On Nov. 5, voters will be deciding, among other issues, who will represent them in the California State Assembly. In the 44th district Assembly Member Carol Liu, D-La Ca§ada Flintridge, is running for her second term.
Liu will be facing Republican challenger Dan O’Connell, a Los Angles County Deputy District Attorney who is supported by his boss, District Attorney Steve Cooley.
Liu, a UC Berkeley graduate, was first elected to the La Cañada Flintridge city council in 1992 and served as mayor in 1996 and 1999. Before that she taught public school from 1964 through 1978 and was a school administrator until 1984.
Serving her first term in the Assembly, one of Liu’s goals is to find more funding for the community college system.
“As chair of the Higher Education Committee and a trustee of the UC Berkeley foundation, I find it a necessity to see that every student has the opportunity to continue their education,” said Liu.
“I will work hard to make sure that schools, such as GCC, receive as much funding as possible.
“With the rise of attendance at the community college level the state has to help meet more funding for schools exceeding the projected 3 percent growth increase such as Glendale.”
Liu has also put crime at the top of her legislation, which includes juvenile crime prevention and anti-gang legislation, focusing on the Asian gangs.
Liu also wants to continue to work on the statewide teacher shortage.
“We find ourselves with a double-edged sword.” said Liu. “We have reduced class size in grades K-3 but now we find ourselves in need of teachers to teach those extra classrooms; that’s why we have streamlined students to give them incentives to become teachers and made it quicker for them get their teaching credential.”
Clean water has also been on her list of priorities. She has held committee meetings on underground water usage and helped pass the Groundwater Quality Monitoring Act of 2001, which helps keep dirty water out of our faucets.
On the other side of the ballot is O’Connell, who was student government president of Washington State University where he received his degree in political science. After graduating from Pepperdine Law School, he went to work for the Riverside County D.A.’s office.
After being laid off due to budget cuts in 1992 he moved to the private sector, working as a trial lawyer for the law firm of Sedgwick, Detert Moran & Arnold. After working there two years O’Connell returned to the public sector, joining the county D.A.’s office where he has done everything from filing paperwork to prosecuting gang members and murderers.
O’Connell sees his work in the District Attorney’s office as community service, and he sees his decision to run against incumbent Carol Liu as a continuation of his public service.
When asked why he is running for office, he said, “I feel my opponent has become out of touch with the district.”
“For three years I rode the bus to downtown L.A. everyday which gave me the opportunity to understand how people wanted their community represented.”
O’Connell also feels that public education has to become a bigger factor in society. “Our current budget crunch has created a great difficulty for our education system to work,” said O’Connell. “I feel that there is too much state control in the issue and that we must remove some of the power from Sacramento, making sure that decisions for students are made at the local level and not by a government bureaucrat.”
When asked about private school vouchers O’Connell said “we should not look into it right now due to the budget mess, but that we may want to look at it later down the road when the California economy bounces back.
“I have worked to keep the criminals off the streets and our streets safe,” said O’Connell. “If am elected, I would make it a priority to make sure that funding that is slated for education and law enforcement gets to its specific programs.”
O’Connell has been endorsed by former Governor Pete Wilson, the Pasadena Police Officers Association, and the Monrovia Police Officers Association.
Liu is endorsed by Gov. Gray Davis, Sheriff Lee Baca, Arcadia Police Chief David Hinig, Mayor James Hahn, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the United Teachers of Los Angeles, and the California Faculty Association.