Most people have probably made up their minds about who they will vote for come March 3rd. Some also likely already have cast their ballots. But for those still unsure, here is a summary of every candidate for Congress, State Senate and Assembly.
Regarding the 25th congressional district race, unless noted, all candidates are running for the special primary to complete Katie Hill’s term and the regular primary to win their own term.
All names are listed alphabetically.
Although their names remain on the ballot, Christopher Smith (Congress) and Susan Christopher (Assembly) have suspended or ended their campaigns.
Otis Lee Cooper: The only candidate not to name a party preference, Cooper is a Native American who works as a legal defense investigator. He believes elected officials have forgotten about “We the People,” so he seeks to solve problems that will benefit the people, not the political party. He is running only for the full term.
He is dedicated to solving working-class issues, but instead of platform points, he lists the issues without addressing them specifically, so what side he’s on is unknown. The issues include veterans, rent control, slumlords, marijuana legalization, gun laws, LGBT laws, immigration laws and wages.
Robert Cooper: The Democrat who has lived in Santa Clarita for 20 years is an associated professor at UCLA and serves as co-faculty Director of the UCLA Principal Leadership Institute. He’s also the founding pastor of Berean Baptist Family Fellowship of Valencia.
His website lists three priorities: people over politics, focus on healing; and leadership not lies. He favors investing in public schools and addressing student-loan debt, expanding access for affordable housing and addressing homelessness, and investing in alternative transportation systems, though he doesn’t give examples.
Getro Elize: The Democrat and Antelope Valley resident is a patient resource worker for the county Department of Health Services. He served in the Army and graduated from Howard University.
He pledged to run a campaign free of corrupt corporations, crooked lobbyists and PACs. He seeks to mobilize a homelessness task force and request emergency funds from county and state officials for emergency shelters and expand rapid re-housing efforts. He wants to build a county hospital in the AV, help rural areas by building more roads and expanding the electrical grid there, eliminate student-loan debt, increase teacher pay and increase long-term-care support and services.
Mike Garcia: The Republican, 43, is a first-generation American who served in the Navy and was the first to declare his candidacy, back in April. He lives in Valencia and graduated from Saugus High. He has a rabid local following; including many who used to support Steve Knight but now believe Garcia better articulates their views. He also received The Signal and Gazette’s endorsements.
He favors term limits of between 10 and 12 years. He’s worried about the national debt and has a three-step process to get it under more manageable control: balance the budget, incentivize departments to save money and consolidate departments as necessary to eliminate levels of bureaucracy. He’s wary of socialism where health care and education are concerned. He wants to reduce taxes and government. And he supports the president.
Kenneth Jenks: The Republican served in the Marines and raised two kids in Santa Clarita. He traces his ancestry back to the Mayflower.
He believes the Democrats’ socialist tendencies are bad for the country, opposes health care to illegal immigrants, favors greater school choice, supports all environmentally friendly energy sources; desires a strong military, border patrol, ICE and cyber security. Regarding immigration, he wants to end illegal immigration and address birthright and chain migration with legislation, although he doesn’t specify what type of legislation he wants.
Steve Knight: The former two-term congressman lost to Hill and was set to work in the private sector when friends (and former Washington colleagues, led by House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield) called on him to run again after Hill resigned. His entering the race caused two others to drop out.
Knight graduated from Palmdale High and Antelope Valley College before serving in the Army and as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. City Councilmember’s Laurene Weste and Marsha McLean endorsed him.
Knight’s website doesn’t list campaign points. Instead, it lists what he did while in Congress. Nine of his bills were signed into law; he name-checks Trump for signing six of them but does not name Barack Obama for signing the other three.
Courtney Lackey: The Republican and local resident is only running in the special election to finish Hill’s unexpired term. She says on Facebook she will give full attention to the district when others will be campaigning.
She favors terms limits for House and Senate members, a balanced budget, a health care system run by doctors and patients, an education system run by parents and teachers, a fully funded veterans program and full Social Security protections.
