Voters in east Sacramento County's newly drawn 8th Assembly District face a difficult choice between two decent and capable candidates.
Ken Cooley, the Democrat in the race, is a longtime legislative staffer and Rancho Cordova city councilman. The Republican is Peter Tateishi, a congressional aide and former Carmichael Recreation and Park District director. Both have served their districts ably and would be good additions to the Legislature. In a close call, The Bee endorses Tateishi.
Tateishi was born, raised and educated in the district. He was appointed to the local park district and planning commission. He served on the Sacramento County Children's Coalition. As chief of staff and district director to the area's congressman, Dan Lungren, he is well-known and respected among local elected officials, as his impressive list of bipartisan endorsements shows.
He is extremely knowledgeable on issues that face the district and the state, including flood control and water development, small business issues and tort reform. He points to a bipartisan measure he helped Rep. Lungren guide through Congress last year that reduced paperwork burdens that small businesses faced under the Affordable Care Act.
Tateishi's most important quality is his stated willingness to compromise, to sit down with majority Democrats to discuss important issues, including taxes. He faced a crowded Republican field in the June primary and tremendous pressure to take the Republican "no-tax" pledge. He refused.
With his boss, Rep. Lungren, he also advocated compromise in the damaging debt ceiling debate in Congress last year.
He says he would have voted for the lumber tax supported by many timber industry officials, approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week over the objections of most Republicans. He also supports the taxing of Internet sales, the so-called Amazon tax.
However, he opposes Proposition 30, the governor's tax increase measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, because of the "either-or" way it was presented. He thinks the governor's message vote "yes" or school funding gets cut holds the public and education hostage.
He expresses genuine frustration with the California Republican Party. "It's not enough to stand for 'no,' " he told The Bee's editorial board. "The party needs to propose real alternatives." To be effective, Tateishi believes Republicans need to be willing to sit down and discuss issues with Democrats.
As a devout Catholic, he is pro-life. He opposes the death penalty and abortion, but he does not consider himself a social issues candidate. His priorities are education, jobs and public safety.
We don't agree with Tateishi on any number of issues, including health care, same-sex marriage and gun control.
But he is a smart, pragmatic Republican who has shown himself willing to buck the rigid right-wing ideologues who have captured the party and made it such an ineffective opponent to excesses by Democrats. He could help make the GOP more relevant and constructive in the Legislature.