Legislators address mountain residents

Mar 31, 2022 | Front Page

Staff Writer

Last Friday, March 25, local residents gathered in the conference room at the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District to meet and greet Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh and Assemblyman Thurston “Smitty” Smith. Ochoa Bogh said the two work well as a team for the benefit of their constituents in the Inland Empire.

The public officials explained the various bills they support and why. They took questions from the approximately 50 residents who attended. A lot of time was spent discussing the state gasoline tax and their desire to temporarily cancel the current 51-cent per gallon tax, since there is surplus in Sacramento. They said they believe saving that much per gallon immediately would assist the average commuter with their current, stressed budgets. They also explained why they are against the possible rebate proposals; the state, they said, will need to return that excess money anyway. Since California only produces 30 percent of the gasoline and oil it consumes, the rest needs to be imported, since no new oil drilling is taking place, due to current government limitations because of environmental concerns.

Ochoa Bogh, who serves on seven senate committees, gave a glimpse of her philosophy and the challenges that California faces at this time. Her goal in the senate is to work on policies that will help businesses thrive, since the rise in the cost of living is affecting everyone, thus lowering the standard of living at the same time. She wants to protect seniors, foster youth and those with disabilities. She says she has hired field representatives and office staff who care about the people. “Let me know your opinions; your voice and opinions are important to me – they matter to me.”

California, the senator noted, is the leading state in progressive labor and environmental laws. “People are already all wound up and angry, and we need to think logically. If they think you are judging them, then their flight or fight instincts take hold,” she said.

A discussion of required vaccinations and masking and schools took place; she does not support the vaccine mandates and thinks parents should be empowered over the health issues of their children. “If we have the tools, we can be better parents.”

Then, a discussion on the low performance of California students took place. It appears that California schools are teaching to the lowest ability students, instead of to the highest performers. As a former teacher, Ochoa Bogh says she is seeking more transparency and accountability of the schools.

The fire insurance cancellation problem was brought up and she said contractors need to build to mitigate fire danger in new construction in the foothills and mountains and that, locally, Brenda Meyers is the person working on this issue with the insurance commissioner.

Assemblyman Smith spoke on his background in the construction industry as a former cement pumper, getting fed up with business regulations and getting elected to the city council in 2006, serving two terms as mayor and to the assembly in 2020.

He then spoke about some of the bills soon to come before the legislature. He has a special interest in cutting government waste, fraud and abuse. He explained that, when a signature gatherer gets your signature on an issue, they get paid $6 to $8 a signature. Smith said that, if you have an opinion, do not just contact your own representative, let all of the assembly members know of your opinion at assembly.gov.ca. “Be engaged” he said.

He spoke on most of the same issues as Ochoa Bogh. He is in the same office building as Congressman Jay Obernolte in Hesperia, and they collaborate well on issues that require more help for their constituents.

Smith then shifted gears and spoke about the disagreements he has on policy issues with some of the other assemblymen, who are Democrats, calling them “Dems.”

The audience was very respectful and listened intensely, until Smith went into a partisan political campaign rant against the Democrats in Sacramento. Ochoa Bogh politely interrupted, explaining the reason for the conflicts is with the other politicians, but not with their Democratic constituents who they know they represent.



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