David Lozano: The Republican was a sheriff’s deputy in Watts and a Monterey Park reserve police officer before becoming a bankruptcy attorney and counts former county Supervisor Mike Antonovich as a fraternity brother.
As congressman, he says he will secure funds to strengthen law enforcement’s psychological methods to approach and subdue wrongdoers; provide a home, food, clothing and jobs to those in need, especially those homeless or mentally ill; expand Palmdale’s aerospace industry and ensure full military finding, protect the borders and support legal immigration.
Daniel Mercuri: The Republican from Simi Valley calls himself “rough around the edges …who speaks plainly.” He served in the Navy.
Of all the candidates, his website provides the most platform details. He seeks to limit lobbying power, favors term limits of eight years for House members, wants to simplify a bill’s language and provide proof that the representative – not a lobbying firm – wrote the bill.
He also wants to abolish the IRS and the Sixteenth Amendment, increase education funding but leave it up to the states to decide how – with the provision that teacher salaries must increase. But he also opposes student debt forgiveness. Regarding health care, he favors a government program to compete with private insurance, a prescription drug price cap and holding hospitals accountable for price gouging.
He wants to help veterans, close the borders to all regardless of nation of origin except for those who provide economic growth, deport criminals to their own country’s prisons, increase punishments for gun crimes, replace Social Security with a National Retirement Security Program and introduce a national voter ID program. He opposes the Green New Deal but favors independent scientific research, seeks to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions except for rape or threat to mother’s life.
George Papadopoulos: The Republican and former member of Trump’s 2016 campaign’s foreign policy advisory panel is only running for the full term. He pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and served 12 days in federal prison. He does not live in the district.
His website is only a page to invite people to join and donate, although there is a mention of ending “Democrat corruption.” His Facebook page offers comments on a few foreign policy happenings but not platform points.
David Rudnick: The Lancaster resident and former Republican volunteered for John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign and served as a page for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Mark Sanford. He switched parties over the GOP’s stances on LGBTQ rights and same-gender marriage. He also served in the Army and Marines and was reprimanded for vocally opposing the Bush Administration’s discharging all LGBTQ service members as well as racism, hazing and the Iraq War strategy. He left the military on a misconduct discharge and then, after feeling disillusioned with Obama, supported Sen. Rand Paul in 2012.
Now running as a Democrat – and only in the special election – Rudnick supports strengthening Social Security and Medicare, protecting the environment, ending homelessness, paying down the national debt (though he doesn’t say how); preventing a nuclear Iran, and keeping the Chinese out of Hong Kong and strengthening Israel against Arab threats. He wants to help veterans by capping interest rates at 9 percent, waiving taxes on a veteran’s home for two generations and waiving credit ratings for veterans. He opposes abortion, euthanasia and mandatory vaccinations.
Christy Smith: The current Assemblywoman, 39, stepped into the race almost as soon as Hill resigned. She previously said she considered a congressional run in 2018 but decided she could get more done in Sacramento. One year in, she’s attempting to switch. She secured The Signal’s endorsement, a rarity for a Democrat.
As a former Newhall school district board member, education has been a priority, and she seeks to invest in local classrooms to reduce class sizes, increase teacher pay and, while she doesn’t call for ending student debt, wants to ensure they don’t have a lifetime of it.
She also wants to get dark money out of politics and supports ending the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. She supports investing in public safety so response times decrease and neighborhood security improves. She believes health care is a right and that Congress needs to control the costs of care and medicine. She favors a woman’s right to choose and will vote to fund Planned Parenthood.
She favors gun safety, believes climate change exists and the need for more solar and wind technology, immigration reform, equal rights for all and affordable housing.
Cenk Uygur: A Democrat, he doesn’t live in the district but says he doesn’t need to see the corruption that plagues Washington. He’s running to get rid of corporate PACs. As host of the multi-platform show “The Young Turks,” Uygur regularly discusses politics.
