Two cops-turned-councilmen headline the race for the 9th Assembly District seat, thrown open after incumbent Richard Pan set his sights on the state Senate.
In the Democrat-dominated district, it is a near certainty that a Democrat will advance to the top two and a possibility that Republicans are shut out of the general election. The Democratic contenders are Sacramento City Councilman Darrell Fong, a former Sacramento police officer; Elk Grove City Councilman Jim Cooper, a captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department; and Diana Rodriguez-Suruki, a trustee on the Sacramento City Unified School District board.
A business-funded independent group has spent heavily in favor of Cooper. Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy has paid for mailers slamming Fong for voting to raise his city’s sales tax and favoring diminished pensions for cops and firefighters. A Fong mailer makes note of complaints about strip-searches of prisoners while Cooper was jail commander.
Republican Tim Gorsulowsky lived in the Bay Area before moving to Elk Grove in 2012. Manuel Martin is running a grass-roots conservative campaign, including a website that proclaims him to be “a patriot not a politician.”
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Biography: Cooper, 50, has been on the City Council in Elk Grove since 2000. A captain with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Cooper has been with the agency for 30 years.
Key supporters: California Peace Officers’ Association, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.
On the issues: Cooper likes the idea of high-speed rail but wants an overhaul – streamlined bureaucracy and a new route. He opposes the proposed water tunnels and supports more water conservation and storage. He opposes the legalization of marijuana for recreational uses. He says he is willing to consider extending the temporary tax increase voters approved last year in Proposition 30.
Biography: Fong, 57, has served on the Sacramento City Council since 2010. He worked at the Sacramento Police Department for 30 years – from 1979 to 2009 – retiring as a captain.
Key supporters: Sierra Club, California Labor Federation, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
On the issues: Fong supports high-speed rail and opposes the proposed water tunnels. He prefers to evaluate the impact of marijuana legalization in other states before following suit in California. He has proposed that every tax break be evaluated every five years and eliminated if not cost-effective.
Biography: A Louisiana native, Gorsulowsky, 53, moved to California in 1987 and to Elk Grove in 2012. He is a business security consultant.
Key supporters: None listed.
On the issues: Gorsulowsky opposes high-speed rail. He supports more reservoirs and exploring desalinization plants. He opposes legalized marijuana for recreational use. On taxes, Gorsulowsky supports tax cuts and incentives to retain large businesses and tax cuts for small businesses. He also supports lower DMV fees.
Manuel J. Martin
Biography: A native of Lodi, Martin, 26, is a computer technician for Hewlett Packard. He is a former member of the Lodi Animal Advisory Commission.
Key supporters: San Joaquin County Republican Party, Sacramento County Republican Party, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield.
On the issues: He says high-speed rail should be scrapped and the money re-invested in highways. He believes the state should spend more to build water-storage facilities and that it should “stop allowing radical environmentalists to determine our water policies.” He supports decriminalization of recreational marijuana. He believes state taxes are too high.
Biography: Rodriguez-Suruki, 43, was elected to the Sacramento City School District board in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. She worked as a manager for the state from 2008 to 2013 and previously worked for Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
Key supporters: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Democratic Veterans of Sacramento County, former Sacramento police chief Art Venegas.
On the issues: Rodriguez-Suruki supports high-speed rail but wants lawmakers to provide more oversight. She supports more water storage. She wants to see how marijuana legalization turns out in Colorado and Washington before considering whether to legalize the drug here. She supported tax increases in Proposition 30 and believes policymakers should make that money work in the schools before asking for more.