The race for the 37th Assembly constituency is narrowed to two candidates | News

The following article was published on April 20, 2022 in the Santa Maria Sun – Volume 23, Number 8 [ Submit a Story ]

The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] – Volume 23, Number 8

37th Assembly District race narrowed to two candidates

By Taylor O’Connor

Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart wasn’t necessarily looking for something different, but when he saw the impact of redistricting on the 37th Assembly Districthe said he decided to run for the state-level seat.

“I love my job on the County Board of Supervisors. We have a lot of ideological differences, but we manage to work well together and get things done [accomplished]. I wasn’t looking for a change, but when the district was changed, I saw problems for our county and southern San Luis Obispo County which I’ve been a part of for three decades,” Hart said.

Candidate Mike Stoker credited his wife, Debi, with pushing him to run for Assembly.

The 37th District—which once included Santa Barbara and Ventura counties—now contains all of Santa Barbara County and southern San Luis Obispo County. Hart is running against Mike Stoker — a former Santa Barbara County supervisor and attorney — in the June primary race after fellow candidates Gabe Escobedo, Bruce Wallach and Jonathan Abboud withdrew, Hart explained.

“I am proud to have the opportunity to represent my community in Sacramento. All of the issues we face locally have parallels in Sacramento, and many of the policies and constraints are determined in Sacramento. I think I can bring our community’s voice to this process and have a strong voice for the Central Coast,” Hart said.

If elected, Hart’s priorities include adjusting the education budget, improving public safety during wildfire season, working with law enforcement and probation to ensure neighborhood safety and addressing housing and homelessness issues, he said.

“I know people are very concerned about housing and increasing homelessness. These are serious and daunting challenges, and I can provide practical solutions by joining the conversation in Sacramento,” Hart said. “Being part of housing projects in the county and city of Santa Barbara gives me the understanding to solve these problems and to have the state as a partner in solving these problems.”

Stoker said he believed the state was heading in the wrong direction and needed a change of direction away from those already in power.

“My opponent is a good man, a friend, and he’s a good guy, but he thinks California is going in the right direction. [whereas] I don’t think it’s going in the right direction,” Stoker said.

Stoker worked as an environmental land use lawyer and served as County Supervisor from 1986 to 1994. During this time he also served as Chairman of the County Air Pollution Control District and Director of the Southern California Hazardous Waste Management Board, according to his campaign website.

After consulting with his wife, Debi, and a lot of thought, he decided to run for office again, he added. This time around, his priorities include lowering income and sales taxes, supporting law enforcement, solving homelessness and solving California’s water shortage, a he declared.

“I said we don’t have a water shortage problem, we have a storage problem. We haven’t built a storage tank since Governor Edmund Brown in the 60s. The reason we have a shortage is that we haven’t continued to build people’s capacity, and that’s caused a stalemate “said Stoker. “This is one of my top priorities with a specific five-point plan to be announced at a separate media event.”

Stoker said he’s glad this race gives the public options and gives voters a chance to express their desires for the state’s trajectory.

“That’s what the campaign is for, how it should really work is to have two candidates with two different perspectives who are willing to take ownership of those perspectives. We can both be nice people, but it’s a matter of the direction you want for California,” Stoker said. “If you think California is heading in the right direction under Governor Newsom, vote for Gregg [Hart] and that’s okay. If you think California is going in the wrong direction and you want a new direction, then I’m your man.