He wants higher wages and blames Mitch McConnell for blocking a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage. He believes the AV needs a four-year college and a VA hospital. He favors Medicare for all and seeks to build more homes for the homeless. He wants to protect DACA and the Dreamers, supports the Green New Deal, federal background checks for gun buyers and marijuana’s legalization; wants to end cash bail and the death penalty, thinks federal prosecutors should investigate police shootings, and backs a woman’s right to choose.
Anibal Valdez-Ortega: A first-generation American, AV resident and UCLA graduate, he’s a Los Angeles attorney representing lower-income groups in a variety of areas, including immigration, real estate, personal injury, bankruptcy and family law.
He believes medical care is a right, education is essential, climate change is real and the country must sign back onto the Paris Agreement. Locally, he’ll fight for funding to widen the 14 Freeway, tax corporations at a minimum of 10 percent, and extend DACA and a pathway to citizenship.
Warren Heaton: The Democrat and College of the Canyons adjunct history professor is an immigration attorney whose practice focuses on refugee and asylum cases. He served in the Army as an interrogator and Russian translator.
His website lists three platform points. Healthcare is a right, so he favors a public health insurance program to guarantee access for all. The housing shortage is a crisis, so he favors building more middle-class housing and investing in clean energy, public transportation and infrastructure repair; and increased K-12 education funding, decreased student debt and increased full-time faculty.
Steve Hill: The Democrat and Palmdale resident served in the Marines for five years, followed by a decade in aerospace and another decade serving with the Department of Corrections. He also is a stand-up comedian, using that avenue to point out Wall Street corruption and working-class struggles.
This is Hill’s second attempt at this seat. Four years ago, the Gazette ran a story highlighting his atheism and ties to Satanism, although he prefers the term “humanism.” He got only 12 percent of the primary vote and did not advance to the general election.
His platform calls for the states to take over from the Department of Education, end jailing people with mental health issues, drug addictions and social ills; and protect small businesses and startups.
Dana LaMon: The Democrat and Lancaster resident has been blind since age 4 (he’s 67 now), but that didn’t stop him from graduating from Yale with a math degree and from USC law school. He also won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.
On his website are his six E’s: education, environment, economy, equality, efficiency in government and excellence in society. He calls for affordable education for all, higher pay for teachers, protecting natural resources, higher-paying jobs, equal rights for all and an individual responsibility to be better and work to do better.
Kipp Mueller: The Democrat and Adelanto resident is an attorney who handles discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation cases. He graduated from Cal in 2008 and Columbia Law in 2014.
Mueller wants to strengthen the middle class by balancing state budgets, strengthening unions, enforcing the labor code, building green infrastructure and repairing old infrastructure. He favors universal health care and more transparency in medical billing. He’s committed to reproductive justice and women’s rights that include the right to choose. He believes everyone should have a home but doesn’t offer ways to combat homelessness. Finally, he favors clean energy over Big Oil.
Scott Wilk: The Republican incumbent has served one term. He has three platform points, which he calls “pillars:” a transparent and accountable government, economic growth and social equity. His campaign website lists achievements in each area, although many of these apply to his time in the Assembly and not his current term.
Of those that do apply to his Senate term, they include: Senate Bill 53, which expands open meetings to include various advisory groups. It unanimously passed the Senate and is in an Assembly committee. SB 1409 and 153 allowed AV-area farmers to grow industrial hemp. Gov. Jerry Brown signed these two bills into law in 2018. Wilk also authored legislation that Brown signed that calls for released or paroled sex offenders to be returned to either their last known city of legal residence or last city where family lives.
Although he didn’t write the bill, Wilk supported legislation to establish a pilot program for accrediting teachers at the community college level; and he ensured the AV got its share of homelessness funding.
