STOCKTON – Kristin Olsen may have inspired students from the nearby Excel Academy.
“You can be any one,” said the Republican assemblywoman from Modesto. “Pursue your passion – admit your weaknesses – and look to achieve.”
Excel Academy is San Joaquin County Office of Education’s collegiate sports and health science preparatory high school that opened last month. Youngsters filled the front row of the Burwood Auditorium to listen to Olsen, who currently represents the 25th Assembly District.
“Life is very unpredictable,” she also said. “Be prepared for any door that may open.”
Olsen was on hand Tuesday for the SJCOE’s “A Conversation With…” series.
“We invited the two candidates with the highest totals the chance to participate,” Assistant Superintendent James Mousalimas said. “This was not an endorsement (by SJCOE) of the candidate.
“Our hope is to help voters make an informed decision come Nov. 6 (general election).”
Olsen is seeking the newly-formed 12th Assembly District – this includes over 22-percent of San Joaquin County, 60-percent of Stanislaus County along with Manteca, Modesto and Turlock – and will take on the Democrat candidate and former Lathrop Councilman Christopher Mateo.
She sat at the table with Superintendent of Schools Mick Founts in a casual conversation format.
Olsen was quick to turn the tables on Founts, who usually opens by asking the candidate of his or her favorite NFL team.
“Who’s your favorite team?” she asked.
He acknowledged his support of the Oakland Raiders following their recent last-second victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Olsen called herself a Denver Broncos fan by marriage.
She’s also a huge Panthers fan, in particular, the Modesto High Panthers, her alma mater. Olsen, who was born and raised in Modesto, was involved in music – she grew up playing classical piano and singing – and served as editor of her high school newspaper.
She attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, calling the time there “the best years” of her life.
Olsen, who served on the Modesto City Council from 2005 to 2009, is a wife and mother of three (two of her children, J.T. and Sophie, were in attendance).
She was also the Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at California State University, Stanislaus.
Olsen ran for assembly out of frustration.
“Frustration was my great motivator,” she said. “I wanted to be the voice for taxpayers and local businesses.”
Olsen added, “I’m in Sacramento looking for solutions. If not, I’d be at home with my children.”
She considers herself as an independent-minded thinker looking out for the needs of her local constituents.
Her priorities include the funding of education and public safety.
“But education is our lowest priority (in the state budget),” Olsen said. “It’s always first on the chopping block.
“Our students are paying for it now. We will all pay for it later on.”
In addition, she expressed her concerns about abused and neglected children.
Olsen currently serves on the board for Court Appointed Special Advocates. She’s aware of the growing numbers of foster youths in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
“I do believe in the power of changing just one life,” she said.
The SJCOE candidate series conclude next week with Ricky Gill, who is vying for the 9th Congressional District.