Fresno Bee voter guide

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23rd state Assembly District

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  • Candidate picture

    Gwen Morris

  • Candidate picture

    Jim Patterson

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Biographical Information

Do you support the state’s proposed high-speed rail project? Please explain your stance on high-speed rail — be it pro or con — with multiple specific reasons.

Four years of drought have underscored the precarious nature of the Valley's water supply -- both reservoir storage and groundwater supplies. If elected, what would you do to enhance the region's water storage? What would you propose to protect and enhance groundwater supplies?

Safe drinking water is a problem in the central San Joaquin Valley. Water quality in some Valley communities has been compared to some Third World countries. What should be done to ensure residents of these rural communities have access to safe, clean drinking water? How would you pay for it?

What would you do to diversify the region's economy beyond its agricultural base? What specific proposals do you have to spur job creation?

As gas prices fall and cars become more fuel efficient, money to maintain and build roads becomes more scarce. What do you propose to get the money needed to sustain and expand needed roads in the Valley?

Why are you the most qualified person for this seat?

Family Married
Education California State University Fresno
Occupation Non Profit Executive
Public service experience • Co-Founder Leadership West Fresno • The Human Relations Commission for the City of Fresno • Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA, San Joaquin Valley) - President • Encourage Tomorrow Advisory Board • City of Fresno Board of Directors Care Fresno – Treasurer • Housing and Community Development Commission – Chair • Fresno Works for Better Health Advocacy Center – Board Member and Executive Director
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The decision to move forward with the development of HSR is a much more complex answer than I am stating, however based on where we are currently I support the continued development of rapid rail for this Valley. • The People of this Valley voted to support the Initiative and I support their decision • I believe the employment opportunities extend beyond just the Initiative and will help to build a more skilled workforce to our Valley • The Initiative will improve the economic base by increasing the need for customer services for those connected to the rail through employment opportunities, tourism and the support businesses connected to services such as restaurants and small business centers.
I would amend existing groundwater laws and propose new laws that would aim to: ● Urge a combination of local government and CBOs to form emergency groundwater sustainability plans for water basins and grant them the authority to perform certain actions in support of this objective. ○ To help aide in measuring water use, I would mandate the use of devices to monitor usage levels and to use this data to act accordingly to regulate groundwater extraction. ○ Use data to allow any entity that provides water to administratively impose hefty fines for violation of regulations, especially for repeat offenders. ● Allow the California State Water Resources Control Board to designate a water basin as a probationary basin. ● Take tough action against illegal marijuana growing operations that are diverting water away from regular agricultural and personal uses. ○ ● Desalination along the coasts to help aid in drinking water sources and to ease the conflict between agricultural interests and non-agricultural interests in the state. ○ Voters backed Prop 1 in November 2014 which represents a small portion of the monies needed to build and sustain our water supply we must continue to seek opportunities for revenue though a sound fiscal plan and by providing good oversight.
● Typically, many rural communities are served by unreliable, unclean systems and should be consolidated with larger more reliable systems to ensure access to clean water. ○ Utilize the State Water Resources Control Board (WRCB) to consolidate a public water system or state small water system within a “disadvantaged community” in a rural unincorporated area with another larger water system nearby that serves more suburban and urban customers. ○ Furthermore, to have this service extended to an area that doesn’t have an adequate supply of safe drinking water. ○ The WRCB is a state agency that is part of the California EPA that deals with water regulation issues. ● Support already existing Small Water System Plan (SWS Plan) ○
We need to find innovative ways to increase our agricultural products and markets and continue working on water solutions that bring economic stability to our farming community. Building and maintenance of water storage facilities also requires a skilled labor force and will bring sustainable jobs to our Valley. Our local Business Council is doing a good job of highlighting potential economic growth opportunities for our local community as evidenced through companies such as Bitwise locating in Downtown Fresno and partnering with our Local Educational Institutions to develop hubs of diverse and creative learning and entrepreneurial opportunities for residents. The bid for Nordstrom’s Center should be added to the kinds of businesses we need to continue to partner with as well. • The continued development of HSR and building a more stable infrastructure to handle larger manufacturing companies should and will be a continued struggle for the Valley. • Community benefits packages tied to development and construction is an ongoing asset. However, this is not enough. • We need to continue to reach out to all parts of our community and strategically build relationships throughout the Valley, making sure that all residents feel that their neighborhoods are a part of that growth. This can be done through the development of more neighborhood associations.
California Legislature created (TAC) SB1077 to design and implement a Statewide pilot program to study the implications of a Road Charge Model no later than January 1, 2017. I support this Pilot project as a possible solution to help solve the needed increase of revenue to sustain the roads in the Valley. However, I am not convinced that this is the only solution and would like to see continued dialogue on the possibility of creating additional toll roads in the Valley.
I am the most qualified person for the seat because I am representing a broader constituent body of voters. When you have 254,000 registered voters and only 85,000 feel their voices are being heard, it time to change the leadership to represent those unheard and underrepresented voices. I was born, raised and educated in this Valley. I have raised and buried family in this Valley and believe that I bring a more diverse and collaborative voice that will truly represent all the constituents of the 23rd Assembly.
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