SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elisnore, is one of two Republicans among five people seeking the District 28 state Senate seat that Jeff Stone left vacant last year.
Rounding out the top five are Democrats Elizabeth Romero of Indio, Joy Silver of Palm Springs, and Anna Nevenic of Palm Springs. Both Silver and Nevenic challenged former state Sen. Jeff Stone for the seat in 2018. Nevenic lost in the primary election on June 5, 2018. Stone ultimately prevailed over Silver and resigned.
The second Republican is John Schwab of Temecula, a real estate broker/small business owner.
In addition to serving in the California State Assembly, Melendez, 51, is a small business owner and mother of five children. Her husband, Nico, is a small business owner and serves the country as a Commander in the United States Navy Reserves.
The couple’s children are: Angelo (21), Paolo (19), Sofia (17), Rocco (15), and Carlo (13).
As with all candidates, Uken Report posed Melendez a series of questions. To date, all candidates except Schwab, have responded. Melendez’s responses follow:
Uken Report (UR): Why do you want to be a state Senator?
Melendez: I want to continue to be the voice for everyday Californians, protect Prop. 13, reduce the outrageous high cost of living and restore our state to a place where economic opportunity and innovation are encouraged not stifled. We are the 5th largest economy in the world, yet we have thousands of Californians sleeping on the streets. It’s time for Californians to toss the failed policies that have created this mess into the trash bin and I’d like to help lead that charge.
When I first ran for public office I made a commitment to stand up for everyday Californians who are struggling to get by. I made it a priority to support our men and women in law enforcement who protect our neighborhoods while bolstering our criminal justice system to ensure justice is given to victims of crime.
California used to support and promote science and technology innovations in our schools but have prioritized other subject matters instead. I have strongly supported more funding to STEM career paths even as the majority party is trying to stifle these industries by passing harsh restrictions on independent contracting, making it impossible for people to have any flexibility in deciding how and when they work to address the unique needs of their families.
The homelessness crisis is a problem that is continuing to grow in our state. We, as taxpayers and residents of this state, deserve better than throwing money at a homelessness crisis that can’t be solved solely with more money and a new homelessness czar. It will take a multi-faceted approach beyond just money.
As your State Senator I want to be a voice that speaks on behalf of real people and tries to fix real problems. Our state is crumbling under the politics of a single party voice in the State Capitol and adding another voice to that chorus will only fail to solve our state’s problems.
UR: What qualifications do you have?
Melendez: Before moving to California to start my family, I served in the United States Navy during the Cold War and during Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. When you have a problem to solve or a job to do in the military, no one considers the color of your skin, your religious beliefs, your economic background, your sexual orientation or your political persuasion. You work together to get the job done. That’s the only way I know how to operate, and the only way people should operate. I worked and went to school to receive my BA in History and Political Studies and later received a Masters degree in business administration.
After multiple tours with the Navy, I started my own transcription company and emerged as a business leader in Lake Elsinore where I served as a city councilwoman and mayor. While on the council I successfully passed regulatory and tax holidays for small- businesses to make my city more business-friendly and to make our economy stronger and more sustainable.
Since being elected to the State Assembly in 2012, I have been a staunch advocate for taxpayers. I have fought for lower taxes and authored legislation to make it easier to build affordable homes. I have pushed efforts to stop high-speed rail funding and repurpose it to fix our crumbling roads. I have authored one of the most sweeping workplace harassment reform laws in the last decade and led the efforts to restore the rights of independent contractors. I have helped pass campaign finance laws so that you know where campaign money is coming from and have authored bills to stop legislators from becoming lobbyists in an effort to keep them from cashing in on their time in elected office.
My passion is to serve you, and the people of this state, is illustrated by my commitment to be accessible and available . I have hosted over 100 community Town Halls, written over 4,800 hand written constituent responses and recognized over 96,000 constituents with certificates of recognition and acknowledgment.
UR: What issues are you running on and why?
Melendez: Our country is seeing record low unemployment and the strongest economy of recent memory. Yet so many Californians are struggling to find affordable housing and their means of earning a living and having economic freedom are slipping away.
California was once the place of opportunity and innovation where anyone from any background could come and make a living for themselves, raise a family and thrive. Today, our state is suffering from a public health crisis in homelessness; high poverty; lack of affordable housing; escalating costs of living and upticks in criminal activity. These issues are causing people to leave California and a recent study clearly proves this outward migration. One million people left California in the last decade because they could no longer afford to live here.
I will work hard to put forward legislation that seeks to make housing more affordable. I will work hard to remove barriers for small businesses and make it easier for working families to earn a living. I want to fight to alleviate the financial burdens on taxpayers to make living in this state easier. I will continue my efforts to support law enforcement and bolster their abilities to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe.
UR: Who are your political mentors and why?
Melendez: My parents. My mom was a democrat and my dad a republican. They didn’t always agree on politics, but they knew how to disagree without being disagreeable and they knew how to concede when they were wrong.
UR: Should you lose your Senate bid, you will be out of the Legislature, correct? Why is that worth the risk?
Melendez: California is a state where ones ability to live and provide for their families should be protected and encouraged. I will continue to be a voice that represents real people who are struggling to make ends meet. People who want safe streets and good schools. People who want government out of the way to allow economic freedom and opportunities. This is the reason I am running. If I were to lose this bid to represent you in the State Senate, my time in elected office would end this year as I am not running for re-election in my current Assembly District. The political party in power today has dominated the policies of this state for over 3 decades, but things haven’t gotten better, they have gotten worse. Elected officials serve the people they represent and I never ran for office with the mindset that this was a career. I’m running to make sure the government serves the people, not the other way around.
UR: Is there anything you would like to add?
Melendez: Since being elected, I have authored legislation to make it easier to build affordable homes. I have pushed efforts to reallocate high-speed rail funding to fix our crumbling roads. I have helped pass campaign finance laws so voters know where campaign money is coming from. I have authored bills to stop legislators from becoming lobbyists and cashing in on their time in elected office. I also authored one of the most sweeping workplace harassment reform laws in the last decade. As your State Senator I will continue my fight to repeal AB5 and allow independent contractors to remain independent, keeping the freedom to choose when and where they work.
If elected to represent you in the State Senate I will continue my efforts to support law enforcement, PROTECT PROP 13 and California taxpayers, and will work hard to return California to a place where everyone willing to work hard can afford to live.
- Melisssa Melendez: Melisssa Melendez