Two conservative former California Assembly members are running against each other in the Republican primary for State Senator District 4. Voters will decide on June 8 weather Doug LaMalfa or Rick Keene will represent the Republican Party on the November ballot.

Two conservative former California Assembly members are running against each other in the Republican primary for State Senator District 4. Voters will decide on June 8 weather Doug LaMalfa or Rick Keene will represent the Republican Party on the November ballot.

Lathe Gill of Crescent City is the only Democrat who will be listed on the primary ballot.

District 4 includes Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties.

Keene and LaMalfa share similar conservative views on many issues facing the state, but they do have their differences. The two men recently answered questions regarding a few key issues facing Siskiyou County and the state of California as a whole.

About the candidates
Rick Keene is the son of a logger and was born and raised in Hayfork, Calif. After graduating from CSU Chico he completed a Juris Doctorate Degree. He is a member of the California State Bar Association and works with the Sacramento law firm of Wilke, Fleury, Hoffelt & Birney, LLP. Keene lives in Butte County with his wife and five children.

LaMalfa is a fourth generation rice farmer who has lived in Northern California all his life. Currently he resides on the family farm in Richvale. He and his wife Jill have four children, Kyle, Allison, Sophia and Natalie. He graduated from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo with a degree in Ag/Business and now manages the family farming business.

What sets them apart?
Keene believes two things set him apart from LaMalfa in this Senate Race – effectiveness and vision.

“My commitment has been to get things done,” said Keene, referencing his prior experience in Sacramento as Assistant Republican Leader where he assumed the duties of Republican Whip and Vice Chair of the Committee on Budget where he “worked to effectively address” the issues of the budget, the broken worker’s compensation system and fixing the levies in Marysville, Calif.

“If you don’t have a plan, you end up playing defense and don’t get the kind of things done that we all want to see done by our leaders,” said Keene, noting the importance of our leaders to take an offensive role on our behalf. 

According to LaMalfa, their backgrounds count for a large part of their differences.

“I’m a rice farmer and he’s an attorney,” it speaks for itself, said LaMalfa, who bases his whole campaign on his accessibility with the slogan “He’s One of Us.”

LaMalfa notes differences in policy, too. He did not vote for the budgets in 2007 and 2008 because they didn’t balance.
“I voted no, Keene voted yes,” he said.

LaMalfa also highlighted the illegal immigration issue. He believes we should control what goes on inside our borders, detain illegal immigrants and have consequences for those that employ them.

Keene authored a bill to give illegal immigrants work permits, which increased the tax on their employers, LaMalfa said.
LaMalfa also claims a more solid record than Keene in putting an emphasis on the people in the district and getting them answers when dealing with state government.

“I’m much more district oriented,” LaMalfa said.

What about Siskiyou County?
“It’s always been important to me to make sure we keep in touch and advocate for things uniquely impacting you guys,” said Keene in reference to Siskiyou County.

Growing up in Trinity County, Keene feels he is familiar with the needs and concerns of a small county like Siskiyou. “It’s important that under population counties get the appropriate attention,” said Keene.

“Siskiyou County is very important to me in this election,” said LaMalfa. He spent a significant amount of time in Siskiyou County working on the key issues to the area. He knows the county is affected by the Shasta County and Scott Valley issues and the Klamath basin on the East side in the continuing water struggle.

“I think that part of the state feels forgotten a lot, so I want to compensate for that and be effective on the issues,” said LaMalfa. “We’ll help them as much as possible because it’s a tough deal with all the federal agencies involved that hamper their water rights,” he said.

LaMalfa said his record of working hard to address the needs of Siskiyou County is notable.

“If you ask most folks that know, they’ll say we’ve been effective,” he said. When he sees the regulations set on farmers, ranchers and miners and thinks about the issues with water, losing rights and land, the people in Siskiyou County and the surrounding areas are on his mind, LaMalfa said.

“I want the citizens to know they have easy access to me,” said LaMalfa, promising to work to address issues facing Siskiyou County as a State Senator.

LaMalfa holds endorsements by representatives in Siskiyou County, including those from the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, Sheriff Rick Higgins, Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus and Chief of Police Parish Cross.

The California budget crisis
In regard to the current budget crisis our state is facing, Keene proposes we “go back to a government we can afford.”

In 1998 through 2000 our government was able to pay for schools, paved roads, parks, law enforcement and firefighters, but since then more than 100,000 state employees have been added for things that are not basic needs, said Keene.

He proposes scaling everything back that we’ve added since then and make people realize we are not dependent on certain things that are no longer affordable.

The things we’ve added are “nice but not essential,” said Keene. “I believe we can have life without those things.”

LaMalfa agrees with this, stating that “we need to limit the growth of the government” and stop hiring state employees we don’t need.

“A spending limit constitutionally put into place is a key element to keeping the budget in line,” said LaMalfa.

Keene also believes in cap spending while our state has money, in order to roll funding over for the bad times. This will help avoid the dramatic swings in California’s revenues we’ve seen in the past, he said.

“It’s also time for the citizens of the state to weigh in” with their ideas, Keene added.

Another priority in addressing the budget crisis, according to LaMalfa is, “Don’t agree to bad budgets that don’t balance.”

Each budget has to balance unto itself, said LaMalfa, who pointed to 2007 and 2008 when he opposed budgets that didn’t balance while Keene supported them.

LaMalfa said the state needs to quit incurring bond debt, balance the budget, stimulate positive economic activity and require a fair level of taxation.

Funding of public education
Addressing the issue of California’s public education system, Keene said we need to be “committed to education, invest in our children and start asking questions about our education delivery system that are not meeting the mark.”

He believes we need to give teachers and parents the ability to figure out what their kids need, because they can be far more effective than the bureaucracy in Sacramento.

Keene supports the elimination of “huge top down administration regulations on money,” instead putting money in the hands of the districts, teachers and parents to distribute funding where it is needed.

“Parents and teachers know better how to educate the kids, they can carry out the mission we have now and certainly do a better job of it,” said Keene.

LaMalfa agrees, saying, “We need to take mandates off earmarked money.”

LaMalfa said he knows the money is there, but needs to be much more efficiently channeled to where it needs to be. Teachers should not have to hold bake sales to buy pencils for their classrooms, said LaMalfa.

Currently there is waste and lack of performance in our public school system, said LaMalfa, and people are losing faith in it.

“We spend more time worrying about Earth Day and Harvey Milk day than getting the kids the basics they need because of mandates,” he said.

Water Storage
Keene is in favor of  “water storage that is water storage alone” and will continue to push for buildable water storage.

“We need to go back to the drawing board next year to discuss how to increase water storage,” said Keene.

LaMalfa said above ground water storage has to be on the table.

“Raising Shasta Dam six or 12 feet is an option,” he said. Breakthroughs have been made in water storage and we need to utilize those, said LaMalfa.

Dam Removal
Both Keene and LaMalfa are firmly against removing the Klamath Dams.

The Hobson’s choice of “either good fish or water storage is completely wrong,” said Keene. He believes we can build fish ladder systems around the dam.

“We have the technology now to be able to move the fish,” said Keene. “People are more important than fish,” he added.

LaMalfa brought out the implications that removing the dams will have. Environmentalists don’t seem to want to address the issue of harmful silt and heavy metals from silt being released when the dams are removed, he said, and taking the dams out deprives us of our reliable hydroelectric power.

Doing one thing to help the fish will cause three or four harmful things that will create more of an issue, LaMalfa added.

Removing the dams “doesn’t help fish, it doesn’t help farmers and it takes away our power supply,” he said.

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