Merced County Times Newspaper
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Garcia Rose wants the valley, entire state, back on right track

Joanna Garcia Rose
Joanna Garcia Rose

Joanna Garcia Rose, the local Republican candidate who wants to lead California’s 27th State Assembly district, warns voters to not be fooled by politicians like the first-term incumbent she is challenging.

Garcia Rose of Atwater says current Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria of Fresno is just another well-funded Democrat, with a questionable past, who talks a big game but supports the failed policies of the status quo, in a state that’s been under one-party rule for far too long.

“I have watched California fall into the abyss over the last 20 years,” Garcia Rose says. “We have the highest crime we have ever had. We have the worst education. The highest gas prices. And our priorities are just all wrong. … I’m going to the grocery store, and it’s like more than $300 to fill up a cart. That’s tough, really tough, especially for working moms.”

Garcia Rose’s name appears on the March 5 Primary ballot, along with Soria’s. It’s a partisan race that will go onto to the Presidential Election in November. However, Garcia Rose says she is looking for a decisive win that she says is quite possible in a district known for a strong GOP turnout rate. Her plan is take a solid performance in the Primary and build momentum for the General Election.

The 39-year-old candidate also points to the 2022 election when Soria “narrowly” won against Merced challenger Mark Pazin with 51 percent of the vote, or 2,386 votes.

Garcia Rose does have campaign experience. Readers might remember she was among the challengers to Congressman Jim Costa a decade ago, in a 2014 primary for the local district. She didn’t make it to the runoff, but she feels fortunate to have had the experience. She was 29 at the time, ambitious, and putting her Agricultural Business degree from Fresno State to work out in the field. “I was involved in farming and well drilling,” she explains, “but I encountered a maze of unfair laws, regulations, fees, and taxes that made life impossible for the average farmer.”

The candidate would lose the farm, so to speak, and go on to survive a health scare, make a career change, and start a family after she met her husband working at a his small business in Merced. She pursued a career as a tax auditor for the California Employment Development Department, which provided her with an insider’s look on how state government works.

“It was a blessing to have that job,” she says. “The state trains you to look for fraud and how to audit. Most employers are voluntarily compliant, but some get confused when things change or get complicated. I believe I was fair and reasonable in my role with the agency.”

Garcia Rose says she started thinking about a run for the State Assembly after watching her husband’s retail business struggle through challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I became increasingly concerned about our state’s direction, discovering that the politicians in Sacramento were a big part of the problem,” she said in an initial campaign statement.

Because of her candidacy, Garcia Rose recently had to change her job with the state due to Hatch Act. However, the rule was another blessing in disguise, Garcia Rose says, because she ended up with a promotion of sorts, taking a top business management position with High Security Institutions of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. In her current role, she deals with nine institutions, the budgets, and the expenditures.

It’s not easy juggling a day job and a campaign for a seat in the State Assembly, but Garcia Rose says she in it to win it.

“Sometimes people make jokes about getting out of California, but I was born and raised here. I don’t like tornadoes and hurricanes. I want to stay here and raise my son. So if I have to campaign to get elected in order to make a difference and make this state a better place, well that’s what I have to do.

“I think California needs a balance,” the candidate continues. “I know I will be in the minority going in, but I also know a lot about civil service. I know how the government operates. I can see what’s important and what’s not. And I’m hoping other leaders will be like me — I don’t care if you are Republican, Democrat, Independent or a leprechaun, I will listen to a good idea, and if it solves problems and helps people, then we should all go for it.

“The reason why I believe California has had this decline over the past two decades is because we have no balance. Our Constitution was designed with checks and balances. Those same things carry down to the states, but here in California we have one-sided rule for so many decades, and there are no checks and balances, and that’s why now things are getting out of hand.”

Garcia Rose says the state needs to rethink its soft-on-crime laws while still creating opportunities for rehabilitation. She says something needs to be done immediately to bring down the price of gas, and the strategy needs to be reasonable. “I’m all about going green,” she says. “I drive a hybrid, but we can’t stop feeding people to create plug-in stations.”

The candidate highlights the billions of dollars spent on preventing homelessness, as the homeless population continues to grow. “Helping the homeless is not hiring an expert to study them. What is their incentive to solve the problem. If they solve the problem, they stop getting paid. Helping them is allocating money to permanent solutions, not just a hotel key for the a night.”

She also says California has an education system that tries to make everyone happy, yet reading and math proficiencies are among the lowest in the nation. “I don’t want to have to send my son to private school. That’s what our taxes are for. Everybody should be afforded a good education.”

The candidate says her opponent, Assemblywoman Soria, deserves scrutiny for past actions on the Fresno City Council, as well as a defamation lawsuit that was filed against her by Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi who also ran for Assembly in the 2022 Primary Election. The lawsuit had to do with a widely distributed and hard-hitting campaign mailer that Karbassi’s team argued was defamatory and linked him to criminal behavior. While the lawsuit was initially thrown out when Soria filed an anti-SLAPP motion, according to media reports, an appeals court ruling in late January sided with Karbassi’s effort to proceed with the case.

Garcia Rose is endorsed by Congressman John Duarte, Merced County Sheriff Verne Warnke and Chowchilla Mayor Kelly Smith, among others.

“I’m hopeful I can make a difference, and I can bring a reasonable and fiscally responsible input to the State Legislature,” she says. “I don’t think they have a lot of people in the Capitol right now who can do that.”

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