Modesto Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen took the first step towards shoring up support in a community that she might come to represent under new redistricting plans.
She won over Manteca Rotarians.
Olsen, who currently represents California’s sprawling 25th Assembly District – which stretches from Modesto all the way to the Nevada state line and from Arnold to Madera – gave an hour-long presentation to the Manteca Noon Rotary at Isadore’s on Thursday outlining how she got into politics and what she sees as the most pressing issues facing Californians and her constituents today.
The Modesto native cut her teeth as a councilwoman representing the community she grew up in. She threw her hat in the ring for the California State Assembly when Tom Berryhill made the jump to the State Senate in 2010.
Simply put, Olsen grew tired of what she believed was a legislature that lost focus of what they were really supposed to be doing in Sacramento.
“The biggest issue for me was that that I wanted to see our government work for the people,” she said. “I could see that it had lost complete perspective for the people it was supposed to serve. I wanted to be a champion for moms, dads, business owners and average taxpayers.
“Partisan gridlock leads to paralysis, and that doesn’t help anybody.”
And if things stand as they currently are, she could end up championing the causes of residents in Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon who are currently part of Bill Berryhill’s Assembly district.
According to the current boundaries proposed for California’s 12th Assembly District – which Olsen is slated to represent now that U.S. Census data has given an independent commission the information needed to redraw the lines – the community of Lockeford would be the northernmost tip while Turlock would be the southernmost city in the district.
Both Escalon and Oakdale would be included, and Lathrop would serve as the westernmost community.
While Olsen did acknowledge that unless objections are made to the current proposal she will likely end up representing Manteca, the issues that she outlined Thursday were directed at the way the people’s business is currently conducted inside of the State Capital.
“We’ve got declining enrollment in schools, and that’s because people in California are leaving,” she said. “I want to restore pride in our state. I want people to want to come here – I want to see businesses that want to come here. That’s not going to happen unless we roll back some of that excessive regulation that’s making it so hard to attract those companies.”
And then there’s the issue of budgeting.
“If we have $10, I believe that we have $10, not $15,” Olsen said. “If at the end of the day all that we can fund is public safety and education, then that’s all that we can fund. That’s not to say that these other things aren’t important. There’s just not as important right now.”
Olsen said that she doesn’t consider herself to be idealistic, but rather optimistic with a sense of realism when it comes to addressing the problems that are continuing to mount for California residents.
She currently serves on the Agriculture, Insurance and Water, Parks and Wildlife committees.