STOCKTON – Bill Berryhill still sees himself as that “country boy trying to make a difference in Sacramento.”
The Republican candidate for California 5th Senate District was part of Tuesday’s San Joaquin County Office of Education presents “A Conversation With…” series. Berryhill, who is a state assemblyman (26th district), will take on Democrat Cathleen Galgiani in the November election.
He considers himself the opposite of his rival.
“I’ve succeeded in the business world despite government,” Berryhill said in the casual sit-down chat setting with Superintendent of Schools Mick Founts.
Galgiani, who has worked with the likes of Barbara Matthews, Pat Johnston and John Garamendi, has succeeded in government according to Berryhill.
Assistant Superintendent James Mousalimas indicated that all candidates were given equal opportunity to participate in this series. “These events are not to be construed as endorsements but rather a chance for the public to get to better know the candidates,” he said.
Founts, an Oakland Raiders football fan, asked Berryhill about his NFL team. “I’m a (San Francisco) 49ers fan,” Berryhill said. “But I root for the Raiders, too.”
He’s also enjoys hunting, fishing and painting with water colors.
“Creativity is valuable in politics – it allows you to think outside the box,” Berryhill said.
His background consists of agriculture, education, and politics. He grew up in Ceres and is a fourth generation grape grower.
His late father, Clare Berryhill, served in both houses of the State Legislature. Tom Berryhill, his brother, is in the neighboring state assembly 25th district.
“I got into politics when my (three) kids started school,” said Bill Berryhill, who successfully ran for the Ceres school board.
He served on that board for 11 years, learning along the way that elected officials can work together in a non-partisan way.
As an assemblyman – his area includes Stockton, Turlock, Manteca, Ceres, Modesto, Patterson, Ripon and Escalon – Berryhill has maintained that same practice of working with other regardless of party affiliation.
For example, he and state Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) have a good working relationship. Both are against Gov. Jerry Brown’s water plan of piping for tunnels to bypass the Delta for Southern California water interest.
“I think we can beat (the plan) because it will be too expensive,” Berryhill said.
Costly, too, is the high-speed rail system, with the first part planned for Merced to Bakersfield. He’s leery if that route will get enough ridership to make it fiscally sustainable.
“I think it’s the wrong time, wrong plan,” he said. “We should’ve scrapped it but the governor is moving on with it.”
Berryhill expressed his frustration with the state budget cuts, in particular, to education.
“It’s about how to not cut education funding,” he said. “At least we can try to maintain what we already have.”
Berryhill believes that most of today’s problems stems from the economy. Part of the solution is creating more jobs. “We all feel better when we’re working,” he said.
As a Republican, be believes in “limited government with good oversight.”
Berryhill, in addition, stands by his integrity.
“Always do the right thing. Keep your cards on the table but don’t play games – a little respect goes a long way,” he said.
Up next in the “A Conversation With…” series is Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, who is a candidate for state assembly 12th district,
She’s scheduled to appear at the Burwood Auditorium inside the Wentworth Education Center, 2707 Transworld Drive, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.