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5th state Assembly District

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  • Candidate picture

    Frank Bigelow
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Robert Carabas
    (Dem)

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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?

Age 64
Residence O'Neals, California
Family Wife, Barbara, three children and four grandchildren
Education High School Graduate, Sierra High School
Occupation Rancher/Businessman/Assemblyman
Public service experience California State Assemblyman, 2012-present; Madera County Supervisor, 1998-2012
Facebook/Social media www.facebook.com/FrankBigelowCA/ On Twitter: @FrankBigelowCA
I do not support the state's proposed high-speed rail project. The state should not invest any more taxpayer money on high-speed rail. We should focus our efforts on transportation projects that will benefit all Californians. We need to focus our efforts on fixing our roads and improving existing infrastructure. Further, the project has only grown in cost. The cost has far exceeded what the voters approved. The voters supported a completely different project many years ago and should have another opportunity to have their voices heard on this project.
Voters approved the Prop 1 Water Bond in 2014 because they know our water infrastructure priorities should be new water storage. As a rancher, I know first hand that what our state really needs in terms of water is more above-ground water storage. As your Assemblyman and former Vice Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, I was one of the chief architects of the Water Bond. If re-elected, I will do everything in my power with the help of my central valley colleagues in the legislature to make sure we build Temperance Flat Dam and Sites Reservoir. In order to protect and enhance groundwater supplies, we need water storage. It is all about time of displacement - if we can't hold the water above ground, we won't be able to allow it to slowly percolate into the groundwater basins. During water bond negotiations, the voice of the valley was heard. I am going to make sure we continue to be heard. Together with my colleagues from the valley, we will deliver new water storage for California.
Safe drinking water is not a luxury, it is a basic human right and it is shameful that there are communities within the central valley that do not have access to such a basic right. When voters approved the Prop 1 Water Bond they approved money for safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities. It is now our job as both elected officials and citizens of the central valley to make sure that projects in the valley related to safe drinking water are prioritized as water bond monies are distributed. We must ensure that we are engaged at the Water Commission and with the State Water Resources Control Board to ensure that the valley gets their fair share of these funds to make sure all of our communities have safe, reliable and clean drinking water.
In order to bring back jobs to the valley and jump start the economy, the Legislature must support reforms that improve California's business climate. The sate needs lower taxes and less-burdensome government regulations. I continue to advocate against unnecessary litigation, especially as it pertains to lawsuit abuse against our small businesses. We must also streamline infrastructure development by reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to allow for local maintenance and construction projects. I've also supported plans to encourage tourism to our communities to allow small businesses to hire more local workers to help showcase our national, state and local parks.
As your voice in the State Assembly, I continue to advocate that monies generated by transportation taxes and fees return to transportation projects. During difficult budget years, the state seized transportation dollars from specified transportation accounts to fund other frivolous projects instead of funding desperately needed transportation projects. Many years later the budget situation has improved however the funds that were taken from these transportation accounts were never returned. I'd propose that we repay these seized dollars and also end budget gimmicks by dedicating that gas tax dollars that are generated to state and local transportation projects. These monies should stay local where they are generated, they should not be taken from our valley and shipped to San Francisco or Los Angeles. Further, I'd end the high speed rail boondoggle, and I'd repurpose those bond funds for local transportation projects. We have the money needed in this state to fund our local roads, we just need to make them a priority. I will continue to be an outspoken voice in the Assembly to prioritize funding for our local roads.
Over the past two terms I have worked nonstop to represent the people of the 5th District to the best of my ability. I fought hard to protect money in the water bond for large water storage projects so our region can finally build Temperance Flat Dam. As Vice-Chair of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee I have supported countless measures to improve the water situation for our valley farmers and stated my strong opposition to measures that would put unneeded regulations and burdens on our region's farmers. Receiving a 100% rating from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association shows my strong commitment and record in opposing tax hikes. Another rating I am proud of is my A rating with the NRA which shows my staunch defense of the second amendment. This region has been my family's home for five generations and I am proud of our heritage. Like my family has for generations, I will put all of my energy into fighting for what is right and for what our communities need. I will not rest until our voices are heard and that's something you can hang your hat on. I have also received A ratings with the California Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. I'm committed to our communities and I'd be honored to have your vote.
Age 72
Residence Sonora, CA
Family Married 1969- wife, two children, five grandchildren
Education Graduate UC Berkeley, English UCB Secondary Teaching Credential California College of Arts and Craft Painting Skowhegan School of painting and Sculpture Skowhegan, Maine Painting
Occupation Natomas Company Corporate Development Research Corporate Credit Manager Fine Artist Painter Carpenter Straw bale home designer
Public service experience Of six Organizers of the Berkeley School Education Program Tax Served six years on site committees Served six years on district Planning and Oversight Committee
Facebook/Social media www.facebook.com/robertjamescarabas
I support high speed rail. Our population will double in 35 years; our roads will be congested. Rather than investing in road infrastructure that locks us into auto travel we will have the option of rail. Unlike cars trains don't waste fuel in traffic jams, and they are highly efficient user of energy. People working in the the major cities will be able to live in the valley where homes are affordable and spend their earnings in the valley. Likewise a person living in Fresco will be able to take jobs in the city, while high speed rail makes the trip to work painless and fast. Making it possible to bring living wage jobs within easy reach. Light industry will be able to locate in the valley with the option of high speed rail for single day delivery. The valley will be the leader in introducing the most advanced high speed trains in the world. iI local and state government act we can build trains and maintain the system. Creating living wage jobs. Valley tourism will be connected with every major city in California. Because of its speed these trains will make it easier of weekend visitors to major valley events. At every turn this means valley living jobs. And the valley will have an equally desirable opportunity to easily visit events in the cities. This is a major infrastructure project build by all people of California not in a major city as is often the case but in our Valley, the major cost will carried by the cities and benefit us most. Let's step into the future.
