s a moral imperative for us to deal with this issue at the state level. And I’m hoping for another term to continue to work on those issues that affect San Mateo County,” Mullin said.
With California’s top-two primary, the top two candidates, regardless of party, will face off in the November general election.
Gilham said he wants to eliminate corporate taxes for three years and slowly increase subsequent years with a cap of 3.5 percent to make the state competitive in the national business market.
“It would help a lot of businesses because it would help them forecast what they can expect with tax rates. That’s the biggest concern for businesses because it’s their variable costs,” Gilham said.
Madison said taxes are burdensome to hardworking Americans and need to be cut at every socioeconomic level.
“When you’re in a boom in an economy, it’s usually this practice of the government to start taxing people more … in this case, because taxes are so high, sometimes it can actually hurt people during the economic boom,” Madison said.
Mullin said he wants to continue to support research and development through simplifying tax incentives and exempting manufacturing equipment from sales and use taxes. But Mullin said he’s also concerned about impacts on the lower class and the state’s $75 billion unfunded retirement liabilities can’t be left to the taxpayers alone and that it should be shared among stakeholders in the state, districts and the teachers themselves.
Mullin said he helped to provide more funding for K-12 school and wants to focus on implementing Common Core standards as well as supporting teachers with training and opportunities to advance careers in technology.
“So this is a time of great change in our public school system given the local control funding formula and new standards. So we need to provide support in schools as they make this critical transition,” Mullin said.
Madison said the current system isn’t working and he believes in school choice. The disparity of minorities being accepted into the University of California system needs to be addressed at the K-12 level, Madison said.
“I think we need to have a second look at some of the standards we use to measure and assess how some of the kids are doing in school,” Madison said. “I think the fact that we spend so much on education, more than any other state … and that we come out at a number 40 ranking, something is wrong here.”
Gilham said he agreed the state is spending a lot, but isn’t seeing equal results. Gilham said education needs to be in the hands of local government and parents and families need to be more involved.
“The public school system is a failure. I’m really a supporter of charter schools, home schools and private schools,” Gilham said.
Gilham said the state’s natural resources are being mismanaged. His uncle is a dairy farmer and strict environmental regulations are consequentially hurting agricultural workers during the drought. The state needs to be able to build more dams and reservoirs to supply regions in need, Gilham said.
“Cities benefit because businesses don’t leave and people don’t leave the region. So we’re able to generate taxes on a local basis. So it’s a win-win for everybody,” Gilham said.
Madison said times of drought are difficult but there’s only so much the government can practically do and he thinks the efforts being made to support the environment are fine for now.
Mullin said he’s serving on the water bond working group with Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park. He hopes it will be easier to pass a law to help update the state’s ground water storage and water recycling policies while encouraging the use of the limited resource more wisely. However, Mullin said the initial $11.2 billion water bond proposal probably doesn’t have a chance so he’s in support of the amended Assembly Bill 1331 which is shooting for a $8 billion bond on the November ballot.
“I think the drought is in the public’s mind and the timing would be good to invest in updating our water infrastructure,” Mullin said.
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Note: This story has been updated to address an amendment to AB 1331 from which Mullin supports an $8 billion bond instead of a $6.5 billion bond.