Christy Holstege, Greg Wallis answer questions in 47th Assembly District race – San Bernardino Sun

No matter what, residents in parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties will have a new Assembly member after the Nov. 8 election.

That’s because California’s 2021 political redistricting process drew a new district encompassing Banning, Beaumont, Calimesa, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Yucaipa, Palm Springs, Palm Desert Rancho Mirage, and Yucca Valley. The 47th Assembly District also includes parts of Redlands, Highland, and San Jacinto.

Hoping to represent the 47th in Sacramento are Democrat and Palm Springs City Council Member Christy Holstege and Republican and legislative staffer Greg Wallis.

We sent questions to both candidates about the election. Here are their answers.

Why are you the best candidate to represent this district?

Holstege: (The district) deserves a leader who will fight tirelessly for our fair share of state resources, represent our values, and bring our region into a more prosperous, equitable future. I am the best candidate to deliver for our communities — because I’ve made these strides locally on the Palm Springs City Council.

Wallis: I’ve spent years working in a bipartisan, independent way to help secure better and more affordable health care, lower the cost of living, and increase public safety. The “same old same old” isn’t working – I have new ideas to help the middle class get back on their feet and thrive.

What, in your view, are the biggest challenges facing California in general and the Inland Empire in particular?

Holstege: The biggest challenges our state faces include access to affordable housing, cutting costs for working families, protecting our environment, ensuring safer communities and protecting reproductive rights.

Locally, we experience many of these issues acutely — including worsening wildfires fueled by climate change, high costs fueled by a lack of affordable transportation and rising housing costs and homelessness.

Wallis: 1. The cost of living, including high gas, food, and housing prices — made worse by unnecessarily high taxes and fees. This is making it harder and harder to live a middle-class life.

2. Homelessness, the lack of treatment facilities for drug and mental illness recovery, and the dangerous and dirty homeless camps that are often gathering spots for illegal drug use and sales, prostitution and disease.

3. The failure of the K-12 education system — California is now ranked 44th in the nation, with many students not able to read, write or do basic math.

What specific ideas do you have to address those challenges?

Holstege: I’ve secured state funds to build hundreds of units of affordable housing — and I’ll do the same in the Assembly, fighting to allocate more resources to help local communities address our affordability crisis.

It’s also time to accelerate our transition to green, renewable energies to protect our environment and reverse the effects of climate change. I’ll fight to codify abortion rights into law so our state is a beacon of hope to patients across the nation.

I’ll also fight to take guns off our streets — which I did as the mayor of Palm Springs — to ensure safer communities for us all.

Wallis: Sacramento is failing at the basics. We need change, we need new ideas and we need less partisanship.

1. Cost of living. I support suspending the gas tax, a middle-class tax cut, and reducing unfair fees that make affordable housing impossible.

2. Homelessness. I support opening more drug and mental health treatment facilities and requiring people to use them and immediately cleaning up the camps.

3. Failing schools. I support increasing teacher salaries, and holding schools accountable for making sure students can read, write, and do basic math, and increasing parental choice in where they educate their children.

The Inland Empire is one of the fastest growing regions of California. Yet it traditionally lags behind coastal counties in income, public health, education and other areas. What should state government do to address these gaps and how would you, a first-term lawmaker, move Sacramento to take those actions?

Holstege: While the Inland Empire’s growth brings potential, it’s critical that we ensure our communities have the infrastructure and resources needed to expand sustainably. As a region that was particularly hard hit by the pandemic, it’s critical that the Inland Empire receives more resources so we can build a prosperous economy that works for all of us.

We must strengthen investments in housing, healthcare, and childcare, so that basic needs are affordable for local families, and invest in economic drivers for our region like access to a four-year university and passenger rail that provides accessible transportation options and spurs economic development.

Wallis: It’s unfair that Sacramento treats the Inland Empire worse than coastal California. It’s time that we start getting our fair share of resources for our public health and schools.

Further, because we have been neglected, the state should be obliged to help our public health and schools ‘catch up.’ I’ve spent much of my life working for the state legislature on policy matters — I know how to work in a bipartisan manner to get things done.

Public health and schools shouldn’t be partisan: I’ll work with anyone, regardless of their party, to improve them.

Like much of California, the Inland Empire has seen its share of devastating wildfires in recent years. What specific ideas do you have to prevent wildfires from happening and limit the loss from major wildfires?

Holstege: As a largely desert district, arguably our most existential challenge is the warming climate — fueling unprecedented drought and wildfires.

We have some of the hottest communities in the country, and any further increases in temperatures will have devastating effects in many parts of our district. Reliable access to water and clean air are key concerns going forward.

In the state Assembly, I will push to expand resources for first responders and support investments in more green and renewable energy projects that moves us to a more sustainable future.

Wallis: Again, Sacramento has failed to protect us from wildfires. I support immediately moving to a “war footing” with wildfire — thinning brush, clearing safe zones around housing, and making sure our firefighters have every tool they need.

But it’s not just fire — the state has also failed to increase our water supply, even though we’ve passed billions of dollars to secure more water storage and conveyance. My answer to this is YES — more storage NOW, more conveyance to bring water where we need it NOW, more desalinization NOW, and more conservation NOW.

If you could wave a magic wand, what’s the one thing you would change about the legislature?

Holstege: If I had a magic wand, I’d enact better ways for residents in remote regions far from Sacramento like ours to directly provide testimony to statewide officials so that the legislative process includes and is reflective of communities throughout California — not just well connected ones — including bringing remote hearings to the Valley.

Wallis: The legislature is dominated by officeholders who are so extreme, so partisan, that they get nothing done. I would elect good-government, moderate, public servants more interested in lowering the cost of living, solving homelessness, fixing our schools, providing fire protection and water than they are in scoring partisan political points.

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