With the demands we make on the valley aquifers we should know more about them. The aquifers should be surveyed for quantity and quality also to better understand their structure and the activities of new well drilling impacts on existing wells. The biggest drillers shouldn't be able to cause dry wells on smaller farms or communities without protecting fair distribution of the resulting water. If we want to create storage for future droughts of progressively longer duration as predicted by climate science building more dams and reservoirs is pointless because they lose with today's temperature five feet of water a year to evaporation. Without aggressive national and international action on global warming we will have temperatures rise 1 degree every decade taxing those surface reserve even more. We could build a distribution system from existing reservoirs to areas in the valley where passive, built sumps or pumping stations would provide water to aquifers for recharge. A water banking system could assure users that recharge water would be made available during drought on demand. Climate science tells us that we will experience longer droughts even multi-decade drought like 35 years long, which will be interrupted with catastrophic rainstorm events if we are ready with the distribution system we can store storm water making the storms far more productive rather than so destructive.
Testing and treating water supplies are known technologies. That we don't know the quantity and quality water that we are pumping is something that can be addressed. The Valley has for a long time insisted that regulation of water is a battle line, an artificial argument. But with population growth especially Madera County that is the fastest growing in the state it's time that better understand the impacts we are having on the existing aquifers and the watersheds. Where fracking in done we must understand that industry is claiming that the fluids that are pumped into the fracked structure are proprietary therefore secret and may be polluting future agri water and city supplies. Congress has given fracking freedom from the Clean Water Act so industry is free from claims of harm done to our water supply. This should not be tolerated. Agriculture should be the first to protect the quality of water in the aquifers it is the future of their own industry. We must all cooperate to understand the various manmade chemicals that are entering our water supply. What is the value of water that makes the products of agriculture unsafe to eat? Or if we over use sources of water, what is the value of a home or farm without water? And if we ignore the environment by destroying the watershed for short term profit, and our forests begin to die and burn off, and wildlife dies off what have we done to California to our tourist appeal? What will we have done to our homes?
As I mentioned on the question of High Speed Rail it is an opening of our valley culture to the rest of the state and ties us into the culture of our cities. It is a conduit to employing our citizens in the cities but the cities using our region to built industry. After WWII for 35 years unions kept wages growing with the growth in the economy. In pursuit of the "free market" we undermined the unions and wages went flat not only for the lowest paid workers but the middle class wages sagged as well. In fact today the middle class is in decline no longer growing. If wages had continued to rise with the economy during the last 35 years the minimum wage worker would be earning $15,000 more today. That is money that is not spent in our communities. When we say 25% or our children are being raised in poverty we are saying their parents are earning sub-poverty wages. Without those funds in our communities our local economies can't grow. The new $15 minimum wage is a step in the right direction but we must make wage growth mirror economic growth again. Put money in the hand of people at the bottom of society and they will grow the economic diversity because they will have the money to create the demand for new businesses and the money to support that growth. What is good for all of us is good for all of us. The society doesn't exist to support the economy, the economy depends on the demands and needs of the society?
The problem is the loss of tax dollars from more efficient use of energy. Perhaps we should tax carbon use then return the entire tax on a monthly basis to the consumer in equal shares that would be an income source to the consumers who use less carbon and taxes those folks who waste energy continuing the favorable direction of our energy savings. At the same time, we could end subsidies to the fossil fuels industry, some $500 billion a year and use those funds to repair infrastructure. And the bonus is we will have taken a major step in leading the world to significantly reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. And that would mean that the worst impacts of global warming might yet be avoided. No one in California understands what living through the drought means better than the people of our region --global warming in our region means progressively less water. This is part is a reason to refuse to elect anyone who isn't knowledgeable in the area of climate science. Global warming denial in our region must end. On the bright side the new energy economy represents the biggest growth industry in the world. Let's not miss out on it trying to hold on obsolete technologies.
I don't know what makes one qualified for the State Assembly. I can only tell you what I think is important and what I would work on. I only accept contributions of $200 or less from any donor. I plan to represent the people of my district not the money. The “Free Market” doesn’t exist. What we have is what we have always had: “We, the people,” and our economy. In between is our government and when its fair and even handed we have a robust economy and a prosperous people. I want to put money back in people pockets. Higher wages that are indexed to growth in the economy. I want to get a California single payer healthcare system. Canada became single payer beginning in one province, let's lead the way for America. Other industrial nations provide healthcare for all their citizens with better results at half the cost. If we had a national single payer healthcare system and saved every dollar we waste in 13 years we would have enough to retire the national debt. I am fully aware of the science of global warming. I think it is immoral to deny that reality for campaign funding. I have five grandchildren, I am fighting for their future, and I plan to do everything I can to press for action of global warming at every level of government. And will make sure the people of my region understand the issue and rewards of being a part the new energy economy, and it's living wage, blue-collar jobs. Californian's should refuse to elect anyone who denies the reality of global warming.