INDIO — Jeff Gonzalez, R-Indio, is looking to unseat Democratic incumbent Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia in the 56th Assembly District in the mid-term elections.

Gonzalez, 44, is a Retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer and pastor.

Both Gonzalez and Garcia were asked identical questions. Garcia has not responded.

Following are the questions and Gonzalez’s responses.

Uken Report (UR): Do you support Proposition 6. Why or why not? What does passage or failure mean specifically to your Assembly District?

Gonzalez: I absolutely support voting Yes on 6 – The Gas Tax Repeal. The Gas Tax costs the average family of four $779.28 and it is crushing most family budgets at a time when the cost-of-living in California is already skyrocketing higher! The Gas Tax increase contains zero accountability on where the funds will be spent by politicians in Sacramento. If Californians fail to pass the Gas Tax Repeal, our car and gas tax hikes will increase every year automatically. We must vote Yes on 6 – The Gas Tax Repeal.

UR: In this era of #MeToo, it seems every day we hear of prominent men and women accused of sexual harassment, rape, sexual assault. From Matt Lauer to Les Moonves to Charlie Rose and more. I want to give each of you the opportunity to tell me if you have ever been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, or other? Please explain if you have and your position on this issue. You know we have a president accused of all types of sexual misconduct.

Gonzalez: I have never been accused of, and I have never done any of the acts above. My mother taught me to respect women and my father taught me how to cherish my wife.

UR: Are you liberal or conservative and what does that mean to you. I know one of you is Democrat and one Republican, but I also know in this politically charged environment those are loaded labels so I want to give you a chance to explain in your own words?

Gonzalez: I’m a Jesus follower, I’m a proud American, I’m a Marine Combat Veteran, I’m a husband, Dad, friend and Pastor. I am proud of my Hispanic heritage. I believe in a strong military, I believe in less government, less taxes, great education for all, great healthcare, I believe in, “We the People.” I believe that people come first and not politics or business, I believe in being a leader, I believe in fighting for the life of the unborn and the born, I am a Conservative.

UR: Identify one, just one, time when you rallied opposing viewpoints in support of your plan, proposal, initiative, etc.

Gonzalez: On Feb. 21, 2015, I organized the Hope Project in the City of Indio.  The purpose of the Hope Project was to unify the city by working together to clean up areas in need. On the morning of Feb. 21st, over 300 volunteers, city officials, law enforcement officers, probation officers, non-profits and community members put their varied differences aside and united for a common cause. To help the least of these. Many people said that we’d never get over 50 people or that the city would never go for it. Doubters showed up, but by the end of the day the doubters became teammates and friends.

UR: Do we need more “gun control” (victim disarmament) laws?

Gonzalez: Legal gun owners are not the one’s committing the gun crimes. Criminals are committing the violence and terror within our communities throughout America. Gun purchase loopholes should be fixed. Stiffer penalties for weapons related crimes should be enforced. Letting criminals out early is not the answer. Gun education should be taught at all levels.

UR: Why specifically are you running?

Gonzalez: As a Marine Combat Veteran and a pastor, I was getting fed up with the lack of representation by the current Assembly member. The fact that he is disconnected to the people of the district and connected to the hip of the special interests, grew tiresome. People are struggling in the 56th Assembly District. They are hungry, homeless, and hopeless. So, I decided to leave my career and fight for the people of our community, because he wasn’t. Our community needs a leader that is not afraid to stand up and do what’s right and not what’s popular with Sacramento.

UR:  What is the single biggest issue facing your Assembly District, why and what are you doing – or will you do – to correct it?

Gonzalez: The single biggest issue facing the 56th Assembly District are the taxes that are killing the working class families. I am committed to voting Yes on 6 – The Gas Tax Repeal, because it is costing the average family of four, $779.28 a year. Not only does my opponent support the gas tax, but he thinks it’s not impacting the people of the Assembly District. By voting Yes on 6 – The Gas Tax Repeal, the honest working class people of the 56th will be able to save that money and use it for Christmas, instead of Eduardo being the Grinch that stole it.

UR; Where (in what area) do you think you can make the biggest difference? Healthcare, housing, veteran affairs? Those are examples of what I mean.

Gonzalez: I believe that I can make the greatest difference in healthcare and veteran affairs. As a father of an adult special needs son with Cerebral Palsy, I am intimately familiar with the bureaucracy that plagues special needs families and the elderly. I will work with the regional centers and the state, in order to refine some of their archaic processes and get people the healthcare that they deserve. As a Retired Marine Officer and a 100 percent disabled veteran, I am keenly aware of the strides that are necessary to help each and every veteran in California. Moreover, as an advocate for veterans, I’m also aware of the the homelessness in our veteran community.

UR: What are the three most notable endorsements you have received to date?

Gonzalez: California Republican Party, Sen. Jeff Stone, and Brigadier General Guido Portante.

The 56th Assembly District encompasses all of the Imperial Valley and parts of the Coachella Valley, or about 13 percent of Riverside County. The district is primarily rural and heavily Latino. Coachella Valley communities in the district are Bermuda Dunes, Blythe, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Center, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Mecca, Thermal, and Thousand Palms.