SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Democratic state assemblymember Monique Limón and Republican business owner Gary Michaels are vying for State Senate District 19's open seat as current State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson's second term comes to an end this year.
The 19th District covers all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County, extending as far east as Camarillo and Fillmore.
Limón represents the 37th District in the State Assembly. She says her four years in that role have been crucial.
“One of the things that our state and constituents also need is that ability to understand how the state legislature works,” Limón said. “That ability to understand a process, to have some experience… In terms of being able to understand how to bring resources to our community, that experience is absolutely needed.”
Michaels has lived in Santa Maria for 15 years. He has not held a local elected office but says his own experience owning a telecommunications business makes him a qualified candidate.
“Because I’ve been in business, I obviously understand what it takes to succeed and provide a quality service,” he said. “I wanna respect the will of the local governments here. And I don’t want voters to feel that Sacramento isn’t working for them and it’s burdensome. That they have no one they can really talk to about what’s going on. I am all about communication.”
Michaels says he would collaborate with everyone, which he believes Limón is not doing. He also criticized her bills and voting record as being too far left of the district's political leanings.
“She’s an extreme idealist and because of that she doesn’t include stakeholders, like private enterprise,” he argued.
Limón says she stands by her record in office.
“So if you look at the bills that I’ve authored that have been signed by the governor, 95 percent of those bills have been supported by—in a bipartisan way,” she said. “I’ve had to make difficult choices and we don’t all agree, but there’s a reason and there’s a thought process and there’s a consideration [behind them].”
Both candidates are focused on COVID-19's impact on the district and its economy.
Limón says she is already working in the state assembly to help businesses and people push through the pandemic.
“We’ve brought information to our district, hosted 11 town halls, and I think that that’s been critical,” she explained. “Whether it’s about insurance or small business or unemployment or education. We have been able to bring experts to the district."
"When it comes to working with our medical community, I’ve been able to work closely with them to understand the financial challenges, but also to address the simple needs of making sure we have enough PPE for them," she added.
“We should have by now doubled or even tripled this clean energy sector to make up for the loss of oil and gas jobs,” he said. “And the reason why this isn’t happening is because we’re not engaging with people who can do something about it. I think there needs to be a more collaborative effort in the whole district when it comes to jobs… I feel that COVID-19 demands a candidate against the political status quo of the district.”
Michaels considers himself that candidate against the status quo, and that he can align the district's environmental and economic missions.
Among other issues, Limón has focused on health care, protecting the environment, consumer protections and preparing for natural disasters.
“While there are many candidates who talk about some of the issues, we’ve had some experience with the issues,” she said. “I’m also accountable. This is my home.”
Michaels says he is tired of seeing state politicians fail to address the same issues over the last 15 years--such as affordability and growing jobs and wages.
“We need action,” he said. “We need collaboration. And we need to find common ground with each other.”
More information is available online in the NewsChannel 2020 Voter Guide.