MERCED, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Current Fresno city councilmember Esmeralda Soria and former Merced county sheriff Mark Pazin are both in the running to represent the people of California’s 27th assembly district in Sacramento.
Pazin a republican and Soria a democrat sat down on UC Merced’s campus Monday night and were given the chance to introduce themselves to voters.
“He talks about the one-party rule, well yes, I’m a Democrat, and I will be in the supermajority, and that’s going to get me into the room, where you’re negotiating to get resources here in the valley,” Soria said.
“I have worked with both democrats and republicans throughout my 40-year career in law enforcement, as president of the Cal State sheriff’s association. I’m ready at a moment’s notice to get into the mix and not shy away from the necessary decisions to correct some of the kicking the can down the road,” Pazin added.
They were asked about some of the big issues facing the state, including water, crime, housing, and inflation.
When the candidates were asked about the cost of living and inflation, the gas tax was front and center. Pazin said he would have suspended the gas tax.
“You’re filling up your car, anywhere from 53 cents a gallon to 74 cents a gallon, it adds up very quickly,” he said speaking about how many cents the gas tax adds to the price of gas.
However, Soria said the issue is more complex.
“When people are paying half their income on housing costs it’s an issue in our community, it’s not about the gas tax itself, that is a great talking point,” she added.
The candidates were also asked about housing and homelessness. Soria says when it comes to homelessness, she has experience finding solutions from her time on the city council.
“We were able to purchase 9 motels up along the 99, which has been riddled with crime, and blight and just blight in our community and we’ve been able to turn them into low barrier shelters with wrap-around services,” Soria said.
Pazin says a major issue for him when it comes to homelessness isn’t just building shelters but changing how the care courts work.
“You can’t give a 3-day voucher, a debit card, and expect them to course correct themselves. It has to go through the court where they are accountable,” he added.
Another main topic was a crime and public safety. Pazin doubled down on his career in law enforcement and his time as the sheriff. He said he has a unique experience as someone who’s worked the streets firsthand. Soria emphasized legislation she supports and what she did as a city council member to raise wages for Fresno police officers.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.