It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve as your State Assemblymember for the past six years. Together we have worked hard to make our community and state a better place to live, work, and raise our families. Before my election in 2004, at 56 years of age, I worked creating jobs for the long-term unemployed, operated a program for at-risk youth, prosecuted criminals, and practiced law in the private sector. The experiences I gained helped prepare me for public service.
One of the great pleasures of being your representative has been offering my constituents the help they need—whether it is making sure you get your unemployment check, helping you obtain a commercial driver’s license from DMV so you don’t lose your truck-driving job, supporting a small business owner facing the Franchise Tax Board, getting state money to a local non-profit so they can make payroll, or just providing an ear in difficult times.
I am very proud of my legislative accomplishments. With your help I have passed significant legislation on environmental protection, California’s emergency preparedness system, consumer protection, public safety, women’s issues, education, and animal welfare. I have brought hundreds of millions of transportation dollars to the district for major road improvements. Through my Select Committee on California’s Green Economy, the legislature is working on supporting and nurturing this growing sector and the jobs that come with them.
The La Conchita landslide in Ventura County occurred during my first week in office. Ten people lost their lives and 30 homes were destroyed. Learning from this tragedy, I successfully crafted legislation to reform and streamline the state’s emergency preparedness, response, and recovery system by merging two departments into one agency, CalEMA (the California Emergency Management Agency), so that the state is more responsive to disasters. I was honored for my work by the American Red Cross’s California Chapter, who named me their first ever “Legislator of the Year,” and ProtectingAmerica.org, who gave me their “American Hero” award.
As a former prosecutor, I have seen families and communities devastated by crime. One of my proudest achievements has been working with Moe Dubois, whose daughter, Amber, was abducted and killed in San Diego. We passed legislation to enhance law enforcement training, response, coordination, and data-sharing when children go missing. I also authored important legislation protecting victims’ personal information from violent sexual predators. For my efforts I have been recognized by many respected statewide law enforcement organizations, including the California State Sheriffs’ Association as “Outstanding Legislator” in 2008 and 2009, the State Coalition of Probation Organizations, and the National Latino Peace Officers Association.
I have been your leader on environmental issues. Working with Audubon California and others, we passed a ban on the use of lead shot that now protects the endangered California condor from lead poisoning. In response to the spills of hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted materials in Santa Barbara County by Greka Energy, I passed legislation that ensures the state’s most egregious polluters are held accountable or shut down if they don’t meet minimum maintenance and pollution prevention standards. With a groundswell of support from a coalition of more than 100 environmental organizations from across the state, I was able to take the lead in stopping what would’ve been the first new offshore oil drilling off Santa Barbara’s coast since the 1969 oil spill, the Plains Exploration and Production Company deal. As a result, well-respected environmental organizations such as the California League of Conservation Voters, Environment California, the Planning & Conservation League, and the Sierra Club have honored me.
As chair of the Banking and Finance Committee, I fought for homeowners and consumers by introducing legislation to force banks to work with consumers to help prevent foreclosures. I assisted mobile home park residents by introducing a measure that would give them input and require any park owner wanting to convert a mobile home park into condominiums to include the residents in the process. I was recognized for these efforts by the Consumers Union, Congress of California Seniors and was the Golden State Manufactured Homeowners League “2009 Legislator of the Year.”
When low-income women were threatened with losing access to life-saving mammography because of state budget cuts, I stepped in to help rescue the Every Woman Counts program. I have also authored legislation to help school districts free up money locally, and to help provide education for much-needed medical professionals.
As the proud owner of two rescue dogs, I authored a bill to stop puppy mill abuses. Working with the Humane Society and ASPCA, I am the only legislator to have successfully authored three animal welfare bills in one year: the Responsible Breeder Act, the Dogfighting Prevention Act, and the Animal Abuse Prevention Act.
I requested the formation of the newly formed Assembly Select Committee on California’s Green Economy and as its chair have held briefings in Ventura County and throughout California to gather information about successful California Green Economy endeavors in order to assist state and local governments in determining which policies will encourage investment and job creation in this emerging sector so we can put Californians back to work.
While much has been accomplished during the last six years, much work remains to be done. I will continue to be involved in the community and look forward to working with you to make it better. Again, thank you for placing your trust in me as your representative in the California State Assembly. It has truly been an honor.