June 5 is the primary election for our District 5 State Assembly seat. Under new election rules, the top two vote getters will get on the ballot for the November 6 election. Take note that, with the new rule, you could conceivably have two people from the same party on the ballot.
So who are these candidates and what are their platforms? In the March 8 Sierra Star issue, reporter Carmen George covered the candidates meeting hosted by the Mariposa Chamber of Commerce -- "Assembly candidates speak in Mariposa" sierrastar.com/2012/03/07/57556/assembly-candidates-speak-in-mariposa.html) and "Candidates answer a variety of questions" sierrastar.com/2012/03/07/57552/candidates-answer-variety-of-questions.html). The coverage was outstanding in its content and style.
It is no wonder that the Sierra Star recently won a state-wide General Excellence award and seven others from the California Newspaper Publisher's Association. Congratulations to editor Brian Wilkinson, publisher Betty Linn and reporters Carmen George and Tiffany Tuell and the staff for their work.
Read George's report and then peruse the website of each candidate (Marc Boyd, Frank Bigelow, Mark Belden, Tim Fitzgerald and Rico Oller). You will find a stark contrast between the sites. The sites of the GOP contenders were very polished and professionally done. Marc Boyd's was spartan at best but easily navigable, effective, functional and informatively detailed. We need Boyd to bring this no-nonsense approach to the State Assembly -- short on style but long on function.
On their sites, Bigelow, Belden and Oller dwelled on their business experience, endorsements, family and standing in the community. Although commendable it doesn't tell us anything about their stand on the $150 rural fire fee, re-alignment (AB190), education spending, CA Universal Health Care Act, Renewable Energy, Bay Delta Conservation plan, CA Disclose Act, High Speed Rail, and "Feed-In Tariff" for residential solar. Unlike the other candidates, Marc Boyd staked an unambiguous position on these issues.
Two issues with dramatic impact on resurrecting California as the 6th largest economy in the world are high speed rail and solar power. Detractors say we can't afford high speed rail. It is too expensive ($98 billion). It isn't needed. It is too disruptive. They said the same thing when Eisenhower first proposed the U.S. interstate highway system in 1956. Today it is hailed as "The Best Investment the Nation Ever Made."
Similar objections were encountered with the first railroads crossing the U.S. Where would America be without these investments?
With interest rates at an all time low there's never been a better time to invest in high speed rail HSR). Also, the estimated $98 billion cost has been reduced to $68 billion due to a design change incorporating a "blended" system. This allows route modifications to minimize infrastructure disruptions and maximize use of existing or enhanced transport connections.
Transportation enhancements complementing the system are already under way in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. We can't afford not to build high speed rail. California's population is expected to grow from 37 million in 2010 to 42 million in 2020. HSR replaces the need for future highway and airport expansion at half or a third of the cost. An estimated 160,000 jobs will be created for the design, planning and building. 435,000 permanents jobs will be created to support operations, maintenance, servicing commuters and businesses that will develop along those routes.
Madera real estate developer Ed McIntyre wants to invest $1 billion in an HSR maintenance yard in Madera. He said, "We're confident that the operation can be very profitable and lease payments can be easily guaranteed." Prominent businessmen agree with Marc Boyd on HSR.
Another of Boyd's pet initiatives is to raise the 5% cap on the purchase of solar power from customers and expanding the solar feed-in tariff program to include residences with a payback in cash not just credits. What does this mean? Currently PG&E does not want to buy more than 5% of solar electricity generated by customers owning solar panels. The excess customers generate is paid back (feed-in tariff) in the form of electricity credits.
If it were paid back in cash and the 5% cap lifted, homeowners will be incentivized to install solar because each home will effectively be a power company, generating income for themselves. How's that for entrepreneurship?
I found this kind of detail lacking in the other candidates. His depth on the issues distinguishes Marc Boyd as a representative instead of just a politician.
It is this kind of Eisenhower Republican vision that Marc Boyd wants to bring to the State Assembly and transition to the 21st century economy.