The battle to represent the 35th Assembly District in Sacramento has been a heated one. Democrat Dawn Ortiz-Legg and Republican Jordan Cunningham have lobbed criticisms at one another through a near constant barrage of political advertising. They both want to fill the seat being vacated by termed-out Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, representing San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara County.
KCOY interviewed both candidates on separate days with less than a month to go before the election to better understand their backgrounds, positions on the issues, and their attacks on each other. We begin here with the Democratic candidate:
For the last six years, Dawn Ortiz-Legg has worked on utility scale solar projects. We met with her at Cetti Services, a Santa Maria company she sends business to.
“Cetti is still repairing our post pounding machines,” Ortiz-Legg said.
Ortizz-Legg does community outreach for renewable energy projects, and works on the permitting process with government agencies.
“It’s that experience,” Ortiz-Legg said, “That has given me an insight into the things that are working in California, and the things that need to be tweaked a little bit more.”
One of the biggest issues facing California’s 35th Assembly District is the planned closure of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant, and the loss of hundreds of well-paying jobs on the Central Coast.
“We have to plan on how we are going to expand our local businesses,” Ortiz-Legg said. “That means creating opportunities to make sure that local manufacturers have a smooth pathway so they can expand. We need housing in many parts of this district. We have great companies, but it’s very hard for them to bring in workers if there’s no place to house them.”
She sees an opportunity for growth in the Central Coast agriculture industry through the development of new technology.
“Agriculture technology is something I’m really focused on. That’s where the future is,” Ortiz-Legg said. “We have a great deal of opportunity with Allan Hancock College and Cal Poly to grow that industry here locally.”
Much of what voters know about Dawn Ortiz-Legg and her opponent, Republican Jordan Cunningham, comes from near constant political advertisements for and against each candidate. We asked Ortiz-Legg why she is criticizing Cunningham for touting his work as a former prosecutor.
“The ad is bringing to light what Jordan has failed to tell the voters,” Ortiz-Legg said, “And that is that he’s a criminal defense attorney working every day.”
Cunningham has criticized Ortiz-Legg for her former ties to Code Pink, a group pushing to end U.S. Military conflicts. She says she was not involved in the type of protest depicted in the political advertisement. She says she used the group to speak out against the war in Iraq, which led her to take a more active political role.
“That was really my point of turning and saying I want to contribute more,” Ortiz Legg said. “I want to make changes. From that, I ended up in the solar business and on a big scale being able to help vets that were returning from Iraq to get jobs. To help companies like where we’re standing today to expand their businesses.”