Two men from outside Ventura County are competing for the state Senate position currently occupied by Democrat Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, in District 27. Pavley will complete her term limit this year. The district includes parts of L.A.’s West Valley and Malibu and the eastern portion of Ventura County, including Moorpark, Simi Valley, Oak Park and Thousand Oaks. There are 40 state senators in Sacramento, including 26 Democrats, 13 Republicans and 1 Vacancy. Democrats are one seat away from achieving a super majority in the state legislature.
Henry Stern is 34, a lawyer originally from Malibu and a former senior adviser to Fran Pavley. He teaches climate and energy law at UCLA and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club. He received about 27 percent of the vote in the June 7 primary. Stern was counsel to California Congressman Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He is single, lives in Canoga Park and graduated from Harvard University and U.C. Berkeley Law.
Steve Fazio is a Republican small-business owner, 56, grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and lives in Woodland Hills. He received about 37 percent of the votes in the June 7 primary. Fazio owns Fazio Cleaners, a drycleaner with nine locations, including one in Westlake Village. His grandparents started the business.
He spent 30 years with the L.A.P.D Reserves, founded the Sierra Canyon private school in Chatsworth, served on the L.A. City Fire Commission, and taught business at his alma mater, Pepperdine University. He is engaged and has two grown children.
Fazio received endorsements from the Simi Valley Police Officers Association, V.C. District Attorney Greg Totten and Thousand Oaks City Councilman Rob McCoy, among others. Stern is endorsed by V.C. Supervisor Linda Parks, U.S. Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, and multiple labor unions or professional associations. These include: Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association Local 1364 and V.C. Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Fazio referenced his private sector background. “My real-world experience has done more than enough to prepare me for what is to come. I’m far more in tune with what the needs are in the real world than a staff member that has spent almost no time in the district. In Sacramento there’s no incentive to spend less. In small business you have to. My opponent and the majority of our legislature will never have to personally deal with the burdens of their overly onerous policies.”
Stern cited his background in Sacramento and creating a technology incubator at U.C. Berkeley. “I have done the hard work necessary to get important legislation passed both at the federal and state level. I’ve written legislation and built coalitions to support it. I will hit the ground running.”
Stern referred to the recent passage of SB 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) as “One of my proudest moments. I helped draft it and build a coalition.” The bill requires California to reduce greenhouse emission to 40 percent below the 1990 level by the end of 2030. Stern also collaborated on AB8, Air Quality and Clean Transportation Act.
“I have worked alongside Sen. Pavley to craft policy (AB1471) that encourages the development of more local water sources. Ventura County has been a leader in this effort with its inland desalter units, which are making brackish groundwater useable. Recycled water programs are also expanding.
Fazio referred to Pavley’s time spent on these issues as “way out of balance.” “Our businesses, social fabric and educational systems are not functioning. I can only hope my opponent does not aspire to carry this legacy of only focusing on one issue.
Fazio added, “I also wish to preserve our open spaces, and do whatever is feasible to help create a wildlife corridor and have clean air and water. But we have to balance some of the environmental and more progressive issues with other aspects of our lives.”
Fazio faulted burdensome taxes and employee benefits for sending California businesses to Texas. He believes that relieving that pressure will stimulate growth. “That’s a fallacy. It’s a tired tale,” said Stern. He cited multiple news articles touting economic growth in the state. “I’m much more optimistic.”
Stern sees green jobs as a win-win for the environment and the economy. “There is much growth potential for innovation in biotech, energy, agriculture and aerospace in our region. But to grow the economy will also take fiscal discipline and a willingness to work collaboratively with business leaders.”
Both candidates spoke of mismanagement on the high-speed rail project. Stern said, “It’s a good idea, but it’s deeply flawed. The project has been saddled with cost overruns and delays. I’d be in favor of scrapping the current plan, and focusing first on the population centers. We could upgrade Metrolink in Ventura County and the San Fernando Valley.”
“The current iteration bears no resemblance to what voters passed in 2008,” said Fazio. “With no cost estimates that don’t double the original estimate, the quid pro quo, progressive machine is what is driving this fiscally absurd project. Yet one more reason to create more balance in our state Senate.” He favors a new vote by the people.
Mr. Fazio believes in creating a guest worker program to facilitate legal entry. “I don’t support the Trump philosophy,” he said. He would like to create a fast track to legal status for those who have been here, live responsibly, and have paid taxes. “They’re coming here for a better life.”
Fran Pavley voted for SB 10, which allows California to apply for a federal waiver, to allow undocumented immigrants to purchase insurance plans from Covered California.
The state legislature passed a resolution last year (SCR 35) urging U.C. campuses to condemn anti-Semitism. Fazio referred to the situation as “deplorable” and “hate speech.” He said he is cautious about regulating free speech, but wants to be part of the conversation. These incidents have also occurred at CSU campuses.
Stern added. “Teaching at UCLA, I have seen the BDS (Boycott Israel) movement up close, and as a Jew, the anti-Semitic overtones are deeply troubling. State law won’t solve this alone.” He recommended that student leaders build alliances with other campus minority groups.
Fran Pavley voted in favor of AB 109, which transfers responsibility for certain non-violent felons from state to county. She also supported Prop 47, which reduced sentencing for some drug and nonviolent crimes from felony to misdemeanor. “Sen. Pavley has never gone against the prevailing progressive philosophy regarding public safety,” said Fazio.
Henry Stern referenced his efforts at crafting SB 507, which allows equal access to lawyers from both sides, in determining whether dangerous felons can be released back to the community. “It protects the public from dangerous sex offenders,” said Stern.