Assembly District 36 Attracts Broad Mix of Democratic, Republican candidates.
A robust and diverse mix of seven candidates is vying for the Assembly District 36 seat, which Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat, has held since first being elected to the California Legislature in 2014. He is not seeking reelection.
The top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation will compete in the general election in November.
And with California’s primary elections just over two months away, the candidates are scrambling to gain attention, name recognition and money.
On Sunday, as many prepared to ring in the new year, the political consultant for Coachella Valley Unified School District Board member Joey Acuña’s campaign announced that he had crossed the $100,000 fundraising threshold. Acuña’s first $100,000 comes after less than three weeks of fundraising during the holiday season.
“The outpouring of support we’ve received since announcing the campaign earlier this month has been humbling,” Acuña said in a prepared statement. “I’m grateful to the many friends in Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties for their help. Our message of ensuring effective leadership and fighting for positive change is resonating, and I’m confident we will have the resources needed to run an effective campaign. I look forward to continuing this momentum as we head toward the primary election.”
Acuña’s early endorsers include State Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, outgoing Assemblymember Garcia, Riverside County Supervisors Manuel Perez and Yxstian Gutierrez, former State Senators Ben Hueso and Denise Moreno Ducheny, former State Assemblymember Julie Bornstein, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin Gomez, and Riverside County Board of Education Member Elizabeth Romero. He’s also been endorsed by the following State Assemblymembers: Lisa Calderon, Juan Carillo, Sabrina Cervantes, and Aveliino Valencia.
Assembly District 36 comprises Imperial County and cities and communities in Riverside County and San Bernardino County.
Following is a snapshot of each in alphabetical order:
- Jose “Joey” Acuña Jr. (Democrat): In addition to serving on the CVUSD Board of Trustees, Professionally, Acuña works as a development manager for health clinics and a grant writer for a local tribe. He has also worked as a coordinator for a local after-school program. He’s a third-generation Riverside County resident.
- Waymond Fermon (Democrat): Fermon has been a member of the Indio City Council since 2018. He served as Indio’s first Black mayor in 2022 for a one-year rotation.
- Edgard Garcia (Democrat): Garcia is an attorney and has been a member of the El Centro City Council since 2015. Garcia has also served as the Imperial County District Director for the League of California Cities since 2021.
- Jeff Gonzalez (Republican): Gonzalez, a business owner and former Marine based in the Coachella Valley, challenged Garcia in 2018 to represent what was then Assembly District 56.
- Kalin Morse (Republican): Morse is a nonprofit director from Westmoreland.
- Tomas Oliva (Democrat): Oliva has been a member of the El Centro City Council since 2018. He currently works as a senior field representative for U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Indio.
- Eric L. Rodriguez (Democrat): Rodriguez has served as a member of the Central Union High School District Board of Trustees in El Centro since 2020. Rodriguez, who was previously a police officer for the city of El Centro, currently works for the Emergency Response Unit at Imperial County Child Protective Services, according to his website.
The primary election is March 5. County election officials are scheduled to send out vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters in early February.
The last day to register to vote for the March 5, 2024, Presidential Primary Election is February 20, 2024. All California active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the March 5, 2024, Presidential Primary Election.
- Candidates: Shutterstock