The train is coming with its shiny cars.
At least that’s what Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani sees when she looks into the future of California’s Central Valley.
The Livingston Democrat has been an outspoken proponent for the high-speed rail system approved by voters in 2008. She currently represents California’s 17th Assembly District which includes parts of Stockton, all of French Camp and Lathrop and sections of Stanislaus County like Grayson, Newman and Westley.
She served as part of a team that lobbied to ensure that the Central Valley was adequately included in the plans to connect the railway from the Bay Area tech corridor to Southern California.
With a portion of the rail track set to be built later this year, Galgiani, who is vying for the newly drawn 5th District in the California State Senate, remains optimistic that it can benefit Central Valley residents and serve as a major step forward in linking California.
She laid her platform out Friday night at the installation dinner for the Lathrop District Chamber of Commerce at Chez Shari.
“It’s a difficult economy for everybody and if you work collaboratively with other business to see what you can do to improve the situation you end up poised for prosperity and growth,” Galgiani said. “That’s what I see happening here.”
But her vision hasn’t been without controversy.
Republicans have slammed the project – which Galgiani helped bring to the ballot – as an expensive “boondoggle” that’ll do nothing more than waste taxpayers money on something that’ll never be fully completed.
One of the two Republican hopefuls that plans on challenging her in November, San Joaquin County Supervisor Leroy Ornellas, railed against the undertaking just two nights prior in the exact same room before a covey of conservative supporters.
But while Galgiani acknowledged the controversy surrounding the project, she said that the benefits that California residents will reap once it’s completed will easily dispel any of the naysayers that are trying to sink the transit undertaking before it even gets off the ground.
“We are poised, right now, to reap tremendous benefits and help guide its planning and be a part of creating that pathway – moving forward,” she said. “Some people say that California’s best times are behind us, and I don’t believe that. Nobody ever saw the dot com boom coming when it did, and we’re still a hub of research and innovation.
“California has a lot to look forward to.”
And with the bevy of existing public railway projects and mass transit systems already in place in the Bay Area and the Central Valley, Galgiani said that the proposed northern rail head would integrate seamlessly as people move about on the Altamont Commuter Express, Bay Area Rapid Transit and Caltrain.
Everything, she said, is lined up perfectly.
“Right now we’re positioned to do something great,” Galgiani said. “This is about the opportunities of the future and I believe that we’ll be able to move ourselves out of the economic decline much the same way that Lathrop is doing right now.”
Honored for their contributions Friday night at the dinner were River Islands at Lathrop (Most Progressive Business), TJ FIG, Inc. (Most Supportive Business), Lathrop Lions Club (Organization of the Year), Andy Kotecha (Entrepreneur of the Year), Craig Heise (Volunteer of the Year), Aldo Arila (Board Member of the Year), LeAnne McNabb (Ambassador of the Year) and Norma Molina (Teacher of the Year).