Candidates compete in State Senate race
by Douglas W. Motley
Upland Democrat Ameenah Fuller, a relative newcomer to the political scene, is challenging incumbent Senator Robert (Bob) Dutton, a Rancho Cucamonga Republican, for his seat in the California State Senate. Dutton, who is just winding down his first four-year term in the State Senate, handily defeated his Democratic challenger, Marjorie Mikels, by garnering 60 percent of the votes cast for that race in the 2004 election.
California’s 31st State Senate District, one of 40 senate districts statewide, includes the city of Riverside, as well as many rapidly growing suburban and rural areas of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, though it does not include the city of San Bernardino itself. Within the sprawling district are the mountain communities of Crestline, Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs.
The 31st District is populated by nearly one million residents, of which approximately 400,000 are registered to vote. Of those who are registered, about 47 percent are Republicans and 37 percent are Democrats, while 11 percent decline to state their party preference.
Last week, The Alpenhorn News contacted both candidates, and in an effort to remain fair and impartial posed to each of them the same three questions regarding their candidacy:
Why are you the best candidate for the office of State Senator for the 31st District?
“My experience in serving local residents includes four and a half years on the Rancho Cucamonga City Council, two years as Assemblyman for the 63rd District and four years as Senator for the 31st District,” said Dutton. He said, since moving to the Inland Empire in 1976, he has served in numerous community organizations, including chambers of commerce, Red Cross, YMCA, Kiwanis, Community Foundation and Ace Youth Football. “My father taught me the importance of giving back to your community and I have dedicated my life to serving others and to making our communities better,” he said.
Fuller, who resides in Upland and is currently working on a master’s degree in public policy, said, if elected, she would serve the people of her district with the highest integrity and ethical standards. “I am prepared to meet the challenges in District 31 as a public servant of the constituents. I will listen to my constituents and address their concerns as State Senator. I will put the people first in District 31,” she said.
Relating her background as a business consultant, providing consultation services to the healthcare industry for 24 years, Fuller said her experience would be an invaluable tool in delivering the changes that citizens desire in healthcare, education and the environment.
What are the three most important issues facing the State of California and the constituents of the 31st Senate District?
Dutton cited the economy, public safety and education as his top three priorities. “A strong, vibrant economy provides jobs as well as increased revenue to the state, which enables us to provide quality education and the essential programs and services to those who are in need.” Stressing the importance of safe and secure communities as key components of a strong economy, he said they are valuable elements in preserving neighborhoods as the best places to live, work and raise a family.
Fuller named the current housing crisis, the environment and education as her three main concerns. “In District 31 we need to address lending practices and credit requirements, review guidelines for refinancing homes in California with lending institutions and propose lease-to-own agreements to homeowners pending foreclosure.” She also called for tax incentives for homebuilders to create affordable “green” homes.
Blaming the Inland Empire’s deteriorating air quality on companies that are not adhering to air quality standards in regard to dust emissions, Fuller said, “As state senator, I will continue to promote air quality issues to ensure clean air quality standards are met, and to reduce the number of health-related issues from dust emissions.”
On the education front, Fuller said she would fight for affordable, quality education and the opportunity for children to compete in a global society. “We have trade agreements with little protection for job security. We have a global crisis and our students are not prepared to meet the challenges and compete in the global market.”
What legislation have you proposed (or would you propose) that would benefit the constituents of the district?
“During my term in the legislature,” said Dutton, “I was directly involved and carried legislation on behalf of the governor that helped create the infrastructure bonds that were approved by the voters in 2006. As part of that legislation I was able to secure funding for local counties and cities to address local transportation needs.” He said he had also successfully sponsored legislation that provides training for local educators to assist in preventing teen suicide.
“As state senator,” said Fuller, “I will protect education and introduce legislation to promote quality education for all Californians. As state senator, I will introduce legislation to promote preventive healthcare, wellness and nutrition programs, which reduce the overall cost of healthcare. As state senator, I will introduce legislation to protect our consumers and require stringent regulatory standards for mortgage lenders.”
Next week, The Alpenhorn News will feature a profile of candidates running for the position of governing board member of the Rim of the World Unified School District.