Dina Cervantes: She’s a Democrat and small-business owner in the education sector with years of experience as a student activist and teacher. She counts leading the fight to freeze student-fee increases within the California State University system as a top accomplishment (she graduated from Cal State Northridge). She also worked for the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies.
While her website offers no concrete or specific details, she is committed to improving healthcare access, defending women’s reproductive rights and justice, expanding preschool, ensuring college is affordable, preparing students for 21st century jobs and creating high-paying jobs in emerging sectors, combating climate change, protecting natural resources, and addressing homelessness by building affordable housing.
Annie Cho: Born in Korea, Cho emigrated with her family in 1971 when she was in the fifth grade. She graduated from Cal State Los Angeles at age 20 with a political science degree. After college, she worked for Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston in Washington, Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Roos in Sacramento, the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee in 1982-84 and the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1984-88.
Neither her website nor her Facebook page offers any platform positions. Instead, her website mentions she has been involved in several Democratic caucuses, served as a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power commissioner, owned a public relations firm and now works as a realtor, and received an Emmy nomination for a weekly Koran-language half-hour public affairs show. Her Facebook page trumpets how much money she’s raised and her endorsements, of which The Signal is one.
Kelvin Driscoll: The Santa Clarita resident and Democrat said he’s running because he wants his young daughter to grow up in a world in which she can feel safe. He graduated from USC and has been an adjunct lecturer in both the USC School of Social Work and the Human Services Division of Long Beach City College.
His website is sparse on details, but his candidate statement says he wants more affordable child care and early-learning opportunities, less student debt, neighborhoods that don’t fear gun violence, more affordable housing, health care based on need and not employment status, and to combat climate change to decrease the severity of wildfires and mudslides.
Brandii Grace: When the Gazette spoke to Grace in November, she didn’t yet have a campaign website. She does now, and her story starts with her growing up in extreme poverty and homelessness but working hard to lift herself and her veteran grandmother out of poverty. She graduated from Western Washington University and created a video game designed for players to explore science and technology in the universe. She also has two acting credits on her Internet Movie Database page and two credits for being on video game crews.
Grace lists six platform points: affordable health care, affordable senior and disability care, affordable child care, fully funded public education, investing in renewable energy, and addressing housing and homelessness so people can live closer to work and don’t get pushed out by rent increases.
Her Facebook page goes into more detail and adds additional platform positions relating to improving digital infrastructure and online privacy; reforming labor so unionization is protected, banning forced arbitration and letting people opt out of AB 5 if they want; and reforming prisons, cutting costs and improving worker programs for non-violent offenders.
Suzette Valladares: The Republican originally ran for Congress but switched to Assembly amid being courted by the local and county Republican Party, which endorsed her. So did The Signal, although it gave no reason why.
Valladares’ campaign website and Facebook page mention no platform points. It took an email to the campaign to get a list: reduce the state’s cost of living, allow parents greater educational choices for their children, stop human trafficking and drug smuggling at the borders, protect neighborhoods and decrease homelessness through solutions that include housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment; and “bring thoughtful balance to a state government dominated by an out of touch political class.”
Valladares also never answered questions relating to her residency and complaints that she didn’t pay staffers and consultants. She has said she lives in Acton, but sources have said she really lives in Palmdale, which is not part of the 38th district. A subsequent email to her press contact went unanswered. She has to establish residency by Tuesday.
Lucie Volotzky: Born in Montreal and naturalized in the 1980s, the Republican speaks three languages, owns two Blissful Sleep mattress stores in the San Fernando Valley and is a former model. People who talk to her can’t help but notice her strong French-Canadian accent.
Among her platform points: repeal AB 5 to help independent contractors, amend Proposition 47 to hold people more accountable for their crimes, ensure Central Valley farmers have the water they need, give everyone better school choices, cut taxes, end loopholes and limit regulations, protect soldiers and veterans, and pass common-sense legislation to tackle homelessness and sex trafficking. Like other candidates, she is short on details and specifics.